HIS walk explores the rolling landscape where the last little hills of the West Pennine Moors give way to the flatter farmland of West Lancashire.

It links the weaving village of Wheelton — the cotton mill has gone but the workers’ terraces remain — with the sprawling Canal Mill, now Botany Bay shopping centre, a familiar sight to travellers on the M61 near Chorley. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Botany Bay was Chorley’s port with goods being loaded and unloaded here. The walk continues through the rural parish of Heapey, climbing a low hill that gives good views to Rivington Pike and Blackpool Tower.

Starting at the crossroads in the centre of the village, follow the lane (Kenyon Lane) that starts between the hair salon on the corner and the Clock Tower war memorial.

This lane is lined with houses on the left hand side. The lane soon bends left with the canal marina over to the right. At the lane junction with the Top Lock pub on the corner, turn right and cross the canal then join the towpath on the left.

Keeping the canal on the left the towpath is now followed for the next 1 ½ miles towards the old mill at Botany Bay. It crosses a lane then continues straight ahead past a series of locks to cross the bridge over a canal junction where the Leeds & Liverpool Canal is joined by a canal branch heading for Walton Summit — this is now disused having been truncated by the M61.

The canal goes under the A674 after which it passes the Botany Bay complex on the right and runs parallel to the busy M61. After passing the mill leave the canal at the next bridge, climbing the cobbled path to cross the canal bridge next to the boatyard and the Lock and Quay pub.

Pass the pub on the left and cross the road using the traffic island.

On the far side almost immediately turn right down a track, Bagganley Lane, which is a public right of way running along a private road. The track passes a house on the left and reaches a T-junction.

Turn left here and cross the footbridge and ford over a stream. Continue straight ahead past a farm on the left. Keep to the path straight ahead ignoring a stile on the right. But when the path reaches houses it forks into two. Take the left fork and this leads past gardens back to a lane.

Turn right along the lane (Heapey Lane) past the new housing estate on the right. At the next lane junction on the right, join the signed path on the left starting at a gate. Follow this path straight ahead. It follows a farm track and soon passes under a high bridge of the disused Blackburn-Chorley railway.

Continue straight ahead from here along the track that climbs uphill to a stile/gate. From here there are good views west to the West Pennine Moors.

The track continues straight ahead as an access drive between houses and the view opens out north and west. The drive soon reaches a lane close to Heapey church. Turn left along this lane (Chapel Lane), it runs downhill past the church and vicarage to meet the busy A674 road. Cross this with great care and continue down the lane almost directly opposite that leads back into Wheelton village centre.

n Nick Burton’s ‘Wainwright’s Way’, an exploration on foot of Alfred Wainwright’s life from Blackburn to Buttermere, is now available from all good bookshops (published by Frances Lincoln, £13.99)