April Ramble: Whittle-le-Woods And The Walton Summit Branch
This popular and enjoyable walk was undertaken a few years ago, so we decided it was time to re-visit the area again. Not only is this a scenic area, it is also steeped in local history largely connected to the commerce of the canal era.
First, a little bit of history. The Lancaster Canal was originally planned to link up with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which involved a large aqueduct across the Ribble. However, due to a lack of funds and the future competition from the railways, this structure was never built. The resultant link consisted of a canal spur from the L&L Canal to Walton Summit, followed by a tramway, which crossed the Ribble at Avenham Park, across the wooden bridge that still exists today and on to the canal basin at Corporation Street. This canal spur was the focus of our walk.
Starting from Johnson’s Hillock Locks, we followed the branch canal for a short distance before joining Town Lane, followed by a farm track that led us back to the now dry canal , down to the River Lostock and through a tunnel under the M61, followed by a much older and darker tunnel under the canal that required the use of torches. Eventually we arrived at Whittle-Le Woods and had a look at a displayed grindstone. These used to be made here and exported worldwide.
Now it was down to the Dog Inn and it was getting very warm, sort of June in April. From here, we entered a residential area and worked our way to the motorway, stopping briefly to have a look at the Lime Kiln, representing another industry that thrived due the canal.
Eventually, after a climb through fields, we arrived at the highlight of the walk, Denham Quarry. A stiff climb got us to the top and our lunch stop. The views from the top on this crystal clear day were quite stunning, ranging from Parlick in the East to the Ribble Estuary, Merseyside and the hills of North Wales.
A long steady descent now followed, through fields and along farm tracks and eventually arriving at the L&L Canal where a fishing contest was taking place. The final part of the walk was along the canal tow-path and down Johnson’s Hillock Locks, an impressive step of seven locks and back to the start.
This was a pleasant six mile route, full of interest and helped by the information supplied by the Chorley Tourism Unit. The splendid weather was a welcome bonus.
Linda & Eddie Grange