A POPULAR walking spot closed for the past 15 years has been used once again.

The Grade-II listed Martholme Viaduct, which lies between Great Harwood and Read, opened for a hike recently, which one local walking group described as “very special”.


There has been a long-running campaign to see an 800m-long route opened to the public, but there is no official right of way.

Barbara Sharples, walk leader from the Great Harwood Prospects Panel, led ramblers on a seven-mile rural route from Great Harwood and across the viaduct.

She said: “This was the first time in 15 years that people could officially walk on the viaduct, which is 65ft high, has ten round arches, each 40ft wide, and is constructed on a slight curve.

“This walk was very special because of the opening of the viaduct but it was also one of the most interesting walks we have held because of all the local industrial history, the wildlife and flora in a beautiful rural setting.

“We are running a series of walks until September to encourage more people to go out walking.

“These walks will be at a moderate pace and we want people to bring along a camera or mobile phone so they can capture images of the things they spot on route.”

The viaduct was built over the River Calder between 1870-1877 by engineer Sturges Meek.

It served trains running on the North Lancashire Loop, also known as the Great Harwood Loop, a nine-mile route through the town, as well as Simonstone and Padiham.

The line closed in 1957, with the viaduct designated a listed building by English Heritage in 1984.

After months of red tape, Barbara was finally able to put on the planned walk at the viaduct with the help of the viaduct’s owner Sustrans, Railway Paths Ltd, and the Prospects Foundation, who she later gave thanks to.