TWENTY-FOUR regular walkers with the Stepping Out group, plus a leader, middle-marker and back-marker, set out from Read Car Park on a very windy day.
The walk was just over three-and-a-half miles long, with only steady ascents and descents. It had many points of interest along the way, including Simonstone Hall, Goose Leach Wood and the River Calder.
The group also took a short diversion toward the Constance Mary waterwheel, with permission of the farm owner, who was one of the walkers. Nobody quite knows what this 12 to 18ft diameter waterwheel was for, though it seems to be connected to a tramway which ran from coal staith into the Dunkirk (or Decline/Eyses) Mine.
Two local history enthusiasts have spent hours and quite an amount of money excavating and restoring the site, making it more intelligible.
Returning to their footpath route, the walkers re-emerged at Friendship Mill, in Whalley Road, by which they returned to Read Car Park.
Stepping Out Walks are funded by the NHS and delivered by Ribble Valley Borough Council, assisted by volunteers, all of whom are trained, CRB checked and have first-aid training.
The walks range in intensity, making them suitable for almost all abilities, and are maily around the Ribble Valley and Longridge. They are designed to reduce, through gentle exercise, the probability of cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks or strokes, or to assist with recovery from them.
The walks take place on Sundays to Fridays, usually in the afternoon, but also on Thursday evenings. A new departure is the “Prambles” – rambles for people with prams or pushchairs – on Tuesday mornings. Another recent innovation is occasional “Tramper” outings, where people with limited mobility can join in using mobility scooter. More information about the Stepping Out programme is available from Tourist Information Offices, local GP surgeries and libraries, by phoning 01200 414484 or logging on to: www.steppingoutrvbc.co.uk