The Witton Park Trail Relays were first held in February 2013 as a Sunday team event. The original Senior route was 5km. However even with extensive marshalling and marking, some athletes went astray in the woods, so the current simpler route was established in the first summer version held in June 2013. It has remained a summer event since then and the format has been extremely popular.
Proceeds from the race go to local good causes with local Mountain Rescue being a particular focus. Rossendale and Pendle and Bolton MRTs have received donations in the past and several thousand pounds have been raised in total.
The race starts on the showfield at Witton Park, taking a clockwise route up to Billinge Woods and passing the summit before descending back to Witton. Underfoot is grass, dirt and gravel. The terrain is best described as trail running with fell like ascent/descent. Main hazards are the underfoot conditions with tree roots and eroded sections as well as the uneven stepped part of the descent.
There are 3 identical legs. Senior runners are allowed to do more than one leg.
The route is extensively marked, with tape, flags and laminated signs. In addition there are at least 6 Marshall Points on the route at key junctions.
Full Route Description
The start is on the main Witton showfield SD 659 272 and the route heads west approx. 250m across the field before turning right to cross the cycle path and taking the left fork in to the woods climbing gradually. Around 300m in to the woods turn left up the steps, then immediately left at the top and 20m further fork right climbing again. Stay on this track for approx. 700m passing through 2 sets of double gates (close them behind you if recceing) until you hit a slightly steeper section, then pass through a fence at the top, bearing right to arrive at a farm access road with cattle grid around 10 metres to the left.
Cross the farm access road slightly to the right through a high doorway in the stone wall and proceed in to Billinge Woods, climbing the trail for around 60m to the cross roads of paths.
Turn left, climbing gradually under a low tree branch and then more steeply as the track bears right. As the track starts to flatten out again, turn right to climb again for approx. 400m up to the summit plateau.
Continue straight on over the top (the true top is about 15 metres to your right and worth a visit if on a recce, for a great view to Darwen Tower and beyond) and start to descend for approx. 300m before a brief flat section which then bends to the right before a tight left at the top of a steeper descent. 20m down the descent take a tight right turn which descends for around 300m before levelling out for around 200m as it reaches the road side.
Exit the woods to the left through the gap in the stone wall, turning left up the road for about 20m and then right through the gate and descend following the trod across the field to the swing gate at the left hand side of the fencing, next to the bushes. Straight across the next field to the gate and then follow the gravel track down through the woods, through the stepped section and to a wooden footbridge.
Turn right after the bridge passing the play area and follow the gravel track straight on until the tarmac road, turn right, only on tarmac for 5 metres then cut through the trees on the left on towards the grass finish straight. Head down to the finish keeping the pavilion on your right and cross the park road in to the finish funnel.