19th MAY 2018

On a glorious day, we set off from the pretty village of Downham in the Forest of Bowland, led by Jim who told us that the Manor had been held by the Assheton family of Downham Hall since 1558.  Although many properties are now privately owned, much of the farmland and buildings are still excellently estate-managed by the Asshetons. We walked southwards to pass Worsaw End (a farm prominent in the film ‘Whistle Down the Wind’) and passed Warren Hill with its pillow mounds, to climb up the meadow-rich Worsaw Hill.  Great views from the summit, and Jim pointed out various landmarks, also the recognised burial ground on the hill. Our descent was to Hookcliffe, past colourful wayside flora and blossoming hawthorn. A track led to Lane Head where we veered north and crossed fields onto high ground which overlooked Downham, and reached Twiston Beck which was a delightful place to stop for lunch and be entertained by a pair of herons, a tree-creeper and a hare.  We followed the pretty beck westwards to pass lush woodland, bluebells and wild garlic, to an old humped-back bridge and the restored complex of Twiston Mill, which was documented as being an Assheton water-powered cotton mill in 1782. A dazzling display of marigolds and a bullrushed millpond heralded Downham Mill which had been a working corn mill for centuries, water driven. On our way to Downham Green (a hill) we were impressed by a vast stock of pine timber on the trackside.  Apparently the Assheton family also run a woodchip business on the estate, which would explain the timber stockpiling. The final climb up Downham Green took us past a dramatic limestone outcrop and allowed a view of the well-managed farmland, more hares and a buzzard, before the approach of Downham village again. Refreshments at the handsome Assheton Arms pub concluded Jim’s excellent seven-mile walk.

Phyllidia Oates.