Distance: 5 miles 8k
Grade: Moderate - while not hilly there are two climbs one of which can be described as prolonged!
to descend gently to Samlesbury Bottoms an old mill settlement. Across the River Darwen turn left over a stile next to a gate
to enter a broad field on the flood plain. At first the path stays close to the river passing a weir
which once helped harness power for the mill. When you reach a fence after 500yds bear right over a stile next to a metal gate and follow a track leading uphill alongside woods.
As the track levels out there are surprising views ahead of nearby Hoghton Tower and more distantly Darwen Tower. After passing through a metal gate the track swings to the right towards a farm complex (Bolton Hall).
As the track nears the buildings keep right over a stile by a gate and then continue to a similar arrangement that will place you on the farm drive. Turn right to follow the drive
to Chapel Lane. Turn right and quickly arrive at the Wesleyan established in 1792.
Cross to the bridleway opposite which is alongside the railway
and in a little under 200yds cross a stile on the left
to follow a narrow path that descends to Hoghton Bottoms. After joining a more defined path cross a stile by a brick covered well
and cross the next field to reach Viaduct Road. This is named after a viaduct which crosses the Darwen to the right at this point. Turn left. At the junction with Long Barn Brow (an extension of Chapel Lane crossed earlier) bear right to reach a collection of cottages close to the River Darwen.
Cross the green metal bridge and after passing a farmhouse turn left onto a broad track. As this enters woods close to a scout hut
it begins a prolonged climb that will end (eventually) at Close Farm. Keep to fence which appears on the left and follow it when it turns sharp right
in more open ground. The path continues through a wooded and often muddy area to reach steps that climb towards a stile over a wall.
Now in a huge field keep climbing past a depression and then onto Close Farm.
Keep to the left of the farmhouse to access its drive. At the first junction
on the corner of Alum Scar House turn left onto a bridleway which after a gate descends into Alum House Wood where there are old workings of the alum quarry. (Alum was used in the Middle Ages as a dye fixative in the wool industry.) The track crosses Arley Brook
by a fine stone bridge before climbing to farmland. Join a farm road which leads past Wallbanks House on the left and continues to Further Lane.
Turn left at the junction for Nabs Head.