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A walk from Chorley to Wigan via the Lancaster Canal

The Route

canalThis walk begins and ends at the bus station in Hallgate Wigan and is approximately nine and a half miles long on mostly flat terrain, taking up to four hours excluding the bus journey. Take the 362 service from Wigan bus station to Chorley and alight at the bus station just off Shepherd's Way opposite the Railway Station. There are four buses an hour, the fare is approximately £3.10 single without a bus pass and the journey takes forty minutes. After leaving the bus cross the road to the railway station opposite and look for the short pedestrian tunnel to the right of the station,canal pass under the railway lines using this tunnel and emerge into Steeley Lane on the other side. Walk up the hill to the point where Steeley Lane makes a ninety degree turn to the right and continue straight ahead into Seymour Street to its junction with Eaves Lane. Cross Eaves Lane, turn right and continue for some distance before taking a left fork into Cowling Brow. The road here descends into the Yarrow valley and passes new industrial units on the site of the old Thomas Witters factory, when eventually the road begins to climb again look for the entrance to the Lancaster Canal towpath on the left, join it and turn right to follow the canal in a southerly direction signposted Adlington (see picture above left).

Webhosting UKVery few directions are required from here on, the canal following a course passing beneath the A6 towards Adlington and the marina at White Bear. On the stretch just before the A6 crosses the canal look out for the sign post directing you to Frederick's Ice Cream Parlour, the ice cream is mouth wateringly good and worth walking twenty miles for, you will almost certainly find it impossible to ignore. Go on - be a devil, the short diversion will only add a few minutes to the walk. Returning to the canal towpath if you have left it, continue ahead passing underneath the bridge carrying the A6 towards Manchester, into Adlington and White Bear with its industrial area and marina. A little further ahead the canal is carried over the river Yarrow in a viaduct, after which the canal bends to the right to follow a more direct route to Top Lock at New Springs and Wigan. On the opposite bank at this point is the disused Lancashire Union Railways trackbed which used to connect with Red Rock and Boars Head stations and the Whelley Loop line, it is possible to leave the canal here and use this as an alternative route as far as Red Rock by taking the exit footpath down to the Yarrow and underneath the canal, however the canal route is probably the more scenic of the two. A number of miles further on we begin to approach Standish as we reach the bridge at Arley Lane with Arley Hall the home of Wigan Golf Club behind the wall on the right and Abbey Farm further along on the left. The walk continues from here to Red Rock and the site of the old station, those who chose to follow the railway line from Adlington must now rejoin the canal towpath for the final stretch crossing Pendlebury Lane and Sennicar Lane, passing the site of the old Wigan Rowing Club before reaching the lattice bridge on the main drive from Haigh Hall to the Plantation Gates on Wigan Lane. Leave the canal towpath here, turn right and follow the main drive ignoring the immediate turning on the right leading to Hall Lane. The drive continues for a couple of miles from here crossing an ornamental wrought iron bridge over the disused Whelley Loop line towards the river Douglas which is the continuation of the Yarrow we crossed earlier in the walk. Ignore the left turn which is signposted Whelley and continue ahead, but before the bend to the right towards the bridge over the Douglas look out for and take the footpath going down to the left, cross the brook by the footbridge and take the steps up to the footpath to follow the river across the bottom of Coppull Lane and emerge onto Powell Street/Greenhough Street at the side of the Tesco Supermarket on the site of the old Central Park stadium. Turn right and then left into Standishgate through the centre of town back to the bus station in Hallgate to complete the walk. Just one note of caution, when I did the walk recently the footpath from the plantations along the Douglas Valley into town was closed due to flood defence works at the bottom of Coppull Lane which required a diversion and a climb up to Bottling Wood and Whelley to rejoin the footpath nearer the town.

Click here to see the walk in pictures 

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Palfreyman - November 2010