Since the end of the bank holiday weekend my local area has been blessed with plenty of warm sunny weather, and although I’ve been really busy with work I did manage to squeeze in a couple of good walks with Sophie and Poppie. The first one was a visit to Sunnyhurst Woods, just an eight-and-a-half mile drive north from home and a place I hadn’t been to for about ten years. Originally a private woodland first planted in the early 19th century and covering 85 acres, Sunnyhurst was purchased by Darwen Corporation and opened as a public park in 1903 to commemorate the earlier coronation of Edward Vll in 1902.
There are several entrances to the woods and my walk started from the one on a residential street on the east side. A wide path took me down to where the Sunnyhurst brook ran through the valley; set back on the left off the bottom of the path was a stone drinking fountain monument and on the right a small stone bridge led to the 18th century Sunnyhurst Cottage, originally the woodman’s dwelling but now used as the park office and visitor centre. Just along the path from there was the Olde England Kiosk, a Tudor style tea house built in 1911/12 and now a cafe, ice cream shop and licensed function room, and nearby was a large oak tree planted in 1913 to commemorate a visit by King George V and Queen Mary.
Keeping the brook on my right the path took me past a fancy stone bridge with a waterfall beneath it then up a short incline on the left where the trees gave way to a more open area with a large informal paddling pool, constructed in 1905 and marked by small stone footbridges at each end. Several park benches were set alongside the path and it looked like it would be a really nice place to have a picnic or just chill out for a while. Beyond the pool was a wooden footbridge where I could go left or right; I continued left and a bit further on the path widened out into another open area with a large octagonal shelter.
Built in 1912 and supported by eight stone columns the shelter was originally presented by Charles Spencer Greenway, a local businessman, and was used for the popular Cafe Chantante entertainments around the time of the First World War. The ground around one side was remodelled with a semi-circular stone plinth which could be used for seating and band concerts and other musical performances were often held there, though the Cafe Chantante events were the most popular. Although officially titled the Greenway Shelter the structure is commonly known as ‘the bandstand’, though I very much doubt that band concerts are held there nowadays.
Continuing along the same path I remembered that eventually I would come to a large reservoir where I should be able to get some good photos from the dam, but I hadn’t gone much further when I found my way blocked by a series of tall barriers with notices informing me that the path was closed due to a large landslide. It looked like I would have to go back the way I came, but there was another path leading off through the trees so I decided to see if I could get to the reservoir that way. That particular path was narrow, rough and very steep; when I finally got to the top it widened out into a lane which ran past a farm and I could see that I would be heading in completely the wrong direction if I continued, so I had no choice but to go back down and retrace my route back along the main path.
When I reached the paddling pool I crossed over the brook via the little stone hump back bridge and walked down the far side of the pool, crossing back again over the two bridges at the far end; at the fancy stone bridge I crossed back to walk past the Olde England Kiosk, which was unfortunately closed, (I could have murdered a brew and some cake) then I crossed again for the final time at the bridge near Sunnyhurst Cottage.
From the drinking fountain monument I had a choice of three paths; the middle one looked very pleasant so instead of going back up the one I’d come down I took that one instead. It went for quite a distance before taking me up an incline and past the back gardens of several houses, finally emerging near the bottom end of the residential street where I’d started my walk, though I didn’t class the walk itself as being over until I got back to the van.
Mileage-wise I couldn’t really tell how far I’d walked – probably not that far as it had only taken me an hour and a half including the unnecessary detour up that steep minor path. I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t managed to get to the reservoir but other than that it had been a good walk in a really nice place. The dogs had enjoyed it and I’d got some good photos, and if I really want to see the reservoir I can always find another way to get to it and go another time.
I’m linking up this week with Jo’s Monday Walk, where she’s been discovering art and architecture in the city of Bristol; if you like Banksy (or even if you just want to know why everyone raves about him) then do pop over and read through her post.