Bold Venture Park


There can be few towns of comparable size (Population 31,600) blessed with three superlative parks as Darwen. This walk visits two of them starting with Bold Venture Park. Its curious name derives from the time in the 19th century when a local businessman decided to establish a calico printing factory in the area – though to be a “bold venture” at the time. Later a park was developed and opened in 1885 imaginatively landscaping the old workings of three quarries.   Such are the delights of this park that many readers may feel the urge to explore it properly rather than undertake the walk described below. I will not discourage you. Save the walk for another day.

Fact file:

Start. Main entrance Bold Venture Park, Manor Road, Darwen.BB3 2SF

Distance 5 ½ miles (9k)
Time: 2 ½ - 3 ½ hours
Grade: Moderate
Map OS Explorer 287 The West Pennine Moors


Map by kind permission of Johnston Press 

1. From the war memorial take the path leading to the right of the ornamental lake.


Once beyond it bear left over a bridge with the waterfall to the right. Ascend a flight of steps and turn right crossing the fall to a feature called the Labyrinth. Take a path leading right in the direction of the weather station.


Near it exit the park crossing Manor Road into Westland Avenue. At the end of the road


join a broad farm track. This is Turn Lane. Keep ahead at the next junction and keep on the track for 600yds.


As you reach the track coming down from Darwen Tower turn right. When you reach the Sunnyhurst pub


turn left and then right through the lychgate


leading into Sunnyhurst Park. Where the path divides take the right fork as it descends into the densely wooded vale. In a little under 500yds you reach the bottom of the valley at a junction of tracks. The visitors centre, toilets and café are to the right - use all three if you like - but return to this point. After passing an elegant bandstand


the path crosses the stream and turns left. The way to Earnsdale Reservoir is blocked by a recent landfall so at the first junction of paths go right


on a path leading up the side of the valley. As you reach the top take the path towards stables.


Through the yard keep ahead and after passing the house turn left on a concrete track. This takes you to a corner above the reservoir. Turn right on a stony path known as Donkey Brew.


After 150yds it reaches a junction. Here keep ahead to reach Tockholes Road.


2. Cross the lane and turn left. At the corner of woods take a bridleway


which bearing left to begin with soon leads downhill. In 300yds it reaches a broad well-made track. Cross this to take a narrower path


that leads to the end of a reservoir.


Stay left to enter the valley formed by Roddlesworth River. When you reach a flat bridge


cross it turn left and follow the river


on an undulating path through trees to reach a bridge. On reaching the track turn left and then left again on a broad track. After gateposts turn right on a path that broadens into a track leading uphill.

3. As you arrive on Tockholes Road cross to the bus stop, turn right continue towards a terrace of cottages


to join a broad track leading out onto the moors.


After 600yds the track passes through a small wood.


On the far side bear left where the track divides and then cross a stile on the right leading onto a narrow path that climbs steeply up the flank of Darwen Hill. As it levels out it joins a broader path that continues above the escarpment to reach Darwen Tower


one of the county's most prominent monuments. Inside a spiral staircase will take you to the top for an exhilarating view. Viewing over return to the base. From the tower follow the main track for 100yds and then where it divides branch right. As this track turns right near a bench keep ahead on a narrow path to descend to a farm. Turn right onto a broad track. At the next farm


turn left go through its yard and after this bends to the right take an almost obscure metal gate on the left.


This leads into the upper section of Bold Venture Park where further delights await.


At Manor Road bear slightly right to enter the lower section and return to the starting point.


To properly explore the park obtain a leaflet produced by the Friends of Bold Venture Park ( which describes the Huntington Trail. This is a sculpture trail featuring the work of Marjan Wouda a Dutch artist based in Darwen and Thompson Dagnall a sculptor based in Lancashire. Their works add interest to an already fascinating and lovely public space.

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