The Harry Harwood Tunnel Walk    -    November 2013


A recent walk took us to Abbey Village, when – trying to avoid the wind and rain we found a disused railway track and wondered how it might be for an Adventure Walk. As part of the thinking about this I remembered going through a fairly long river tunnel with my dad and wondered if it might still be there.....


My dad, Harry - who I walked with every Saturday (excluding the football season!) throughout my youth, had worked at Star Paper Mill, Feniscowles, Blackburn. He knew the area well and our walks were often off the beaten track. A Google search yielded very little and nothing about Harry’s tunnel but I did find an entrance picture taken by a guy on Flickr who was actually photographing a plant rather than the tunnel entrance. Our search was on as the photo showed a clear entrance and had been taken this year.   On a bright day we set off (Pete, Bog, Michael, Carol) without much idea where the tunnel might be. We decided to follow the old railway line (closed in 1966 as part of the Beeching cuts) from Abbey Village to Stanworth Woods where I remembered us walking.


Stanworth Woods is famous for the Eco Warriors encampment (Swampy et. al.) trying to prevent the building of the M65 motorway. The so called “Village in the sky” in 1997.  A mucky track with the cutting still very evident took us to the woods. On the O.S. map the river disappears close to the disused railway line re-appearing a half centimetre later. Could this be our tunnel site?  A battle through the undergrowth down from the old railway and into the Roddlesworth river valley and a shout from Pete that there was a tunnel entrance. Could we get through it? The question was more could we stay dry of foot and get through!


The tunnel as can be seen has remained in good shape and getting through it posed no problem.

However!  At the far end our exit was blocked by a lake presumably caused by damming of the water.


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The way on looked slippery and deep. After some discussion we retreated and walked over the top of the hill.  A big engineering project to build the tunnel and the railway line constructed above it.


We continued our walk passing an elaborate target practice site for a local gun club. We saw the warning signs AFTER passing by!  Coming into Feniscowles via Stockclough Lane we joined the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and had a sunny lunch stop close to the old Paper Mills site. A passer by told us that the land was earmarked for executive houses working around some of the buildings still standing which are listed.


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Across a field – note the stile without boundaries!                    Bricks made by the Withnell Brick Company.


From here we found our way back into the Roddlesworth Valley and approached Harry’s tunnel from the opposite direction negotiating a riverbed full of bricks made by the Withnell Brick Company. We assumed that these have been used to build the railway embankments and many have washed down into the river bed.


Worthy of note is the Graffiti to be seen on the bridges of the M65 (we passed under the motorway twice) How do they do that?


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We ended as we had begun along the disused railway track getting very muddy in the process. A good day out and all the better for our finding the tunnel from times gone by.


Carol Makin



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