Wednesday 20th September 2023
Walk Report for the first section of the Pilgrims Way – Whalley to Haslingden
Nine walkers braved the wet weather to walk the first section of the Pilgrims Way, a route Pilgrims would have taken many years ago.
The walk started at St Mary and All Saints Church in Whalley and followed the High Street before crossing the River Calder. The river was swollen and fast-flowing as a result of heavy rain the day before. The route then followed a steep path up Whalley Nab and into fields and farmland. At a small stream crossing one of the group saw an Otter scurrying along the stream towards the river. It was a rare sight and one we were unable to catch on camera.
On the approach to the town of Great Harwood, the group experienced heavy rain and strong winds making the going quite tough at times. Some respite from the weather was taken in a covered seating area at the Memorial Park. After this short break, the route took us through Great Harwood Town Centre and onto the Leeds and Liverpool canal footpath. By this time the rain and wind had got worse making it quite unpleasant.
The weather improved by the time we reached St James Church in Church Kirk. There has been a church on this site since 642 AD and the site is historically associated with St Oswald who camped here on his route from Northumbria to Maserfield in Cheshire to do battle. The tower dates from the late medieval period and the nave was built in 1804-5. Sadly the church is now redundant having closed in 2015.
The walk continued back along the canal before crossing the M65 motorway on the Dunkenhalgh Viaduct and then followed the Hyndburn Green Way a former railway line now a footpath and cycle path.
Lunch was taken at Platts Lodge nature reserve. Here we could clearly see the remains of the bridge supports which once carried the Accrington to Manchester railway line over the lodge. A little further up we picked up a trail known locally as ‘Woodnock’ which has been constructed on the old rail line. This is a 2.8 km multi-use trackway suitable for walking, cycling and horse riding.
We continued to Baxenden and walked close by the famous Hollands pie factory. The walk finished at Hud Rake in Haslingden close to St James Church which is the starting point of the next section of the Pilgrims’ Way.
Distance covered – 13 miles.