Barrow Bridge - Walker Fold - Crooked Edge Hill - Barrow Bridge

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Starting and ending at Barrow Bridge, a local beauty spot,with its 18th Century cottages along the river and unique access bridges to well-kept gardens, this walk explores the varied characteristics of a West Pennine valley. Deciduous woodland (part of Smithills Country Park) initially lines the river, but as altitude is quickly gained via the famous 63 steps, this soon gives way to pasture and smallholdings.

The hamlet of Walker Fold with a number of old cottages, including ‘Eagle Field College’ which have been sympathetically renovated, is the initial destination. Beyond it the higher parts of the river are lined by coniferous woodland, well-established and varied enough to make the walk interesting as it undulates and criss-crosses the stream. On emerging from the woodland, upland sheep grazing surrounding Holden's Farm eventually becomes open moorland as the highest point is reached. Winter Hill telecommunications mast is a striking feature to the north as one approaches the highest point of the walk.

The ‘Three Lads Cairns’ at the top of Crooked Edge Hill / Wilders Moor are of relatively recent construction but have become a local landmark; and this spot provides dramatic views (on a clear day) of the nearby Rivington Pike and further afield the Lancashire and Cheshire Plains - Blackpool Tower, Southport and Liverpool are easily visible, plus Snowdonia and Lakeland Fells on the best days.

The return route involves crossing and re-crossing the ascent, forming a series of 'figures-of-eight' and avoiding almost any retracing of steps. A sluice and dyke are encountered at the beginning of the descent, which then proceeds beneath Burnt Edge back to Walker Fold - views of Bolton, Ramsbottom and the Pennines are encountered and Barrow Bridge chimney at the bottom of the valley is a constant aid to the required direction. A final descent into deciduous woodland via newly-constructed steps down to the river, form an interesting contrast to the ancient '63 steps' and Barrow Bridge ‘bridge’ can be admired from a different aspect.

England - North England - Manchester - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Nature Trail, Public Transport, River, Toilets, Waterfall, Woodland
17/04/2015 - Mark Ziprin

15/4/15: First time I have done this route and it was really good. A glorious spring evening with easy to follow instructions and great views. This is one I will repeat.

26/11/2014 - Ian Humphreys

Did this walk 24/11/14. Fantastic although quite wet and slippery under foot. Beware the boardwalks where the wire mesh has perished or has been worn away as they are very slippery. Other parts of the path particularly in the woods are very soft and muddy so wet weather gear and boots are a must. Boots are needed any time of year as some of the paths are quite stony.

26/11/2014 - Ian Humphreys

Did this walk 24/11/14. Fantastic although quite wet and slippery under foot. Beware the boardwalks where the wire mesh has perished or has been worn away as they are very slippery. Other parts of the path particularly in the woods are very soft and muddy so wet weather gear and boots are a must. Boots are needed any time of year as some of the paths are quite stony.

21/02/2013 - angela mckay

Did this walk last Sunday (17/2) and it was fantastic. Quite muddy in some places in the woods but only to be expected due to the amount of rain/snow we have recently experienced. The 'winter hill' signpost still points up the hill at WP14, but thanks to one of the previous comments,(Alec) this didn't cause us any problems. The view from Crooked Edge Hill (WP26) is gorgeous, as is the scenery on the entire walk. Glad the 63 steps were at the beginning of the walk when we were still feeling quite energetic! Had our two dogs (one big and one little) with us and the stiles were all dog friendly which is always a bonus! Brilliant walk, cannot recommend it highly enough and will definitely do it again. :)

16/04/2012 - Alec Jackson

Did the walk today (16/4/12). Excellent directions, good views from the summit. One minor point however, WP14 states to follow the sign post. The sign post points up the hillside to the left (it is part of the return back). You should continue along the path along side the fence. Good walk with dogs.

15/04/2012 - Walkingworld Admin

Our thanks to Robin Heap for his full rewrite for this walk. April 2011. Adrian (Admin)

21/12/2011 - Alec Jackson

Did the walk today. Between waymark 11 and 12 the directions 'follow the stony path across the stream by footbridge for the final occasion on the ascent'. I followed these directions and the path followed some steps up and down either side of the stream. The footbridge is missing and the stream was quite fast flowing and approx 6 foot wide at this point. I had to cross holding on to the wire fencing for the woodland on the right hand side. The path continued up to the road as mentioned. I think I was on the right path. Very misty so could not see cairns as landmark.

23/03/2010 - Chris Baines

Really enjoyed this walk, from an area not that well known on the west side of Winter Hill. Directions are generally good, but are little confusing from waypoint 8. You emerge from the woods onto a bridalway with a gate, not a stile. At point 9, you don't mention that you turn left at Holden's Farm. Despite these small issues, the walk is really enjoyable.

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31.1 Miles