Lake District


North Yorkshire

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About Summiteer

~Littleborough to Smithy Bridge~

"The Todmorden Curve"

17th May 2015

The Todmorden Curve

The Curve

Today is the day. After years of campaigning, lobbying, fund -finding, tunnel repairing, station rebuilding, and track relaying, the signals are working and the carriages have been found to enable a rail service to run directly from Burnley to Manchester. The Curve was removed decades ago as rail travel was sneered at and roads prospered. Changes in thinking, governement policy and the challenges presented to road commuters have all made the case for this rail link to the city. Not quite the "Northern Powerhouse", but good news for us Burnley folk.

The Curve Holme tunnel
"The Curve"
Holme Tunnel

Even after the rails were relaid and the tunnel repaired, delays followed as Northern Rail didn't have enough trains to run an additional service. Then the signalling wasn't in order and I suppose finally they had to wait for an official timetable change - that day is May 17th and I am going to try the new service. It's 10:37hrs from Burnley Manchester Road.

Burnley Manchester Road

Burnley Manchester Road Railway Station

This is the third train of the day, a four carriage rake and punters can get an "off-peak" return fare to/from Manchester for £9.80 - two adults can buy a "Duo" ticket for £14.70 (I believe). Compare that with the cost and effort of the drive and parking in the city!


This route opens the door to leisure users as well as commuters. Hollingworth Lake is within walking distance of both Littleborough and Smithy Bridge Stations.

Littleborough Station

Littleborough Station

This is a short walk by our standards and a simple plan to link two of the stations. The train at platform 2 is going the other way and heading for Todmorden.



We left the station, crossed the road and joined the towpath on the Rochdale Canal for just a few yards before crossing the bridge (above) and heading past the houses on a farm access road.

Rochdale Canal
Rochdale Canal
Access Road

The route past the factory is part of The Weighver's Way and leads directly to Hollingworth Lake (where said route starts). Take care not to leave this route and head up the hill to Lane Foot Farm, go right at the waymarker for such.

The Weighver's Way

To Hollingworth Lake

This well-maintained path leads to Hollingworth Lake Visitor Centre where there is a cafe and plenty of parking spaces.

Mollys the Collies

Mollys The Collies

Here we met this couple with their dog, Molly. The two dogs look remarkably similar, but t'other Molly is five months older and more petite. But markings and fluffy tails are common. Interestingly their dog comes from "Rossendale" and ours from Haslingden - not far apart.

Stop Press: 19th May 2015: The two Mollys are sisters! Both families bought their dogs from the same place and they have the same mother.

Clockwise Circuit
Brown Wardle Hill Pavillion Cafe
Brown Wardle Hill
Pavillion Cafe

The clockwise circuit of the lake starts with a little roadside walking, but soon becomes a pleasant wheeled-traffic-friendly path. The day before (16th) we were up on Brown Wardle Hill. The lake has a perimeter distance of about 2.5miles. We did not complete the circuit as our plan was to head off to Smithy Bridge Railway Station.

Hollingworth Walkers

Lake Walkers

Wine Press Pub

Wine Press Pub

The pub on the other side of the lake is one of two close to the lake. High up on the hill is The White House Pub, Blackstone Edge.

The Beach Pub Smithybridge Road
The Beach
Smithybridge Road

There is also a fish and chip shop in the vicinity. In our case, we needed to head down Smithybridge Road (right). Allow, maybe, 15 minutes for the walk down to the station. You need to cross the line at the level crossing

Smithy Bridge Railway Station

Smithy Bridge Railway Station

Looking up the line in the Rochdale direction and awaiting the train, it's a little worrying to see the wobble in the tracks.


I gave Molly the job of looking out for the train.

Diesel Train

Return Train

It's the 13:04hrs service back to Burnley. Final destination, Clitheroe; same driver, different train.

Hollingworth Lake Walk

3.5 miles, taking 1hr 40mins.

We didn't try any of the refreshment opportunities. Smithy Bridge Station is a soul-less place; take a companion or a dog, or maybe a book or an internet-connected device. Even I-Spy would be a difficult game to play in this location.

Keep an eye out for more walk reports from the stations of The Calder Valley line and the route to Manchester.

All photos are copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2015 ©

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