Parbold Walk 5 - Circular walk from the Wayfarer to Ashurst Beacon
A challenging yet well worthwhile route from The Wayfarer up-to Ashurst Beacon providing amazing views across the entire West Lancashire plane towards the coast and as far south as the Welsh Mountains. The route begins with an easy walk along the canal towpath before turning into an ascent up-to the Beacon. Some of the climbs are fairly steep in places. The descent involves passing through a couple of muddy spots and at one point a stream passes over the path so suitable footwear is highly recommended. For those using their own maps/local walk books please be aware that as of 2005, the public footpath around 'Prior's Wood Farm' has been diverted & now takes a slightly different route as indicated by the map. Shortly before rejoining the canal, you will pass the site of 'Old Douglas Chapel', the old church before 'Christ Church Douglas In Parbold' was built on Parbold Hill.
Starting from the Wayfarer, turn right out of the car park and follow the path. Cross the road and continue up-to the traffic lights at the canal bridge. Right before the bridge, cross over when safe and join the canal, turning right when you join the towpath (do not pass under the bridge). Follow the towpath for approximately 1.45km (0.9mi) and you will come to bridge #40. To the right of the canal bridge is a path leading to a bridge across the River Douglas, follow the path along the dirt track and cross the stile at the end. Bear left and cross the next stile (if it is overgrown with nettles, you can remove the rope from the gate and pass through (remember to close the gate behind you!)). Continue along the track for approximately 550m, passing the house on the right and you will emerge onto a road called 'Lee's Lane'. Take a left and walk for 150m to the next public footpath on the right. Cross the stile and follow the path uphill for approximately 750m.
As you reach the top, turn left and follow the narrow path between the fields for a further 400m. At the end of the path turn right onto the narrow road and follow the road uphill for 300m, past 'Ashleigh Farm' and a short distance further, set back in the embankment are some stone steps on the right leading up onto the next public path. Follow the path as it winds around the edge of the field and cross the wooden bridge at the end to emerge in a field. Continue along the path heading uphill and cross the stile to emerge at the foot of the final climb. Once over the stile, head diagonally right to take a winding path up-to the beacon and explore the area, taking in the stunning views.Return back down the path, cross the stile and continue down to the foot bridge. Cross the bridge, follow the narrow path and emerge back onto the road. Turn left and follow the road down hill, past Ashliegh Farm and after 300m take a left back onto the public path. Follow this for 420m, however instead of taking the path which bends to the right, continue straight on into the small wooded area and follow the path down hill. Cross the wooden bridge over the small stream and the stile at the end to emerge in a new field. Follow this path through the grass towards a big oak tree in the distance and you will come to a bridge allowing you to cross the the ditch and the stile into the next field. Immediately after the stile take a left along the dirt track and follow the path for 30m and cross the small bridge and pass through the kissing gates. Keeping the trees to the left, continue along the path through the grass field. When you reach a small fenced off section of field, the path bends left.
Head into the trees and take a right, keeping the fence on your left and continue along the edge of the trees, through the old gate with the way marker. When you will come to a line of trees, cross the stile and take a right onto the dirt road that leads downhill. As you walk down the slope, the road turns to brick sourced from only a few metres away at Dalton Quarry. Follow the path for another 300m and you will emerge onto 'Hillock Lane', turn right and follow the road for 350m. Turn right at the junction and after 120m, take the next left along the public footpath leading to 'Priors Wood Farm'. Bear right when the path splits and after approximately 100m, the footpath has been diverted through a gate. Cross through the field, turn right to walk up the slope and take a left at the top to follow the new public path (the new route avoids the busy dairy farm). Continue along the track for 175m and when you reach the two gates, take the stile to the right. Follow the right hand perimeter of the field for 375m till you come to a bridge across the river. Take the bridge, cross the stile at the end and walk straight across the field to the gate. Cross the stile at the side and continue up the grass path, past the site of the 'Old Douglas Chapel' and merge onto the canal. Take a left and pass under the bridge. Follow the towpath for 500m and leave the canal at the next bridge. Cross the road with caution and head left for 400m, crossing the road at The Stocks and returning to The Wayfarer car park.