Today I walked the old road.
It is little more than a narrow paved track but for centuries it was one of the main routes out of the village to Manchester. Along this road went the farmers with their wagons loaded with agricultural produce destined for the Bridgwater Canal, villagers wanting to join Chester Road which led on into Manchester, and cowmen driving their cows back from the Meadows to the farms around the Green.
It was called Back Lane and it started by Hardy Lane ran down past the parish church, across the Meadows and ended just beyond the Duke’s Canal. Over the years parts of the road have changed their name and there are now houses along some of its course. Our chosen route would take us from the green past open land all the way to Stretford.
In some ways little appears to have changed in the last 150 years. Just as then hawthorn, oak, hazel and ash trees line the road and the banks made from countless years of leaf deposits trapped under the hedgerows are still there. My companion pointed to hazel trees which showed evidence that they had once been coppiced. It is a skilled job and one that I guess had not been undertaken here on our road for perhaps half a century.
In the distance rooks swooped back and forth, around their nest. Nothing quite prepares you for one of these. High up in the bare branches they seem as natural apart of the tree as the branches themselves. And there, just past Sally’s pond stood the old oak tree, perhaps the tallest tree on our road. More than likely those bringing the news of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar would have passed it on their way into the village as would an obscure soldier fired by missionary zeal to preach the Methodist message.
Picture; the old road from the collection of Andrew Simpson