Weekend walk: Littleborough

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with Bob Clare of www.lancashirewalks.com

This walk uses parts of the Pennine Way and the Pennine Bridleway. The Pennine Way was first opened in April 1965 and linked Edale in Derbyshire with Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders with a 268 mile trail more or less following the “backbone of England” from the Derbyshire Peak District, through the South Pennines, into the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and finally over the Northumberland Hills into Scotland. Fancy it? For a reasonably fit experienced walker it will take about 19 days. The record incidentally set in 1989 by Mike Hartley is 2 days 17 hours 20 minutes and 15 seconds! The Pennine Bridleway came about in 2005 after Mary Townely campaigned for a route roughly parallel to the Pennine Way that might be undertaken by horse riders and cyclists. It is 205 miles long linking Middleton-in-Wirksworth in Derbyshire with Ravenstonedale in Cumbria.

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Walk Facts

Start: Public car park next to White House pub, Halifax Road, Littleborough OL15 0LG

Distance: 8 miles

Time: 4 - 5 hours

Grade: Most of the walk is easy but it ends with 600ft of ascent in less than 2 miles. To be avoided if you are averse to the words “steep” and “slope” appearing in the same sentence.

Maps: OS OL21 The South Pennines

Directions

1. The first three miles of the route is an easy high level moorland yomp. From the car park turn left onto Halifax Road and after passing the White House pub turn left onto the Pennine Way. With the embankment of Blackstone Edge Reservoir to your right follow a broad track to the far end of the reservoir and after passing through a gateway continue on the Pennine Way as it rounds Cow Head and then resumes its northward course. After an impressive gritstone outcrop on the right track reaches the tip of Light Hazzles Reservoir. With water to your right follow the shores of the reservoir to a path junction. The Pennine Way continues straight ahead along the west side of Warland Reservoir. The route described goes right through a gateway with stone gateposts inscribed “R.C.W.W. 1925” presumably Rochdale Council water works. After crossing a channel the path passes through a wooden gate with the upper arm of Light Hazzles Reservoir still to the right. On a path much less travelled on swing right so that Warland Reservoir comes into view and keep ahead until you reach its end signalled by a drainage channel feeding into the reservoir close to a cluster of water works.

2. The next 1¼ is a gentle downhill stroll to the Rochdale Canal. After crossing the concrete drainage channel turn left and just in front of a wooden gate turn right onto a narrow but obvious path dropping to the valley clearly waymarked with yellow tipped posts. In ¾ mile the path arrives at Higher Scout Farm. Here turn right on a concrete track and continue the descent. Just before the next farm (South Hollingworth) turn left on an ancient packhorse path alongside a wall. Keep on this as it edges below steep sided slopes to Dean Royd Farm. Turn right onto a farm track just before the house and follow it as it takes you to the Rochdale Canal.

3. The next 1½ miles is a delightful stroll along one of England’s most attractive waterways with lots of features to provoke curiosity. Cross the canal and turn left onto its tow-path. On route “climb” through two sets of locks to reach “the summit” – the highest cut of the canal at around 600ft above sea level. The need to ensure an adequate supply of water to allow the canal to function led to the construction of some of the reservoirs passed in the first part of the walk. Water supply was something of a headache in the summer months and this added to the fact that there was a high number of locks – on average three per mile – meant that when the railways came along all commercial advantage evaporated.

4. The next 2 miles involve a 600ft climb back to the start. At bridge 42 just after West Summit Lock (“the highest broad lock in England”) turn left over the canal and follow a track that is in fact the Pennine Bridleway. After a small car park the path soon leads onto the open moors taking you to Leach Hill above Higher Chelburn Reservoir. With the aid of frequent waymarks cross the top of the hill and then drop to a gate taking you along a fence lined path past animal sanctuary. On the far side join a broad farm track (still on the Pennine Bridleway) and contouring along the side of pastureland keep ahead for 600yds until you cross Castle Clough on a bridge. Almost immediately after cross a cattle grid. Here the Pennine Bridleway goes right but your way is left for the final climb to the car park. The path is clear but steep taking you onto moorland. If climbing steep slopes bothers you then you didn’t read the fact file above so there is nothing for it except to put one foot front of the other and push yourself onwards and upwards. Just think of how much good it is doing you and if this doesn’t do it hopefully you have timed your walk to enjoy a refreshing drink in the pub. (Weekday opening 12.00 – 3.00 Weekends 11.00 – 11.00)

- Walk devised by John Weir and Peter Haworth of the Burnley Contingent

- Bob’s walks are now available as digital guides on the AllTrails website and App