Lancashire walk - Wishing Well and Darwen Tower from Tockholes
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 June 2015 | UPDATED: 16:06 21 December 2017
John Lenehan takes us to one of Lancashire’s high spots and ends where Crowmell’s troops feared to tred
This very beautiful walk visits the deep wooded valley of Roddlesworth and a Wishing Well then climbs to the airy heights of Darwen Moors and a Tower.
It takes in the ruins of an old manor house, visits a wishing well and, if you have a good head for heights and appreciate a stunning view of Lancashire, there’s the 86 ft Darwen Tower to climb. To cap it all, there’s a good pub and an excellent café.
1: Leave the car park, turn left and then cross the road and enter the woods through the gate stile. A few metres later there is a path junction but keep left and follow the wide track downhill. The track leaves the woods into a clearing then re-enters the woods eventually reaching a Tee junction. Turn left down through a gate to Halliwell Bridge.
2: Do not cross the bridge but keep on the track that climbs uphill with the River Roddlesworth on the right. There is a signpost that says Slipper Lowe car park. It is rather a stiff climb and rough underfoot in places but the track eventually reaches a tee junction with one leg going left to Slipper Lowe. Ignore this and carry straight on downhill passing a tee junction on the right at the bottom and enter the ruined site of Hollinshead Hall.
Note: The ruins are just the basic out lines of what was once a Manor House owned by the Hollinshead Family. There is a large information board giving the history of the building but most people visit the ruins to see the Wishing Well. It is to the left of the information board as you read it and really is a mysterious building. The door is now locked but peer through the barred windows and see the strange altar like interior. The centrepiece is a carved lions head from the mouth of which flows a trickle of water. This is fed from a stone tank behind the building that is fed by what was known as a healing spring or Holy Well in times gone by.
3: Retrace back from the ruins and on the right are two gateposts. Go through these and follow the rather indistinct path through the wood and uphill to a stile in the wall bordering the main road.
4: Cross the road to a gate and stile with a signpost saying Lyons Den and once through the stile follow the good track up the flank of Cartridge Hill. Ignore the minor path that breaks left as the track gets steeper and continue on the main track until it reaches a gate and stile. Go through the stile but before following the track turn round and see a panorama stretching from the Lake District Mountains to North Wales.
5: The track reaches Lyons Den now an isolated clump of trees on the left of the track but once there was a dwelling here. Traces of the stonework can be found but most is covered in vegetation. A man called John Lyon lived here hence the name and according to which legend you listen he was a miner, a hermit, a wild man with red hair, or maybe he liked the quiet life.
Note: This area was once heavily coal mined and the depressions you can see around you are the filled in shafts.
Ignore the track that goes left into the valley but carry straight on until you reach a gate.
6: Once through the gate bear left and follow the track all the way to Darwen Tower
7: Once there make sure to climb the spiral staircase to the top. The views are truly incredible and there are some description plaques with arrows pointing out distant landmarks.
Note: The 86ft Tower was completed in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It also commemorates the battle locals had to gain freedom of the moors after the landowner had closed the path and denied access. It cost £773 3s 5d roughly equivalent to £720,000 today and was built by local builder James Whalley using horse and cart to carry materials. The glass top was blown off in 2010 and replaced by the present one in 2012 using a helicopter, how things change.
Leave the tower and retrace the track back to a stile on the right marked with a stone with a tower carved in it. Go through the stile and follow the track downhill eventually bearing right it drops steeply to a stile.
8: Climb over the stile then turn left down stone steps to the main track and turn left. Follow this turn right then right again through some trees to a stile and gate. Ignore the other stile and gate on the left. Go through the stile and follow the track back down to the start of the walk.
Note: The stile at 8 is at the ruins of Old Aggies once a tearoom and the stream in the valley is called Stepback Brook. This is where in the Civil War Cromwell’s troops chasing a group of Royalists gave up and stepped back from following them over the moors.
I always like to start my walks at a pub or café. Nothing better to build up a good appetite than a walk and nothing better than to sit with a brew in hand or a pint of real ale to talk about it after. Here at Tockholes Information Centre car park there is a choice of two great eateries.
There is the Royal Arms (01254 705373) with an impressive range of real ales and excellent food served during the day and at evenings. Flag floors and friendly staff, dogs are more than welcome. Beer garden a must on hot days.
There is also Vaughn’s Country Café within the Information Centre 01254 708508 again with excellent home cooked food during the day. Outside and indoor seating is available and is very walker and cyclist friendly. Localingredients and suppliers are used and the pies are homemade.
The cafe has a bird watching facility through one-way glass and you may see greater spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches and chaffinches.
Start and Finish: Car Park at Roddlesworth Information Centre: Tockholes Road: Tockholes: BB3 0PA: Tel: 01254 708508
Terrain: Good tracks and paths except a short section leaving Roddlesworth Hall. Thick woods at first then open moorland with exceptional views. Good boots are needed as sections of the walk are steep and in wet could be slippery.
Distance: 4.87 Miles / 7.8 Km
Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors.
Facilities: Toilets and food at start and finish. There is neither on route.