Douglas Valley Dawdle
A walk in Lancashire's beautiful Douglas Valley
This walk follows a triangular route from Beacon Country Park, Mill Lane Upholland, descending 500 feet from its highest point to the floor of the Douglas Valley at Appley Bridge and back up again to the start. It passes through an historic and spectacular landscape and on a clear day affords tremendous views comparable with any of the well known beauty spots in the country. Thanks to West Lancashire District Council and local landowners the footpaths are well signposted, clear and accessible. The route is approximately 6.8 miles and will take three and a half to four hours. The text assumes travel by car to Beacon Park Upholland, however if you prefer to do uphill sections first and have the easier part of the walk at the end it is possible to start from Appley Bridge where there is parking at the railway station (this may be limited during the week as this is a busy commuter line). Alternatively why not try the public transport option, both start points Hall Green Upholland for Beacon Park and Appley Bridge have good public transport links with Wigan and other local destinations.
Use the second car park on the left from the Hall Green end of Mill Lane (SD 50881 06396). Walk along Mill Lane towards Newburgh looking for signposted footpaths on the right, there is no pavement here so take care to avoid traffic in what can be a busy road. Ignoring the first footpath at the side of a stone cottage turn into the second one a little further along (SD 50740 06680) and follow the edge of a field to Belle View Farm (a ruin). Follow the footpath through the farm and emerge via what I assume is the front entrance into Farley Lane. Walk down Farley Lane for a few metres and follow the signposted track straight ahead at a wide junction where the road bends to the right. Pass the farm an impressive Stone Hall and at the bend (SD 50800 07800) continue to follow the track downhill to the right ignoring the footpath going off to the left. A little further on Bangham's Farm will become visible through the trees on the left, at this point look for a signposted footpath going down through the wood to the left, (SD 51100 08100) take care it's easy to miss it. Pass through a metal gate and walk towards the farm, at the approach follow the boundary fence to the left, pass through another metal gate cross the access road to the quarry and continue onto the footpath straight ahead. At the junction (SD 50500 08600) follow the footpath downhill to the right to reach Lees Lane. Turn left and walk along Lees Lane for 50 metres or so and follow the footpath on the right to join the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal just below the summit of Parbold Hill (SD 50730 09920). Follow the towpath to Appley Bridge, turn right onto Appley Lane South and after crossing the river Douglas take the signposted footpath on the right (SD 52300 09200). The footpath follows the river for a short distance then crosses the fields and passes through woods to emerge onto Lees Lane at Martins Farm.
Cross the road and continue up the hill to join the quarry access road again (SD 51230 08670), turn left and continue to the workings at the end of the road. Take the footpath which goes off uphill to the right (SD 51460 08450), this is the lower section of a track we travelled previously in the outward section and leads back to Farley Lane via the Stone Hall. Look for and take a footpath going off to the left (SD 51150 08170) across the fields passing woods and barriers and flags warning of a nearby "shoot". At a place where the track starts to bear left towards Roby Mill you should see a footpath sign directing you straight ahead across a stile into a field towards a large house. The footpath goes down the right hand side of the house and emerges onto Farley Lane through what appears to be the property's front garden gate (SD 51200 07400). There is a large sign on the gate "Public Footpath Please Close the Gate" we are very happy to comply. Continue ahead up the hill, at the next right hand bend take the marked footpath on the left and continue up the hill. Rough Park Wood has recently become criss crossed with what appear to be well used footpaths, do not be misled into following one of these running along the contours parallel to Mill Lane, look for a path on the right ascending and emerging on to Mill Lane at the side of a large stone property (SD 50870 06450). Continue along Mill Lane back to the car park.
Map Reference: Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 1:2500 285, Southport & Chorley (Wigan, Formby & Ormskirk) refers.
Palfreyman - May 2009