Chorley and the Yarrow Valley walk report – 23rd January, 2022
Members of CPRE, Manchester Weekend Walkers Rambing group, and FootstepsNW came together in force on Sunday 23rd January to explore the green spaces bordering Chorley, led by Dr. Andrew Read.
Just over 40 walkers joined the group, who met at Chorley Railway station before setting out on a 9.5 mile route which took in country parks, canal and riverside walks, and woodlands.
After a briefing at Chorley Railway Station, we walked through town to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, through majestic mature woodland, then crossed the River Yarrow on the footbridge, proceeding to Yarrow Valley Country Park. The County Park is a fantastic example of land previously used for industry being restored to provide a haven for wildlife and recreational green space, containing 14 biological heritage sites and important areas of ancient woodland. As I was back marker for most of this walk, my apologies for the fact that most of these pictures show the backs of people’s heads!
This section of the walk took us across parkland to Big Wood, and then we walked beside the River Yarrow for a while, before a section of the walk through fields and along country lanes before we returned to the banks of the Yarrow to see picturesque Birkacre Weir – formerly part of Birkacre Bleaching, Dyeing and Printing works, but now forming a wildlife habitat for Dipper, Heron, Wagtail and Kingfisher.
We continued alongside the river and then past two lakes, Top Lodge and Big Lodge, reclaimed reservoirs which are now used for fishing.
Walkers stopped to photograph the many birds in the trees and hedgerows or on the water before we stopped for lunch at the Yarrow Valley County Park visitor centre – formerly the site of a mill leased by pioneer of the Industrial Revolution, Richard Arkwright, and destroyed in a protest against industrialisation of cottage industries in 1779.
After our lunch break, our route took us along Birkacre Road to the section of the Country Park known as Dob Brow Pastures – open areas of grassland with some patches of marsh, well used by families and dog walkers despite the grey weather.
Continuing through Copper Works Wood and then Ackhurst Wood, our final stop of the day was at Astley Park, where walkers had time to get a cup of tea or an ice cream whilst looking at the outside of Grade I listed Astley Hall, a museum and art gallery which was sadly closed.
Returning to Chorley town centre along the roads, some of the group went on for a drink in a local pub.
Our thanks to Dr. Andrew Read for coming up with yet another interesting and varied circular walk route celebrating the wealth of beautiful green spaces on the doorstep in Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester, accessed by public transport!