Walks: Rawtenstall

Rawtenstall railway
Rawtenstall railway

Start: Rawtenstall ELR station. BB4 6DD GR SD809 224

Maps: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors & OS OL 21 South Pennines

From the station follow the footpath on its right skirting the terminus buildings so that the railway is on the left.

Keep on the path as passes the Old Cobblers Inn on your right towards a prominent mill chimney. The way passes under an arch to enter a flagged garden. Keep ahead. Quickly you reach a pastoral scene with the River Irwell on the left.

After passing a riverside cottage you arrive at a lane. Turn left and cross the river on a road bridge.

Walking towards the level crossing turn right into an area of commercial units. At the end turn right onto a path that is on the left of a mesh fence and fluorescent yellow gatepost.

This leads round into a sheet metal yard. A right turn between buildings will bring you back to the riverside path. This leads beneath the A56.

After crossing a road (B6527) at the next bridge, the trail continues passing beneath the railway twice to arrive at the small community of Irwell Vale.

Here turn right (not through the subway) and then cross to the cul-de-sac opposite towards Meadow Park.

After passing a converted chapel on the right keep ahead through a residential area.

Do not cross the bridge but keep ahead on a riverside path as it enters a wooded stretch and soon you will find yourself walking alongside the railway again, then 200 yards along turn left under the railway and then continue alongside it.

A short distance along there is a sculpture to view on the hillside to the left. This next part of the walk is rather attractive as trail, rail and water find their own route through the valley. Here you will come across more art work that gives the trail its name.

As the path approaches Chatterton it reaches a track close to a footbridge. Here turn left to walk through the settlement.

Cross the A676 and continue on an unsurfaced track. You will soon come to open riverside meadows. Through a kissing gate keep to the left following a wall.

After crossing a footbridge the trail takes you towards an imposing chimney, and then veers leftwards to put you on a footpath that takes you through a semi-industrial complex.

Keep ahead and on reaching Bridge Street turn right and walk over the river to reach Ramsbottom station.

Points of interest: The ELR which should stand for Excellent Little Railway but in fact stands for more descriptively East Lancashire Railway. (See www.eastlancsrailway.org.uk). It runs from Heywood through Bury to Rawtenstall and is a most marvellous example of a preserved railway run by an outstanding team of volunteers.

On most weekends throughout the year a steam or diesel service is run which is extended into the week during the summer (May to early September).

Both Rawtenstall and Ramsbottom have a number of pubs, cafes and restaurants.