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15th January 2016
Present: Syd Bennett, Steve Carey, Dave Dalton, Andy Fildes, Steve Goff, Trevor Heywood, Robert Holmes, David Lamb, Barry McGuinness, Mike Melia, Alan Larsen, Colin Larsen, Kevin McDonough, John Nelson, Dave Nichols, Noel O’Toole, Bob Rial, Steve Sawczuk, Neil Shortland, Tony Statham, Dave Whittle, Mike Whittle, Mike Worthington
It was fortuitous indeed that the timing of today’s outing would be aligned to a temporary ridge of high pressure. It would be the first occasion during the last two months following wave after wave of Atlantic low pressure systems, that the barometric reading was around 1,020 millibars. The north west of Manchester had endured plummeting temperatures during the previous night. The atmosphere was frigid on the Adlington platform as Alan and your correspondent awaited the arrival of the Manchester contingency.
We departed Adlington station, after several minutes delay waiting for the arrival of the Manchester train service, greeted by bright sunshine and, as we made our way along Rotary Way to Anderton we were soon made conscious of the benefit of sub zero temperatures as the previous day’s soft mud had solidified, sparing our booted feet from a soaking.
Steady progress was made as we headed towards The Shawes, Lower Rivington Reservoir and onto our first break at Rivington Bowling Club. Upon our arrival, members began to form sub groups with some electing to patronise the café bar and others remaining outside to enjoy their sandwiches. One particular group chose to sit at a table positioned at the perimeter of the bowling green. It wasn’t long after making ourselves comfortable at one of the many wooden tables, that we observed the resident green keeper heading towards us. We were to quickly learn subsequently that this wasn’t to be a social visit from him to jovially pass the time of day with us. He wasted no time in inquiring of us whether we had purchased our sandwiches from the café. We countered that we had prepared them prior to our arrival. He retorted, rather irritably: “In that case, I would prefer that you didn’t consume them alongside the green, availing yourselves of our seating facilities and not having visited the café.” It proved to be no defence that we were the only patrons at the green and that a significant proportion of the group had purchased food and drink from the café. He added further that if he turned a blind eye to this episode, it might well prove to be the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ and that others would soon begin to ‘abuse’ the facilities in a similar way to our selves. We assessed that the gentleman was utterly implacable and that discretion was the better part of valour and so we bid him farewell. We continued our refreshments on the outer boundary of the club away from the keeper’s view.
We shortly continued on our way alongside Anglezarke reservoir to Healey Nab. The steady rise in the ambient temperature began to gradually make the ground underfoot become somewhat treacherous. A rising number of bleating voices were beginning to be heard as some members discovered to their dismay that their boots began to fail as the watertight seals started to allow the thoroughly unwelcoming ingress of muddy water as they progressed along the boggy terrain. Those two dreaded words, “Trench Foot”, were at the forefront of members’ minds as the squelching of boots became quite audible.
During our descent into Chorley town centre and somewhere between Healey Nab and White House farm, we negotiated a field that could be best described as water logged. The depth of the water, given just a conservative estimate, must have been between six and twelve inches. Harrowing moans and agonising groans were beginning to reach a crescendo as we headed out of the field to the comfort of a trail, the surface of which, had some form of an aggregated surface. A scream emanated from the rear of your correspondent as he was exiting the field. Turning quickly around, I was greeted by a pitiful sight that will stay with me for the foreseeable future. I was faced by the forlorn image of one, Mike Melia, drenched from chest to toe in putrid bog water. The water had penetrated deep into his clothing, which was hardly surprising following reports that had been received that he had fallen a multiple number of times. And yet; for all his tribulations, his stoicism was unwavering. His stiff upper lip and overall stalwart demeanour - reminiscent of an example of the humble Tommy from early last century floundering around in the trenches at Ypres - was a sight to behold. Mike: we salute you!
During our approach towards Chorley town centre, our collective thoughts were directed towards Mike. What was he to do now? He would clearly be debarred from entry to any licensed premises given the state of his extant attire, leaving him with the unappetising alternative option of an early return home. Mike, renowned for his ability to think laterally and outside of the box, had already crystallised in his mind a neat little solution to his predicament. Walking along the high street, not far from Chorley, he made a hasty left turn into a charity shop: namely, Cancer Research. In due course, he emerged with a two or a three piece outfit for around a princely sum of £10. A pitfall of far greater magnitude would be required before Mike would be denied his evening’s entertainment around Chorley town centre.
We headed towards our first port of call: The Crown. We passed the Shepherds’ Hall bar and, as we headed towards The Crown, several renegade members opted for the former, led almost militarily by Colin. We were to discover later a revelation that Colin, probably caused by advancing years, is developing an increasing, noticeably intolerant and hardening attitude towards the mundane and mediocre offerings at certain licensed premises: the Crown unfortunately, was now the present target in the crosshairs of his ire.
Following our sampling of bitters at the Crown: 4TS, Brewdolph (Dunscar Bridge Brewery), Mucky Duck and Chestnut Red, we had to confess that we were distinctly underwhelmed by the quality of the offerings. We reluctantly doffed our caps towards Colin in recognition of his astute choice of hostelry but demurred towards his uncharacteristic lack of sociability.
We duly joined Colin and others in the Shepherds’ Hall where we enjoyed bitters including: Darkside (Spire Brewing Co.), Freak Show (Great Orme Brewery), Dark Mild (Bank Top Brewery), Wobbly Bob (Phoenix Brewery) together with ciders, of Apples and Pears and Thistly Traditional.
Several members visited the Wetherspoon’s bar located nearby.
Our final port of call was the Malt and Hops where the choice of bitters was: White Prussian (Elland Brewery), Wobbly Bob, White Witch (Moorhouses Brewery), Rat Hole (Rat Brewery) and Northern Hemisphere Hopped Ale (Lancashire Brewery).
From here, we made our way home in two tranches with some members electing to leave on the earlier train.
The group thanked Alan once again for another splendid and entertaining outing.