Our walk this week took us up to the West Pennine Moors, close to Darwen in Lancashire. We were doing the Tacklers Trail which is a section of the Witton Weavers Way. In the 19th century this part of Lancashire was the centre of the cotton industry and the four walks that make up the Witton Weavers Way are each named after a job within the cotton industry. The Tacklers worked in the weaving sheds and set up the looms. ready for weaving.
We started our walk from the visitors centre, once the gamekeepers cottage in Sunnyhurst Woods just south of Darwen. We followed Sunnyhurst Brook past a couple of small lakes and stone bridges.
Our walk was supposed to be relatively easy, just 9.5 miles with a couple of short climbs but as always things did not go entirely to plan. After only a mile we came to a metal barrier. The footpath was closed following a landslide on the section alongside Earnsdale Reservoir. As we studied our maps a friendly local came up to us and explained an alternative route. It involved a steep climb and added another mile and a half to our walk.
We eventually came to the reservoir and were able to pick up our intended route. On the hill in the far distance we could see Darwen Tower which we would reach in another four hours. We had a steepish climb up to Tockholes Road which we crossed and then dropped down onto a track through the woods.
At times our route description was a little confusing but we made it down to the shores of Roddlesworth Reservoir.
We followed the stream up to a wide track and finally saw a Witton Weavers Way marker.
Lots of trees had been felled but were replaced with new plantations.
The track was once a busy highway linking Tockholes, Abbey Village and Hollinshead Hall. We now began a steady climb up the hill called Slipper Lowe.
Descending the other side we walked past the ruins of Hollinshead Hall. Little is left apart from the wellhouse where the waters from five springs meet. The waters are alleged to have healing properties for the eyes.
After crossing the Tockholes Road we turned left and headed for the open moors. On the skyline we could see the telecommunication masts on the top of Winter Hill. It was lovely walking with the wind on our back, the sun on our face and wildflowers along the path.
Many of the tracks across the moor were built by miners and there were 21 pits scattered across Darwen Moor. The coal was of poor quality and there were often sticky tar deposits in the coal seams. Hence the origin of tales of the famous ‘treacle mines’
After a rather confusing section in the Cadshaw Valley, where a couple of marker posts really are needed, we headed northwest across the moor towards the white building known as Lord’s hall.
We could now see our final objective on the skyline. Darwen Tower.
Darwen Tower, officially the Jubilee Tower was built in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It also celebrated the opening of Darwen Moor to the public.
I always find that the tower reminds me of a sky rocket. The tower is open and it is possible to climb to the top to admire the view.Today conditions were perfect and we could see as far as the Lake District and North Wales. It was important for us today to climb the tower, not just for the view but for the extra feet of ascent. It took us over the 2000 foot mark for the walk.
The dome on top of the tower is a relatively new structure. The previous dome built in 1971 was a wooden structure but it was blown off by high winds during a storm in 2010. The new structure made of stainless steel was unveiled in 2011.
It was now downhill all the way as we descended to the road and through the Lych-gate into Sunnyhurst Woods and back to the visitors centre.
It had been a super walk in marvellous conditions.
11 miles, 2060 feet of ascent.
A good stretch of the legs.