The Reelers Trail
The Reelers Trail – An easy 7.5 mile walk around the area of Tockholes in Blackburn, Lancashire. A section of the larger 32 mile Witton Weavers Way circular route. The route takes you through farmland, woodland, reservoirs and the small village of Tockholes. A good mix of nature, history and the areas industrial past.
Step 1 - Livesey Library to Stanworth Farm
Starting at the Leeds and Liverpool canal towpath near Livesey Library at Cherry Tree continue along the towpath for around 1.5 miles, you will soon come to a small steel bridge that crosses the canal near a mill tower at the Star Paper Mill. Walk under the bridge, up the slope, cross the bridge and head up the grass path that leads up to Stanworth Farm.
Step 2 - M65 Motorway Bridge to Bradley Farm
At the top of the field turn left down the hill towards the M65 motorway bridge, turn right and walk under the bridge (which can be very loud underneath depending on the amount of traffic rushing over your head). From here you need to follow the boundary of the woods to your left and continue along the rough track in the fields until you come to a stile at the corner of the second field. Climb the stile and drop down into the woods until you come to a wooden foot bridge, cross the bridge. From here you will see a small wooden stile at the top of quite steep hill. Climb the hill and stile, and then cross the old stone bridge (under the bridge is an old, disused railway line that once ran through the area.) From here you will see Bradley Farm just to your right in the distance, keep going straight and take a sharp right turn, through the gate and through the farmyard. (Be careful not to startle the dogs that are in the barns, it was quite early when I did this route, and I jumped out of my skin when they started barking).
Step 3 - Bradley Farm to the Hare and Hounds Public House
As you exit the farmyard you will see a long farmers track ahead of you. Continue along this track, which will take you through 3 fields. At the end of the third field, Do not go through the gate that leads to Red Lea Farm, instead as you near the gate to the farm, turn right and follow the fence line, in the corner you will see a rickety wooden stile. Climb the stile entering the small wooded area and take the second stile on your left. Now this area if very confusing, as you are tempted to go to your right further into the woods. (See pictures for clearer route). Instead simply keep going straight, keeping the woods to your right, in the general direction of Red Lea Farm, which you should see through the tree line. You will soon come to a small wooden stile again, with a small wooden foot bridge that crosses drainage for the fields.
Simply follow the path down through the woods and cross the wooden footbridge that crosses the river. You will then come to a tarmac road. Turn right here and walk along the road as it gently climbs and lazily meanders. As you follow the road, you will notice some horse paddocks on your right, and houses in the distance. You will soon come to
Step 4 - Hare and Hounds Pub to St Stephen's Church
At the Hare and Hounds car park immediately turn left, taking the path that runs alongside Rake Brook Reservoir. As you near the house at the end of the path, take a left down the stairs and cross the ford, using the bridge. Following the path, you will soon come to Lower Roddlesworth Reservoir, turn left here and follow the path along the embankment. You will now be entering a wood, continue along this track as its climbs gradually for around 500 yards or so. The track will fork here, just before the fork you will see a very hidden smaller track on your left (see pictures), I have actually missed this before, and gone way off course. Take the hidden track and go through the old metal kissing gate. At the very top of the field you emerge into you will see a 17th century farmhouse called Higher Hill Farm. Notice the stone thing sticking out of the right hand side of the outer wall, that is what is known as a “garderobe”. It’s basically a very, very old toilet used in t’olden days. I wonder if its still used a toilet.
Just past the house, you will see a wooden kissing gate in the wall, go through this gate, cross the small field and through another stile on the opposite side. From here take an immediate right on to the farm lane passing some old weavers cottages. At the junction, turn left and take the lower track in the left corner, which takes you down an old bridle way. Continue down this bridle way until you reach the crossroads at the bottom. To your right is an old parish pound, which was used to impound stray animals until their owners claimed them. On your left is one of many old graveyards in the area.
Continue down this road known as Chapels Lane, following the bend to your right – you are now passing the Tockholes United Reform Church. Follow the road down past the World War 1 Memorial Lych Gate (honouring local residents who lost their lives during the war). Continue down the road as it bends right at Chapels Barn, in around 100 you will soon arrive at St Stephen’s Church. Take the road left that runs behind the church and keep going for a few yards. As you approach several modern houses notice the small rock garden on your right, you will spot a sign that says “Ramblers Footpath”. go up here and cross the rock bridge and over the wooden stile into a field.
Step 5 - St Stephen's Church to Stockclough Lane
As you enter the field, you are now exiting the village of Tockholes. Following the rough grass track, keeping the tree line to your left, you will soon come to a small wooden bridge and stile. Climb the stile and walk across the field, climbing a second stile. In this field, walk about halfway down, you will see another stile next to an old crooked oak tree. After climbing this stile keep the fence and trees to your left, at the bottom corner of this field is another stile which leads into some woods. Enter the woods and cross the wooden bridge over Sheep Bridge Brook and climb over yet another stile into yet another field. Walk across this field, keeping the stone wall to your left and climb the ladder stile onto the narrow track that runs parallel to the Motorway (very noisy). At the very bottom of this track you will emerge onto Stockclough Lane.
Step 6 - Stockclough Lane to End of Walk
As you emerge onto Stockclough Lane, turn immediately right, and walk under the M65 through the concrete tunnel. Walk along Stockclough Lane for around 400 yards, past the Airgun club on your left. You will soon come to 2 tracks that lead to Lower Whitehalgh Farmhouse, taking the second right up the trackway. Following this track it will turn right into the farmyard, do not enter the farm instead bearing left up the track keeping the wall on your right. You will spot some mounds of grass on your left and a farm building in the distance. As the track veers right, turn left across the field. If you keep following the faint track in the grass you will happen upon a stone stile in the wall. Climb over the stile, skirting the building and head along the driveway to Brokenstone Road.
**As of October 2019, the route here has changed. Due to a new housing estate being built on the farm land, the public path has been “moved”. Now I didn’t realise this until I was already here, and the sign helpfully told me to go to the council offices to find where the path had moved to. To be honest this part of the walk is pretty boring and just takes you through a housing estate off Livesey Branch Road. But if you want a cheeky gander at some Alpacas (Or Lamas), climb the stile here and have a peek in the farm yard on your left. I will however revert to a more preferred route I take here**
As you emerge onto Brokenstone Road, turn left and follow the road all the way down to the main road. At the roundabout turn left and continue until you reach the canal bridge at Feniscowles. As you walk down the ramp onto the towpath simply follow the path all the way back to the start of the walk.