Darwen Tower, Lancashire
Stats: 17.3 miles and 1575 feet of ascent
Limited. There’s the Strawbury (not a typo) Duck at Entwistle and, er …
A grand, high-level cruise around the West Pennine Moors. The route follows long chunks of the Witton Weavers’ Way on good tracks so is suitable for a winter’s night. It can, however, get claggy in the woods.
The bridleway signage is a lot more generous on the ground than the map would suggest, especially if you have an older map.
Start point: Crookfield Road Car Park at SD666192.
1. Turn left at the exit of the car park and head south at the “Welcome to Darwen Moor” sign on concessionary bridleway (Witton Weavers’ Way) where the road dinks left.
2. Follow this for many a mile, past the house with lions on the gate-posts, until you reach a road. Cross this and, rather than following the signed bridleway straight on, turn immediately left, parallel to the road.
3. Dip to a bridge across a stream and enter the woods. Where you reach the cobbled lane, turn right and cross the ominously-named A666 into Cox Green Lane.
4. Follow this, past suburban gardens, almost to the end and turn left into a signed bridleway. Follow this onto the golf course, dodging any low-flying projectiles. Passa small pond and a tall, half-timbered building and drop down the access road to a cattle-grid by a stream.
5. Head north on bridleway, parallel to the line of electricity pylons. Pass a distinctive octagonal tower and cross the road. Decend a few metres and re-cross the road before dropping some more to the car park by Entwistle Reservoir.
6. Ride across the dam and follow the lane to Entwistle Station and the Strawbury Duck. Then head north-west on Edge Lane.
7. Turn right on the A666 (there are pavements, then a cycle lane). Lose height on tarmac (sorry about this) passing Darwen Cemetery on the left. Turn left into Queen’s Road where you see the Park Inn on the right.
8. Turn right at the cemetery lych gate into Whitehall Terrace Park Road. Head up into Printworks Lane then cross a stream by the Whitehall Hotel and a waterfall. Turn left into Duckshaw Road.
9. Follow this up the true left side of the valley, forking right at the “Welcome to Darwin Moor” sign just before the main track swings left across the streamn to an unusually high-altitude house.
10. Climb steeply on a scrabbly track. Where it levels out, Darwen Tower comes into view on the right. Head north to have a look-see then retrace your tyre-tracks to where you turned right.
11. Turn right (stone marker) to drop steeply down a gully. At the bottom, turn left and head northwest along a cobbled track to a hamlet by the Royal Arms. Cross the road (“Nature Trail” signage) and drop through the woods.]
12. Turn left where you join a track coming in from the right. Then turn right again by a bridge. Signage to “Slipper Lowe Car Park”.
13. Splash over a ford and climb steadily, following Witton Weavers Way signs again, past the ruin of Hollinshead Hall.
14. Cross the road with care and take the bridleway flanking the hillside to the right, dropping steadily with the starting point soon visible on your right.