Walks in and around Lancaster

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 by Tom Willcox

If you are staying in Lancaster and you’re keen on the odd hike or two, there are some great Lancashire walks to tackle in the neighbouring countryside.

North Lancashire is a wonderful part of the country to explore. Using Lancaster House Hotel as the base for your stay, you can choose to walk around the City of Lancaster and immerse yourself in its rich history, or venture into the rural scenery of the county.

Taking a leisurely hike in Lancashire throws up a lot of options, so we’ve put together a short list of some of our favourite walks around Lancaster and beyond.

Walks around Lancaster – Wyre Estuary Country Park walk

This country park walk is part of the 45-mile Wyre Way. The estuary country park walk is about 3 miles with a circular route starting at the car park. It features woodland paths with plenty of wildlife, trailing south along the River Wyre and returning to the car park via a country lane.

The park has a café and visitor centre as well as places to picnic. There are also all terrain electric buggies for hire in advance to access many of the walks within the park.

Popular walks in and around Lancaster – Clougha Pike

One of the best walking trails in Lancaster is the Clougha Pike Circular. This moderately challenging Lancashire walk takes about 3 hours and offers some wonderful, sweeping views across the county.

Canal walks in Lancashire

Lancashire has a network of historic canals that crosses the county. There are some fantastic scenic towpaths which are great for walking along and enjoying the surrounding countryside and wildlife.

The Garstang and Lancaster canal walk is a picturesque 5-mile circular walk around Garstang. It follows along the Lancaster Canal, the River Wyre and passes Greenhalgh Castle. And there are some beautiful 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.

The Pendle Canal is the focal point for four relatively easy circular walks ranging from two to five miles. There are also some walking sections along the Leeds and Liverpool canal towpath and through Alkincoates Park Nature Reserve.

And if you want to spend a full day out walking in Lancashire, the Glasson Dock, Aldcliffe and Lancaster Canal circular trail is about 10 miles and is very popular with hikers and runners alike.

Walks around Lancaster – Crook O’Lune riverside walk

The Crook O’Lune riverside walk is a beautiful trek along the banks of the river Lune. Suitable for most abilities, it is in a figure of eight route which runs for just over 3 miles. And it features 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.

Famous walks near Lancaster – Pendle Hill

The highest point in the Ribble Valley, Pendle Hill just misses being tall enough to be classified as a mountain. 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 in every direction.

There are various routes to the top, but one of the most straightforward is from Barley, the closest village.

Walking with the Witches

Walking with the Witches is a two loop walk, with both loops starting in the village of Barley. The western loop is 4 miles in distance, whilst the eastern loop is 3.5 miles long.

The trails reveal the story of witchcraft dating back 400 years, during a time of religious persecution and superstition. Two widows in Pendle were well used to peddling their remedies and spells. Cutting a long story short, both went on trial for witchcraft at Lancaster Castle along with several other ‘co-conspirators.’

The tragic story of forced confessions, exaggerations, family disloyalty and prosecutors bent on conviction meant all the accused swung from the gallows. This fascinating and sorrowful tale is brought to life in a rural countryside walk near Lancaster.

Hiking in North Lancashire – The Tolkien Trail

This 6-mile woodland trail in the Ribble Valley explores the area claimed to have inspired JRR 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 a feature of the walk. Some of the names that you will encounter along the Tolkien Trail have an uncanny resemblance to the Shire in the story. These include Shire Lane and the Shireburn Arms where the walk starts and finishes.

Lancashire walks in the Preston area

If you and your family our keen walkers, you may wish to venture further afield from Lancaster House Hotel to explore some other popular Lancashire walks. Here are a few that we think are worth taking on if you are walking in Lancashire.

Avenham and Miller Park

This is a fairly easy circular walking route that you could easily coax youngsters to take. It passes through two great parks – Avenham Park and Miller Park – located beside the River Ribble.

Avenham Park was designed in the mid 1800s by Edward Milner. It’s widely regarded as one of the best examples of Victorian period parkland in the North West. It features a natural amphitheatre, Japanese Rock Garden and water features.

Witton Park

Stretching over 480 acres, Witton Country Park features a reasonably challenging, but rewarding, circular walk. This well known Lancashire walk initially takes you through the park before climbing, at times steeply, through the dense woodland of Billinge Hill. There are some fabulous views of Lancashire and across to Darwen Moor from the top.

Sunnyhurst Wood

This moderate walk loops around Sunnyhurst Wood and Darwen Tower, near Darwen. The main feature of the walk is a beautiful lake. And of course the 700 plus species of plant, bird and mammal wildlife. The site was designated a Biological Heritage Site in 1993 by Lancashire Wildlife Trust. And it became a Local Nature Reserve in 2005. The walk can be steep in places and stout footwear is recommended.

Gawthorpe Circular Walk

Starting at Padiham town hall, the Gawthorpe circular walk is a 5 mile stretch and can be a little bit rough under foot. So we recommend you wear good walking boots. The walk takes you through Hagg Wood, one of only six 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, a grand residence built in the early 17th century and restored in the mid-1800s by Charles Barry, who also designed 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.

Wayside Arts Trail

If art is your thing as well as walking, the Wayside Arts Trail near Burnley is worth a visit. This 8 mile circular walk takes 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 fascinating Lancashire walk to undertake. The original impetus for the Art Trail was an education programme called ‘Land’. It involved professional artists working with schools and local communities to inspire them to make a positive change to their environment.

Walks in and around Lancaster – wheelchair friendly walks

We often get asked about scenic Lancashire walks and popular walks in and around Lancaster that offer wheelchair access paths and tramper trails. A trip out to Morecambe for a jaunt along the promenade is an obvious choice, but here are some others you may wish to consider.

Fleetwood Beach Wheelchairs

Not many places in the country can offer easy access to the joys of the beaches and coastline for wheelchair users. But if you fancy a day out with a walk on the North Lancashire coast, Fleetwood is well worth a visit and has a wheelchair accessible beach.

A Fleetwood town resident, with help from the local community and council, recognised that wheelchair users had little access to the beach. So they formed a charity, raised funds and now have wheelchairs, harnesses and hoists that can be booked in advance.

Walks close to Lancaster – Forest of Bowland Tramper trails

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.

Where to stay when hiking in Lancashire

Whether you’re taking a day walk in Lancashire and in need of refreshment, or you’re in need of a hearty dinner, bed and breakfast treat, Lancaster House Hotel is the perfect spot.

Situated on the fringe of Lancaster with easy access to the M6 and within close driving distance of all the above walks and the Lake District, you will receive a warm welcome in the lap of luxury.

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