This walk links three churchyard war memorials in the Calder Valley villages of Read, Simonstone and Altham. It is a walk of contrasts, linking woodland, fields and riverside with the industrial area around Altham.

The route also crosses sections of the disused Blackburn-Padiham railway line. The war memorials visited are at the churches of St John the Evangelist in Read, St Peter’s in Simonstone and the lovely church of St James’s, Altham, which sits in fields overlooking the River Calder.

Between then the three villages commemorate 65 war dead from the First World War.

1. Start on the main road (Whalley Road) by the Read and Simonstone Club and Read cricket ground. Cross the busy road with care and walk up Straits Lane directly opposite the club.

Continue past the primary school on the left and beyond it turn left down Churchwarden’s Way, a tarmac footpath overlooking a playing field. This leads straight to St John’s Church. The Read war memorial is behind the church and close to it are numerous individual war graves.

2. Come out of the church gates and turn right continuing along the footpath to join a lane (George Lane).

Turn right and follow this gradually uphill to the t-junction. Turn right along Whins Lane signed for Sabden. This lane running along the northern edge of Read is followed for the next half mile.

When it forks into two keep left and beyond houses look out for when it turns sharp left. Leave it here at a signed path facing you, it begins at steps in a wall to the left of the access to Haugh Head Farm.

3. Follow the field path straight ahead aiming to the right of a house. Keep the garden fence of the house on your immediate left and cross a stile in a fence at a path junction. Keep going straight ahead across the next large field towards trees on the far side.

Do not aim for the visible gate but aim to the left of it to reach a stile in a fence. Cross this and follow the left fence line downhill to meet a wall stile next to a red gate.

Turn right along the lane (Trapp Lane) and at the bottom of the hill bear right along School Lane into Simonstone village. Opposite the primary school is the roadside church of St. Peter’s. The local war dead of both World Wars are recorded on two wall tablets overlooking the lane.

4. Continue along the lane to a crossroads at the main Whalley Road. Cross this with great care and continue directly opposite down Simonstone Lane.

The pavement is now followed for the next three-quarters of a mile all the way to the Calder Vale Park industrial estate, crossing the old Blackburn-Padiham railway along the way. Turn right along the A678 Burnley Road following the pavement and crossing Altham Bridge over the River Calder.

Continue a bit further towards the village to reach St. James’s Church on the right. The village war memorial is just to the right of the lychgate by the roadside and the church itself has a plaque recalling the local Moorfield Colliery disaster in 1883.

5. Retrace your steps to Altham Bridge over the River Calder. On the far side of the bridge go down the steps and join the riverside path keeping the water on the left and passing under pylons.

When the river bends left bear diagonally right away from it towards trees. Cross a stile in a fence by ponds and follow a waymarked path keeping a fence on the immediate right. The path and fence swing left but ignore the first stile reached in the fence and instead continue with the fence on the right until a gateway is reached on the right in a gap in the old railway line.

6. Go through the gap and follow the left hedge side of the next field. On the far side of the field go through the access on the left and climb uphill now with the field boundary on the right.

At the top of a hill go through a waymarked gate and continue straight ahead from here across the next field aiming left of the large farm outbuilding.

Aim for the red brick building to the left of it and go through a waymarked gate to return to Read village. Turn right along Whalley Road if you are parked near the cricket ground.

START: Read village. Roadside parking or free village car park by the playground behind the Read and Simonstone Constitutional Club. Read is situated on the A671 Whalley Road between Whalley and Junction 8 of the M65. The walk can also be started from Simonstone or Altham villages.

DISTANCE: 5 miles (allow 2-3 hours)

MAP: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors