WEDNESDAY 23rd OCTOBER 2019
8th of 9 Circular Walks to complete the West Pennine Way: Darwen to Great Hill
The day was fine and bright as we made our way up through Bold Venture Park heading for the Moors. This grade 2 Historic Park and Gardens, opened in 1889 and has many interesting features including a cascading brook, ornamental lake, labyrinth and sculptures.
Once through the park instead of taking the main route up to Darwen Tower we turned left on a narrow path through the heather and heathland shrub, with its masses of pink berries, called Gaultheria Miqueliana a native of East Asia and Japan. This is the only place we have seen this most unusual shrub on the West Pennine Moors.
After going through what looked like a disused quarry we turned right on the West Pennine Way and made our way across the moors to Darwen Tower, where it is always worth the climb to the top.
Darwen Tower was built at the end of the 19th century to celebrate the freedom of the moors after years of often bitter wrangling and the forth coming diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. On a clear day there are breath-taking 360 degree views from the top of the 86ft high tower, which is open to the public 24 hours a day.
We continued following the WPW on the moorland path, with extensive views across to the Fylde Coast, before going down through Stepback Clough to Roddlesworth Café, where we had a coffee break. We then went through the extensive woodland of Tockholes no. 3 Plantation towards the ruins of Hollinshead Hall and Well House. Leaving the woods we crossed the busy A675 and headed up to the top of Great Hill, where we made use of the very good stone seat to have our lunch.
From here we retraced our steps back down Great Hill before taking the left fork away from the WPW across the moorland to re-cross the main road nearer to Abbey Village. Back through the woods and along the Tockholes road, then up through New Barn Farm, with its sheep, goats, geese and horses, to Stepback Clough.
We then continued on the access road to Higher Wenshead Farm before taking the path round the back of the farm to pass Sunnyhurst Hey Reservoir, through a field, across the Sunnyhurst to Darwen Tower pathway then down an ancient sunken trackway and back to our starting point through a small residential area and Bold Venture Park.
It had been a most enjoyable 10.25 miles of varied landscape and Autumn colours to admire.