Walk: Winmarleigh

Winmarleigh walk.
Winmarleigh walk.

In the beginning just about all low lying Lancashire was moss – a landscape of saturated boggy levels. Now mostly drained it is hard to imagine what this landscape looked like except in one place – Winmarleigh – which has the largest area of unclaimed mossland in the county. This walk takes you across this exceptional landscape.

From the car park turn right and walk along the road for 200yds then turn left onto a track to the left of a large house.

Cross a stile next to a gate and keep ahead for 700yds. At the first junction turn right onto the farm road leading to Lathwaite Farm. After passing its first outbuildings turn right through the main yard.

The route passes the farm house on the left and passes through a metal gate into fields. Keep ahead with a fence on the left. The track leads to a metal gate. Through this, continue with the hedge on the left to reach a green utility building in the far corner.

Behind this, cross a stile and then turn left to cross a footbridge. Bear right, cross the field to the gated Burns Bridge. Over this turn left and follow the river Cocker to Little Crimbles Farm. There is no right of way over the first footbridge on the left so continue upstream to cross the second.

Turn left and then right to cross the yard of Little Crimbles Farm and to the farm road for two miles.

The farm drive leads past Weasel Wood on the left to a junction. Turn left and then opposite Great Crimbles turn right onto Gulf Lane.

This area, Cockerham Moss, is impressively flat – a wide panorama of sky and sky. Ahead near the coast Pilling can be seen.

Further north the monolithic blocks of Heysham Power Station break the horizon. The route passes Birch House Farm before reaching in another 600yds the large complex that is Moss Edge Farm.

The next part of the walk is as much practical geometry as it is a walk so straight are the lines of travel.

As you reach Moss Edge Farm turn left in from holiday cottages (called The Granary) and keep ahead through the yard to reach a track.

This crosses fields to reach Poplar Farm on the left and Poplar Grove Farm on the right.

After the second farm continue for 100 yards to a stile next to a metal gate on the left.

As you enter the field note the ditch on the left. This is Crawley’s Dyke which for the next two miles will be your handrail. Keep ahead to a small footbridge. In crossing this you enter Winmarleigh Moss.

The site is large – 90 hectares of which 75 hectares are managed by Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

The Moss is home to a number of rare species – the ironically named Common Lizard, the Large Heath Butterfly and Bog Bush Cricket.

Such is the sensitivity of this landscape that visitors are asked to keep to the right of way.

After 40 minutes a footbridge crossing into meadow heralds the end of the unclaimed moss. Continue with the dyke on the left – now noticeably bigger – as it crosses fields to reach a fenced utility service area.

Here join a track (Thorough Lane) bearing right which leads back to the point you left it on the outward leg.

The rest is retracing your steps back to the pub.