Blackburn’s old manor house, Witton House, was demolished many years ago after being sold to Blackburn Council in the 1940s. Fortunately, 480 acres of land included in the deal have been transformed into an impressive country park with picnic spots, nature trails, riverside walks, woodlands and farmland.
Entering Witton Country Park there’s a play area for younger children that most public parks would be proud of. However, in recent years there have been some even more fantastic additions.
The Wits adventure playground was opened in June 2010 by Blackburn MP Jack Straw. The highlight of the £750,000 facility is an enormous tube slide. It’s as big as the one at Heaton Park in Manchester but is set into a hillside and is accessed by walkways and rope bridges. Other features include a zip line, musical sculptures, climbing frames, balancing beams, tree sculptures, and picnic areas. Kids love it.
Big Cover Wood is an adventure playground situated deep within the woods on the eastern side of the park. It’s a fantastic play area with wildlife sculptures, a rope bridge, giant xylophone and climbing frame.
Sports facilities at the park have also been enhanced. The Witton Park Arena opened in 2014. The £2 million athletics facility offers an athletics track and field, spectator seating, an indoor training track, gym, and fitness studio. It is used by Blackburn Harriers as a training facility.
The Pavilion Café is open 7 days a week and offers hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, burgers, chips, ice creams, etc. The park’s toilets are also here.
The Witton Country Park Visitor Centre is now located in the same building as the Pavilion Café (it was formerly at the old stables). It offers maps and leaflets detailing the many trails that run through the park (Beamers Trail etc.). Witton Park Cycle Centre is also here and offers cycling lessons, sessions, bike maintenance courses, and a community cycling club.
The estate’s stables are now used as a learning centre by Myerscough College. The college maintains a small children’s zoo here with rabbits, chipmunks, degus, etc.
On April 11 2011 Prince William visited Witton County Park with bride-to-be Kate Middleton. It was his last official engagement before their marriage later than month. The couple admired the facilities at the park and William signed a Deed of Dedication to protect the park as part of the Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge. Prince William is patron of the scheme which aims to protect 2012 outdoor spaces in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Witton Country Park lies off the A674 Preston Old Road, around one mile west of Blackburn town centre.
Visitors arriving by car can use the postcode BB2 2TP in their satellite navigation systems. There is a large pay-and-display car park near the main entrance.
The nearest train station is Cherry Tree. It is situated around half a mile from the main entrance. The station lies on the East Lancashire Line and offers services to Preston, Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley and other stations on the line.