Holcombe Circular – Walk 13

FRIDAY 19th August   4.5 miles

Meet 6.10pm  The Toby Carvery in Greenmount  BL8 4DS or at 6.20pm at Lumb Carr road car park Holcombe.

On a fine night this is a lovely interesting moorland walk with many good viewing points. We will follow the route of The West Pennine Way from Peel Tower to Bull Hill, then follow the Link to the Pennine Way as far as Robin Hood’s Well before returning along the ancient Moorbottom road back to the car park.  (If it is raining the route will be altered, after Peel Tower we will take the West Pennine Way down towards Greenmount and back through Redisher Wood.)


Cross the road and take the gated footpath to the cobbled Holcombe Old Road.  Here turn right and then take the first turning on the left. Follow for a short distance before turning right on the dirt road leading up to Peel Tower.

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.

Pass the front of the tower and head straight on with the Irwell Valley on the right.  Continue in this northerly direction through gates, over moorland, across a ditch and up Harcles Hill.

It was around this area where the 88th Connaught Rangers were under canvas preparing to go to fight in the Crimean War after serving in India. It is said that only 8 of these soldiers survived, one named Edward lacy came back to Ramsbottom.

Continue north across the moorland to Pilgrims Cross the solitary square stone on the moorland below Bull Hill.

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.

Continue straight on up the well- trodden path up to the Trig. Point on Bull Hill.

If the red flag is flying, which means the MOD are using live ammunition on their range in the valley to the left. Turn right and follow the path round the boundary of The Danger Area to the MOD information notice. Here continue straight on with broken stone walls on the right.  At the far corner of the walls take the path right heading for a cairn with Ellen Strange’s stone post next to it. Then continue on other instructions from here..

 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,

From the Trig. Point head toward the nearby flagpole and bear right down the well -worn grassy track, after going straight on at the cross tracks continue to Ellen Strange’s cairn and stone which can be seen straight ahead.

The traditional story of Ellen Strange, is that she lived at Ash Farm Hawkshaw,  met a travelling pedlar at Haslingden Fair and on the way home he murdered her here on the moorland. A local historian has researched the story and says that Ellen Broadley was murdered by her husband John Broadley in 1761. A judge acquitted him of murder through lack of evidence.

Continue on following good stone wall on the left down to the gate on Moorbottom road.  Go through the gate to see Robin Hood’s Well on the left

Robin Hood’s Well, perhaps so called as it was probably here in the 12th Century.  It is on an ancient Pilgrim’s route to Whalley Abbey  at the top of Stakes lane, so called as bulls were staked here for baiting.

Return back through the gate and follow the dirt track called Moorbottom road all the way back to Holcombe Village then either go down the road back to the car park or take the prettier route by following Cross lane opposite the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, then down the cobbled Holcombe Old Road to the gated footpath on the left which leads back to the car park.