WEDNESDAY 18th MARCH 2020
2nd of 9 walks to complete the West Pennine Way
This walk unfortunately is likely to be the last organised walk for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. Before we started the walk, as requested, we asked each of the seven walkers if they had any of the symptoms of the virus and outlined our plans for “social distancing” on the walk.
We started the walk at Cough Head Café, Grane Road Haslingden, on a cloudy morning with light rain which was persist throughout the day. Making our way onto the footpath at the left of the café we climbed steeply up onto Haslingden Moor to join the West Pennine Way (WPW), where we turned right and headed towards Jamestone’s disused quarry and onto Ley End Farm where we crossed the Grane Road and made our way to Holden Wood Reservoir the first of the three reservoirs to be built in 1846.
From the reservoir embankment we climbed the steep path that was once the tramway used to bring stone down from Musbury Heights Quarry, which closed in 1931. At the top of the tramway the ruins of the scrubbing mill, including the chimney which was rebuilt by English Heritage in 2004, can be clearly seen along with views across the Grane Valley and over to Haslingden.
After the steep climb we needed to get our breath back and decided to also make it morning coffee time.
Continuing to follow the WPW we walked around the side of Musbury Heights with views of the ruins of Musden Head Farm to our right. The route then descends steeply into Long Grain Water which due to the recent heavy rain was a fast following brook that was difficult to cross. Once on the other side we started to climb over Burnt Hill, still following the WPW.
By now the rain had started to fall more heavily and we decided to leave the WPW and head down to Helmshore. After crossing several muddy fields, we joined a footpath that passed a very old and attractive collection of farm buildings which were Tor End Farm (Tor is old English for Hill) granted Grade II listing in 1987 built in the mid-17th century and extended in the 18th century.
Once in Helmshore we joined the Route 6 Cycle Route that passes behind Helmshore Textile Musem which was one of the first fulling mills to be powered by water power, and is well worth a visit. By this time, we were looking for somewhere to stop for lunch and decided that bridge over the River Ogden was a suitable place where we could continue to social distance ourselves.
After lunch we re-crossed Helmshore Road and joined a footpath that took us over the embankment of Holden Wood Reservoir and up to Holden Antiques. From here we crossed the Grane Road and headed up onto Haslingden Moor turning left through Mary’s Wood, which was planted in memory of a local farmer’s wife. On the way back to Clough Head Café we had to reunite two black lambs with their mother as they were on different sides of the fence.
It was a sad end to the 11 mile walk not knowing when we would be able to restart our walking programme.