Lockdown walking project eased Ruth's grief and resulted in a new book

Walking provided a vital lifeline for Ruth Buckley after a sudden bereavement.

Now, after exploring the area around Grimsargh, near Preston, the retired teacher and her walking friends are sharing their love of the locality with a special book of walks.

Entitled 'Walks From A Lancashire Village' the publication costs £5.00. It is dedicated to the memory of Ruth's husband , the late Rev Michael Buckley and to the memory of Philip Cowell, the late husband of Nellie Cowell, one of the group of friends Ruth calls her "Walking Buddies".

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Ruth, of Longridge, said: "The walks all start from the beautiful Lancashire village of Grimsargh, five miles from Preston, on the edge of the Ribble Valley. The writing of the book has been a team effort by a group of members from the local church, St. Michael's and a few from Longridge, who were guinea pigs, checking out the walks' directions. It was created as the result of lockdown, when many folk, in Grimsargh, as in the whole country, began walking round their local area (with the one permitted person). This walking proved a vital lifeline to many of us, myself included, having recently been bereaved in December 2019."

Ruth Buckley pictured with her book Walks From A Lancashire Village

Ruth, was widowed unexpectedly after her husband, retired vicar Michael, 70, fell while going upstairs on a bus he had boarded for a Christmas shopping trip to Preston and had a brain haemorrhage.

It was some time later that her already established love of walking was to help her. She recalled this was only "once you've got over the first couple of months of bereavement - it's a strange, strange time."

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Church friends from Grimsargh and Longridge were a support. She said: "Before lockdown I had started walking. The local ladies at Grimsargh introduced me to some of the walks round there and a local lady who lives in Chipping showed me a lot of walks During lockdown I did more and it was a real life saver."

As time went on one of her walking friends suggested a book and the idea took hold. Ruth said: "It was a good project, it certainly filled the time and meant I had to walk and get out."

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Ruth (second from left) picturd with walking buddies) Penny Thompson, Dot Little and Kevan Thompson outside St Michael's church Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

The book was published in the summer and has already raised some £2,000 for St Michael's parish church, Grimsargh, with more than 500 copies sold and more sales to come.

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Ruth said: "With the approval of the Grimsargh Parish council we had 200 personalised waymarkers made.Then (we) gained permission from Lancashire county council, local farmers and landowners, to put them up and then with massive support from the walking buddies we 'set to' to create the book -. walking and re-walking the walks many times, in all weather and ground conditions and meeting local farm life on route."

She continued: "The illustrations and maps have been researched and drawn by Kevan Thompson, who is the husband of one of the Walking Buddies. He even added characters on each map based on people who have been part of the team."

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In the introduction to the book Ruth explains hown her love and knowledge of the area has grown in recent years. She was brought up in Southport and much of husband Michael's ministry was based in the Liverpool and Warrington areas, but when Michael retired they moved to Longridge where one of their daughters Katie Keighley and family had settled.

Ruth and friends pictured checking out one of the book's walks
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In the book's introduction Ruth writes: "As newcomers to the area in 2014 Michael, my husband, and I would come from the M6 to Longridge passing through Grimsargh without much of a glance. Just a long linear village without much character, and a strange name we thought! But how wrong we were! In time we were to discover a close-knit community of caring, considerate people with an eye open for each other as well as for the wider world."

Now Ruth has begun training for her next challenge. The mother of four and grandmother of six is hoping to complete a triathlon with her sister in the autumn.

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* The book features 10 walks, with walks suitable for all age groups and levels of fitness. They include a buggy friendly walk, a two mile no stiles I-Spy hunt through the village, a six mile no stiles walk to the Ladyewell shrine, a six mile no stiles walk to Brockholes along the Guild Wheel and a walk down to the River Ribble.

* Walks From A Lancashire Village can be purchased from local venues including the Plough Inn and the Premier village store in Grimsargh, the Station cafe, Charisma and The Dog Inn in Longridge, Little Town Dairy at Thornley and of course St Michael's church.

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Rev Michael Buckley who died after a fall in 2019 - the book is dedicated in memory of him and Philip Cowell, another local resident and St Michael's parishioner

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The book is being sold in aid of St Michael's parish church, Grimsargh`
Noticeboard outside St Michael's church, Grimsargh, showcasing the book and illustrations