Link with Pennine Way

Click Link Walk Leaflet – Page 1 to view or download a copy of page 1 of the Link Walk Section Leaflet.

Click Link Walk Leaflet – Page 2 to view or download a copy of page 2 of the Link Walk Section Leaflet.

Click Bull Hill to Pennine Way.gpx to save the .gpx file for this walk.

Click Basic route instructions – Pennine Way to Bull Hill
Click Basic route instructions – Bull Hill to Pennine Way
Click Photos – Bull Hill to Pennine Way to see photos of this section

More detailed maps for this walk can be seen using the links below.

Click Bull Hill Edenfield to see a map of this section of the walk
Click Edenfield Shawforth to see a map of this section of the walk
Click Shawforth Walsden to see a map of this section of the walk
Click Walsden to Pennine Way  to see a map of this section of the walk


West Pennine Way (Bull Hill Holcombe Moor) to Pennine Way (Warland Reservoir)

This challenging walk with long stretches across windswept moors can be walked in sections as all other West Pennine Way walks. Bull Hill to Edenfield is 4 miles, Edenfield to Shawforth is 8 miles and Shawforth to the Pennine Way is 3 miles.

Nearest parking to Bull Hill is Buckden Wood layby   (half way between Holcombe and Helmshore on the B6214 road). There is various road/street parking in Edenfield, Shawforth and Walsden as well as opportunities for refreshments at cafés and public houses.

A lovely invigorating walk on a clear fine day, over extensive moorland and through valley villages.  All with dramatic landscape, steeped in vivid reminders of their industrial past.  A perfect escape from pressures of modern life with superb views to enjoy in good weather, but bleak and inhospitable in bad weather.

Description of walk route:

From Bull Hill Flag pole take the good grassy track eastwards following the route to be taken when the red flags are flying on the MOD land. Continue in this same direction, (route goes in almost a straight line to the flat top hill, Cowpe Lowe which can be seen across the valley) after passing  Ellen’s cairn continue following path and good stone wall on your left down to Holcombe Ancient highway a dirt track which skirts round the moors. Turn left through the gate.  Robin Hood’s well  is just a few metres down on the left of the track.

Cowpe Lowe in the distance

Route to Robin Hood’s Well can be made from BUCKDEN WOOD LAY-BY (half way between Holcombe and Helmshore on the B6214 road). From the lay-by turn left over the stile and up through the National Trust wood then over the ladder stile onto Holcombe Ancient Highway. Turn right and continue on this track to the gate and through it to Robin Hood’s Well.

The traditional story of Ellen Strange, was 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 moors. A local historian has researched the story and says that Ellen Broadley nee Strange was murdered by her husband John Broadley in 1761. A judge acquitted him of murder through lack of evidence. They were paupers and lived at Stakes farm, ruins of which can be seen in the next field.

Robin Hood’s Well with an ancient well-hewn coping-stone is on Stakes lane, part of an ancient Pilgrim’s route to Whalley Abbey.  In more barbarous times, bulls were staked for baiting.

Robin Hood’s Well

Go through the metal gate which is almost opposite Robin Hood’s Well and head down field passing the ruins of Stakes farm,  go over ladder stile and continue in same direction to go over stone stile which is near far telegraph pole, then straight across farm access lane over 2 more stiles to B6214 Holcombe to Helmshore road cross road and go over stile opposite go diagonally down field to pass close to fencing of property.  Go over stile ahead and continue to go straight on over fields and more stiles and through gates down to the village of Lumb. Turn left and follow road under the 60ft high railway viaduct of the disused Accrington to Bury railway.

This is a grade two listed viaduct over the River Irwell, on the Bury to Accrington railway which opened in 1848 and closed in 1966.  In 2015 the parapets were reconstructed and the track bed improved as part of a project to extend route 6 National Cycleway.

Go over the ancient stone bridge(*optional route from this point) turn right on path following the river Irwell for a short distance before turning left under the famous East Lancashire Railway.

The East Lancashire Railway has an impressive history dating back to 1846 at the time of the Industrial Revolution which started in the Northwest.  The line was first opened to link Manchester with Bury and Rawtenstall.  Playing an important part in supporting local industry, the railway not only carried raw materials and finished goods, but also carried thousands of factory workers to northern seaside resorts for their Wakes week holidays.

The passenger service closed in 1972 followed in 1980 with the end of the coal service, formal closure was in 1982.  The East Lancashire Railway Trust re-opened the line on 25th July 1987 and have extending it since.  It now runs 12.5 miles from Heywood through Bury to Rawtenstall with a station nearby.  Trains run every weekend throughout the year and Wednesday to Friday from April to September, carrying around 150,000 annually.

