Report and pictures by Raymond Lamb
Kem Mill-Whittle le Woods 20-11-22
I have previously mentioned the difficulties of constantly finding new walks, so today’s is actually a double repeat, having been carried out as far back as November 2011 and then again in November 2015. There must be something about November.
With the forecast for sun and showers, we starting from Factory Lane in Whittle-le-Woods, where the former factory site has now been replaced with high calibre housing. The 10 participants set off at 2.00 pm in a rain shower and made their way towards the pay and display car park at the bottom of the lane. Leaving the rear of the car park, a somewhat muddy track between two fields led us towards the rear of Lisieux Hall. Turning to the left through the trees, a path brought us around the outer perimeter to arrive at the main front drive where we continued along a lane to its junction with Dawson Lane and turned right along another path. This ultimately led us to the buildings associated with the Clayton Landfill site and followed a muddy route down the left-hand side, skirting the outer perimeter fence. Where there used to be a sand pit, a large depression in the ground now exists, but a prominent hill of soil has been built up at one side.
Continuing along the path soon brought us to the rear of a livery stable, formerly Clayton Hall and then into a housing estate. Following the main Spring Meadow route brought us to an intersection with Lancaster Lane where we turned right. Due to the persistence of the rain, a decision was taken to shorten our route and consequently continued along the main road, along Town Brow to a point of entry on the right. This led us along a tarmacked tree lined path which led us to the site of Lower Kem Mill.
The first record of bleaching and dying on this site is in 1784 and the mill continued in use until the early 1900s when it reached a dramatic and sudden end. It originally produced calico and in later years after considerable expansion and the invention of printing machinery it moved into this field. In October 1914, at around 6.30 in the evening Mr Cunliffe the owner and the night watchman were the only two men on site when fire was discovered to have broken out, which despite their best efforts, and summoning assistance from Chorley firefighters, ultimately lost the battle with about ¾ of the site and its contents being destroyed. The decision to close the business was ultimately taken with 170 people losing their jobs.
Having looked around the site, we regained the footpath and made our way back to our starting point. We had seen nothing of the sunshine spoken of, but certainly plenty of the stuff associated with showers. We had completed 3.3 miles and it would be nice to say “we had fun”, but whilst the walk certainly had good prospects in terms of interest and scenery, our choice of the day and the weather on offer left a lot of room for improvement.
Take a look back on previous walks - click on this link - www.midgewalkers.co.uk