Where is it? Near Darwen & Bolton
In which area of outstanding natural beauty? West Pennines
How tall is it? 1,220 feet (approx)
We have lift off! Nobody can deny (or ought to) the likeness of the Jubilee Tower atop Darwen Tower near Darwen, Lancashire to that of the Rockets of science fiction films of yesterday. Given that this was erected in 1898 this is almost prophetic!
The hill from which the tower is ready to launch is known rather sedately as Darwen Hill – not a very inspiring name for an hill near Darwen but that’s straight-talking Lancashire people for you, no airs or graces and a spade is never more or less than a spade (digging implement if and only if, Royalty are present!). There’s also a River Darwen, talk about local pride! The hills features speak for themselves and they speak loudly.
Darwen itself is a demanding borough to walk through, the main road (A666) is the only road that you don’t need an oxygen mask to traverse and the hill echoes this with added volume, it really is steep. There are numerous ascents of Darwen Hill – none are overly difficult but this is a natural habitat for lovers of clean footwear, West Pennines mud is legendary for its’ adhesive qualities and there’s ample for everyone. There is a stark beauty to the moorland around this area, this is nature exposed, make of it what you will. The views further afield on a clear day are the best in the area as for some reason the gulf across the numerous valleys to infamous peaks appears to shrink and summits like Pen-y-Ghent. Pendle Hill, Ingleborough, The Howgill range and even further afield to the Sca Fells are all reliably seen from this wondrous viewing platform. Not even neighbouring big brother Winter Hill can regularly make such a claim.
The summit and much of the surrounding moorland are hosts to a number of Long Distance Paths: The Anglezarke Amble, Anguish and Loop all spend a good deal of time in this area as does numerous divisions of the Witton Weavers Way, this area sees a lot of footfall…and coats them all in that lovely sticky mud! A popular route up to the summit is via Sunnyhurst Wood and passing the rectangular-shaped and recently drained Sunnyhurst Hey Reservoir. Another route is from Tockholes / Ryal Fold where there is a visitor centre and other amenities. For me the best route so far has been from Cadshaw on the A666 straight up through Smith’s Height, Top O’th Brow and Duckshaw Clough. This is an area where one might return a number of times and plan a number of routes before repetition begins to set it.
The views from the base of the tower are nothing short of breath-taking, in itself this is a play on words as the hill is in such an exposed position that the wind hitting you from all around is both ferocious and relentless, one should seek shelter in the tower at the first chance!