For me, a drive along the M65 is more enjoyable than most (if not all) motorways in England because there is a great mix of urbanisation and hills. Similarly to the M62, the route follows a corridor of northern towns and cuts through the Pennines. I much prefer being a passenger so I can take in the scenery.
If heading west towards Preston, to the right you have the Bowland Fells and Blackburn and to the left you have the West Pennine Moors, in particular Darwen Moor, with the noticeable rocket shaped Darwen Tower sitting on top.
Its official name is Jubilee Tower as it was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1898. Over time it appears to be adopted the name Darwen Tower, which helps identify it over the other Jubilee Towers, such as the one near Quernmore in the Forest of Bowland.
The landscape and features of the West Pennine Moors are quite similar to Bowland, which is understandable because they do neighbour each other. Today I wanted to explore some woodland paths, sample the moors, and of course Darwen Tower.
I started (and finished) at the Royal Arms pub/Vaughn’s Country Cafe on Tockholes Road and made my way into Tockholes Plantation, following the River Roddlesworth north until it eventually joins Roddlesworth Reservoir. I then made my way up to Tockholes Road and turned onto Dean Lane. From here on Darwen Tower became visible through the haze.
As I reached Earnsdale Reservoir I discovered the path along the causeway was closed. This meant I had to change my planned route and rerouted briefly onto Witton Weavers Way through Sunnyhurst Wood. I tried to rejoin my original path further down after the reservoir causeway, but discovered it was still closed here. Consequently I decided to completely reroute and avoid this path entirely. This also meant I might have to change the end of the walk due to possible time constraints.
I made my way to Sunnyhurst which is a small area on the west of Darwen and then ascended a fairly steep bridleway onto Darwen Moor, eventually reaching Darwen Tower, which was my lunch stop. It was really busy at the top, with a local rambling group, families and bikers.
After a fajita or two I took the path heading southwest, with the intention of walking onto White Hill, 401m and then Cartridge Hill 402m – the highest top of the area. But when I noticed the time I decided to cut back towards Ryal Fold to the car.
When I got to a farm called ‘New Barn’ I noticed a little top at 366m, possibly an old quarry, so decided to ‘nip’ up to the top. It’s never that simple and ended up trudging through some tough ground. I’d like to say it was worth it, but the top was pretty uninspiring, however I am glad I did it because it turned out my lift was going to be late. This worked out well because I was getting picked up at the Royal Arms. One pint turned into a few in this friendly pub.
This was a good walk, and whilst I still much prefer the Forest of Bowland, I will do more walking around here in the future.
|Terrain||Good moorland tracks|
|Bogs||A couple of boggy bits|
|Enjoyment rating (5 = best)||★★★|
The above information is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but you should always let someone know where you are going and what time you should be home. If using a GPS device, take a map and compass. Remember that mobiles don’t always have a signal. Click here for more safety information.
Accurate GPS map
On this route
Ryal Fold, Tockholes No 3 Plantation, Tockholes No2 Plantation, Roddlesworth Reservoir, Dean Lane, Earnsdale Reservoir, Witton Weavers Way, Sunnyhurst Wood, Darwen Hill, Jubilee Tower, Darwen Moor, New Barn (Farm).