Walk: Whalley, Lancashire

I have written about this walk in a previous article but it is worth following it on the longer days of spring and summer.

Here are historic places to sit quietly and soak up the rich history of Whalley and its surroundings.

When I look at the history of the old halls of Lancashire I am sad to see how many of our once magnificent dwellings have been demolished.

Nowhere is this more true than in the case of Moreton Hall.

The site lies on the left between the Clayton-le-Moors and Padiham crossroads and traffic lights and Whalley, close to the spring wood picnic site.

Set on a hill overlooking a meander of the River Calder, it may have been occupied from Anglo-Saxon times.

The last house was built in 1829 and replaced a Tudor Mansion. It is said to have had 52 chimneys and 365 windows in an effort to emulate the calendar.

During the Second World War the house was requisitioned by the military and used to train Polish fighters.

The hall was demolished in the 1960s.

How to get there

Start near the Gamecock pub which is about one mile along the A680 and there is some parking in the area. Obviously for those using the Gamecock there is parking.

The pub was once a farm and you can still make out what were once the cattle stalls. Distance: Five miles.

1. Just below the Gamecock is Cock Bridge, which takes the A680 over the River Calder and is the ideal place to enjoy a springtime bird watch.

2. At the Whalley traffic lights turn left and follow the footpath.

Although this is a roadside walk it is an excellent place to enjoy the sight of bluebells and views down to the river and the site of Moreton Hall.

3. At a second set of traffic lights turn right into Spring Wood. Follow the obvious route around the picnic site beginning by bearing right and then wind around the route and keep bearing left.

Descend to reach the track under the A671 in front.

4. Pass over a stile and under a concrete bridge below the A671.

The footpath descent into Whalley passes old cottages and farms on both sides. The route twists and turns before crossing a stream over a series of substantial footbridges.

5. The main route into Whalley is reached at a junction dominated by the old grammar school. The present building dates back to 1725.

Turn left at the school and carry on into the main street.

At the church and abbey take lots of time to explore both.

Divert a little way to approach the smaller of two gateways and beyond this can be seen the 49-arched red brick viaduct.

This was built over the Calder close to the confluence with the Ribble. It was completed in 1852.

The abbey was built in the 14th century but was dissolved by Henry VIII in the late 1580s. The parish church is older than the abbey and is mainly Norman.

There has been a Christian settlement since the seventh century and there are two wonderful old preaching crosses which date to the eighth and ninth centuries.

7. Cross the bridge over the Calder and look out for a minor road to the left. Follow the footpath to the left and look up to Whalley Nab.

8. The Nab and the valley below arean excellent places to enjoy natural history. ‘Nab’ is an old English word meaning a hill.

About half a mile along a clearly defined footpath enjoy the views and approach Cock Bridge.

9. From Cock Bridge turn right and climb the incline along the main road to reach the Gamecock.

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