Given that it has rained almost every day during August in Lancaster, we were not surprised to set off for Norbury Junction in a downpour on Saturday. Lancaster seems to get rather more than its fair share of rain and we took bets on how far south along the M6 we would get before it stopped. Charnock Richard services came and went and Hil won the bet with her choice of the junction for the East Lancs Road.
By Sunday morning it had stopped raining at Norbury although the atmosphere was still warm and muggy as we set off for a day's walk along the footpaths and tracks to the east of the canal.
Our destination was Ranton Abbey. Not that you can actually get to see very much of it - it's on private land - and it was more of a focus for planning the walk than a "destination". I did however glean some information about it from Michael Raven's excellent "Guide to Staffordshire and the Black Country" (in other words, the real Staffordshire as it existed before the modern (and temporary!) phenomenon of the so-called "West Midlands County (1974-1986) came along.
The 15th C tower on the left is an addition to and the last remaining bit of the original abbey, founded in 1150 and home to a community of Augustinian monks. The red brick house to the right is also known as "Ranton Abbey" and was built as a weekend retreat by the Earl of Lichfield in 1820, surviving for a mere 120 years before being accidentally burned out by the army during the Second World War!