Surrounding the Tower

A four-mile circumnavigation of Hoghton Tower, on foot, with literary peeks

This walk is very easy to follow. The footpaths are mostly very clear, and where they are not the landmarks make navigation simple. The trek affords tantalising views of the historic Hoghton Tower at the beginning and end and some dramatic views and architecture from later periods as you creep around its bounds in the middle section. This guide also provides glimpses into some of the fiction it inspired.

The terrain undulates a little but there are no steep or prolonged ascents. It can be muddy in places. Children and able older people who can manage the distance will be able to negotiate it provided that they can deal with several stiles.  It is not suitable for wheeled vehicles – including cycles.

Is it far?

My pedometer clocked 6km (3.7 miles) It took one hour and a half, at a casual pace with no breaks.

You will need:

  • Very sensible footwear (Boots or robust country walking shoes.) Parts of the walk can be very muddy.
  • This, or another, route guide.

You may also benefit from:

  • Weatherproof clothing
  • An ordnance survey map (OS 287 West Pennine Moors covers the whole walk area)
  • Refreshments


Part one: the north side

Start at Hoghton Village Hall car park PR5 0SG.

Turn right out of the car park and walk along the A675 until you reach the entrance to Hoghton Tower and walk about 300m up the drive to the gate at the foot of the hill. (You can walk part way up this drive even if the Tower is closed.) Turn left at this gate (see aerial map above) and continue past cottages to enter a field at a stile.

Stay close to the wall.

Keeping the Tower wall on your right follow the path until you enter woodland. On a good day you can see another tower in the far distance over you left shoulder – this is Blackpool tower some 30 miles away. You might just see it on the horizon by looking north-west and to the left of the bulk of the buildings of Preston. Deepdale football stadium is much closer (about 6 miles) while to the north you may see Longridge Fell and the Bleasdale fells in the Forest of Bowland.

“They broke from the wood and followed the line of a crenelated wall until the rising half-moon showed them a door marked ‘private’.  The Dickensian pushed at it with splayed gloves until it gave sufficient space for them to pass through.”

from The Keep in Christmas Present.

After you enter the wooded area continue downhill until you reach the railway line. Now you really must proceed very carefully. Drivers will sound their train horns but it is very difficult for them to do as one does in The Keep and stop here – so do not step out without taking a good long look in both directions.

“There was no signal at danger.  There was nothing on the track. She caught a glimpse of the driver.  He looked only at the rails of his route but waited politely, as if inviting her to change her mind.”

from The Keep in Christmas Present.

If all is clear, cross the line at the pedestrian crossing. You are then confronted by three alternatives.

You can go through the gate, but this walk describes the route to the right.

You can take either of two to continue this walk. You can go straight on through the gate, (lengthening the walk slightly) or as suggested here, go right, clinging initially to the side of the railway, though soon branching away and down from it. Either of the paths will eventually bring you to Viaduct Road at Hoghton Bottoms.

Derelict and sometimes spooky

When you reach this road turn right and, as the road terminates, continue along the path that leads under the dramatic architecture of the railway viaduct to the impressive aquatic architecture of the River Darwen Hoghton Bottoms weir.

Simply continue to follow the riverside path, eventually crossing a couple of footbridges over streams.

“Jerome led them down silent lanes until they dipped into the valley of the Darwen river. They followed its western and southern bank as it curved around the foot of the escarpment where the tower stood.  Several tracks led this way and that but Jerome ignored them all until they came to a well-defined route from a fording place.  Their mood was buoyant. They were almost there. There was a sudden tumbling rustle.”

from Will at the Tower

When the woodland breaks into open ground and the river curves strongly away left into an S bend it is time to part company with the flow. At this point look for the path that curves the opposite way (towards the south) and dog-legs back on itself as it climbs through the woodland.  This is the steepest part of the walk.

Up the hill.

Part two: the south side

Stay on this path, bearing left after a gate onto a well-used track that will lead you to the A6061 at Riley Green. Turn right and walk 400 yards until you reach the Royal Oak public house. Turn right to walk alongside the pub and carry on past its car park along the drive. At the end, climb a stile and continue on almost the same heading (veer slightly left) across the field towards another stile. You will see the tower of a church on your left and the façade of Houghton Tower away to your right. Your track (which is not always apparent) roughly dissects the line between the two.

Head for the dead tree.

Once you have crossed the stile continue in the same direction towards a gate.

Pass through here by using the stile and stay on the blatant track. As it curves away to the left look for a gate on your right. The kissing gate is less obvious than the field gate. Go through the gate (kissing is optional) and you will find yourself on the long drive of Hoghton Tower once more.

Turn left onto the drive and retrace the beginning section of the walk to return to the village hall.

“Will’s first glimpse of Hoghton Tower was the sight of a stone crown upon a wooded mound.”

from Will at the Tower.

More posts about Hoghton Tower:

How facts and legend made a play and then a novel: Where there was a Will

An update on the archaeology of Hoghton Tower: Finders Keepers

An extract from the novel: Sigh no more

A seasonal extract from the novel: Sliced Mistletoe

Links to the publications

To peep further into the featured stories click on the pics:

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