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The Towneley Woodlands
5:35pm Monday 15th October 2012 in Walks in Lancashire
From the car park, turn away from the hall and follow a well made road. The first turning on the left leads into Thanet Lee Wood, which has a circular trail running round it.
Roe deer are becoming increasingly common in this, and other, areas and the bird life here is always rich, including tawny owl, great spotted woodpecker, jay, sparrowhawk and the occasional woodcock.
Just inside the wood cross a tributary stream of the ever cleaner River Calder which can be seen over the fields to the left.
Follow the circular path around the extensive deciduous woodland to reach a small bridge. When you reach a wider track, turn right, but this soon reaches a left turn into Towneley Park woods.
After about 100 yards pass under a little bridge and look out on the left to what is said to be Burnley’s oldest tree. It is an oak set in splendid isolation in a field seen through a gap in a fence. A notice points out that the tree is more than 400 years old and is still in fine condition.
Continue along a steepish incline, passing a bird reserve surrounded by a protective fence. I helped to set this up in the 1970s.
This is the place to listen for, as well as to look at birds such as resident jay, great spotted woodpecker, tawny owl, treecreeper, nuthatch and sparrowhawk.
At the crest of a ridge is the impressive Foldys Cross and a look down to the right will reveal one of the best views of Towneley Hall.
John Foldys was the chaplain to the vicar of Burnley in the 15th century and he was responsible for the erection of a market cross, close to St Peter’s parish church, The cross has been removed to its present location and is surrounded by a set of stone steps. This is the favourite perch of a grey squirrel and some kind soul has provided it with bread and part of a corn cob.
Parts of Towneley Hall date back to the 14th century but most of it is Elizabethan.
It was the family home until Lady O’Hagan ( nee Towneley) sold the hall and grounds, some 360 acres, to Burnley Town Council for a very modest fee and it has been the borough;s museum ever since.
Descend the steep track to the hall and keep the building on the right; pass a toilet block and the old craft museums.
Sweep right to the front of the hall and look out for the Old Stables Cafe and the pond with its fountain in the middle on the left.
At the end of the hall, turn sharp right and see the gardens to the left.
Turn left but look out for a large stone on the right. This is called an erratic.
Return from the stone and head past the large war memorial to return to the car park.
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