Back in the 16th and 17th centuries if you were a Lord in a stately home and the monarch indicated their intention to visit you would be advised to make some excuse and as politely as possible put them off. “Oh we would love to entertain you but I will be helping Walter Raleigh with his New World project.” The trouble was not just making arrangements for the King or Queen but having to accommodate, feed and entertain the Royal Household that might number in hundreds. It was enough to bankrupt a body. This was almost the fate of the de Hoghton family of Hoghton Tower when King James I stayed on his progress in August 1617 – it is said. It was also said that the King was so pleased with the side of beef he was served that he called for what was left of the carcass and knighted it – Sir Loin – get it? Of course that could have been a marketing ploy by 17th century butchers. Whatever the truth of these tales there is no denying that the walk below is a most enjoyable amble in the lovely countryside close to the Tower. When restrictions are lifted try it and see. 

Start: Hoghton Village Hall car park PR5 0SG

Fact File:

Distance: 8 miles

Time: 4 - 5 hours

Grade: Moderate - the route has three climbs two shortish and one involving ½ mile of steady ascent from the River Darwin to Alum Scar.

Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors


Map by kind permission of Johnston Press 

From the car park turn right onto the A675 Blackburn Old Road. Walk for a little over ¼ mile to the War memorial opposite the entrance of Hoghton Tower.


From here you'll see one of the most iconic views in the county - the long drive up to the crouched silhouette of the tower itself.


Cross to the drive and walk up it imagining as you do so how King James must have been looking forward to his plate of beef. After 250yds just as the drive enters the private estate turn right onto a path leading to a metal kissing gate


and a large field. Keep slightly left climbing gently to a wooden gate. The track here once passed through a strip of woodland but the trees to the left have been cleared. After a metal gate keep ahead to a gate next to a dead oak tree and through this descend gently to a gate in the far left corner that brings you to a track leading back to the A675 at Riley Green.


At the Royal Arms turn left. Now on the A6061 continue for ¼ mile and turn left onto a broad drive.


(Not quite as impressive as Hoghton Tower's) This leads down to an isolated property. After the drive bends to the right enter pasture land through a wooden kissing gate


(alas in these days of social distance no kissing allowed) next to a metal gate. Follow a rough farm track


as it descends through a band of woodland to reach the River Darwen in a quiet and secluded valley.

Turn left on a riverside path that soon after enters woodland in what becomes increasingly steep-sided. Soon several things come at once - a wide weir


flowing down into a rocky gorge crossed by a short viaduct - the main pillar of which is reputed to be the tallest in the country at 116ft above the river.


Pass below the viaduct and arrive at the old industrial settlement of Hoghton Bottoms.


The industry is long gone and the mill converted to dwellings. Keep ahead on the lane


for about 600yds to where it swings left to go uphill to Hoghton. Here bear right to enter another part of the settlement close to Hoghton Hall. Follow the lane as it bends slightly right and then cross the River Darwen over a green metal footbridge


just past the last house on the left. Keep ahead passing in front of an old farmhouse and then turn left following an improving track with the river on the left. After a scout hut


on the right the path commences the longest climb of the walk up to Close Farm and Alum Scar House.

After skirting muddy depressions keep to a fence on the left


with fine views of the wooded valley. Higher up passing through gorse the path crosses a wall at a wooden stile to enter a huge field. Keep climbing aiming to buildings away to the left and eventually arrive at Close Farm. The route stays left of the house and picks up a drive passing a property bedecked with security camera. At a junction keep left


passing the front of Alum Scar House to join a rocky and sometimes slippery track leading down to the wooded valley


of Arley Brook crossed by a well-made stone bridge. On the far side climb up


to join a lane


and keep ahead for ½ mile to the junction with Further Lane.


Turn left. Another 700yds of lane walking brings you to Nab's Head.


After reaching this settlement turn left to descend once more to the River Darwen and another stand-alone settlement - Samlesbury Bottoms.


After crossing the river (for the final time) head uphill 100yds then turn left onto a footpath


that reunites you with the river close to an impressive weir.


The path follows the Darwen for ¼ mile upstream


and then turns right crosses a stile to join a track that climbs alongside a wall with Wild Bottom's Wood on the left.


After passing through a gateway keep ahead to join a farm track leading to Bolton Hall. Pass to the right of the hall to reach tall metal gates. A pedestrian side gate puts you on a tarmac lane. Keep on this for ½ mile to its junction with Chapel Lane.


Turn right. Chapel Lane passes a chapel,


crosses the railway and returns you to the A675. Turn left for the starting point.