Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
Today is Lancashire day. As an ex-patriot Yorkshire man, living in darkest Lancashire, today I will be writing about my home rather than my birthplace.
In recent months I have enjoyed researching the social history of the estate which borders my house. This is the Smithills Estate, now owned by the Woodland Trust, which covers the north-west side of Bolton up to the top of Winter Hill. There is such a lot of history packed into this small place and many historians over the last couple of centuries have collected lots of information about the Halls, farms, mines and works that cover this place. My research also involves walking around and investigating the interesting sites.
Yesterday afternoon we took the dog up Burnt Edge from Walker Fold, catching the last of the sunshine before returning to the new Woodland Trust Car Park through New Fields farmyard. This is a rundown farm, with disused vans abandoned around the yard and untidy piles of rubble and rubbish. High above Walkers Fold and Dean Brook it was probably part of that farm area. Looking at my 1620 map of the area, it’s shown as new feelde. So its been there at least 400 years. Looking at the state of some of the windows, I think they could be originals.
The name of this farm comes from when the farmland was being improved, probably in Tudor times. They laid the fields with Marl, which was dug out of the area. This mixture of clay, sand and lime dramatically changed the land from heathland to productive farmland, to be used for farming cattle and sheep until recent times.
More infamously, the residents of the miner’s houses on the top of Horwich moors at Five Houses and Hole Bottom used to come down to this farm. William Garbett, who managed the Wildersmoor coal mines around the 1830s, died at this farm, along with his brother. William Garbett is known for running the Ale house where the body of the murdered Scotsman George Henderson, was taken in 1838. Much more on theses two stories later.
Although there is a public footpath from the front of the farm, the new Woodland Trust path from the car park finishes behind the farm at the top of the old track to the colliery. Its time it was finished, its running late because the heavy machinery was taeknoff the site during the summer wild fires up on the hill. A good coause I think.