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Rural walks in Bolton
Egerton and Harwood footpaths
Smithills Area and Winter Hill access land
Agricultural Farmland surrounding Blackrod and Westhoughton
The Middlebrook Valley Trail
Bolton's Country Parks
Tonge Trail

Rural walks in Bolton

The rural areas of the Borough offer the best opportunities for peaceful recreational walks. Here there are a mix of quiet off road footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways. The surface of routes is variable and we recommend anyone walking in the rural areas to wear waterproof clothes and boots. Below we have identified the four main areas in Bolton that possess the best opportunities for rural walks. In addition to these we have described moorland Access Land and Country Parks.

Egerton and Harwood Footpaths

To the north east of the borough the urban fringe areas of Egerton and Harwood contain wide networks of footpaths which connect to the West Pennine Moors, Edgworth and the neighbouring borough’s of Bury and Blackburn with Darwen. Part of the Witton Weavers Way a 32 mile circular walk through the West Pennine Moors passes through the borough to the north of Egerton.

The routes in this area are predominantly footpaths, and because pedestrians are the only class of user allowed on these routes, this helps to ensure that quiet walks away from other types of use are possible. However, this restriction of use though does mean that a lower standard of route is often encountered. Footpaths in these areas are typically un-surfaced grassed paths, leading across agricultural pasture land. The presence of grazing animals leads in turn to the need for stiles and gates, which when coupled with the steepness of many of these paths means that they may not be suitable for less able bodied users.

Smithills Area and Winter Hill Access Land

To the north and north west of urban Bolton steep pasture land merges with a vast expanse of moorland. Located partly within the Smithills Estate and connecting on a wider scale with Access Land towards Rivington and Anglezarke Moors and beyond.

Routes within the Smithills area are quite diverse. Here footpaths mingle with restricted byways, providing a mix of both surfaced and un-surfaced paths and wider more formal looking tracks. Restricted byways in particular tend to be well surfaced and free from obstructions.

Many of our moorland rights of way are located within the Smithills Estate or on Open Access Land owned by United Utilities. Before this land was designated as Access Land, it was subject to access agreements between United Utilities and the neighbouring local authorities. This additional layer of management has helped to maintain the footpaths in these areas to a good standard.

Agricultural farmland surrounding Blackrod and Westhoughton

To the west of the Borough there is a significant area of farmland that borders with Wigan. This land is largely flat in character and contains a well-established network of footpaths that envelop these towns. The paths predominantly have grass surfaces. More formal surfaces are located within Borsdane Wood (Westhoughton) and Arley Wood (Blackrod)

The Middlebrook Valley Trail

The Middlebrook Valley Trail runs between Red Moss at Middlebrook and Bolton Town Centre. From the Town Centre there is a purpose built footpath and cycleway that leads via Deane Church Clough and Ladybridge to Lostock Junction. A short journey from here, Middlebrook is accessed via the restricted byways that cross the Regent Park Golf Club.

Bolton's Country Parks

Bolton's Country Parks are Moses Gate Country Park and Smithills Country Park. They offer the best mix of recreational facilities for walkers. The country parks provide a  network of concessionary footpaths and bridleways on a variety of surfaces many of which are suitable for those with mobility issues which interconnect with the existing Definitive Public Footpath and Restricted Byway network.

The Tonge Trail

This 8 mile walk begins at the Cotton Keir Pub in The Valley and follows the River Tonge and Bradshaw Brook taking in Hall i'th' Wood, Oaks Lane and Longsight, Seven Acres and Leverhulme Parks before picking up the River Tonge again to return to The Valley via Tonge Cemetery, Our Back Field and Union Road. Full details and a map of the route can be found on the Downloads tab.

Public Rights of Way

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The Wellsprings

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