Nick Burton’s latest route takes in a village that has strong links with an era of industrial development

THIS walk links Holcombe Brook with the village of Summerseat. Between the two are the River Irwell and the East Lancashire Railway which makes use of the natural gap provided by the river valley.

Both the river and the railway were key to the development of Summerseat as a 19th century industrial village with its surviving terraced rows still dominated by the colossal structure of the Brooksbottom Mill, owned by the cotton firm of Joshua Hoyle and Sons.

The mill was rebuilt in the 1870s by Isaac Hoyle who also served as a Liberal MP for Heywood, he also built the workers’ cottages arranged in terraced rows in the shadow of the railway viaduct.

Start at the Hare & Hounds pub and cross the busy junction at the traffic lights heading towards the shops on Longsight Road (the road leading in the direction of Bury). Almost immediately turn left down Summerseat Lane which begins next to an estate agents. The lane leads past cottages and an area of bollards before continuing straight ahead as a residential road. Ignore side roads to the left and right but keep going straight ahead, the road swings right eventually and reaches a mini-roundabout.

Turn left then first right up the lane signed as Higher Summerseat. Pass between the two pubs and the access gates to Hazel Hall Farm are soon reached on the left. Cross the stile to the immediate right of the gates and follow a fenced path to another stile and enter a boggy field. Walk straight ahead and the path drops down and up to another stile in the opposite field corner. Cross it and turn right following a path between a fence and woodland. Cross a stile at the next field boundary and walk straight ahead to a gap between stone slabs. Do not go through this but turn sharp left following a line of trees downhill to telegraph poles. Walk straight ahead to a stile at the edge of woodland.

Walk straight ahead through the trees and join a lower riverside path. Turn right along this then left to cross a bridge over the River Irwell. Leave the farm road bending left on the far side of the bridge by going straight ahead up steps to cross the East Lancs Railway. Bear right up the hillside, go through a kissing gate then turn left to enter a large field with pylons. Cross a stile and continue straight ahead entering woodland. Keep going straight ahead through the trees to reach a wall gap on the right. Turn left to reach adjoining Rowlands Road.

Turn right and follow this uphill until Crag Lane is reached on the left. Walk down Crag Lane and when it turns sharp right leave it on the left down a gated tarmac path. Continue to the viaduct at the bottom of the hill then turn sharp right crossing the road bridge over the river and passing the front of the Brooksbottom Mill, now apartments. Turn left under the railway viaduct. The terraced rows built for the mill are over to the right.

To continue the walk just go straight ahead along the pavement with the river to the left. When Robin Road is reached on the right turn up here. Follow this past cottages until a bridge is reached over a stream. Cross this then turn left following the path uphill through woodland. The path emerges out of the top end of the woodland and swings right around a farm wall then left to meet a lane. Turn left along the lane and follow it uphill past houses to reach the main road. Cross at the traffic lights to reach the Hare & Hounds.

Nick Burton’s ‘Wainwright’s Way’, an exploration on foot of Alfred Wainwright’s life from Blackburn to Buttermere (Frances Lincoln, £13.99).

START: Hare & Hounds pub, Holcombe Brook. Parking for patrons only but alternatively park on residential streets near the busy road junction.
DISTANCE: 3 ½ miles (allow 1-2 hours)
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.