Sunnyhurst Woods is very much the jewel in Darwen’s town parks, a dense woodland and river valley criss-crossed with paths and water features, which was formally opened in 1903 to provide an open space for Edwardian promenaders on the north side of town.

The woodland stretches from the flanks of Darwen Moor right down virtually to the town’s main thoroughfare, the A666 between Darwen and Blackburn. This walk explores the upper reaches of the woods and links it with the neighbouring moorland hamlet of Roddlesworth on the edge of Tockholes via field paths and walled tracks.

Starting at the entrance with the car park behind you turn right and follow the farm access road uphill in the opposite direction to the Sunnyhurst pub and lychgate entrance to the woods.

The road soon passes the Waterman’s Cottage (once owned by Darwen Waterworks) on the right. Keep to the main track through the gateway (ignore the right fork) and it continues gradually uphill past another farm on the left.

Beyond this farm it reaches a copse on the right and the track swings sharp right around the trees and turns almost back on itself away from Darwen Moor. Keep to this track which leads under the trees to a gate. Go straight ahead through this and a stone track leads downhill to the hamlet of Roddlesworth.

Go through the gate and bear left then right along Tockholes Road to reach Vaughn’s country cafe and the Royal Arms pub.

Pass the pub entrance and immediately turn right down the farm road leading to Ryal Fold farm. Keep to the track through the farmyard which passes through two gates and enters the corner of a large field.

Keep to the left fence side (can be muddy in wet weather) then go through the little wooden gate on the left. Turn right and the field path now continues in the same direction with the fence/wall now on the immediate right.

Go through a gate on the far side of the field and continue straight ahead along the lane (Pleasant View) past the houses. This joins the main road to Tockholes again. Almost immediately turn right down the adjoining walled track (Dean Lane) signed as a bridleway.

The track gives a good view over to Darwen Tower. Follow it straight ahead and when it meets an adjoining track on the left continue straight ahead and the track drops steeply down a cobbled track locally known as ‘Donkey Brew’. This leads down to the corner of the dam of Earnsdale Reservoir.

Enter Sunnyhurst Woods here at the field gate/kissing gate. Follow the main path down through the woods ignoring a path forking left which follows a higher route.

The path reaches a pond on the right at a path junction. Keep going straight ahead here, do not cross the stream but keep it on the right. The stream is crossed at the next footbridge further down the valley.

Cross the stream at the footbridge and continue downhill now with the stream on the left. The path leads to the old bandstand in the woods, which is still used for special events.

After passing the bandstand turn sharp right and a path, getting gradually steeper, leads uphill to the lychgate entrance to the woods. Go through the gate and turn right to return to the car park.