A Walk from Entwistle Station

by Ken Geddes

This walk is only 6½ miles, but is rather strenuous with about 500 - 600ft of climbing and descent. It is however full of superb views, social and industrial archaeology, railway interest and a wonderful selection of wild birds.

O. S. Explorer 19 map is essential, but appears incorrect in places. Experienced walkers will have no problem, but it will be difficult for those not used to rough moorland. Take a compass and do not attempt in low cloud. Allow a minimum of three hours purposeful walking.

Leave Entwistle station and turn left over the railway bridge. Descend the road, soon turning left at the gate into a field on a steep path marked clearly as the "Witton Weavers' Way". Cross the stile. Continue to descend through a wood. Where the path comes to crossroads take the forward option across a wide bridge. Walk around the east shore of the Wayoh reservoir. Leave the reservoir by a footpath up steps on the left of a deep ravine. This is just before a wide concrete bridge. The track is steep and muddy but the bluebells in season are surely some of the best anywhere.

Left and immediately right on the Roman Road and follow the farm track up to Hill Top Farm. Walk right of the farm house between buildings, to the site of an old nursery. There is a stile at the end of this short ruinous area. Straight on to the buildings ahead to pass Moorside Farm, currently with a diversion to avoid the building work. At the tarmac road ( Moorside Lane ) ignore the new footpath sign and bridge - unless you like over-the-boot bog! Go right for a few yards and turn left up a tarmac track, passing the first house and keep right at the fork to Orrell Cote Farm. Go very quietly and discretely through the garden and at the far right of the garden, up the steps. Turn sharp left over the stile, along the outside fence of the garden; drop down to the stile ahead. Follow the path to the right, soon reaching the edge of a deep valley. Follow round until it comes to a corner. Look for the bridge below. Pick your way carefully down the steep bank, eventually with the aid of the handrail.

Cross the footbridge over the stream, climb up and follow the marker posts, finding whatever traces of path as you can. In a sunken section, cross the ruins of a wall to a marker post and then the remains of a building on your left. A house appears, but the route bears right around the site of another old house and drops down to a bridge. Cross it and the stile ahead accesses a green road. Turn left, down to the end of this road. Take the stile in the left corner and contour around to the right above the stream. A picnic table is seen on the opposite side of the brook. Cross this stream by the bridge and take the stile ahead, kindly provided by the Bolton Ramblers. Follow the path, bearing left at the yellow arrow by a fence and swing round to keep a wall to the right and to pass below Lower House Farm. Go forward to cross a stile.

Continue on over a small rise to a complicated junction of walls, gates and stiles and turn right. Walk up the meadow, to cross the tarmac track. A gateway with a walker sign is ahead. Over the gate is boggy ground, but angle up to the right. A stile with three footpath signs is ahead, with the walls of two ruined buildings on the left. Just above this old building is a disused coal shaft. Walk up the slope, on the right side and above a swampy gully. When you meet a good track, turn left to look at the old brick kilns with traces of the clay shaft by it. Turn upwards off the track, with the kilns behind you. On the right are the remains of another shaft, the masonry recently piled on it was from a small building associated with the shaft. This may have provided coal for the kiln. Soon you are on a causeway, probably the remains of peat cutting. Still climbing, walk towards Darwen Tower on the skyline. A square pond may be just visible on the right, towards the top, marked on the OS map as an “old shaft”. Over the way-marked stile turn right, passing some obvious coal shafts, thought to have been abandoned in the 1870's. Cross a further stile onto the old coal road. The recent gas pipeline is marked by an orange "hat”. Further on, take the left gate. You may see traces of coal on this green road. Note further coal shafts and quarries after starting to descend.

Continue down the track. Higher Aushaw Farm is soon reached. Turn left through the gate at the end of the garden -marked “Footpath”, and cross the field to their driveway. Look ahead. The peat workings and their rusting machinery was said to have had a steam locomotive and there are rails and sleepers in the cuttings. Walk down the stony drive. At the bottom is the Crown and Thistle on the Roman Road at Grimehills.

Tear yourself away from the C & T and walk across the road to the track, which descends alongside a beck. Go ahead at the junction of four ways. The way seems to go into another garden. Pass a stable block immediately on the left. The “Slow Down!” notice on the corner of the new house is meant for cars, not walkers. Look at the spoil heaps from the 2,015 yards long Sough Tunnel on the right and the brickwork of the reopened shafts, used for ventilation. Muse on the stories of “Poteen” being brewed in the tunnel during its two years of construction in the 1840's. And spare a thought for the five tunnellers, who lost their lives over the two years of construction, including a twelve –year old boy and the two who were buried in a shaft collapse. They could not be recovered and their bodies remain in the consecrated grave of the shaft.

The unmade road swings around the house and continues. Keep alongside the railway. Look down to the rails leading to the Sough Tunnel, if you can see through the vegetation. The road roughly parallels the railway, but is often a little way away from it. Roundbarn Quarry tips appear up on the far left, with the track of the cable tramway coming down to an interchange siding on the Blackburn-Bolton line. At the bottom, to the left of the incline, are the foundations of old brick works. At Cote Farm, take the path diversion. Behind the house, cross the stile on the right to follow an initially steeply rising path, with an old quarry on the left. This soon levels to become a pleasant stroll through Bank Wood. This path is the bed of a tramway. Is this the tramway belonging to another coal mine? A “bank” is a shaft top. Cross the stile with Wayoh Reservoir ahead. Walk down, along the fence. Cross another stile. All is revealed when a stone embankment appears on the left. This was the tip road for waste. Bear right to a boggy section. Ahead is a crossroads of paths, but go forward to the gap on the right side of a gate on the road. On a surfaced road is a small scale "Martin Mere" on your right. On reaching the T-junction, turn left on the lane. Pass New House Farm on the left. The Strawberry Duck and Entwistle Station are ahead.

Ken Geddes



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