OVER the past 200 years, the Tudor manor house of Hall i’th’Wood has steadfastly defied being lost under a tide of urban sprawl partly due to its long and chequered history but also due to its geography.

Lying on a shelf above the steep-sided wooded clough carved by Eagley Brook this ‘hall in the wood’ is associated with two of Bolton’s famous sons — Samuel Crompton and Lord Leverhulme.

Hall i’th’Wood was saved for the people of Bolton when it was purchased by Lord Leverhulme in 1899. He had it restored and it opened as a museum in 1902 commemorating the legacy of Samuel Crompton, inventor of the spinning mule.

This walk is a pleasant meander that links the Hall to Bromley Cross using footpaths through the little valley of Eagley Brook and alongside the Bolton-Blackburn railway.

Starting from the Ousel Nest car park, head for the corner opposite the car park entrance and pick up the path running left downhill alongside garden fences. The path goes under a railway bridge crosses a field to reach a gate on tree-lined Grange Lane. Turn right and follow this all the way to its junction with Turton Road. Turn right following the pavement of this B road and pass under the railway again.

Take care and cross the end of Chapeltown Road walking on a bit further to cross Turton Road in a safe place to reach the garden centre on the opposite side.

Do not go down the main entrance to the garden centre but join the signed footpath on the verge to the left of the access road. This fenced path leads to another path running alongside the railway line. Turn right and follow the path alongside the railway for about ½ mile until it reaches a housing estate on the edge of playing fields.

Turn right along the residential street known as The Stray only for a short distance then as it turns left into the adjoining Green Way leave it on the right, picking up the path through the trees that leads back to the playing field. Bear left and the path skirts around houses on the edge of woodland, dropping down to emerge facing Hall i’th’ Wood museum.

To continue the walk from here simply turn right and follow the cobbled lane downhill with the museum on the left. The lane swings left and as it approaches a works take the right turn to cross a footbridge over Eagley Brook. Simply go straight ahead from here and join the end of a track (Yew Tree Lane) that runs gradually uphill between houses on the left and the steep bank of the brook on the right. The track eventually reaches a main road - Ashworth Lane - in residential Bank Top.

Turn right and follow the road straight ahead. After passing Thornham Drive on the left take the next rough tarmac access road on the left by the sign for Hathaway Drive. This run downhill to woodland and Eagley Brook. Turn left along the stream side path and a footbridge is soon crossed over the brook. Continue upstream with the brook now on the immediate left. The woodland path climbs quite steeply uphill to emerge at Birtenshaw Hall.

Just go straight ahead from here through a gateway leading to the driveway to the garden centre. Rejoin the main road, cross it with care, and turn right to the junction with Chapeltown Road. Turn left up here to reach Bromley Cross train station on the right. To return to the Ousel Nest car park simply follow the pavement gradually uphill for another ½ mile and it is reached on the right.

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).

START: Ousel Nest car park. Alternatively start at Bromley Cross train station. Ousel Nest car park is signed as Jumbles Country Park on Chapeltown Road B6391 north of Bromley Cross.
DISTANCE: 4 miles (from Ousel Nest car park) or 3 miles (from train station)
MAP: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors
It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of
the relevant Ordnance Survey map.