Lancashire walks - Whalley
PUBLISHED: 18:24 10 January 2016 | UPDATED: 16:47 19 January 2016
John Lenehan takes us past seven million bricks on a walk with one of the finest start points in Lancashire
Whalley has everything going for it and that is why it is one of the busiest little villages in Lancashire. Railway buffs can admire the huge multi-arched viaduct that spans the Calder Valley and occasionally catch sight of a steam train crossing it. History buffs can tour the ancient abbey and church and shoppers can trawl the high fashion and gift shops and enjoy the delights of the many cafes. Then, to top it off, there are fantastic wine bars and pubs. All are good reasons to start and finish a walk there.
This month’s hike requires good boots as there are some steep and some muddy sections to contend with - especially at the moment.
1. This has got to be one of the most impressive starts to a walk as the road runs straight through the north west gatehouse of Whalley Abbey. Leave the gatehouse and walk towards the village centre along The Sands to Church Lane and pass Whalley Parish Church then turn left onto King Street and on towards Clitheroe.
Note: The gatehouse was built around 1320. The upper floor of the now roofless building used to be the lodgings of the Vicar of Whalley. The Abbey itself dates from the 13th century and was dissolved by Henry the VIII in 1536. The Abbey is really worth visiting at another date.
2. At the roundabout turn right into Brookes Lane and follow this until it forks and take the right fork through a gate and with a stream on your right carry on until another wooden gate but do not go through, instead bear right and cross a stile into open field. The stream is now on your left. Keeping to the left go uphill and the path forks take the left fork and enter the woods. Cross a wooden footbridge then bear right and follow the path uphill and under the bridge of the A671.
3. Go up some steps and enter Spring Wood through a stile then, at the path T-junction, turn right and follow this past the car park on the right until you meet a main path coming up from the car park. Cross this and bear slightly left towards a gap in the trees and descend towards a stream and climb the steep opposite side to the golf course. Once on the golf course turn immediately left and staying close to the trees, go up hill until a path leading to a footbridge appears on the left. Cross this and a stile and follow the path as it bears right to a stile and into open fields. Go straight uphill bearing slightly right towards some trees with a wire fence on your right. Ignore the stile that crosses the fence and carry on uphill until you reach a stile by a wall. Once over the stile ignore the stile that leads right towards a ruined building but keep left with a wire fence on the right and follow this until you cross a stile to enter a wood. Carry on a go through a metal gate then cross a ladder stile and head down hill diagonally left towards a white building.
4. Cross a stile out of the field and then turn immediately right and climb steeply uphill in what seems to be a stream bed until it meets a wall coming from the right follow this keeping it on the right and through a gate and then on to and through a metal gate and head towards a radio mast. The path bears right away from the radio mast then bears left below a quarry on the left and above another quarry on the right. A stile between two telegraph poles leads into rough moorland - cross this and keep a wire fence to your right carry on and eventually downhill on the right is a gate in a wall. Go through this and onto a second wall with a gate, go through this and turn left.
5. Keeping the wall to the left follow the track through two gates. After the second gate the wall is now on the right and the path bears left away from it on a rough path with footpath marker posts as a guide. Eventually the path leads to a track at Wilkin Heys Farm then follow the track towards Parsley Barn.
6. Join the main road to Sabden and turn left uphill towards the Nick of Pendle.
Note: The approach to the Nick from either side is a tough bike ride and is quite famous in the cycling world outside of Lancashire. The Tour of Britain came over it in 2015. They rode up faster than I could ride down with no brakes!
7. Immediately past the car park at the Nick on the left there is a wooden gate and stile crossing a wall. Climb over this and head downhill over another stile then bear left and down to a white gate in a wall. There is a sign saying Nick of Pendle, Pendleton, and Wiswell Cold Coats. Follow Wiswell Cold Coats. Do not go through the gate.
8. The map shows a path leading through the building of Wymondhouses but, just before you reach the buildings, there are some white marker posts on the left that lead to a concessionary footpath sign and a stile. I followed these and crossed the stile, basically bypassing the buildings. Once over the stile bear diagonally right across the field until a small gully and in the bottom there is a stile. Cross this and a stream and go steeply uphill and enter a field and head diagonally right towards the buildings of Cold Coats.
9. Enter the yard at Cold Coats then turn right and then left onto the road to Wiswell and follow this.
10. Turn first right down Whiteacre Lane and follow this down to Whalley Road.
11. Directly across Whalley Road there is a stile, cross this and follow the path until it reaches two metal gates. Go through the left one and then onto a stile leading to the railway line. Take care crossing the railway and cross a stile on the other side.
12. In the field there is a footpath sign pointing left, follow this to another sign on a tree then keep on towards some buildings with a wire fence with a footpath sign on a post keep this on the right and head towards a stile. Cross this and then another stile into a track and follow this to Mitton Road.
13. Turn right and follow the road towards Mitton and then take the second turning on the left.
14. Follow the lane until it reaches a gate and stile and go through this and keep on the track past some houses and Calderstones Hospital until it bears left through a gate and onto a T Junction. Turn left and reach a gate and stile with a sign saying Whalley go through the gate and follow the track.
15. The path forks take the right. There is a sign saying River Calder. Follow the path to the riverbank and follow this with the river on you right. Turn left away from the river and pass the sewage works then pass under the bridge of the bypass and keeping straight on pass under Whalley Viaduct to arrive back at the start.
Note: Whalley Viaduct has 29 arches. The arches near the abbey have been in filled and given a more ecclesiastical look by the architect. It is 605 metres long and over 21 metres high and it took 7,000,000 bricks to build it and these were made near the viaduct as building progressed. It was completed in 1849 at a cost of around £40,000. That would not buy a house in Whalley today.
There are so many pubs, cafes, a fish and chip shop and restaurants in Whalley that are all are excellent and should be visited. I think for walkers the very busy CJs sandwich shop is a place to consider as it serves excellent sandwiches, pies, soups, and cakes, and has nice outdoor tables to watch the world go by. It is often used by groups of walkers and cyclists and the old adage always is true. If you see a lot of cyclists at a café you know its good. Try riding a bike after a bad meal and you will realise why cyclists always find good cafes. Note: CJs is closed on Sundays. In Wiswell, there is an award-winning dining pub called The Freemasons and The Eagle at Barrow. Both require a detour.
Length: 9.4 miles
This article was written before the floods caused by Storm Eva in December 2015, some sections of this walk may have been affected by this, so do take every caution.