Ouch! I have been lulled into a false sense of security.
I had planned to do two weeks in the Yorkshire Dales over Easter but instead I watched snow falling and spent one day strolling from Witton Park to Pleasington.
1.Start from the Witton Park visitors centre. Opposite the cafe is the carriage house which has displays of vehicles and machinery.
Stroll to the sports pavilion.
2.From the right of the sports pavilion turn right along the road towards a belt of trees.
At the edge of this building turn right, cross a footbridge and follow the obvious track through a wood. Pass through a kissing gate to Higher Gardens Plantation which is on the right.
Climb a stile and ascend a path through the woods to Kilnyard Lang, where there is a small car park.
3.Turn left along Billinge Lane, right through a gateway and then left into Billinge Wood.
It is thought that the word Billinge is derived from the old English ‘Biling’ meaning a hill or a sharp ridge. There is a Billinge Hill nearby.
4.Carry straight on to the next junction and climb a stile on the left corner where there is another small car park. Cross a field and go over a stile to the brow of a hill, where there is a long disused quarry.
Descend the track through a field and keep the quarry fence to the left. At the bottom of the next field climb a stile.
5.Turn left along a narrow lane. There is soon a right turn into another woodland.
6.About 50 yards into the wood take care to follow a rather indistinct right fork.
Cross a stile and look for a gate and head straight through it.
After passing through the gate and over a stile approach Billinge End and the village of Pleasington. This earns its name and is very pleasent indeed. The name, however, actually means the ‘Tun’ or settlement of a Saxon chap named Plesa.
7.Here is a region called Woodcock Hill and this species of woodland wading bird is still found in the area and worth looking out for.
Approach a band and follow the public footpath signed off to the left towards Close Farm.
8.Keep straight ahead along a field, follow a hedge on the right and cross another stile to the right of a prominent gully.
Continue straight ahead, cross the gully and bear right. At the end of an open field look to the right for a valley lined with trees. Follow this track to the bank of the River Darwen.
9.At this point bear left and head towards Higher Park Farm. There is a stile at the corner of the farm buildings; climb this, go past the farmhouse and through a gate.
10.Turn left and keep the river on your right. Follow the bend of the river to the right and enjoy one of the best views of Hoghton Tower.
11.Continue along the riverbank to a bridge. Turn left along a track, to the right of which is Pleasington Golf Club. Pass through a stile to the right, and at a second stile cross an open field.
At a third stile follow the track to Pleasington Village.
12.From Pleasington Lane cross over and follow a rough but obvious track to Pleasington playing fields passing Pleasington Priory.
This was built in 1819 to celebrate the easing of persecution against Catholics.
Cross the football pitch and then go onto the road. Cross the bridge over the river and then take an immediate left to return to the River Darwen.
This footpath eads back to the starting point.
How to get there
Witton Park is almost in the centre of Blackburn and reached off the A674 along Preston Old Road.
There is a large car park and the entrance and also a toilet block.
Distance: Six miles