East Lancashire railway

Go through the next gate and turn left on footpath which goes steeply uphill, at the top turn left to follow grassy area towards a stone wall, just before this turn right up to and over stile near conifers at Great Hey Farm.  With farm fencing on the right go over field to next stile then across next field to steps and gate onto access road.  Turn left then right to cross bridge over the busy A56 follow the lane up to Edenfield passing the church with origins going back to before the Reformation.

The present church is dated 1778 with an older tower dated 1614.  This tower is 23 inches off the perpendicular.

*Optional route which avoids boggy fields in wet weather: after crossing the ancient bridge turn left and follow tarmac road to the end, turn right to cross railway track (Irwell Vale station is on the right, an ideal place to have a packed lunch in wet weather.) Go through kissing gate to take footpath uphill following stone wall. This comes out near the bridge over the busy A56.

Good daytime bus service here from Haslingden and Rawtenstall to Bury.

EDENFIELD to SHAWFORTH (7 miles section)

Cross the road and take the lane (East Street) opposite the church, up to Hey Meadow, a farm dating back to the 18th century.  Go up the stone steps and turn left round side of property, then over stile, continue on a grassy footpath up alongside hedge and then stone wall before crossing to the stile in the wall ahead. (Look behind to see stunning views across the countryside to Holcombe Moors and the valleys below.)

Once over the stile, go left for a short distance before turning right up the stony track, Sand Beds lane and continue along this lane passing the ruins of Sand Bed Farm. Where the track bends left continue straight ahead up the field footpath following the gully,  go through the gate and continue  following footpath through next gate and on towards Cowpe Lowe, the flat topped hill ahead.  Once over the impressive tramway cutting turn right following the old highway with flags rutted by countless wagon wheels from the industrial past.

This whole moorland landscape has been shaped by Quarrying, starting on a small scale in the 14th century, and perhaps even earlier. It was during the Industrial Revolution that more stone was needed so much larger quarries were developed with connecting tramways to transport the stone down to the valley towns.

It is hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago this whole area was a hive of activity. This tramway cutting is a good example of constructions needed to form the tramways. After skirting round Cowpe Lowe our route continues on top on the embankment of a tramway as our route heads towards Cragg Quarry.

Leave the flagged track just before the bend, turn left on a well- worn moorland path, keeping right at the next fork to walk on top of the curved embankment of a dismantled tramway to join the Pennine Bridleway coming up from Waterfoot. Continue on the clear wide track up and through a metal gate before going through the countless spoil heaps of Cragg Quarry. After the monotonous piles of stones it is good to see the splendid view down to the valley below.

Cragg Quarry started in the late 18th century and by 1844 it was large enough to have its own rubbing mill. It closed in 1946 and now has 6.5km of mountain bike trails.


Eventually the track joins Rooley Moor road coming up from Stacksteads, known as the Cotton Famine Road as the setted sections were laid during the Cotton Famine of the 1860’s. Soon the highest point on Rooley Moor road is reached.

Rooley Moor road

This Pennine Bridleway is part of the 47 mile Mary Towneley Loop which opened in 2002  and forms part of the Pennine Bridleway National Trail.

A few of the Scout Moor Wind Farm turbines can be seen on moorland to the right.  In 2017 a delegation of residents were successful in stopping the intended expansion of the wind farm around this area.

Heading for Lee Quarry

Continue a short distance downhill before turning left on stony narrow track, sign posted Lee Quarry.

This was the first of Rossendale’s purpose built mountain bike venues with 10km. of trails.

Continue on for about a mile across Brandwood Lower End Moor, after track goes downhill and over stream continue to fork and take right one to go through Lee Quarry to then join wide track skirting round the top of the moors with the valley towns down to your left and continue on this to fenced off underground reservoir.

(Optional route in dry weather: before the fork in paths near Quarry entrance and just after going over stream turn right to pass a disused mine shaft. Here there are 2 paths crossing Lee Moss moors, take the left one.  Paths across this area are indistinct so aim to skirt round the top of this huge quarry not far from the boundary posts. At far end of quarry bear left still following its edge down to a broken stone wall to the right.  Turn right to follow the grassy path next to wall which soon joins wider track heading right, with valley towns way down to the left, continue on this to the fenced off underground reservoir.)

