I live in Rossendale, Lancashire and have been a keen hill walker (and we have lots of them here) for many years. I’m also fascinated by social and local history and my latest book combines these interests, as I attempt to follow a series of walks first described one hundred and thirty years ago.
The Rossendale Valley comprises several Victorian mill towns, the largest of which is Rawtenstall. In 1888, Marshall Mather, a Methodist Minister; acclaimed author; historian; philosopher and would-be environmentalist, published a book of walks called ‘Rambles Round Rossendale’. He commented on life in the cotton mills; streams and rivers blackened by industrial waste; the local inhabitants, good and bad, and the legends and history of the area.
Since it was published, housing developments have climbed the valleys’ lower slopes but we can still walk on wild moorland, wander through mossy cloughs and admire distant views that Marshall would have known. Did he leave sufficient clues for us to follow his routes? Can they still be walked? I decided to find out.
This 90 page booklet reproduces Marshall’s original text and, for each of his rambles, I describe how we can follow them today. I have chosen to do so without the need to refer to maps or internet videos with, I hope you will agree, good reason. Like many walkers, I am often frustrated by guides which purport to be helpful but aren’t because their routes are not clear or have been obstructed or changed since they were written. My walks are based on rights of way that can easily be followed today and, I believe, will be for years to come. Directions are in plain English and I use landmarks that are unlikely to change. So no technology or map reading skills needed, just my book. Old-fashioned? yes; luddite? probably; a practical and enjoyable way to follow a walk? …. definitely!
My book combines Marshall’s lyrical, Dickens-style, Victorian prose, local and social history, and walks that can surprise and delight and, hopefully, inspire a reader or two to climb a hill, sit on a rock, take in a remarkable Lancashire view and contemplate life or, as Marshall says, ‘muse’. Rossendale has more hills than you can wave a stick at and it rains a lot. Our paths and tracks can be steep, muddy and rough underfoot and the moors boggy. Be warned, these walks are not a stroll in the park, you might find them challenging!
I hope you enjoy Marshall Mather’s and my rambles. Click here to ‘see inside’ and purchase my book from Amazon.
If you found this interesting, please share it with your family and friends. If you’re not reading it on my ‘Magic Lantern World‘ website, then please visit. There are over one hundred illustrated articles about Victorian slide projection and links to my historical photo-booklets on Amazon, my Ebay shop for magic lantern slides and Etsy store for historical photo greetings cards with a twist. You can read about my authentic Victorian magic lantern shows and talks on ‘Optical entertainments before the movies’ and lots more!