I have walked the banks of the Darwen since the 1960s and seen fantastic improvements over the years.

It was once one of the most heavily polluted rivers in England. Whilst interviewing a retired Blackburn weaver in 1974 he told me with a wicked grin on his face “The Darren?

It’s still a lovely river lad — all thou’s got to do is ‘old thi nose”. I’m glad to see that things are much better and wildlife has returned. All this proves that here in East Lancashire we do not have to travel miles to enjoy riverside rambles. There are three crackers on the Darwen — at Witton Park, Sunnyhurst in Darwen and at Roach Bridge.


Start at the crossroads at the New Hall Tavern and head downhill to reach what is left of the old paper mill at Roach Bridge. The weir associated with this mill is now the most spectacular feature of this walk.

At the end of the site of the old mill the road veers to the right but look out here for a bridleway clearly signed to the left. Take this track and follow a rather steep incline through a substantial belt of trees.

Enter a field and keep the trees to your right. Here I saw and heard an oystercatcher which now breeds along the banks of the Darwen. Until well into the 1990s this would not have been possible because of the pollution. We all need to remember things like this when we get pessimistic about the decline in our wildlife.

On reaching a group of farm buildings look out for a stile in the corner of the field.

Cross this stile and bear slightly to the right above a wooded incline. Pass through fields following well- marked signs. Turn left at a gate leading to a substantial track, and descend a stile following the signs.

This leads into a very pretty lane which shows off our East Lancashire countryside to its very best.

Turn sharp left at this point and climb for about 400 yards. Do not follow the road junction on the left but continue onwards to reach a cottage and a small farm. Opposite is a stile. Cross this and join a field which leads to another stile. Follow ahead to reach a wooded area and approach a footbridge over Beeston Brook which is a tributary of the Darwen.

Cross the footbridge and bear right to approach a steep bank and then cross a lush field. I was lucky on my walk to have been in the middle of a hot dry spell. The route now heads towards a group of houses making up the hamlet of Coup Green.

The track through this pleasant spot soon evolves into a path which descends into a steep area of woodland. Pass a farm on the left and continue to descend towards a stone bridge over the River Darwen.

Cross this bridge and follow the riverside track to the right. Cross a stile and follow a well-marked footpath through another field.

The riverside path leads to a cascade where the Darwen flows quickly over a number of red coloured rocks. Follow onwards to reach a stile as the river meanders to the right. Cross another couple of stiles to reach Roach Bridge.

Bear left and return uphill to the starting point.