My travels: H for Halton

January 21, 2017

Halton is the only other village I’ve ever lived in, apart from Easton-on-the-Hill. For someone who has now lived half his life in Yorkshire, and feels entitled to Yorkshire citizenship from my East Riding mother, I have a strong affection for Lancashire, where I lived for all of four years. A lot of this has to do with the cheese – those who know me will understand! – for me only Stilton can rival strong Lancashire cheese from the city’s market, among English cheeses.

I moved to read for my MA at Lancaster University and found myself living in this small village a couple of miles outside the city, an easy walk home after late nights up to no good in the city itself. Countless times I walked back through the pitch-black night, down the track to Denny Beck and across the single-track bridge into the village.

The village lies on the Lune, a lovely river, and the starting place of many walks in those happy and carefree student years. There were footpaths on both sides of the river, as well as the dismantled railway track, and Caton, the Crook o’Lune and Hornby were not that far away. I did those walks countless times in all the seasons of the year. In the other direction, as I recall, the coast at Bolton-le-Sands and Hest Bank were similarly close.

The village had two very friendly pubs – probably still does – which enjoyed our regular custom; there was a grocer’s, newsagent’s and a post office, so everything was catered for; two bus routes linked it to the city. There was a village church which I visited, because I always do, but I can recall nothing about it at all. Our house was cosy, comfortable, and where I fell in love with attics; since then whenever it has been possible I have had an attic man-cave.

I can’t really separate Halton from Lancaster itself; there was the university where I learned about research, and Lancaster Community Project where I worked as a volunteer for a couple of years – a community playgroup, cafe, bookshop and wholefood shop, and where my vegetarianism was conceived and consolidated. All-in-all, my time there was important in turning me into who I have become, shaping different aspects of me and my life, and I remember my time there with great affection.

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