This 13.3 mile section of The West Pennine Way like all other sections can be walked in stages. Clough Head to the B 6232 crossing near The Duke of Wellington is 1.5 miles. B 6232 to Bull Hill is 4.4 miles. Bull Hill to Greenmount is 4 miles and Greenmount to the Jumbles is 3.4 miles.
There is car parking available at both Information Centres and at various places near the route, together with opportunities for refreshments and public houses and cafes.
Clough Head grid ref. 752231 Jumbles car park grid ref. 736140
|Click Basic route instructions – Clough Head to Jumbles for this section of the West Pennine Way|
|Click Links to Urban Areas for transport links to this section of the West Pennine Way|
|Click Clough Head to Jumbles to see photos of this section|
More detailed maps for this walk can be seen using the links below.
|Click Clough Head to Bull Hill to see a map of this section of the walk|
|Click Bull Hill to Greenmount to see a map of this section of the walk|
|Click Greenmount to Jumbles to see a map of this section of the walk|
Clough Head Visitor Centre and café offers a brief introduction to the local and natural history of the fascinating Grane Valley. Once a thriving industrial landscape the valley was cleared during the late 1800’s to accommodate the reservoirs. Today the picturesque and peaceful landscape has excellent walking trials and other countryside pursuits.
Short link to join The West Pennine Way from Clough Head Information Centre Rossendale, just off the B 6232 Haslingden to Blackburn road.
Take footpath on the left of café going up steps and through kissing gate, continue straight on up steep hill to junction of paths near wall and a kissing gate. Here turn right to join The West Pennine Way which now follows the Rossendale Way, passing a quarry on your right, then after a short paved section the path drops steeply down the aptly named Deep Clough, over a wooden footbridge at the bottom and then just as steeply climbs uphill on the far side.
Passing the ruins of Black Hill farm at the top with a solitary sycamore tree standing sentinel. The view south from Black Hill is superb with the now flooded and abandoned workings of a second quarry in the foreground, Picker Hill to the left, Rossendale Valley and the Scout Moor Wind farm in the centre and Musbury Tor to the right. The path now follows the quarry’s boundary fence which is reassuringly waymarked ‘RW’ at every twist and turn.
Having followed the fence 90 degree left and then another 90 degree right, note the large ruin of Far Pristentax farm on the left beneath two trees. Somewhere along this stretch during the war was a mock aerodrome to induce enemy bombers to attack here rather than on strategic sites in nearby towns. Eventually the path and the fence arrive at a ‘T’ junction with a fairly well defined albeit somewhat overgrown track (the old road to Oswaldtwhistle).
Turn left up the track to the two lonely sycamore trees and go right through the kissing gate beneath them into the ruins of Priestentax farm. Noting the remains of an early stone sheep dip on the left just in front of the retaining wall.
Priestentax means ‘Priests Intake’ probably indicating that a priest or a man called Priest took this land in from the moor and settled here probably in the 17th century. Two old roads cross here, the one going east west through the farmyard, the old 1620’s intake road enclosing lands newly taken in from the moor and the other the old road to Oswaldtwhistle from the Grane Valley. A short detour down the Old Rd. will find the long disused Troy Quarry with some very impressive rock faces and a pinnacle to test experienced rock climbers, past that is the exit by the row of cottages onto Grane Rd A 6177 known as Virgins Row since at one time it was inhabited entirely by bachelors. Conversely just over the summit past the farm, adjacent to the old road are said to be the traces of a ‘13 stone circle’ which gave the hill its name.
The path then contours pleasantly along the grassy slope beneath Picker Hill across a couple of fields before changes to a track where it meets the corner of a very well built tall dry stone wall coming up from the plantation below.
The plantation was created by the Forestry Commission in the early 1960’s as experimental woodland to see how trees would grow at this elevation and in the polluted air of Industrial Lancashire.
Continue on the track crossing the stile by a gate beside a couple of old rusting railway wagons then on through a second gate before turning right over stile immediately before a third gate just before Windy Harbour Farm. Follow footpath down to Cloud Hill Farm originally called Clod Hill Farm, where path changes to a track going downhill which provides spectacular views over all three reservoirs and the southern side of the Grane Valley, immediately after second cattle grid turn right to go over the stile and head right across the field towards Leys Farm in the far left hand corner.
