Les and I have been on a walk centred on the normally quiet town of Garstang which lies on the edge of the Lancashire Plain. Today, it was bustling as it was Thursday – market day. Its traditional market, held every Thursday dates back to 1310 and the reign of Edward II. The main street was packed with stalls selling everything from food to flowers, books and clothes. A glorious mixture and set amongst the narrow alleys and historic buildings creating a lovely atmosphere.
We set off from the Market Cross in the centre of town and turned down Storey’s Weind, one of the alleys leading off from the High Street. Soon we reached the River Wyre and we followed the riverside path to the left. Our next point of interest was the ruins of Greenhaigh Castle.
The Castle was built in 1490 by Thomas Stanley, the 1st Earl of Derby. He was given the land by King Henry VII for his help in defeating Richard III at Bosworth Field. It was a square shaped building with walls 5 foot 6inches thick and with a square tower on each corner. It was finally destroyed by Cromwell at the end of the Civil War. Today all that remain are a section of the Western Tower.
We continued across field paths to reach the aqueduct that carried the Lancaster Canal over the River Wyre.
The Wyre Aqueduct was designed by Rennie in 1797 and is 110 ft long. and carries the canal over the River Wyre in a single span.
Garstang had always been a prosperous town as it was a stopping point for stagecoaches on the London to Edinburgh route and the canal added to its prosperity. The use of the canal declined after the construction of the railway from Lancaster to Preston in the 1840’s.
We crossed the aqueduct and then walked along the towpath for a short distance before heading across fields.
Despite having detailed instructions and our GPS we still found navigation difficult. The summer growth in the hedgerows had overtaken some of the stiles and we could have done with a pair of secateurs. Also some of the stiles were not well maintained and a couple were dangerous having partially rotted away. As we were crossing one field we were surrounded by a herd of bullocks who crowded us in. What a time to meet a stile with the support pole missing!
But there were good bits. As we were crossing one field we saw a lot of pheasants which came quite close to us.
We passed a marker post for ‘The Cheese Trail’ more of that later but the highlight was when a Barn Owl flew just over our heads.
We crossed a corn field where the crop had just been cut. A taste of Old England.
Soon we were back by the canal and all that remained was a gentle couple of miles back into Garstang.
An easy 8 miles with virtually no ascent.
The Cheese Trail. What’s all that about?
Lancashire is the only County to have its name linked with three types of cheese :- Creamy, Crumbly and Tasty Lancashire.
This part of Lancashire is noted for its rich grassland which leafs to high quality milk and cheese. The Lancashire cheese makers are all located in a few square miles on the edge of the forest of Bowland. An area of Outstanding National Beauty. ANOB.
Cheese making in the area can be traced back to the 12th century when in 1199 King John granted Preston a Royal Charter to host an annual cheese fair. By the 1300’s Lancashire cheese was being shipped to London via Liverpool.
Todays Tasty Lancashire cheese dates from the methods used in the 1790’s. The curds were broken and blended with curds from the previous days milking. This mixed curd was pressed using a stone cheese press before being turned,clothed and salted to make a cheese. This unique method of production gives Lancashire Cheese its distinctive flavour.
The Crumbly Lancashire Cheese trail lies south of Garstang and starts in the village of Churchtown. It follows the River Wyre and the Lancaster Canal at passes Dew Lay, the largest of the Lancashire cheese makers where you can call in at the factory shop.
It sounds like an idea for a future walk, ending with a lump of cheese and a pint of real ale.
Or you have to do is follow the ‘Whey’ marks.