The Ribble and Hodder are famous for their beauty, but the Calder has its charms too, says Nick Burton

The author Jessica Lofthouse called the River Calder the “poor Cinderella of the three rivers” that meet around Mitton, largely because it was associated with industry and towns unlike its fairer neighbours, the Rivers Ribble and Hodder.

But the Calder has lovely rural stretches, not least the section on this walk – its lower reaches between the A680 Whalley Road and the Nab. The walk explores the rolling countryside behind Bowley Scout Camp and uncovers an old road known as Dean Lane, thought to be part of a packhorse road which carried coal from Belthorn and lime from Clitheroe.

Walk downhill along the pavement with the park on the left. Pass the lodge house on the left and continue straight ahead down the far track leading to open countryside. The track passes Squires Farm on the left and goes through a kissing gate. Keep going straight ahead downhill along the left field edge to pass through another gate.

Keep going straight ahead along the edge of woodland on the right. The path leads to another kissing gate in a fence. Drop downhill to a wet area then keep in the same direction climbing uphill across the field towards trees and a gate in the left field corner.

Go through the gate by the memorial bench overlooking the steep west bank of the River Calder. Turn left through a gate in the fence and leave the riverside path behind. The field path now goes straight ahead uphill to cross a little footbridge by an old toilet block. Keep going straight ahead uphill along the track that bends right to the buildings of the Bowley Scout Camp. Walk straight out of the driveway entrance of the camp to meet a track junction.

Turn right down the signed bridleway, Dean Lane, into woodland. This is a section of the old cobbled packhorse road between Belthorn and Clitheroe. It crosses the bridge over Dean Brook and swings right uphill. Keep along the walled lane until a crossroads of tracks is reached between a new house on the left and Heys Farm on the right. Continue straight ahead along the track which drops downhill gradually. At an old barn on the right leave the track on the right at a stile next to the barn.

The field path drops downhill to a kissing gate by a stream. Turn right here and follow the little stream along a narrow path, passing through another gate and dropping downhill in a field to a little bridge over Dean Brook again, close to where the stream enters the River Calder over to the left. Cross the bridge and climb the steep steps through woodland. The path leads straight ahead with the very steep bank of the river on the left and reaches the gate/ bench passed earlier in the walk.

Go through the gate by the bench. For a shorter walk you can retrace your steps through the fields back to the park. However, it is much more interesting to turn left after the gate and follow a steep descending path towards a lovely rural stretch of the River Calder. This steep path crosses a stream at the bottom of the hill and then follows the right bank of the river towards the Whalley Road bridge by the Gamecock Inn. Join the main road by the pub and turn right along it.

Cross this busy fast road with care to join the pavement uphill. Cross the road again to join the second signed footpath on the right hand side, which begins as a track to houses alongside a gas pumping station. Go through the gate straight ahead at the end of the track and enter fields. Simply go straight ahead through the next large field to a gate on the far side. Continue straight ahead from here along the farm track to return to Memorial Park.

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