Exit from the field through the 5 barred gate in the corner go before the farmhouse, go through the yard and down the track to the main road at the bottom.
The Duke of Wellington is no more than 100 meters up the road on the left providing drink and sustenance to thirsty and hungry walkers.
Cross the B 6232 and the stile into the meadow where the path becomes indistinct, head downhill following the wire fence and the trees on the right. Go over the ladder stile in the bottom right hand corner of the field and turn right to cross the footbridge over the inter-reservoir feeder. Past the recently installed 32m wide central auxiliary overflow spillway.
Continue straight on up to the sign post at the ‘T’ junction of paths and turn right and go over stile. Where the old rail track goes over the path turn right to get on to this steep, now grassy, but still clearly defined ‘tramway incline’ from the quarries on Musbury Heights above.
The incline was a steep rail track that lowered stone in rail wagons from the quarry on the moor to the valley below. The full trucks were allowed to descend slowly and to haul up the empty wagons without steam or power other than gravitation. This operation was performed by means of a long wire rope coiled on a wooden drum 12 feet in diameter and 6 feet broad, and controlled simply by two strong rim brakes. Once at the bottom the stone was transferred to the Grane Tramway which linked Hutch Bank and Musbury Heights quarries. The stone was the taken on the Stubbins / Accrington main line at the Grane Road goods yard where there is still a section of surviving platform.
At the top of this rail track continue straight ahead passing a large wooden post on you right. Where paths cross join the Rossendale Way by taking the track bearing left through countless spoil heaps reminders of the Musbury Heights Quarry.
Which in its day specialised in producing flagstones, stone setts and kerbstones for many places far beyond the West Pennine Moors— flagstones from Musbury paved amongst others places Trafalgar Square and many other London streets and squares and believe it not they were even exported to overseas territories in the empire. In 1890 more than 3,000 men worked in this and other quarries nearby making it the third biggest industry in Rossendale. They were tough, hard-grafting men known as “brownbacks”. The men’s jobs had names like rock
getter, quarry delver and jumpers. It was labour intensive work only halted for frost and icy weather. Some rock was mined underground to form caves, frightening places to work. Death and injury tolls were high. Masons trimmed the stones on site at “banker benches”, the remains of which can still be seen with “scatlings” or rock remnants strewn around, a huge frame saw would cut enormous rocks. The chimney provided steam to drive a “scrubbing mill’ which polished the tops of flagstones before they left the quarry.
Leave the quarry via a stile over a stone wall, before taking the path straight ahead, pause for a moment to enjoy the view of the wild Musbury and Alden Valley’s. Two of Rossendale’s secluded scenic gems, where evidence of early farming and a Royal Deer Park still exists.
Musbury Tor the unusual shaped hill divides the two valleys.
The deer park was established and stocked with deer early in the 14th century by Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln The boundary was four and half miles in length and comprised a ditch with a fence of wooden palings behind. The remains of the old boundary can still be seen on the ground today opposite Alden Farm and running uphill behind Rushy Leach towards the quarry more than 700 years after it was made.
The path goes through the remains of Rushy Leach amongst the trees, the first of several abandoned and derelict farmhouses on this section of the walk. Bailifs Rake is the next ruin by the path.
Very hard times have visited the Grane and these valleys and at one time the residents became known as the Whisky Spinners. The history of these three valleys has many stories of moonshining with illicit distilling of whisky providing a welcome supplement to the income from the farm or the loom. The practice was so widespread that an excise officer was based in Haslingden from 1834-38. One of the ruined farmhouses in Haslingden Grane was home to James Morris one of a whisky/spinning dynasty. In 1859 he was fined £230 with costs to avoid prison and the magistrate who handed out the sentence was Daniel Thwaite who became the brewing magnate of Blackburn.
