Last month Alan organised a heritage day in Rossendale. The first part of our outing was the walk described below which followed the Shoe Trail up to Rossendale’s Panopticon – the Halo. The Shoe Trail was devised to celebrate the area’s connection with shoe manufacture which was once a thriving part of the local economy. As a way of marking the trail 28 clay sculptures, designed by local school children, have been placed along it. As is the way of the world we live in a few of these have been removed by the mindless no doubt to decorate gardens but enough are still in place to create fun for a family walk.  The second part our day was a tour of the wonderfully eclectic Whitaker Museum. This gem was a Victorian millowner’s mansion set in lovely parkland. In 1902 the building and park were given to the people of Rossendale “to enlighten and educate”. We were certainly enlightened and educated when we went there. The item that caught my eye was an incendiary bomb dropped in the district by a German airship in September 1916. I had no idea that zeppelins had such an extended range. Without a doubt the Dotcom Walkers star prize went to the taxidermist masterpiece of a giant python attempting to devour a tiger. Show that to your children if you want to get them off their screens!

Fact file:

Start: Whitaker Park, Rawtenstall BB4 6RE


Distance: 3 ½ miles

Time: 2 hours

Grade: Begins with a steep short climb - thereafter a doddle!

Map: OS OL21 The South Pennines.


Map by kind permission of Johnston Press 

Directions: The Shoe Trail formerly starts at the East Lancashire Railway station ¼ mile from the park entrance so for the purists add ½ mile to the distance and turn left out of the park for the station. For the adulterated remainers you can locate the first shoe close to the entrance to the park going right where the drive forks the shoe will be seen on the left.


Follow the drive upwards passing a bowling green on the right. As you enter open space bear right


ever climbing aiming for a children's play area when it comes into view. Beyond this is an upper entrance to the park giving out onto Haslingden Old Road. Cross the road, turn left and passing the entrance to Rossendale's famed dry ski slope walk 150yds and turn right onto a footpath


that climbs steeply alongside the famed dry ski slope.


Keep on this for 250 yards along a wooded way interspersed with the odd boot or shoe until it arrives on a broad track - Oakenhead Wood Old Road. Turn left out of the trees and follow the lane/track


for over ½ with wide views over towards the Peel Tower on Holcombe Moor to the south west and the Grane Valley to the west and a great arc in between. After ½ mile the track - now Laund Lane - passes a white painted farmhouse on the left


and soon after forks. Keep right


- a shoe on this junction will act as confirmation you are on the right track - and climb up to the next junction


which is close to a small car park on Cribden End Lane. Cross the lane and enter the Top O'Slate site location of the Halo Panopticon. An information board will explain the thinking behind "Panopticons" - 21st century landmarks celebrating the regeneration of East Lancashire. The Halo is 18 metre steel lattice that probably conforms to most people's idea of an UFO.


At night the structure is lit up led lighting giving it an ethereal sky blue appearance. In terms of situation the planners of the scheme couldn't have chosen better a better place. It goes into that category regular readers are familiar with …"one of the best in the county/country/universe" category. When the Dotcoms visited it last month we were blessed with particularly clear weather and were able to see far in all directions.

To go back to the start return first to Cribden End Lane and turn left in the direction of a radio mast.


When you reach the steep sided slopes of Cribden Hill


in a little under ½ look for a squeeze stile on the left through a stone wall. Through this and turn right onto a muddy track.


Contour around to where a sign post points downhill obliquely right. [Readers are strongly advised to keep to the right of way here and not be tempted to cut the obvious corner unless they wish to experience loud and bad tempered censure by the landowner!] Through a gate follow a wooded track. When you reach the yard of Cribden End Farm go left and then turn right into front of the farmhouse onto a bridleway


leading into a rolling landscape.


Keep on the path as it dips to cross a brook and then follows the side of a spur to intercept a track that is Oakenhead Wood Old Road. Turn right.


Keep on this until you reach the woods above the famed dry ski slope and soon after the footpath on the left


that you used on the outward leg.