A WALKER says she has been left 'heartbroken' after work in a popular woodland left the area 'decimated'.

Rachel Cairney said she used to love going to the ancient woodlands at Roddlesworth, Tockholes.

But she claims recent work has ruined the area.

She said “My partner and I walk there everyday.

“When we moved here we had a dog so finding somewhere to walk him was a priority, but we’ve carried on walking there everyday since he died because it’s so beautiful.

“We just love being in the countryside.”

The woods, owned by United Utilities, are considered one of the top dog walking spots in the country, due to its picturesque walks and the ruins of Hollinshead Hall that are hidden within the forest.

The 45-year-old study skills teacher, of Heys Lane, Blackburn, said she was horrified when she noticed the trees in her favourite walking spot were disappearing.

“I though maybe they were damaged or rotting so they needed felling for safety reasons.

“I stopped walking there because it was just too upsetting to see them go.

“When I was back there last week I saw they had laid a track through the woods

“It’s totally decimated the area. I knew when they banned cyclists it was put in purely for United Utilities to get down to the reservoir. It’s just heartbreaking to see.”

A United Utilities spokesman said: “I can confirm that United Utilities has been carrying out some woodland management activities in Roddlesworth Woods near Darwen.

“The track has been laid to allow for further woodland management in the future.

“Some trees were felled during its construction with the approval of the Forestry Commission.

“We do have plans to further thin out the forest in the near future to allow younger trees to grow and mature.

“A healthy woodland has a range of ages and heights of trees within it to ensure the woodland is around for future generations to enjoy.

“Woodland management has many benefits. Woodland plants, including trees, shrubs and ground flora, require sufficient light entering the woodland periodically for germination, establishment, flowering and seed production. These plants are also the food source for many woodland insects and animals and birds.”