Continue along the path that follows what was once the boundary of the old deer park to Musden Head at the head of the valley. Cross the stream and follow the path as it climbs steadily up the flanks of Burnt Hill keeping a lookout for the post on the left marked Rossendale Way. Here leave the Rossendale Way and turn right heading South up onto the moorland. The path becomes clearer once height is gained.(This path runs parallel to the stone wall and green field on the left) The next stile is easy to find as it is next to a prominent 18ft (6m) wooden post.Go over stile and follow the fence for a short distance then take the path to the far corner of the stone wall ahead.
If clear, look for flag pole on the top of Bull Hill the route goes past this.
Keep following the high path to the head of the Alden Valley crossing Alden Brook onto Alden Ratchers, with its many gullies coming down off the moors above.
Lapwings can be seen calling and circling overhead in summer buzzards and wheatear made an appearance all year round and if you are lucky the hot sun can bring butterflies out in force.
Cross a second stream, go through rushes and cross a third stream – this makes 4 main gullies crossed altogether.
At next and last of the streams go about 20metres before forking right up through rushes continue up through the rushes to the highest point, here turn right to follow the indistinct footpath across the moorland heading for the flag pole on top of Bull Hill which can be seen in the distance.
Bull Hill is the second highest in the West Pennines at 417m with windswept views over a wide moor, Winter hill, Darwin tower, Musbury Tor, Scout moor, Manchester, Pendle, Inglebrough, Whernside and Fountains Fell. American GI’s set up camp on the flat top of on MusburyTor to practiced paratroop drops and field exercises with live ammunition before D-Day.
Head south from the flagpole to the trig point a short distance ahead and then on and downhill passing Pilgrims Cross, continue on the high moorland in same direction with the Irwell Valley to your left on the well- worn track towards the iconic shape of Peel Tower in the distance.
Unless a red flag is flying, which means the MOD are using live ammunition on their range in the valley to the right.
Turn left at the flagpole and follow a well- trodden path downhill, at cross paths turn right passing metal footpath sign keep straight on to MOD information notice. Path at the side of this follows the boundary of The Danger Area as far as Pilgrims Cross were you turn left to re-join the original route.
Pilgrims Cross is large cube shaped monument, the four sides tell the story and history of the cross, its significance and destruction. It was standing in A.D. 1176 and probably much earlier almost certainly Pilgrims to Whalley Abbey prayed and rested here In A.D. 1176 and in A.D. 1225 the Pilgrims Cross is named in charters of gifts of land in Holcombe forest.
The socket was destroyed by unknown vandals in 1901. By 1902, the present stone was put in place. Monuments on ridgeways like this would have been invaluable guide posts for medieval travellers, both as a means of knowing how far you have travelled and as a way to orientate yourself in bad weather. Navigating by landmarks would be crucial in upland and moorland environments, so crosses and large prehistoric burial mounds would all have been named.
The path still heading toward the Tower passes the stone cairn on the summit of Harcles Hill (the highest hill in Greater Manchester) before dropping down a steep slope and over a small brook.The Tower now lies dead ahead along a smooth well beaten track.
Peel Monument was built in 1851 and inaugurated in 1852. The cost, £1,000 was borne by public subscription from the residents of Ramsbottom and it was erected to Sir Robert Peel for his efforts in effecting the repeal of the Corn Laws. The tower stands 128ft high and was built from stone quarried locally. It’s open to the public most Sundays and a popular destination every Good Friday when traditionally the good folk of Ramsbottom and Bury walk up to the Tower.
Take the footpath from the back of the Tower heading west towards the TV aerial on Winter Hill in the distance. Go through the kissing gate in the corner between the rather forlorn looking old dry stone wall and the fence that runs across the moor.
Turn left downhill then through another gate and left again down to the Moorbottom Road. Turn right along Moorbottom Road to the ruins of Taylors Tenement and then left over the adjacent stile. Go down the field heading slightly to the left to another stile in the fence just above the trees.
Once over the stile take the steep path left downhill through the oak trees of Saplin Wood. Go through the kissing gate at the bottom and up the path to the ruins of Higher Ridge Farm at the top.Pass the ruin on you left and follow the unmarked footpath (again in the direction of the TV mast on Winter Hill) to the Metallic five barred gate with stile beside it.
