Nick Burton’s latest route takes in villages on the edge of dramatic land and passes a poignant memorial

THIS walk links Abbey Village with the quarry and mill villages of Withnell and Brinscall which lie at the foot of the West Pennine Moors.

It follows a section of the disused railway line between Blackburn and Chorley part of which has now been restored as a nature reserve. it also meets the Goit, the Victorian water channel that was created by Liverpool Corporation to join Anglezarke and Roddlesworth Reservoirs.

At the hilltop church of St Paul’s in Withnell is a roadside memorial to local lad Private James Miller, posthumously granted the VC, killed at the Somme in 1916.

Walk to the northern end of the village along the main street following the pavement on the left hand side. This is in the direction opposite to the Hare & Hounds pub and Belmont.

At the very end of the houses you turn left to join the old Blackburn-Chorley railway between the old Withnell Station and a goods yard. Follow the railway line for about ¾ mile until it goes under a road bridge. Leave the railway line at the next gate by the information board.

Turn right and join the estate road back to the main road leading uphill through Withnell village. Join this by turning left and following the pavement uphill towards the parish church on the top of the hill. The memorial to Private James Miller is on the roadside on the right just before the church is reached. But to continue the walk do not go as far as the church. Instead turn left along the track, a signed footpath, that begins at the end of the houses.

Follow this farm track for about ½ mile until it reaches a housing estate. The track gives good views across the valley to Withnell Quarry and the moors. When you reach the houses continue straight ahead along the pavement for a very short distance before turning right up a track also signed as a footpath. When it meets another track turn left with houses on your left and open fields on your right near a duck pond. There are good views north from here and you can see Lakeland on a clear day. The track becomes a lane. Follow it to the other end where it reaches a junction with Brinscall cricket club on the left corner.

Turn left down the adjoining road back towards Brinscall village. But after about 200 metres look out for a footpath signpost on the right hand side between houses. Join this path that looks like it goes through the garden of the house. The path crosses a little bridge follows the left hand edge of a school playing field, crosses a stile in the left corner to enter another field and reach a stile in the fence on the left.

Cross this and the path drops downhill diagonally right to Brinscall Hall below. Go through the gate and turn left along the track to reach the hall at a junction of routes. Turn left here then first right down a stony path that goes under the old railway.

Continue straight ahead across the drive to pass through a gate and join the waterway known as The Goit. Turn left and follow the Goit with the water on the right. This leads back to Brinscall and the path goes through a play area to reach a road at gates.

Go straight ahead along the road until a pedestrian access is soon reached on the left hand side between houses.

The path leads back to the old railway line running left to right.

Turn right along this, pass fishing ponds, and follow the line for about a mile back to Withnell Station and Bolton Road.

START: Abbey village. Roadside parking on the main street, which is the A675 Bolton Road between Belmont and Junction 3 of the M65.
DISTANCE: 4 ½ miles (allow 2-3 hours)
MAP: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors
NOTE: It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.