By Brian Haworth

Alight from the train at Whalley and on leaving the station turn left and head for the centre of the village.

Make your way to the bus station, and at stand B catch the X1 Clitheroe/Manchester service, alighting from the bus nine minutes later at Harwood Bar.

Cross over Accrington Road and head right for a few yards until Mill Lane is reached.

Turn left into Mill Lane, and proceed down the hill for about a quarter of a mile. The golf course, which has been on our left since starting down Mill Lane, ends and almost immediately on the left is a footpath sign for Martholme Lane.

Take this inclined path and at the top of the slope you find yourself stood on the track bed of what was the former North Lancashire Loop Line.

This line, surveyed in December 1865 by Sturges Meek, who estimated that the cost from Blackburn to Padiham would be in the region of £200,000, was opened in 1877.

Thomas Stone and Sons were contracted to build the line under the direction of Chief Engineer, Mr. Bower.

Follow the well-made path along the raised embankment. There are several benches dotted along the path where one can admire some lovely views, to the left rolling countryside stretches away beyond the golf course towards the higher ground above Bowley and to the right the splendid view across the valley towards Read, Simonstone and Altham.

The railway section of the walk is in its entirety on a high raised embankment, which caused many problems during the railways construction slipping on numerous occasions. Most of the material used in constructing this embankment was excavated from the major cutting at Cunliffe further down the line towards Blackburn.

After about a mile of embankment walking we arrive at the fenced off Martholme Viaduct. Steps lead down the embankment on our left.

At the foot of the steps take some time to admire the ten arched stone viaduct (below), which is in excellent condition.

Problems were encountered during the construction of the viaduct when coal seams were discovered during foundation work. The original plan, which called for a wooden viaduct, was abandoned and the cost for building a stone viaduct and buying the coal deposits came to £18,000. (Incidentally the cost for the wooden structure was estimated at £11,500).

From the foot of the embankment turn left into Martholme Lane and stroll up the lane until Accrington Road is reached.

Cross the road and head right to the Gamecock Inn. The bus stop for your return journey is outside the hostelry but there is always time for a pint or a bite to eat prior to your journey home.

Information and timetables for the X1 service can be obtained from Clitheroe Interchange.

Brian Haworth
Oct 2004