West Pennine Way Link to Pennine Way

Start from BUCKDEN WOOD lay-by (half way between Holcombe and Helmshore grid ref. 78118).

This walk goes via the WEST PENNINE WAY on BULL HILL to WARLANDS RESERVOIR on the PENNINE WAY, half way between THE White HOUSE and STOODLEY PIKE.

This challenging walk (15 miles) with long stretches across windswept moors can be walked in sections, as all other West Pennine Way walks. Appropriate clothing and footwear should be worn.

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.

Click Basic route instructions for the route from the Pennine Way to West Pennine Way
Click Basic route instructions for the route from Bull Hill (West Pennine Way) to Pennine Way
Click Transport Links for the route from the Pennine Way to West Pennine Way
Click Photos of Pennine Way Link to see photos of this section

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

Click Buckden Wood to Edenfield to see a map of this section of the walk
Click Edenfield to Shawforth to see a map of this section of the walk
Click Shawforth to 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



Buckden Wood lay-by on the Holcombe to Helmshore road is just a short distance to join The West Pennine Way on Bull Hill.

Turn left from lay-by up through this National Trust wood, then go over ladder stile and straight across dirt track to follow footpath up moorland between the 2 stone walled fields. From the right top corner take path ahead a short distance to the Peak & Northern footpath sign on Bull Hill.


P1052417Turn right in the direct of Helmshore passing Ellen Strange’s stone and cairn continue following good stone wall on the left down to the gate on Moorbottom road (dirt track). Go through the gate and just before Robin Hood’s well which is the left turn right and go through small metal gate without a way marker.





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 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.

Robin Hood’s Well is on an ancient Pilgrim’s route to Whalley Abbey. It is at the top of Stakes lane, so called as bulls were staked for baiting.

Go straight down meadow and over ladder stile, continue in same direction to go over stone stile, then straight across farm access lane over 2 more stiles, cross main Holcombe to Helmshore road and go over stile opposite (Footpath post is lying behind hedge) go diagonally left down field to pass close to the right side of house. Go over stile just past house and continue to go straight on over fields and more stiles down to the village of Lumb. Turn left and follow road under the 60ft high railway viaduct.

This is a grade two listed viaduct over the River Irwell, on the Bury to Haslingden railway which closed in 1966. The parapets have recently been reconstructed and the track bed improved as part of a project to extend route 6 National Cycleway.

Continue on over the ancient stone bridge, then turn right on narrow path following the river Irwell for a short distance before going under the famous East Lancs 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 been extending it since then. It now runs from Heywood through Bury to Rawtenstall. Trains run every weekend throughout the year and Wednesday to Friday from April to September, carrying around 150,000 annually.

Go through the next gate and turn left on footpath which goes steeply uphill, at the top turn left and 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 field to steps and gate onto access road. Turn left then right to cross bridge over the busy A56 road and 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.

Good daytime bus service here from Haslingden 482 and from Rawtenstall 483 to Bury.




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 to follow the stony track up to Sand Beds lane, following this past farm ruins before leaving the track to continuing straight ahead on the footpath following a gully up to and through a kissing gate, continue towards Cowpe Lowe, the flat topped hill ahead. Once over the stone tramway cutting turn right following the old highway with flags rutted by countless wagon wheels from the industrial past.



Leave this flagged track just before the bend turn left on well- worn moorland path, keep 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 up and through a metal gate and then the countless spoil heaps of Cragg Quarry, with its origins in the late 18th century, 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.


Some of the Scout Moor Wind Farm turbines can be seen on moorland to the right. The intended expansion of the wind farm is around this area.


Continue a short distance downhill before turning left on newly constructed 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 turn right passing 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 go to other side of wall and follow it down to fencing. Go over broken stile which is 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 left, cross the road then turn right down Knowsley Crescent, continue round bend then go right down steps through old railway subway where walls are painted cream. Down Quarry street to main A671 road at Shawforth.

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




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 a huge stone on the way up to the corner of Gaddings Dam.


This 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 on edge of reservoir to next corner, and continue straight on following path which becomes flagged as it goes over the boggy areas of moorland before reaching the Pennine Way near Warlands Reservoir, half way between Stoodley Pike, above The Calderdale valley and The White House Inn on the moors above Littleborough.



Here you have the choice of returning the 2 miles to Walsden or following the Pennine Way right to The White House Inn or left to Stoodley Pike both are about 2.75miles away.