Lancashire is not always the first on the list when it comes to planning a holiday or short break that includes an element of walking. But there are so many beautiful walks including trails through the stunning Forest of Bowland. Here are a few suggestions, including two hotels, that are perfect for a comfortable and welcoming base.
Lancashire has a network of canals that crosses the county. Towpaths are great for walking along and here are some Lancashire canal walks that we can recommend, where you can take in the stunning scenery and stop for lunchtime refreshments along the way.
Four relatively easy circular Pendle Canal walks ranging from two to five miles with sections along the Leeds & Liverpool canal towpath and through Alkincoates Park Nature Reserve. Canal Walk 1 Mile Tunnel and Slipper Hill, 2.5 miles; Canal Walk 2 Wanless Bridge & Barrowford Locks, 2.5 miles; Canal Walk 3 Lake Burwain, 2.7 miles and Pendle Canal Walk 4 is Foulridge Wharf & Country Brook, the most challenging and slightly longer at 5 miles.
A 5-mile circular walk around Garstang, along Lancaster Canal, the River Wyre and passing Greenhalgh Castle. Great countryside views towards the Forest of Bowland hills. Indeed you can extend the walk and join the Forest of Bowland Walk to make it a longer circular route.
A beautiful walk beside the Lune riverbank. Suitable for most abilities, the Crook o Lune Riverside Walk is in a figure of eight and runs for just over 3 miles. Lots of lovely views of the surrounding countryside and old bridges. The terrain is mostly flat, starting and finishing at the car park where there are toilet facilities and picnic areas
A moderate 6.4 km walk that loops around Sunnyhurst Wood and Darwen Tower, near Darwen. The main feature of the walk is a beautiful lake and over 700 species of plant, bird and mammal wildlife. The site was designated a Biological Heritage Site in 1993 by Lancashire Wildlife Trust and made a Local Nature Reserve in 2005. The walk can be steep in places and stout footwear is recommended.
Quite a bit shorter at 4.3 km, but more challenging. Another circular walk that starts in Witton Country Park, that stretches over 480 acres. Initially the walk takes you through the park before climbing, at times steeply, through the dense woodland of Billinge Hill. Great views are to be had across to Darwen Moor. There are some stretches of unmade paths and the going can become muddy in wet weather – boots definitely recommended.
We’ve previously written about five stunning Forest of Bowland walks which you can check out here.
A 3.9 km circular walk that you could coax youngsters to take. It passes through two great parks – Avenham Park and Miller Park – located beside the River Ribble.
There are four specific Tramper trails listed on the Forest of Bowland AONB website. Each walk has been graded between 1 and 5 in the Disabled Ramblers categories. There is something for those looking for a gentle ride but also for those in search of something more adventurous.
Fantastic to have a fully accessible beach for wheelchair users. A resident of the town of Fleetwood, with help from the local Rotary group, the community and Fleetwood and Wyre Council saw the need to ensure that disabled people in wheelchairs could access the beach. They formed a charity, fund raised and now have nine chairs, harnesses and hoists that can be booked in advance. Inspiring!
This country park walk is part of the 45-mile Wyre Way, the estuary country park walk is a 5 km circular walk starting at the car park and through the park, with woodland paths lots of wildlife, south along the River Wyre and returning to the car park on a country lane. The park has a café and visitor centre as well as places to picnic. There are tramper all terrain electric buggies that can be hired in advance to access many of the walks within the park.
The highest point in the Ribble Valley, Pendle Hill just misses being tall enough to be classified as a mountain. Interesting fact… In 1652 George Fox climbed Pendle Hill and had a vision on the hill which was the catalyst for him to start the Quaker movement. Whatever your motivation for climbing the hill, it remains the most popular walk in the county and from the summit at 557 metres you can see for miles across Lancashire towards Yorkshire. On a clear day you might even catch a glimpse of Wales! It’s situated in the Forest of Bowland AONB and the views are well worth the climb. There are various routes to the top, but one of the most straightforward is from Barley, the closest village.
The Wayside Arts Trail is an 8-mile circular walk taking in lots of creative works including the Panopticon ‘Singing Ringing Tree’. This is an impressive 3-metre-tall sculpture designed by architects Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu. Its construction uses galvanised steel pipes which capture the energy of the wind to produce musical-sounding notes. Lots of other natural and man-made sculptures and creative works have made this a walk with lots of interest. The original impetus for the Art Trail was an education programme called Land which involved professional artists working with schools and local communities to inspire them to make a positive change to their environment.
Starting at Padiham town hall, the Gawthorpe Circular Walk is an 8 km stretch and can be a little bit rough under foot, so good walking boots are advised. The walk takes you through Hagg Wood, one of only 6 ancient semi natural woodlands left in the area. There are sculptures of interest as well as the ‘Trail of Words’ where the hand rails are carved with the words of local writers and children. You may well want to stop and explore Gawthorpe Hall, grand residence built in the early 17th century and restored in the mid 1800s by Charles Barry (designer of the Houses of Parliament). The interior of the hall is opulent and there are displays of Jacobean and Victorian furniture, and splendid paintings on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.
Walking with the Witches is a two loop walk, both starting in the village of Barley. The western loop is 4 miles long, the eastern loop 3.5 miles long.
The trail reveals the story of witchcraft dating back 400 years, during a time of religious persecution and superstition. Two widows in Pendle, well used to pedalling their remedies and spells. Cutting a long story short, both are committed to trail for witchcraft at Lancaster Castle along with several other ‘co-conspirators.’ The tragic story of forced confessions, exaggerations, family disloyalty and prosecutors bent of conviction meant that all the accused swung from the gallows. A fascinating and sorrowful tale which can be walked where they walked.
6-mile woodland trail in the Ribble Valley that explores the area that are claimed to have inspired J R R Tolkien’s writing of The Lord of the Rings. Certainly, Tolkien did much of his research and writing of the tale during his time at Stonyhurst College which is featured in the walk. Some of the names that you will encounter along the Tolkien Trail have an uncanny resemblance to the Shire – including Shire Lane and River Shirebourn. The walk starts and finishes at the Shireburn Arms.
Check out our other suggestions for things to do in Lancashire in Spring and Summer. Spring and Summer Holidays and Short Breaks in Lancashire; Things to do in Lancashire in Spring and Summer; Lancashire Spring Summer Attractions for Families; Lancashire Attractions for Adults and Couples; Unusual Spring Summer Activities in Lancashire; and Lancashire Castle, Grand Houses, Museums and Monuments.
We have two great suggestions for places to stay in Lancashire.
Not far from the Forest of Bowland, Lancaster House is a comfortable base with lots of amenities. Returning from a day’s walk, lie back in the warmth of the sauna or steam room, or stretch out with a few lengths of the indoor pool. With a choice of casual dining in The Sandeman Bar, or the slightly more formal Foodworks Restaurant, there’s something for every taste. Our bedrooms and suites feature the ultimate in comfortable mattresses and luxurious linens – everything necessary for a great night’s sleep after a walk in the country.
A comfortable suite at Lancaster House
Standing proud on the promenade, with spectacular views over the Bay, The Midland is a real gem. Forty-four art deco inspired bedrooms offering comfort and luxury. Enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine in The Rotunda cocktail bar before settling down to a feast of mouth watering local produce served in The Sun Terrace Restaurant where nature regularly serves up an awe-inspiring sunset with your meal.
The Sun Terrace Restaurant at The Midland with spectacular views over the bay