Follow the track downhill and around the bend to cross the sometimes raging torrent of Holcombe Brook on strategically placed stepping stones. Stay on the track uphill passing Simon’s Sundial Cottage, a grade one listed building, on the left.
At first sharp left hand bend along the ’tarmac’ lane turn right through undergrowth, over stile and across a boardwalk and head diagonally right across the field to the stile. Turn left onto tarmac lane cross cattle grid onto main A676 Ramsbottom to Bolton Road
Turn left and cross the road at the cottages to go over stile opposite and on grassy path passing large stone gate posts on the left before crossing field and over stile next to an oak tree. Take the path through a wooded area to emerge in front of a house. Go through the gate and turn right to follow tarmac lane to the next T junction passing Whitney House on the left (previously called Brick Barn Farm), once home to James Holt founder of St Anne’s Church Tottington in 1799. All his family including 11 children and 2 pauper apprentices were all engaged in the handloom weaving trade at the farm.
Turn right at the ‘T’ junction past Holly Mount School, then first left with the church building on the left, now converted into apartments and the Old Barn, Chestnut and Orchard cottages on the right.
Holly Mount was built in the 1860’s as a ‘College for Young Gentlemen’ but changed hands in 1888 to become a Convent and Poor Law School, pioneered by the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, from Belgium. The school extended its services as an Auxiliary Hospital to wounded and sick Allied soldiers in the first WW. Mother Mary Duggan was awarded with the ‘Queen Elizabeth Medal’, and an OBE for her work during this time. The Spanish Civil war left its own mark with Basque children being temporarily placed here, and World War II brought refugees from Manchester and the Channel Islands as well as displaced German and Austrian Jews. Only the Catholic Primary day school and the refurbished older buildings remain as links with its very interesting past.
Go over stile just after cottages and follow the hedge, previously the convents very own orchard now brought back to life by the local Incredible Edible group, continue down and across the wooden footbridge.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this valley sustained a community in itself, with a number of mills, works, farms and several groups of cottages. The remains of many of these can still be seen within the valley, and the network of public paths in the area is evidence of the previous activity., once busy links for horses, carts, and workers.
Carry on through the woods just ahead, note the overgrown ruins of Ferns Mill and cottages within the woods on either side of the path.
Built for cotton spinning, the mill was originally powered by a small waterwheel, the business was unable to stave off the fierce competition of the ‘Oldham Limited’s’, and the mill was disused by 1900 the cottages were last used by evacuees in wartime.
Once over the stile on the far side of the wood, bear right around the bend and then take the first stile, almost immediately on the left, over the fence. Head diagonally to the right, across the open meadow to the stile just by the five barred gate in the top corner of the field.
Turn right down the lane, through Bottoms Hall Wood.
Bottoms Hall Wood has been classed (SBI). This complex of habitats includes areas of mature woodland, scrub, marsh and acid grassland/heath matrix. The wooded areas have the character of long established woodland. The habitat is also home to many woodland birds, including the Jay, blue and great tit, several species of warbler, great spotted woodpecker and tawny owl.
Eventually arriving at the two Bottom’s Hall Cottages, on the right. Care must be taken here to choose the first footpath on the left opposite the cottages.
These were built originally to house the workers of the former Bottom Hall mill.
This path, narrow and indistinct with a small brook on the right goes steeply uphill into the woods where it crosses over a small wooden bridge and continue up the steep path as it follows the steam uphill through the woods and over a stile alongside a field where animals from ‘Pets in Need’ graze, before emerging on the B6213, Turton Road.
Cross the road and go up the lane opposite towards the four cottages on the hillside above.
Turn left onto the path just before the first cottage ‘Baileys View’ along the dry stone wall and across the front of next pair of cottages on the right. Then turn right immediately up the asphalt track to Windmill Farm, looking back from here there are spectacular views of the Reddisher Valley, Holcombe Hill and Peel Tower. Pass the front of the farm house and take the path starting in the top left hand corner of the yard.