At the T junction turn left for a few metres, cross the track and follow path on the right side of fencing to the top corner go over the fencing as stile is missing, bear slightly right and follow unclear path on Jam hill, keeping fence in view on right to next stone wall. Take path on right of this broken down stone wall, cross wet area on stepping stones then continue following wall on the other side down to fencing.  Go over broken stile a few metres from corner of fencing.  Follow path straight on going downhill and over more stiles passing disused quarry on the left and then very steeply downhill to road and housing estate.

Bear right and follow road bend and then down corner, cross the road then turn right continue round bend following Quarry street to main A671 road at Shawforth.

 (Good bus service here Rochdale / Accrington 464 route via Bacup and Rawtenstall)


SHAWFORTH TO WALSDEN (3 miles section)

Shawforth nestles in the valley between Rochdale and Bacup.  Once a busiling place of mills, quarries, mining and railway.  The railway opened in 1881 and closed in June 1947.

Cross main road and take farm track straight ahead, bear left uphill to farm where a notice says    M. Miller, master Saddler and Harness Maker building.

Go left on lane through farm to stile in wall on the right with a wooden frame over it. Take path across fields and over stiles to farm track.  Cross track to take lane uphill passing Middle Trough farm then just before next farm go through unmarked wooden gate on left to go across small grassed area to pass left side of second farm, path is marked but very rough and steep and crosses a horse training area before going next to the boundary fencing.

Continue straight on following very steep gully up to and over ladder stile at the top. Here go straight on crossing over The Rossendale Way to get to stile straight ahead, over stile turn left for approximately 20 metres before bearing right and heading up moorland to go between 2 big stone gate posts standing at the top of moorland. Turn sharp right and follow the wall down to a well- worn track.  Turn left and follow this to T junction, here turn right to follow Todmorden Centenary Way through gate and down passing barn ruins on the right. After metal gates continue on Todmorden Centenary Way passing farm on right.

Todmorden Centenary Way is a challenging route around Todmorden created to commemorate the centenary of the granting of Borough status. 

Follow the good farm track under the pylon wires and past properties and a farm on the right and then over a cattle grid, just after bush on the left turn sharp left to go over wall on a stone step stile and follows the wall down the field to the property called ‘Heys’, with a date stone of 1656.

Go on footpath passing front door of property then across lawn and through gate to follow path close to fencing on the right. Over stile out of field turn sharp left and follow path for about 50 metres to take marked path on the right which winds steeply down through woods to the back of 2 rows of houses.  Follow road down passing back of houses, round the sharp bend and then straight on passing more properties before going across footbridge over Leeds to Manchester railway, opened in 1841 following the route of the canal, after an 1830 survey by George Stephenson.  Go down to the main A6033 road at Walsden.

Good bus service here from Halifax to Rochdale. Also on main train route between Leeds and Manchester.



Cross zebra crossing, turn L then first right passing the side entrance to Grandma Pollard’s

This award winning Fish and Chip shop established in 1957 has unusual places to dine, as well as  an inside café, there is outside in a courtyard or canal side picnic area and even on an old bus. Unfortunately it is not open at weekend as they say  “Tony’s little legs need a rest”.

Continue across bridge over the Rochdale canal.

This was the first trans-Pennine canal to be opened in 1804 and remained so until the last boat in 1937, through the Waterways Trust this canal from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester, became fully navigable again in July 2002. 

At T junction turn right up Lord Street to main road. Cross here and turn left up steep cobbled lane, at fork in lane turn right and continue on tarmac lane, turn left just after Top’O’Hill Farm and before row of cottages. Follow path keeping close to fencing on the left, then continue in same direction straight across fields to first stone gate posts,  here turn right up to and over stile to just past breeze block building.  Turn right and follow path to stile in far corner. Cross wooden planks to follow well marked path straight up hill, nearing the top turn right on wider path which winds up hill and across Pennine Bridleway.

Continue straight on the well- worn moorland path passing the huge Basin stone.

Basin Stone

The Basin Stone is a natural weathered outcrop of millstone grit and quite easy to climb to the top.  Over the years it has been used as a meeting place by various radical groups.

Continue on to the large stone steps at the corner of Gaddings Dam.

Gaddings Dam

Gaddings Dam is a small disused reservoir with no vehicle access.  High and exposed, this shallow reservoir of clean water is a popular place for wild water swimming.  It is usually a bleak cold and windy place, but on warm sunny days people come to picnic and relax on the small sandy beach there.

Here go up steps then turn right to follow path along one edge of the reservoir, at the corner continue straight on following path over the moorland.  This becomes flagged as it goes over the boggy areas before reaching the Pennine Way half way between Stoodley Pike, above The Calderdale valley and The White House Inn on the moors above Littleborough. (Warland reservoir is just a short distance to the right.)

Junction with Pennine Way