Keith Carter leads a walk round the Turton, Entwistle and Wayoh reservoirs to the north of Bolton

Great British Life: Entwistle walkEntwistle walk (Image: Keith Carter)

One of the striking features of the area of open country north of Bolton and south of Darwen is the number of reservoirs, Delph, Jumbles, Belmont and the two we concentrate on for this month’s walk, Turton and Entwistle and Wayoh which were opened in the Victorian era to provide water for Bolton. They were extended in the 1960s and a water treatment plant built capable of supplying over ten million gallons of drinking water a day.

Great British Life: Entwistle walkEntwistle walk (Image: Keith Carter)

The name Entwistle has its origins in the Norman Conquest and opinions vary on its derivation but there are other ‘twistles’ in the area, Oswaldtwistle for example, the word ‘twisle’ meaning a tongue of land between two rivers. A Sir Bertine Entwistle had the distinction of being knighted by King Henry V after the Battle of Agincourt, quite something to tell your grandchildren.

Reservoirs, like canals, have the advantage of providing dead flat walking, ideal for those who don’t like hills and ideal too for the army of joggers and dog walkers who are regular users of the circuit. Rain or shine, the paths around the Entwistle Reservoirs are in constant use and where better to get out for a stroll?

There’s parking just off Greens Arms Road, the B6391, at Batridge Barn car park from where a flight of steps leads down to the water’s edge. Turn left and follow the path around the reservoir with the water on your right until at the far end a footbridge crosses a stream feeding it. Don’t cross this bridge but continue up Yarnsdale, a wooded valley to where a second footbridge will be seen on the right.

Cross this and take a stile on the immediate left to enter a small grove of trees then emerge into the open fell. A path climbs a bank and on reaching a corner post keeps right on a faintly trodden way across rough moorland grass.

We have now joined a trail known as the Witton Weavers’ Way which runs for 32 miles in a circular loop from Witton Park in Blackburn and celebrates the home-loom weavers of the early Industrial Revolution. It follows old drovers’ roads and tracks linking farms, most of the going on good surfaces making the walking very enjoyable.

The way forward turns left on reaching a prominent track churned up by the wheels of farm machinery but make sure you head for two standing stone gateposts in isolation on the open moor. Don’t gain height here but keep forward until on the skyline you see a gate and stile and some trees.

Climb the stile and turn right onto a good hard surfaced track, obviously a very old cross fell way used for centuries. On reaching a gateway beside which a splendid new ladder stile has been erected, cross a cattle grid and head downhill to the farmsteads of Edge Fold. Beyond the farm buildings the path becomes a sunken lane at the end of which we come to a tarmac lane where we keep ahead between hedges, the lane only just wide enough to allow the post van to get past.

We soon arrive at the small settlement of Entwistle and the Strawbury Duck pub, an excellent hostelry with Moorhouses beer on draught. Nobody can explain why it is Strawbury and not ‘strawberry’, the usual spelling. Lovely pub though.

Just outside the pub is the unmanned station of Entwistle, on the line from Manchester to Blackburn, and we cross the bridge over the line and follow a lane to the right of a hundred yards as far as a footpath sign and gate on the left. Take this enclosed path and enter trees, descending to two footbridges across Broadhead Brook.

Turn right and we find ourselves beside the sparkling waters of Wayoh Reservoir which the path skirts. Where it meets a road crossing the dam keep straight ahead, i.e. don’t cross the dam, and continue beside the reservoir most of the time separated from the water by a fringe of willows along the water’s edge.

When we come to a fork in the path take the left hand way to climb a brow, leaving the path that clings to the edge of the water and on reaching an octagonal pump house go through a wall gap and continue on a stony track on a fenced path that descends to a tarmac service road.

Cross the dam where below us on the left is the filtration station and on the far side go through an opening on the right to access the path beside the water again. We stay on this path along the west bank of Wayoh Reservoir on a path that rises and falls throughout its length as the channel narrows and the buttresses of Armsgrove Viaduct dominate the scene.

Continue forward then keep right at a path on the right that leads down to a car park beside the dam of Turton and Entwistle Reservoir. On the far side among the trees is a heronry but you will need binoculars to see the birds. Our car park is up the flight of steps we used at the start of our walk.