Friday 4th August 2023
Friday Evening Guided Walks: Sunnyhurst Wood / Darwen Tower
On a dry summer’s evening, nineteen walkers set off from Sunnyhurst Wood Car Park. After turning left out of the car park entrance, we walked back down the road to the pub, opposite which we turned right to take the uphill track to Darwen Tower. On our ascent we had views over Darwen, including the India Mill chimney, which was the tallest and most expensive in the country when it was completed in 1867. The chimney was originally over 300 feet tall with a cast iron crown. Although this has been dismantled, the chimney still stands at an impressive 289 feet.
At the top of the hill we reached the Grade 2 listed octagonal Jubilee Darwen Tower, which was erected to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, with the foundation laid in 1897 and the Tower opening the following year in 1898. More recently, the Tower underwent restoration work in 2021, reopening in 2022 for Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. We were pleased to find that the Tower was open and we were able to climb the winding staircase to the top to appreciate the panoramic (and windy) views over the moors, to the Peak District and across the Ribble estuary.
After admiring the views, we then continued to follow the well-marked track left before taking a sharp turn right as we gently descended the hill. We then turned left to follow a steeper narrow path down the hill, crossing a small stream before exiting through a gate and following the path with Sunnyhurst Hey Reservoir on our right. We turned right to join the road before taking a stile on the left to descend the steep and muddy steps to join the road at the bottom. Following the road, we passed Earnsdale Reservoir on our left before turning right through the gate to enter Sunnyhurst Wood.
We kept to the right to follow the lower path through the mixed woodland. We then dropped down to cross the bridge over the stream before gently ascending through the wood on the other side and following the track as it bore left before entering the car park to finish our walk of just over three miles.