Alex Foxfield

Wonderful walking in the wild West Pennines— Witton Weavers Way

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Wonderful walking in the wild West Pennines— Witton Weavers Way

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

7

Tours

29:48 h

67.4 mi

5,900 ft

The West Pennine Moors are home to some of England’s most serene and stupendous walking country. Old miner’s tracks, riverside paths, ancient bridleways and canal towpaths form a varied and beguiling network of trails. Curlews soar above the high, open moorland, kingfishers guard their riverside territory and the percussive tapping of woodpeckers echo through the woodlands.

Cosy country pubs welcome hikers with the same enthusiasm as they have for centuries. Up on the vast moors, vistas open up to the Lake District, North Wales and the Northern Pennines, which contrast superbly with the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester to the south.

Exploring this beautiful part of rural Lancashire is the Witton Weavers Way, a 32-mile (51 km) long-distance circuit of the region. As well as this, four distinct named trails — the Beamers, the Reelers, the Tacklers and the Warpers — offer alternative loops that incorporate much of the main route and some charming sections of their own. Each of these additional walks are specifically designed to be completed in a day.

Launched on the 22nd May 1993, the Way was the brainchild of Ian Barker of the Blackburn Rambling Association. He was asked by the local council to put together a long-distance hike that stayed within the Blackburn Borough. As he put the main route together, he realised the possibility for a quartet of smaller loops and decided to incorporate them as part of the project.

The main trail and the four separate day hikes are named after the individual disciplines of the region’s textile workers. Blackburn was once the ‘weaving capital of the world’, and the remnants of the once thriving textile industry are writ large across the countryside. As you ramble through its towns and villages, you discover a vibrant industrial past.

Nevertheless, the Way is also full of natural splendour and scenic beauty. Deep wooded valleys, tranquil reservoirs, wild hills, windswept moors and gorgeous country parks make this a trek of great variety.

Highlights along the Way include: Witton Country Park, a gorgeous area of mixed woodland, parkland and farmland; Hoghton Bottoms, a picturesque sandstone gorge with a tumbling weir; Roddlesworth Reservoirs, a trio of peaceful artificial lakes surrounded by woodland; Cheetham Close, the moorland site of an ancient stone circle; Turton Tower, a Grade-I listed Victorian manor; Darwen Tower, an icon of the region that stands proud on the high moors; and Sunnyhurst Wood, a lovely little wooded valley.

In this Collection, I’ve split the main Way into three stages of between 9 to 14 miles (14 and 23 km) in length and created Tours for the four circular day walks. Accommodation is quite sparse along the route and should definitely be booked in advance. I’ve plotted the stages of the main trail to end at specific options, which I name in the Tour descriptions. It’s traditional to tackle the Way anti-clockwise but there’s nothing to stop you reversing this, should you wish.

The Way is suitable for all seasons, but the exposed moorland sections can be very cold in winter. A hat, gloves and plenty of layers should see you through it, while waterproofs and sturdy hiking boots are essential all year round. In the warmer months, the trails come to life with wildflowers in the woods and vibrant, yellow gorse on the hillsides. During this time, sun cream is a must, even on cloudy days.

The main trail starts and finishes at Witton Country Park, which is a short walk from Cherry Tree train station. It is on the line between Blackburn and Preston, the latter of which is well connected to the rest of the UK by the West Coast Mainline. For motorists, it’s just a short way off the M65. I have included details of how to access the four separate day hikes in their individual Tour descriptions.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    Difficult
    06:10
    14.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,400 ft
    850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage explores the countryside to the west of Blackburn, taking you to the Yellow Hills and the picturesque Hoghton Bottom, a wooded sandstone gorge. It then gradually ascends …

  • Intermediate
    03:56
    8.98 mi
    2.3 mph
    700 ft
    850 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The middle stage is a sumptuous moorland ramble that takes you onto Cheetham Close, where the Druids built a stone circle in ancient times. Yet more history is in store …

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  • Difficult
    05:15
    11.9 mi
    2.3 mph
    875 ft
    1,300 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    After a long but gradual ascent of the moors, the final stage takes you up to Darwen Tower, one of the most recognisable landmarks in the region. From here you …

  • Intermediate
    02:44
    6.14 mi
    2.2 mph
    575 ft
    575 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The beautiful Witton Country Park, the gorse-covered Yellow Hills and the picturesque village of Pleasington characterise the Beamers Trail, a perfect afternoon jaunt to the west of Blackburn. After tackling …

  • Intermediate
    03:45
    8.67 mi
    2.3 mph
    575 ft
    575 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Reelers Trail is a lovely ramble through the varied rural landscapes to the south west of Blackburn. Dotted with historical sites of religious, industrial and agricultural significance, it’s a …

  • Intermediate
    04:25
    9.65 mi
    2.2 mph
    1,150 ft
    1,150 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Tacklers Trail is the most strenuous of the Witton Weavers Way circular walks. It combines gorgeous woodland with open moorland to create a loop of great character and sumptuous …

  • Intermediate
    03:32
    8.05 mi
    2.3 mph
    625 ft
    650 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Warpers Trail is a gorgeous walk that links three picturesque reservoirs, a Grade I-listed manor house and the lovely village of Entwistle. It’s an easy amble, with just a …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    67.4 mi
  • Duration
    29:48 h
  • Elevation
    5,900 ft
Alex Foxfield

Wonderful walking in the wild West Pennines— Witton Weavers Way