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Lancashire walk - Brinscall and White Coppice

PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 June 2016

White Coppice

White Coppice

john lenehan

The views on this walk from Brinscall are stupendous and the home made tea bread and cheese is delicious, says John Lenehan

Path to Great Hill, BrinscallPath to Great Hill, Brinscall

Brinscall is a pretty village not too far from the busy town of Chorley. It could be described as quaint and quiet and the lodge behind the swimming baths is a big attraction for numerous generations of duck feeding children and grandchildren.

The route I had designed follows the stream of the Goit through tranquil woods to the hamlet of White Coppice. It then climbs over open moor to the heights of Great Hill before returning to Brinscall. It is a walk at its best on a clear day as the views from the summit are stupendous.

Great Hill from Finger Post, Darwen MoorGreat Hill from Finger Post, Darwen Moor

1. Leave the car park by the way you entered and turn left then with the lodge on your left follow the road. The lodge gives way to a wall and keep on with the wall on the left until the tarmac road ends and the wall turns left.

2. Turn left and follow the wall and track until it reaches a bridge over the Goit. Do not cross the bridge but turn right and with the Goit on the left follow a good track. Keep straight on along the path ignoring the bridges over the Goit and any paths going right.

Pat Chaplin Serves the CakePat Chaplin Serves the Cake

Note: The Goit was built by Liverpool Corporation Water Works and carries drinking water to the huge Anglezarke reservoirs a few miles downstream.

3. Eventually the track arrives next to the cricket field at White Coppice. It is possibly the most beautiful cricket ground in the whole country and in summer and at matches there is a little café.

Note: On the OS map a reservoir is shown on the right of the track. This has now been emptied and the dam removed.

Do not turn right into the cricket field but turn left and cross a bridge over the Goit and go through a stile. Turn immediate left and start to go uphill on a short cobbled track. This splits with one leg going straight on while the right leg turns into a rough track that climbs very steeply uphill. Sorry, but this is the path to take.

Note: In the 19th century White Coppice would be far from tranquil or pretty. The air would reverberate as rock was blasted from the quarries that can still be seen on the hillsides. Nature in the form of heather and bracken has thankfully hidden the tons of waste rock that are strewn across the slopes. Workers would be making their way to and from lead and coal mines on the moors, and the looms of a cotton mill would clattering in the background.

It is not easy underfoot on the steep path but once at the top the distant Great Hill appears almost straight in front. A reasonably straight and obvious path leads across the open moor heading to the left of a small copse of trees. It can be a bit muddy in wet conditions on this section.

4. Leave the path and join a main track then turn right and head directly towards Great Hill. It’s a relatively gradual climb that rises to a stile then once over this the path becomes steep then levels a little as it turns into flagstones laid to prevent erosion.

5. The shelter on Great Hill summit is reached. Now the reason for wanting a clear day becomes obvious. A panorama unfurls stretching from the Yorkshire peaks to the Bowland Fells and then to the Lake District. On clear days, due to light refraction over the Irish Sea in early April and October, the Isle of Man can be seen beyond Barrow-in-Furness. The view sweeps south taking in Heysham, Blackpool and Southport and then beyond the Mersey estuary the Mountains of North Wales.

Unusually for one of my walks, we reverse the route for a while. I always like a complete circular walk but in this case the reverse is unavoidable. Retrace back to point 3 but do not join the path up from White Coppice but carry straight on the main track.

Note: You may notice a ruined building at the copse of trees. This is called Drinkwater’s and if you look on the map you will see close by there is Great Hill Farm. This is also a ruin. These are the remains of just two of the many farms that once dotted these moors. They were purchased then cleared of people by Liverpool Corporation Water Works to avoid contamination of the feeder streams to the many reservoirs in the area.

Keep on the very good track as it crosses the open moor. This is a good area for bird watching and binoculars would not go amiss on a summer’s day.

6. The track reaches a stile. Cross this and go straight onto a tarmac road that leads steeply down hill. Follow this all the way down until the bottom where it joins a road. Turn left and go straight on to the main road. Go straight on uphill as the road bends right and then turn left back to the swimming pool and start.

Compass points

Start and Finish: The car park behind Brinscall Swimming Pool School Lane.

Distance: 5.9Miles / 9.5 Km

Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors.

Terrain: This is boot country as the route on the moors can be rough underfoot and at times very muddy. It is wise to avoid this walk in thick mist as it can be easy to take the wrong path on the moors. Some of the walls shown on the OS map that could be used for guidance have fallen into disrepair and in some cases are not there anymore. I have managed to get lost a few times in mist and I have spent years running and walking these moors.

Facilities: There are no public toilets in the village.

Watering Hole: The Cottage Tea Room

At the conclusion, instead of turning left to the swimming pool, carry on uphill and on the left is the small but delightful cafe. It is actually a cottage that was converted to a tearoom in 2008 and it honestly feels like you have been invited to lunch in someone’s living room. It is open Wednesday to Sunday and serves excellent food. The fact that cyclists and walkers throng here justifies the quality. Home made tea loaf with a lump of Lancashire cheese and a pot of tea – what more can one want after such a lovely walk?

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