Lancashire Walk - Burnley's Singing Ringing Tree
PUBLISHED: 16:49 12 July 2011 | UPDATED: 14:40 04 April 2016
Keith Carter leads a route through the hills to Burnley's Singing Ringing Tree
‘What’s the word for a young salmon? Four letters, something A, something A. Gala or Lava,’ they suggested. The two couples at the adjoining table were pondering the crossword. ‘I think it might be ‘parr’ said I, ever the know-all.
‘It can’t be. It’s got to end with an A.’ That silenced me, but somebody had got at least one clue wrong. I was sitting at an outside table at the Stables Café in Towneley Park, enjoying the sunshine over a mug of tea and a scone. You can’t help overhearing conversations.
I had escaped the showers on my climb up to Crown Point above Burnley, a town surrounded by moors where in half an hour on foot you can look down on the town at the clustered houses, the few remaining factories and the railway viaduct with the bulk of Pendle Hill in the far distance.
Towneley Park is a good place to start a walk. The slogan they use is Park and Stride, a nice concept. The long stay car park is only a pound all day, cheaper than the 70p an hour at the short stay which is closer to the hall. The long stay has a fine circular stone building housing toilets which would merit inclusion in anyone’s Good Loo Guide, take my word for it.
Walk over the wooden bridge and take the avenue leading directly to the front of Towneley Hall, a squat mansion with a fountain in front and rhododendrons in the grounds. The park has many pathways which can be confusing but we need to take Lime Avenue which runs directly up from the rear of the hall to Foldy’s Cross named after a chaplain in the 1500s and moved here from St Peter’s in Burnley.
We take the right fork and go through the Barwise car park to Todmorden Road. Turn right, cross the road and after a lay-by look for a driveway where our path enters the trees on the Burnley Way, a 40-mile route described in a series of leaflets available from Tourist Information Centres locally. The route is marked by a letter B with a swallow pointing the way.
We take a path designated a Wayside Arts Trail notable for a domed brick-coloured sculpture by the artist Julie Miles and local schoolchildren. This path leads into an estate of high-end houses, The Kilns, but we soon leave this behind when we take a footpath on the left before the T-junction. Climb a path, going left at a fork, and leave the trees as we come to the wall of a large property on the right, soon joining their access track and keeping left.
Where this track forks, take the path on the left over a horse stile and climb the path until you see a flight of steps to the right mounting to the road, the A646. At the road, go left for some 30 metres then cross to a driveway that leads to a bungalow. A stile on the right takes us to a narrow path going uphill, soon followed by a stile with a telegraph pole beside it then another after which we meet a farm track at a bend before Lower Small Hazels Farm.
Keep ahead and veer to the left of a reservoir compound to where a stile in the corner gives access to the golf course.
At this point two options present themselves: the easier route is straight across the narrow fairway to a post on the edge of a plantation; the alternative avoids the fairway, going left along the fence line, skirting the course and keeping out of the firing line.
For those taking the direttissima, cross the fairway, go through the trees then keep along the edge of the mown area well out of the way of flying golf balls.
Pass beside a restored property where the considerate owner has erected a stone column with a drinking tap on it. The water is beautifully clear and good to drink. Keep to the right of another plantation then continue uphill, crossing the fairway to reach a stile on the skyline. It deposits you onto the lane that leads to the golf club. Go left then at the road, left again. You can walk along the verge all the way to Crown Point but there’s a path that snakes across the moor gained via a steel tubular stile designed to admit only pedestrians.
Take the moorland path up to the sculpture known as the Singing Ringing Tree, a name that for many will conjure up a scary 60s TV show for children. This is a panopticon, one of a series of landmarks placed on high points in the Pennines to attract visitors and enhance the landscape.
The Singing Ringing Tree was designed by the â architectural practice Tonkin Liu and consists of a series of metal tubes of varying lengths arranged in such as way as to produce a melodic humming noise as the wind blows through them. It looks like a wind-blown tree and creates a striking effect that makes the longish walk from Towneley Park worthwhile.
Our objective gained, we can retrace our steps on the moorland path, going right where it forks to join the alternative route of the Burnley Way again. At first we cross an area of quite boggy ground helped in places by plank bridges then go into a kind of steep-sided ravine, Copy Clough, ‘clough’ being a Lancashire word for a deep valley.
The path traverses the side to the left of the stream in the bottom and as we come out a post with a Burnley Way marker tells us to turn left.
Head across rough pasture to a post with a yellow top where there is a stile, partly painted blue, cross it and follow the fence line to skirt the golf course again by way of the 16th tee. The fence leads to the stile we crossed on our outward journey and here we turn right to retrace our steps down to meet the road at the driveway to the bungalow which we will remember from earlier.
We retrace our steps through the trees, keeping right at the horse stile and following the Burnley Way markers to where we seem to lose them on entering The Kilns housing development. Follow the Wayside Arts trail to Todmorden Road and enter Towneley Park at the Barwise car park.
Back at the hall you can stop for a look at the museum and the café and toilets are there for more pressing needs. I still worry about that crossword clue. Although mainly linear, this walk is for all those people who ask if you can walk up to the Singing Ringing Tree. Yes you can.
Area of walk: Towneley Park Burnley
Map: OS Explorer OL21 South Pennines
Distance: Eight miles
Time to allow: Four hours
Refreshments: Stables Café at Towneley Hall
Further information from www.visitburnley.com For more about the Burnley Way go to www.visitburnley.com or call 01282 664421