Short Walks
The expression “Going for a walk” has a degree of elasticity about it. At one end of the spectrum there is the 30 mile yomp that represents the fare of the Long Distance Walking Association. At the other end is the 15 minute amble round the local park. Most walks in this column focus on the distances in between – those that can be done in a morning or afternoon. In the New Year edition I highlighted Long Distance Paths as a way of encouraging readers to attempt something a little more challenging by tackling trails to be done over two or three days. (Or more!) In the interest of balance this week I will consider short walks.
There are two aspects on why someone might go on a short walk. The main one is time – taking the dog out before or after work or enjoying a break away from the desk at lunch time – it’s all they can afford. The second aspect is stamina – it’s all they can manage physically. This particularly applies to those who find themselves retired and would like to try walking but years of a sedentary lifestyle has left them unfit. The good news for you is that even short walks have beneficial effects in terms of health and mental wellbeing. In addition the more short walks you do the more you will be able to attempt longer walks.
Here I cannot let modesty prevent me from drawing attention to my book “100 Walks in Lancashire” (Published by Crowood Press £10.99) which is arranged by length of walk with the shortest first – Blackpool’s Golden Mile. Urban walks such as the Liverpool World Heritage Walk published on these pages two weeks ago are another fruitful source of ideas for short walks as are the numerous public parks to be found all over Lancashire.
Below I’ve described a walk from the popular Gamecock Inn taking you onto the recently created footpath crossing the Martholme Viaduct.

 Fact file
Start/finish: The Gamecock Whalley Road Great Harwood BB6 7UH

 

It has to be stated that this is really a pub walk masquerading as a short walk in that you can only use the car park as a customer of the pub. The good news is that its carvery is excellent value at £5.90 and the staff are friendly and obliging.

 

Distance 1 ¾ miles

Time: Less than an hour
 

Grade: Easy

Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors but hardly necessary

 

Map by kind permission of Johnston Press 

  

Directions:

From the car park cross the A680 with considerable care - it's the type of highway that seems to induce drivers to put their foot down! Once safely on the pavement on the far side turn right.

 

Walk along the road to reach Martholme Lane in ¼ mile. Turn left.

 

Follow the lane to reach Martholme Viaduct.

 

Given that until Nigel led me on this walk I had never heard of this viaduct despite it being close to my daily commute when I worked I was impressed with this structure - not just with its scale but with its rather graceful curve across the River Calder. It was built in 1870s on a section of the East Lancashire Line known as the Great Harwood Loop.

On the right of the lane take a footpath leading to a flight of steps

 

that take you to the south end of the viaduct.

 

The main span can be accessed through a set of railings. The bridge is surprisingly wide

 

but leads only to another set of iron railings on the far side but without a gate. Now retrace your steps taking in the views each side of the viaduct. To the east it has to be said they are rather less inspiring with the commercial parks alongside the M65 - just when did distribution depots get so big? But the view to the west more than compensates for this. To my mind one of the most visually pleasing sights in Lancashire as the Calder meanders through a wooded vale on its way to the Ribble.

 

Once back at the top of the steps continue on a well made track through trees until you return to Martholme Lane.

 

There are no complications. Once on the lane turn left for the Gamecock.