Recent problems with the water supply have made us all aware just how important it is to have a safe, clean and convenient supply of water. It wasn’t always so. Well into the mid-19th century city dwellers found access to water not only irksome but dangerous – in 1848 a cholera outbreak killed over 50,000 people in England and Wales. The industrial cities and towns of the north began to seek supplies of water in the nearby uplands. And so commenced the last phase of the navvie age. Armies of men had been employed since the late 18th century to construct canals, docks, ports and railways. Now they were to build reservoirs and pipelines. Liverpool piped in its water from the West Pennine Moors and later from the Welsh mountains; Manchester constructed its first drinking water reservoirs in nearby Longdendale before acquiring Thirlmere in the Lake District. Preston found the water it needed up the road at Longridge. In 1862 the Spade Mill Reservoir was built near the town by creating an embankment to dam up the waters flowing from the fell. Its capacity was over 100 million gallons. Later this supply was supplemented by further reservoirs at Alston and Grimsargh. This walk starts at the Corporation Arms (a name linking it directly to the history of reservoir construction) and on a short circuit passes by the reservoirs built to supply Preston’s water.
Start: Corporation Arms, Longridge PR3 2JY. (Please seek permission from the Corporation Arms if leaving your car on the car park - telephone 01772 782644).
Distance: 3 ½ miles 5.6k
Time: 1 ½ - 2 hours
Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors
Map by kind permission of Johnston Press
1. From the inn turn right on Lower Road towards Longridge. Cross when its safe to do so and keep ahead at the junction with Dilworth Road. After 500yds close to Alston Court turn left onto a farm road.
When you reach Moss Farm turn right cross its yard to the right of a barn to a kissing gate leading into a field. Cross to the far side to enter an enclosed path
between a show field and a garden lawn. Turn left after a wooden gate and continue with hedgerow on the right to a stone stile.
Across the next field keep ahead to a metal ladder stile next to a gate.
Turn right in front of the slopes of Alston Reservoir No 1 and cross to a gate leading onto a track.
Through this turn left. Keep on the track to its junction with a private road.
2. Turn left towards Bury's Farm but almost immediately turn left again through a metal gate. The next part of the walk keeps parallel to the reservoir on the left. Keep ahead to a stile
and then in the next large field after 250yds bear right towards telephone poles to reach a stile next to a metal gate. Exercise a little more care here as the ground was quite hummocky when we checked the walk out. Following a tree lined fence on the left
continue to a stile on the left with Meadowhead Farm in view ahead. Cross the stile, pass through trees, cross a footbridge and emerge at a stile on the other side following the direction of a waymark arrow. After the next stile descend to a footbridge
and climb up the slope to arrive at a stile leading into Hothersall Lane.
3. DO NOT CROSS. Instead turn left and aim for a stile in a fence marked by a tall post. Over this continue to a similar stile in a hedge.
Cross the next large field towards College Farm to the right of a duck filled pond (you'll understand this when you walk the route). After the next stile bear slightly left to reach a wooden gate.
This leads across a drive onto a very obvious footpath - footpath 22 in fact - bringing to a metal gate. Through this and a wooden gate soon after cross a large field to a wooden stile next to a metal gate. Keep ahead to enter an enclosed path by the remnant of a wall.
As you near the rear of Higher College Farm turn right over a stile and cross to a wooden stile on the left next to a metal gate. Again exercise caution in the area before the stile as the grass conceals quite deep ruts. This leads to the farm drive which leads back to the road you started on. Turn right for the Corporation Arms.