THESE days Belthorn, at just under 1,000 feet above sea level and one of Lancashire's highest villages, is a quiet community set in attractive countryside.

This, however, has not always been the case. Set on the edge of the West Pennine Moors, there remain around 200 houses which were once the homes of handloom weavers who were concerned with wool in the days before the coronation of King Cotton.

I followed the heritage trail closely and found lots of remnants of what was once an important coal mining complex.

On the right of the clearly marked footpath is now a private house (the peace of the residents must be respected), which was once one of the several inns.

These slaked the thirst of the weavers and miners who worked hard, played hard and drank even harder.

This building dates to 1792 and was an ale house called the Bell In The Thorn.

Further on near Dick Bridge is another former boozer with an inscription over the doorway which reads "New Inn, licensed dealer Inn, foreign and British spirits, beer porter and tobacco by order 1837."

At this time prisoners from Manchester on their way to jail at Lancaster Castle were housed overnight in the cellar of the inn.

They were chained to the walls during their stay.

Between the two old inns is Pickup Bank Reservoir.

Locals know this as Doby Reservoir and it was built in the 1840s to supply water to Blackburn.

On a cool morning in early March there were birds all around the area of the reservoir.

I expected some wildfowl, moorhens and lapwings but a flock of five dunlins feeding in a muddy area was something of a surprise. The dunlin is the most numerous wader in Britain, according to statistics produced by the RSPB.

The species, however, occurs mainly in huge flocks in the winter.

They breed in northern Europe and during March and April some birds on migration are seen around northern reservoirs.

Whenever I walk in the hills I ensure that there are clear views.

Belthorn was at it's best and the views of Darwen Tower reminded me even more than usual of a rocket about to be launched!

Directions: This historic village is about three miles to the South East of Blackburn. The best route is to follow the M65 turning off at Junction Five. Follow the B6232 into Belthorn.

Purchase a copy of the Belthorn Village Trail from the shop but if you want to do some homework first you can obtain one (for 35p) at the Information Centre in Blackburn.

The circular stroll of just over two miles begins at the Dog Inn, which has good beer, butties and hot meals. The walk provides a perfect balance between history and natural history. Obviously the village is on a bus route.