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 Post subject: Padiham Stepping Stones
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 8:08 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2007 9:53 pm
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Location: New Zealand
In his memoir, my Great Uncle Tom talks of walking to Padiham Stepping Stones. They were large, square stones set into the bed of the Caulder River. He goes on to describe how they were so worn (by foot traffic?) that in the rain the river couldn't be crossed. I'm guessing they became so slippery ...?
Are the Padiham Stepping Stones still there? Does anyone know?


Glenys

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 8:54 am 
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Hi Glenys
A nice old photograph of the Stepping stones attached with a little bit of history.

http://www.cottontown.org/page.cfm?page ... 4c3c2bfb2f

Workers step out on a long Good Friday
From the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, first published Monday 27th Jul 1998.

Summer Walks with Ron Freethy

ONE of the most "traditional walks" in East Lancashire is down along Ightenhill Park Lane and along Pendle Water to Padiham.

In the 1960s, I lived on Ightenhill and I was given a photograph of a Good Friday scene. It shows crowds of people walking over the stepping stones which have now been replaced by a functional bridge.

This is still a wonderful walk of contrasts with a splendid woodland, open fields and lots of riverside scenery.

The sandy banks are ideal breeding grounds for sand martins. Looking through my old diaries, I have an impressive list of bird sightings over the years which includes a goshawk and a greenshank.

All this means that occasionally rare birds turn up but the Ightenhill area is excellent for what may be described as general bird watching.

The walk towards Padiham leads to the confluence of Pendle Water with the River Calder; there are views across the river to Gawthorpe Hall. A casual look at this area can be a bit confusing because there seems to be one "real" river and one dry course.

This dates to the industrial revolution. When the Calder was polluted, the Kay Shuttleworth family diverted the river away from their hall to get rid of the stench. Once the situation improved, the old river course was returned.

The woodland area is also interesting and I love the summer when the bracken starts to grow. As the fern (bracken is the most common of British ferns) unfolds it looks just like a shepherd's crook. Bluebells, golden saxifrage, wood sorrel and red campion also grow well here. You would never guess it, but this area would have looked much different 100 years ago. Actually this was full of coal mines and these scars have all healed and the stroll from Ightenhill to Padiham is now a wonderful area for naturalists.

When East Lancashire was producing most of the world's cotton, the supply of fuel was essential. Most of the mills were situated close to the coal supply and this means that production costs were kept to a minimum.

The mill workers toiled hard and long, but they also knew how to enjoy themselves. Walking was a hobby for many people as the photograph of the stepping stones at Ightenhill clearly shows.

I have in my possession a number of diaries written by mill workers proving that they were just as interested in history and natural history as we are today.

Natural history clubs were common and the workers read about birds and botany by propping their books against the looms. In those days, corncrakes were common whereas nowadays they are seldom seen and never breed. The reason is that this bird breeds among growing crops which were harvested later than is the case today.

We now have chemicals which allow the crops to grow fast. The crops are also cut quickly by machinery and the corncrakes were mown down.

The corncrake, which is a migrant, now passes through England and breeds in the Outer Hebrides where fewer chemicals are used and crops are still cut by hand.

If there are fewer corncrakes around Padiham these days, there are certainly more swifts, swallows and martins than there used to be.

This is because the mill chimneys have gone, there is less smoke, more insects and therefore more birds which feed upon them.

The Ightenhill to Padiham walk has always been interesting and although some things have changed, this is still one of the best riverside walks in Lancashire

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:46 pm 
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I have been reliably informed that they are still there.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:35 pm 
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I had a look on the birds eye view on Livemaps Gloria,You can see clearly the newish footbridge over the river but not the stepping stones.I must walk down one day and have a look.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:32 pm 
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David, it certainly looks like you are right----my reliable source is not so reliable after all.

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