Walking in Lancashire

From the coast to the high fells via scenic valleys and lonely moorland – 40 of the best walks across the Red Rose County

Early summer morning up on the summit plateau of Pendle © Salar Media/Mark Sutcliffe

If ever there was a labour of love – this is it.

Imagine being asked to wander all over the Red Rose county: Pendle, The Bowland Fells, the West Pennine Moors, the Ribble and Lune valleys… and getting paid to do it!

After returning to my native Lancashire after more than two decades down south, I was flattered to be approached by Cicerone to update their Guidebook to Walking in Lancashire – following in the footsteps of the late, great Mary Welsh – who previously wrote walks for me when I edited Lakeland Walker.

Mary, who died in 2017 – was a legend in the walking world, writing superbly described routes for a number of walking publications, national and local newspapers – most famously in the ‘Wezzy Gezzy’ or Westmorland Gazette to give this redoubtable Lake District institution its proper title.

This collection has been more than three years in the making. The first walks were undertaken just as the infamous ‘Beast from the East’ stuck in the spring of 2018. Some of the early walks had to be abandoned as the snow lay in thick drifts on some of the scheduled routes. Less than six months later, during the lengthy summer heatwave, I ranged over the parched uplands of the West Pennine Moors between Blackburn and Bolton. The very next day, these heather-clad slopes were consumed by wildfires as the tinder-dry peat went up in smoke.

The book should have been published in 2019, but the death of my dad – who inspired my passion for walking and the great outdoors – pushed publication back by a few months. And then Covid happened, delaying publication again – but inspiring an enthusiasm for exploring on foot among millions of people during lockdown.

The beauty of Lancashire lies in the diversity of its landscapes, the warmth of its people and the depth of its history. From charming rambles along a canalside towpath in the heart of a mill town into the countryside beyond, to challenging treks to the top of rugged mountains to earn outstanding views – the Red Rose County has it all.

Many walking books make a beeline for the walking ‘honeypots’ in north and east Lancashire, of which there are many. But in researching this edition – just like Mary in her first edition of this guide – I tried to include walks in some of the less obvious, but more accessible areas in the south and west of the county and in so doing, offer a flavour of the rich industrial and cultural heritage of Lancashire as well as its diverse natural history.

Walking In Lancashire Guidebook

For those with the time, the two-day ‘Bowland Traverse’ offers a rare opportunity to explore the sort of remote wilderness that is becoming difficult to find in England. Choose a dry spell in late May or mid-September and the natural vistas of these lonely uplands are right up there with the wilds of Dartmoor, the Cheviot or Hadrian’s Wall country.

There’s also a relaxed podcast interview which my colleagues at Cicerone produced here.You can find out more about the book on the Cicerone website and order a copy with a special discount.

I’m planning to lead a series of guided walks which will explore some of these routes this autumn. Please drop me a line to register your interest or follow me on social media for updates.

  • Find out more about my route planning services and guided walks here.

Author: Mark Sutcliffe

Freelance content consultant and editor specialising in the outdoors, environment, sustainability, walking and cycling.

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