This walk links war memorials in the settlements of Pleasington and Hoghton, two villages separated by the rolling pastures and wooded hills of the Darwen Valley but joined across the high viaduct of the Preston-Blackburn railway.

On the graveyard cross at Immanuel Church, Pleasington, 21 names are listed of the fallen churchmen during the 1914-1918 conflict. Hoghton’s roadside memorial lists 16 war dead from the same war, including the unfortunate John F Brennan of the Royal Field Artillery who died of his wounds in 1923.

The Great War also had a major impact on Britain’s landed gentry as illustrated by the Hoghton war memorial which includes Captain Vere de Hoghton of the Lincolnshire Regiment, who was killed in action at Loos, France in October 1915. He was the third son of the 11th Baronet of Hoghton Tower.

If you have time, visit Holy Trinity Church at Hoghton at the top of the hill - there is a memorial plaque to Vere de Hoghton inside the church and he is also named on a very weathered grave (in the form of a crucifix) by the rear gate of the churchyard.

START: Roadside parking near Butler’s Arms, Pleasington. Or alternatively start near the Boar’s Head pub, Hoghton, situated on the A675 Blackburn Old Road. Train station at Pleasington.

DISTANCE: 6½ miles (allow 3-4 hours)

MAP: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors

NB: Field sections may be boggy!

1. Facing the Butlers Arms, go down the access road to the right of the pub past a thatched cottage. Cross a stile and enter open fields. Keep the fence on the left and the path crosses another stile in the left field corner and drops steeply downhill across a large pasture to cross another stile in a left wall corner. Straight across the valley looms the wooded bluff on which Hoghton Tower sits.

Keep the wall on the right and go through a woodland at the edge of a golf course to cross another stile in the wall. Continue straight ahead along a farm track (can be boggy) to reach the River Darwen.

2. Turn right here following a waymarked field path along the right hand side of the river. Go through a kissing gate and turn left keeping the river on the left. Cross the river at the footbridge and enter the pretty hamlet of Hoghton Bottoms.

Go straight ahead along the lane which soon bends left. When it reaches a lane junction just go straight ahead along the lane (Viaduct Road) at the bottom of the hill. Immediately after passing a row of cottages on the right turn sharp right along a signed bridleway between the houses before the high railway viaduct is reached.

The bridleway climbs uphill and is soon joined by the railway line on the left. A level crossing is reached at the top of the hill with a good view back across the Darwen valley.

3. Cross the railway with care here and continue straight ahead through woodland to reach the high boundary wall of Hoghton Tower on the left. Keep the wall on the left and go straight ahead crossing a stile into a field. By the stile at the next field boundary turn right and drop down with a fence on the left to cross another stile and reach a lane. Turn left along this and it leads into Hoghton village by the Boars Head.

Turn left uphill along the A road to soon reach the entrance to Hoghton Tower - the village war memorial is on the opposite side of the busy road. To visit Holy Trinity Church just continue along the pavement uphill and turn right through the lychgate. From here retrace your steps downhill to the avenue entrance.

4. Walk up the avenue towards the tower but at the gate across the drive turn right through a gate. The footpath climbs to woodland and passes through it via gates. The path now drops downhill through gates to the hamlet of Riley Green.

There are good views south towards Darwen Tower and Great Hill. The path joins a driveway and reaches the A road next to the Royal Oak pub. Turn left here and follow the wide verge of the main road for a short distance until a footpath is reached on the left along a farm access road. This is opposite a cottage on the other side of the road.

Turn left along the access and as the farm is reached it turns right through a gate and follows a track steeply downhill to meet the River Darwen in an open pasture.

5. Turn right here and keep the river on the near left. The path runs around the edge of the large field to meet woodland on the far side. Keep to the waymarked path which climbs up through the woodland to a stile in a fence.

Cross this and bear diagonally left towards a hedge gap. Go through this and follow the next field along its right field edge. Before Hillock Farm is reached the path crosses a stile on the right and keeps the farm on the left joining the access drive to it. Follow the drive away from the farm and the A674 Preston Old Road is soon reached.

6. Turn left along this and follow the pavement gradually uphill until Pleasington Lane is reached on the left just before the mini-roundabout. Turn left down this to reach Immanuel Church and its war memorial on the right. Cross the road bridge over the River Darwen and follow the pavement uphill past the railway station to reach the starting point.