This walk is ideal for a cold frosty dry morning when boggy fields are still frozen. The route links the Leeds and Liverpool Canal with the ancient village of Brindle, one of the oldest parishes in the county.

It was in the farmsteads and manor houses down the narrow hedged lanes of this farming country that the old Catholic religion held firm during the persecution years of the 17th century. The old Church of St James is worth a visit and dates from at least the 12th century.

The walk also passes the site of the old Brindle Workhouse, a converted Catholic chapel that in Victorian times housed ‘pauper lunatics’ of the Chorley Poor Law Union.

The springs below the terraced hamlet of Top o’ th’ Lane give rise to the infant River Lostock, a West Lancashire river which skirts around Leyland and joins the River Douglas near Croston.

START: Brindle village. Roadside parking on Water Street downhill from the church and Cavendish Arms. Start by the village hall and school.

DISTANCE: 5 miles (allow 2-3 hours)

MAP: OS Explorers 287 West Pennine Moors and 285 Southport and Chorley

Field sections may be boggy after wet weather!

1. Walk uphill from the village hall and school back to the road junction between the Cavendish Arms on the left and historic St James’s Church on the right. Turn right along the main street passing the church on the right.

Keep to the pavement straight ahead and walk out of the village towards the nearby M65.

After passing Bateson’s Farm on the right you approach the road bridge over the motorway. Do not cross the motorway but turn right along a signed bridleway that runs parallel to it.

The path follows a field edge following a line of pylons with the motorway on the left. Drop downhill to pass through another gate in the left field corner and continue along the field edge until a bridleway sign is reached halfway through the field.

2. Here turn right and cross the field aiming diagonally left to a wooden field gate on the far side. This leads to a narrow hedged lane, Marsh Lane.

Turn right along this for a short distance before turning left over a stile at the first signed path on the left. Follow the right field edge straight ahead to the stile on the far side. Cross a footbridge and bear left to the stile in the opposite left field corner.

Straight ahead to the canal bridge but do not cross it. Instead cross the stile in the hedge before the bridge and join the canal towpath.

3. Turn right and the towpath is now followed for approximately one-and-a-half miles. Withnell Fold Nature Reserve, created from old mill lagoons, is passed on the right opposite the mill chimney.

Keep following the towpath until bridge number 85 is reached. Do not go under this but cross the stile on the right just before it.

Follow a steep fenced path downhill to cross a footbridge. Walk straight ahead and cross a plank footbridge on the left at the bottom of the hill. Cross a stile, follow the left field edge leading to two more stiles.

Cross these and walk left slightly uphill towards the stone farm, Denham Hall. A stile in the wall by a gate leads to the hall.

4. Turn right between the hall and farm and straight ahead up a farm road to meet a lane. Turn right and follow this, Denham Lane, straight ahead.

When you reach the first buildings on the left you pass the site of Brindle Workhouse. A small plaque can be seen up the track on the left on the stone wall beyond the field gate. Keep to Denham Lane through the terraced hamlet of Top o’ th’ Lane.

At the other end of the houses leave the lane where it bends right by a parish notice board. The path crosses a stile and enters a field on the left of the lane.

5. A waymarked path now leads back to Brindle. Following a left field edge then past ponds and following a right field edge gradually downhill to the bottom right corner of a field.

Cross a footbridge and stile to reach a field gate behind the primary school to emerge on Water Street.