Not very far down the path, there’s a large solitary stone gate post beside the path with a way-marker on the wooden post beside it. Follow the arrow on the way-marker up the slope of the field at the top make for a similar size stone gate post on the far side of the field. Cross the stile beside it.
Where the official footpath follows the rather sparse hedge on the right to Yeoman’s Farm yard in the distance. A combination of cattle and heavy rain often makes this route a quagmire and impossible to follow. The alternative agreed with the farmer is once over the stile to avoid being lost in a sea of mud.
Turn right and follow the field boundary into the corner of the field and then left along the far boundary as far as the corner of the hawthorn hedge. Then head across the field to the stile clearly visible now at the left hand end of a long
Leyllandii hedge around Mum’s Harris Farmyard.Cross the stile and walk through the farm yard onto Watling Street.
During the Roman occupation of Britain, around AD78, Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britain, founded a fort at Manchester and from it built a series of radial roads. One of these to Ribchester ran north through Affetside, part of the line of the Roman Road is still visible along Watling Street as it approaches Affetside. The impact of the Romans in the Bury area appears to have been fairly short-lived, with only this Roman Road surviving as a significant landscape feature. Like most of the Roman road network, the Roman paving fell into disrepair when the Romans left Britain, although the routes continued to be used for centuries afterwards. A Roman mile was 1,000 paces and a milestone was set up to mark each mile. They built their roads at the rate of 1 kilometre every day
Turn right up towards the Pack Horse Pub and the centre of Affetside village passing the old school (marked Ebenezer1840), bus stop, bench and public telephone box on the way.
The Pack Horse, AD1442, is the last remaining public house on Watling Street. Inside there is an old dusty skull, reputed to be that of the executioner (George Whewell) of Lord Strange, the 7th Earl of Derby, who sacked Bolton in1644 and was beheaded in the Market Place, Bolton. Tradition has it that if the skull was ever removed from the pub strange things would happen. Between the wars (or so they say) a drunken man called Seth Slope from Holcombe took it home as joke. Later that night the landlord heard a loud knocking at the and there at the was front door was Seth panic stricken, pleading with the landlord to take it in as he had been awoken by a terrible apparition of a skull with eyes like burning coals who cried “tak mi bak ta wheer I should be, or I’ll tormen thy sowle aout o’thee”
Affetside is a pretty small linear attractive village at 900ft above sea level, on top of the West Pennine Moors.
Situated at the crossroads of two ancient packhorse routes. Watling Street running North to South, and Slack and Black Lanes running East to West. It has superb panoramic views across the surrounding moorland. In the centre of the village near the Millennium village green is a Scheduled Ancient Monument known as the Affetside Cross.
Its origins are unknown and theories vary from it being of Roman origin to being a way-marker on the Pilgrims route to Whalley Abbey via Pilgrims Cross on Holcombe Moor. Alternatively the cross could simply identify a late 17th century market place or even possibly because as some claim it marks a spot precisely half way between London and Edinburgh.
The Millennium village green beside it makes an excellent spot for a picnic, or take an opportunity to put your feet up and browse an information board.
Turn left down the footpath on what was the old pack horse route ‘Slack Lane’ signposted at the village green. Follow the path gradually downhill following the line of telegraph poles. Passing Crompton’s Farm on the left to join the farms asphalt track – eventually arriving at the A676 after a long but steady downhill descent.
Go straight across and down the track sign posted Bradshaw Fisheries. Ignore the first opening on the right marked Fishermen Only (where there’s a café open to the public).
Take the next turning on the right through the small gate beside the 5-barred gate into Bradshaw Woods & Local Nature Reserve.
The Country Park is located within the Bradshaw Valley. The 250 acre country park opened in1971 following the creation of the Jumbles Reservoir. The lake is perfect for fishing and sailing and there are nature trails and hides for bird-watching. The Tea Garden Café provides food and light refreshments and visitors can enjoy exhibitions and events held all year round. Jumbles information centre is open throughout the year.
Enjoy the very pleasant walk through the woods, arriving at Jumbles reservoir dam turn rightup the steps or alternatively the slope to the Jumbles Car Park.