Walking in the Douglas Valley - the route
This is quite a challenging walk of just under twelve miles taking in the picturesque landscape of the Douglas Valley and on a clear day providing unrivalled panoramic views from the Liverpool skyline and the mountains of North Wales in the south west to the Pennines, the Bowland Fells and Fylde coast to the east and north. It requires strong waterproof boots and is best approached using public transport with Wigan as a start and finish point, where parking and convenient bus and train services are readily accessible. Take the Arriva St Helens via Orrell service 352 or one of the Skelmersdale, Ormskirk, Southport services 375, 385, 395 from the bus station to the start point at Abbey Lakes and purchase the relatively good value day ticket. Taking the Skelmersdale, Ormskirk, Southport route will enable walkers to alight at the Abbey Lakes Hotel from where it is only necessary to cross the road to the start point in Spencers Lane opposite, using the St Helens service will require a short walk along Orrell Road from the bus stop at Orrell Post.
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 285 (Southport & Chorley, Wigan Formby, Ormskirk) 1:25000 refers.
On reaching the start point (SD528051) enter Spencers Lane and continue along the footpath at the far end. With the golf course over to the left follow the track past a farm to a junction with another path running east/west, turn left along this path, enter Dean Wood and cross the brook. Turn right and follow the water course to two footbridges at a point where another stream enters from a gully on the left. Cross the wooden footbridge (SD531066) and turn left into the gully where a footpath ascends to exit the wood via the steps. At the top turn left and follow the path along the edge of the field to its junction with a wide track (Whitley Road), turn right and follow this lane through an avenue of trees to Walthew Green and Roby Mill, emerging at a main road via School Lane at the side of the Fox Tavern. Cross the road and turn right. Turn left at a footpath sign a short distance along at the end of a row of stone cottages, follow the path around the back of the properties and cross the stile onto a grass path heading up the hill. Keep to the left of the hedgerow and bearing right at the top emerge into Crow Lane at a footpath sign. Turn left up the hill and continue to a footpath sign (on the right) where the road bends left. Turn right here and follow the track for a short distance before turning left onto a footpath (SD509075) to climb the hill keeping the hedge on the left. Eventually with the cricket field at Dalton over to the left the footpath emerges onto a minor road (Long Heys Lane). Turn right and follow the road around a left hand bend then turn left opposite a high stone wall onto a waymarked footpath leading to the monument and viewpoint at Ashurst Beacon.
Turn right at the monument pass the viewpoint and continue down the eastern slope following the footpath through the woods and fields to rejoin Long Heys Lane negotiating a number of stiles and a footbridge on the way. At the lane turn left and continue down into the valley to the entrance to Banghams Farm on the right. Turn left here and proceed along a farm track as far as a wooded area, do not enter the woods, follow the track to the right (SD505086) and continue down into the valley to join Lees Lane opposite a farm house. Turn left along the lane and take the waymarked track at the side of a large stone property approximately 100 yards on the right, stay on this track and continue to the footbridge over the river Douglas (SD507100). Cross the footbridge and follow the track over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the railway line bridges to its junction with Wood Lane Parbold. Here, look for and take the path which goes straight ahead and make the steep climb along the edge of old quarry workings and a wooded area to join the main B5239 road at the top of Parbold Hill opposite the Miller and Carter Steakhouse (the Wiggin Tree Restaurant SD509107). If you are lucky there will be an ice cream van in the lay by for refreshments and seats to rest and take in the view.
When you are ready to continue cross the road to the restaurant turn right and take the footpath a hundred yards down the hill on the left. Follow this path keeping the hedge on the left then enter a field to the left and continue in the same direction as before with the hedge on the right. Pass around the left hand edge of a wooded area and a couple of ponds, at this point a cluster of houses can be seen in the distance. Continue along the path towards them and enter a narrow lane leading to the road at High Moor (SD509118). Turn right at the main road, continue for a hundred yards or so and turn left at the far side of the High Moor Restaurant between the gate posts to enter the driveway to Harrock Hall. Ignore the first footpath on the right, continue to the second one where the main driveway bends left and pass through the gate on the right. Follow the path up to Harrock Hill past a wooded area with the radio mast some distance ahead to the right and turn left at the top. Continue along the path following the left hand edge of a small wood then along the back and along the edge of the field to cross a stile to a track crossing at right angles close to the ruined windmill (SD511132). Turn right along this track and descend to the east to join a lane, continue along the lane in the same direction past its junction with Sanderson Lane on the left to a tee junction at Cooper's Lane. Turn right here and look for a waymarked footpath with a stile 50yds on the left (SD517133). Take this path across the field and continue over a stile into a field on the right. Go down this field keeping the hedge on the left and continue to the lowest point, cross a stile and a footbridge over a stream followed by two further stiles onto a wide track which eventually emerges onto Toogood Lane at Toogood Farm (SD525132). Turn right along the lane and turn left at a waymarked footpath a few hundred yards on the left just beyond the houses. Continue along this footpath passing a fishing lake to gain access to Mossy Lea Road (B5250) at Wrightington. Turn right here towards Mossy Lea and Standish, pass a playing field on the left and continue to the junction with Broadhurst Lane also on the left a little further on. Turn into Broadhurst Lane and continue ahead for a few hundred yards before turning into a narrow lane on the right at (SD537131), follow the waymarked sign at the end of the lane along the track and over a stile into the fields. At this point you will see Chisnall Wood in the distance ahead, continue along the footpath following the waymarkers as necessary to reach a footpath running at right angles close to the northern edge of the wood. Turn right onto this path (its a little confusing here, there will be sheep grazing and at one point there appear to be some old shallow clay excavations), do not enter the wood but follow the path along its western edge to a stile near the far end. Enter the wood via the stile, cross the brook and exit the wood and cross the M6 motorway at the bridge. Turn right on the other side of the motorway, follow the track south for a short distance and take a path on the right which descends to Stars Brook at (SD547121). Cross the footbridge over the brook and continue along the footpath through the fields before turning left onto a farm track leading to Langtree Old Hall Farm and the A49 at the new Seven Stars Inn (SD555120).
Cross the road here to the bus stop a few yards to the right outside the Indian Restaurant and caravan showground, where the Arriva 362 service provides a half hourly service (hourly on Sundays) back to the start point in Wigan. Timetable information for the 362 service is posted at the bus stop and for this and other services on-line at the Arriva web site www.arrivabus.co.uk.
Palfreyman September 2016.
Farthingale Publications:... Is a hobby web site containing articles of local interest to Lancastrians, some favourite walking and cycling routes, selected words and poetry, and some writings of more general nature as well as the authors own picture gallery. Access is available via the homepage and menu at the head of the page.