The Forgotten Valley
Our walk on 14th April 2018 was led by Geoff Hamilton and was an educational adventure of Lancastrian industrial mill ruins of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We were aided by the Bury & District Local History Society book titled ‘The Forgotten Valley’. This tells the story of the rise and subsequent decline of the Cheesden Valley industry and community.
Our starting point was Christ Church Walmersley and we headed up towards Nangreaves before beginning our descent into the Cheesden Valley. After a few miles crossing the moors we approached Owd Betts and Ashworth Moor Reservoir and the nearby ruins of the Four Acre Mill. The banks of a lodge, which helped power a huge water-wheel, are still noticeable around these ruins.
We continued our walk past the former Cheesden Pasture Mill and through the valley alongside the edge of Scout Moor. We arrived at our lunch stop, which was at the ruins of the Cheesden Lumb Mill.
A large part of the mill facade is still visible next to the waterfall. We paused here for a short while for lunch – and to reflect on what would have gone on here over a century ago. I heard stories of disputes between mill owners, resulting in water supplies being blocked and charging other owners for the use of their water.
Into the valley
After lunch we headed towards the former Buckhurst School. Then into Deeply Vale to see the remains of the mills in this area. One of the noticeable features here was the large oval shape on the ground, which housed a large gas tower. There were also recollections by some of us of the free music festivals that took place in Deeply Vale in the 70’s & 80’s.
As we continued below Deeply Vale, we came to the former Washwheel bleachworks. This was the last of the Cheesden mills to close in 1919. Its final job was the bleaching of khaki cotton for the war troop uniforms. The chimney stack is still present today.
Our final stop of the tour was the site of the Birtle Dene Mill. Then we made the descent back up to the Rochdale & Bury Bridleway and across Walmersley Golf Club and the M66 motorway bridge to make our separate ways home.
Along the way, Geoff pointed out various other features including the routes of former tramways and the locations and remains of what would once have been rows of terraced cottages for the mill workers. It was clear there was a great industrial village here a few generations back.
It was a good time of year to complete this walk. The trees were still bare, so we had some great views of the ruins. It was an enjoyable and informative day and we covered 12 miles overall. The weather was also extremely favourable as well with some nice Spring sunshine for the majority of the day.
Thanks to Geoff for showing us around ‘The Forgotten Valley’.
Our Walking Group meets once a month, normally on the first Saturday (this month was an exception). Walks are usually 10 – 12 miles leaving from either St John’s Hall Bury or Christ Church Walmersley. Please get in touch via the Contact page if you’d like more details.
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