Lancashire walk - Musbury Heights
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 July 2017
An area once famous for its stone quarries is this month’s destination for John Lenehan.
Whichever way people drive on the Grane Road between Blackburn and Haslingden, the magnificent valley commands attention. This is, I think, because the dramatic brooding steep dark slopes of Musbury Heights on the southern side give it an air of mystery and wildness.
Of course, this is an illusion – almost everything in this valley has been modified by man. It contains three reservoirs all man-made and even the slopes of Musbury Heights are a creation made by thousands of tons of quarry waste dumped from the workings that cover almost the full length of the hill top. The valley and its surrounding area do make for some magnificent walking and this walk is one I particularly like.
1. Leave the car park by going past the left hand side of the visitor centre buildings and through a stile, then follow the path up the steep hill to another stile. Turn left and cross the stile then follow the path that goes behind a small wood and reaches another stile on the left in a fence. Cross this and go straight down hill to a stile that leads onto the main road. Cross the road then turn left and follow the road downhill.
2. A track leads off to the right with a yellow and green Rossendale Way signpost. Follow the track through a gate the keep on the track as it turns right then follow it as it then turns left and heads down hill. There is Rossendale Way marker on a post as a guide. The track is a little indistinct but keep on downhill and the track gets better and starts to climb.
Note: The Rossendale Way is a 41 miles (66 kms) long distance circular high level walking route that follows the boundary of Rossendale Borough. Rossendale Harriers used to organise the Rossendale Way Relay in which running clubs entered teams that were split into pairs of runners tackling sections of the route as part of an overall relay race. I ran quite a few legs for Clayton le Moors Z Team.
3. There is a Rossendale Way Marker saying turn left towards a flag stoned path – do not follow this, but carry straight on following a lesser track uphill until it reaches a stile. Cross the stile onto a good track that leads across open moor.
Keep on the track until the Turton road comes into view and you will notice a single standing stone on the left with a small path going left behind it.
4. Take the path as it passes a ruined wall on the left and when this eventually turns left leave it and keep straight on. Ignore the path that goes right and keep going straight on. The path is indistinct at times but you will see in the distance the small hill that is Hog Lowe Pike with its prominent triangulation pillar straight ahead as simply head for that and reach its summit.
Note: The trig point is on the opposite side of a wire fence. There is a stile leading to the Trig point but come back over it after touching the trig point. The panoramic 360 degree view is extremely good from the summit so make sure it is a clear day when the walk is done.
Leave the summit with the wire fence on your right and follow this downhill to a stile and cross this. There are a couple of paths that lead left towards a valley. Don’t be tempted to follow these. Keep going straight on, keeping the wire fence on the right and cross another stile and keep straight on. Do not take any stiles that cross the wire fence itself.
5. The wire fence turns right. Turn right and keep following the fence until it reaches a gate with a stile on the right. At this point turn left away from the gate and follow the narrow path that leads towards a wall bearing slightly left as it does. Reach a gap in the wall and go through this then, with the wall on the left, head towards the ruins of Causeway End farm. Pass in front of the farm and head diagonally right downhill through a broken wall towards a prominent single tree by a ruined building.
Note: You will notice a few ruined farmhouses and settlements on the route and most of these were purposely purchased and closed by the reservoir builders to stop waste contaminating the reservoir feeder streams.
6. The tree marks the point where the walk rejoins the Rossendale Way. Reach the tree then turn left and follow the path that is the Rossendale Way. The path drops into a valley then climbs uphill following a wire fence on the right that borders a ruined building. Where the fence turns right carry straight on heading towards a wall with a stile saying Rossendale Way. Cross this into the start of the huge quarry workings. Follow the main path keeping left as the path forks and eventually the path joins a track. Turn left and head towards a prominent stone chimney and the ruins of the old quarry buildings.
Note: The quarry had a working life from 1877 to the 1920s and was founded by Hargreaves and Bolton but had quite a few further owners during its time. It quarried the stone used to make Haslingden Flags used for flagstone pavements and sometimes roofs during the rise of the Industrial Revolution. These are still quite evident today and it is easy to see why this quarry was so big. The chimney was part of the Scrubbing Mill that held machinery to cut, dress and polish the rough stone into flags. There was also a tramway that ran from the valley floor to the workings. It is said that Trafalgar Square has Haslingden Flags on it from this quarry.
7. The way of the walk from here is a little difficult to find and it is easy to carry straight on along the obvious main track. Stand on the main track with the chimney side with the hole in directly behind you then walk forward and there is a small path going towards the edge of the hill. Follow as it turns left and heads down hill turning and contours the side of the hill with Ogden Reservoir on the right and the dam of Calf Hey Reservoir ahead.
Note: Ogden Reservoir was constructed between 1902 and 1912 to supply water to Bury. It seems hard to appreciate when looking at the dark waters that they cover the once thriving village of Grane with its chapel, church, school and pub. The village was drowned when the completed reservoir was filled with water.
8. The path reaches a stile on the right, cross this and head down hill towards the edge of the dam of Calf Hey Reservoir then cross the stile that leads onto the track across the dam. Follow the track then at the fork keep left passing a preserved water valve on the right and up to and through a metal gate stile then turn right and up to another metal gate stile that leads into a pay and display car park. Cross the car park and on the left there is a sign saying Clough Head Visitor and Information Centre. Follow this through a stile and up some steps then follow the path to a stile and cross this and the track in front of a metal gate to another path that leads up some more steps to a stile and once through this turn left and follow the path up to the main road and cross this to the Visitor Centre car park.
WALK: Hog Lowe Pike and Musbury Heights
Start and Finish: Clough Head Café and Visitor Centre Grane Road Haslingden
Distance: 5.7 miles/9.17 kms
Time: 3 Hours
Terrain: Mainly good tracks except the section to and from Hog Lowe Pike that is a narrow path on open moor and can be very wet and muddy. There are two steep sections but very short. Good boots are fine but take gaiters in wet conditions.
Map: OS 287 West Pennine Moors
Facilities: There are toilets at the Visitor Centre, open each day 8am-5pm.
Watering Hole: Clough Head Café
The café is small and homely and offers a range of sandwiches and cooked food. I chose a bacon roll and it was very good accompanied with a pot of tea. It is open seven days a week and being also the Visitor Centre it has a good range of information about the area and its history and wildlife. Tel: 07973 878 821