START: Dunsop Bridge village car park/toilets

DISTANCE: 3 miles (allow 1½ to 2 hours)

MAP: OS Explorer OL41 Forest of Bowland The walk involves some wall stiles. The field sections may be muddy after wet weather.

ALFRED Wainwright sketched Dunsop Bridge in the early 1980s for his A Bowland Sketchbook but it was not his first visit to the village, which prior to 1974 was part of the old West Riding of Yorkshire.

What is less well known is that, between the two world wars, Wainwright, as an employee of Blackburn Corporation treasurer’s department, delivered wages to the Blackburn waterworks staff working in the Dunsop Valley.

Industrial Blackburn had been diverting water from the upper reaches of the River Dunsop since Victorian times and this walk crosses a section of the pipeline that linked the wet Bowland Fells with the Fishmoor Reservoir in the heart of Blackburn.

This walk explores the lower reaches of the short-lived River Dunsop where it meets the River Hodder. In the 19th century the current Duchy of Lancaster estate was owned by the Towneley family, the lords of Bowland, who also owned Thorneyholme Hall, which is passed on the walk.

1. Turn left out of the car park along the lane and when it soon bends left leave it on the right along the tarmac drive to Thorneyholme Hall.

The magnificent tree-lined drive keeps the River Dunsop over to the right near the point where it joins the River Hodder. Cross the River Hodder over the bridge to reach the entrance to Thorneyholme Hall.

Immediately turn right between the buildings and the riverside and you can see where the River Dunsop enters the River Hodder.

2. Simply keep the river on the immediate right and follow the riverside path straight ahead along the edge of a large pasture. At the far end a stile and stream is crossed and the path leads to the ornate footbridge over the river on the right.

Climb the steps and cross this footbridge back over the River Hodder. A permissive path crosses the bridge and under it is the water pipeline running south from Bowland to Blackburn.

On the side of the bridge is a plaque recording the name of WB Bryan, Blackburn’s Borough Engineer and the date of 1882 when the pipeline was constructed.

Enter the field on the far side of the bridge and keep to the riverside in the first field, heading back in the direction of Dunsop Bridge.

3. Follow the path waymarkers which lead you left away from the river, crossing stiles through a couple of small fields and heading in the direction of the nearby farms.

Cross a stile in the wall between the two farm buildings of Root Hill and Root Farm. Walk between the two farms and join the farm track. Turn right along this and it bends left heading back to the lane at Dunsop Bridge.

4. Turn left uphill to reach the war memorial and bench on the right. Turn right here along the access road past the houses.

This is a public bridleway. Beyond the houses the access road soon leads gradually uphill to a gate by forestry.

Continue straight ahead through the gate and the access road soon bends right past Closes Barn farm on the left.

The road leads downhill to meet he River Dunsop on the right at a bridge.

5. Turn right here and cross the bridge over the river. Turn right and follow the left bank of the river downstream to pass through a gate/stile.

Simply keep to the access road for about half a mile back to the village. It skirts right around cottages then goes straight ahead over cattle grids leading back to the village playground and Puddleducks cafe.

Turn left along the main village street to return to the car park. Look out on your right for the village phone box, which is the BT phone box closest to the centre of Great Britain.

Nick Burton is leading Lancashire guided walks throughout Spring 2019. Details of the walks programme can be found at