Global warming and how to cope with it is the zeitgeist of our age. The science now seems incontrovertible – if we do not control carbon emissions which create greenhouse gases average temperatures will increase. Within this century they could reach a point that will massively reduce the polar ice caps thereby causing ocean levels to rise. Think about this – even a moderate rise in sea levels will render just about every port and harbour in the world useless. The consequences of such an event would be catastrophic as nations (if they still exist) struggle with food shortages and cuts in sources of energy. Moreover migration caused by people fleeing low lying coastal areas would make recent concerns about immigration trivial. The only silver lining in this bleak scenario is at least science has alerted us to taking action. Wind farms are part of the response to concerns about global warming. What could be more carbon neutral than obtaining energy from harnessing the wind? Yet wind farms – especially on-shore wind farms are not without controversy. They have an undeniable impact on the landscape and yet do not (as yet) make a significant contribution to our overall energy needs. Scout Moor Wind Farm was Britain’s largest when it first opened. This walk takes you through it to allow you an up-close view of most of its 26 turbines and to ponder the big issue of our age.
Start: Long lay by to the south of Owd Betts Inn A680 Edenfield – Rochdale Road OL12 7TYDistance: 6 miles Time: 3 – 4 hours Grade: Moderate. Maps: OS OL21 South Pennines
Directions1. The first part of the walk follows the Rochdale Way to the summit of Knowl Hill. Opposite the lay-by 250yds to the south of Owd Betts cross to a rough track taking you onto the moors towards the wind turbines. At a fork keep right and soon after as you gain elevation the rounded form of Knowl Hill will come into sight about ½ mile away. The track swings right alongside a fence and then goes through it at a gate. After crossing Red Lum Brook continue by climbing the flanks of the hill and once on the broad summit plateau cross to the trig point and viewfinder. The viewfinder identifies a rather haphazard collection of places to look for – Liverpool 35 miles away but not Manchester a mere 12 miles to the south. Blackpool but not Preston. Also Calais. The Dotcoms couldn’t decide whether this was for the benefit of Brexiteers or Remainers. And why Gretna? Did those who positioned it believe Knowl Hill is a stopping off place for eloping couples? Be that as it may the hill has a magnificent panorama and if the reader does no more than to walk here and return to the car it would still constitute a worthwhile outing.
2. Moving on take a path leading east – to the right of the trig point as you approached it – that gently descends to the nearest wind turbine. As you draw close to it join a service road. The broad track composed of compacted gravel provides a spine for the wind farm. Turn left and keep on the track for two miles as you traverse this land of giants. The gradient is mainly up climbing gently 400ft to the highest point of the walk just beyond Higher Hill as you meet the Rossendale Way. While the footpath has a waymark post it is easy to miss as you motor along. Look for it after turning left at a junction below Higher Hill. Soon after crossing Grain Brook the Rossendale Way comes into sight. At normal walking speed it would have taken you about an hour to reach this point from Knowl Hill.
3. Turn left onto the Rossendale Way which follows a broad track down towards the Rochdale Road. After half a mile a wall appears on the left. After another 500yds a tall ladder stile crosses the wall. Use this to access a huge field marked Turf Moor on the map. The right of way follows the wall on the right to the corner and then turns left but when we checked the walk out it seemed sensible to cross the field diagonally left from the stile. After a wall corner cross a stile and then descend into Cheesden Brook enclosed by a deep gully. This area shows signs of previous settlement and is named on the OS map as “Paradise”. I’ll leave readers to make up their own minds whether or not it lives up to this name. Across the brook follow the path alongside a wall aiming for the flank of Tom Hill. After a steep climb turn right onto a rough track that takes you up to the brow. Now start a gentle descent following a broken wall on your left on a path which after a ladder stile picks up the outward route. Turn right for the car park.
- Walk devised by Malcolm McCulloch- Bob’s walks are now available as digital guides on the iFootpath website and App (see iFootpath.com)