We did part of this walk in the autumn but I've been meaning to revisit and make a nice round trip taking in views of Hoghton Tower and the river Darwen. This is a really pleasant walk and not too tough. It can get muddy though and there are a few stiles over which you have to lift your dog. Allow a couple of hours.
We parked outside the Boars Head pub in Hoghton and walked up the Hill to the impressive main drive leading up to the Tower. The first section of the drive is a public footpath so you can safely wander up here to one of the lodge where the drive is clearly marked private. Turn left along a small lane and on to fields next to the boundary wall. This path has pleasant views and leads to a stile and some plesant woodlands. The path leads down through the woods and then crosses the railway line where the old Hoghton Railway Station used to be. You can make out where it would have been sited but little remains. Turn right after crossing the tracks and follow the path to Houghton Bottoms. The path leads on past the houses and under the very impressive viaduct over the river Darwen gorge (keep dog on lead here as there's a very very steep drop)
A pleasant path leads by the river leading to a further stile and a field full of sheep. Be warned! From this field take the main track up right through the trees and follow it all the way back to the road near Riley Green. Walk along the main road for a short while to the Royal Oak (refreshments if needed!) and take the road up past the pub car park and back over fields to the Drive of Houghton Tower.
All in all a lovely walk. Recommended. Not too many off lead opportunities but very nice all the same.
Click here for Google maps of the area
Doggy rating 7/10