In the past we have generally assumed an alignment of the suspected route from Wigan to Ribchester would be further to the west, going up Wigan Lane before turning down Leyland Mill Lane or Chorley Road. However the Haigh route may have a good claim as Toddington Lane lines up with Haigh Road which, in turn, is more or less in alignment with the foot path locally called Wash Path, which points directly into Wigan (or at least to the east side of Wigan) – joining up with the road from Manchester at crossing of the Douglas at the bottom of Millgate.This alignment certainly is old, attested by the fact that it corresponds with the ancient boundary between the Salford and West Derby Hundreds. It does however has a few bends in it – particularly at the point where it changes into a farm track at its north end. This does not necessarily rule it out though as a Roman road, as they are very often realigned at high points. The farm track was in fact the original main road out towards Blackrod before Riley Lane was built in the early 19th century. Mrs Pendlebury’s supposed milestone lies on the east side of this section about a third the way down.In March we visited the site to inspect the damage to the stone which occurred in the 1970’s when an excavator travelling down the lane hit it with his bucket. On inspection, we soon realised that it wasn’t Roman as these tend to be circular in section. It may not even be Medieval as these tend to be square in section and mounded in a base. However, as Mrs Pendlebury was quite keen for us to investigate it further, we decided we would return at a future date to have a closer look. You can find details of our investigations here.
We also visited the Wash Path which lead down the side of St David’s Church in Haigh. This was to see if we could detect the parallel ditches pointed out to us by David Ratledge on the LiDAR image of the area. Despite intensive searching we couldn’t find sign of these ditches but looking closer at the 1849 map we can see that the current path has moved further to the east. The likelihood is therefore that the easterly ditch on the LiDAR is probably the remnant of the earlier path but still no explanation for the westerly ditch which we couldn’t even detect on the ground.
Looking at the south end of the Wash Path where the New Wash Coal Pit was located, we suspect that there has been significant re-landscaping. On the 1849 map we see a track projecting from the site of the pit south towards Wigan but this totally disappears on later maps and nothing of it can be seen on the ground. This can be explained by the fact that a bridge was built over the railway line for Higher Lane, which is the road leading into Haigh Hall grounds. This required an embankment which has obliterated all signs of the track projecting from the pit. Nothing can be detected further south but if it did continue is assumed it would line up with the Whelley Road.
Also looking north from Toddington Lane there is nothing obvious although the alignment does point towards Babylon Lane in Adlington. This would perhaps lead towards the west side of Rivington Reservoirs, over Heapy Nab and on through White Coppice.