Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
If Smithills comes up in conversation, it often does as I live close by, local people usually say “I went to Smithills Coaching house for a wedding reception or party”. The coaching house started as stabling built in the 16th century for the Hall next door. Smithills Hall dates from the 14th century with a few remnants of the old building still surviving.
The stables look like they were modernised in the 19th century but around 50 years ago were converted to a restaurant. We did visit once when we moved here and our youngest daughter briefly worked there as a Saturday job while she was at school. Our review would have said that the place was run down and the food very average.
The coaching house closed as a restaurant in 2012 and the council sold it onto a property developer, despite it being in the green belt and most people commenting that it was an inappropriate development of a grade 2 listed building. But they were short of money and so the development went ahead and is now nearing completion. Extra, smaller houses, have been packed into the courtyard, but the older part of the coaching house looks like a nice development.
A walk from our house into the country park takes us past the site, on our way up to the woods and stream and to the top of Smithills Dean road. Today, as I emerged from the woods a pair of lapwings were displaying, swooping around a young family also out for a walk. Mother explained that the little boy was afraid of the noise. But I said that’s a Peewit, displaying to its partner. These lively birds deserved their two names today.
Behind Sheepfold farm, a group of deer stood on the top of the hill, the male proudly displaying its large antlers. They were probably Fallow deer, out for their evening meal.