Lancashire walk - Musbury Tor
PUBLISHED: 10:06 06 July 2018
A visit to Musbury Tor is summit not to be missed says John Lenehan
When approaching Haslingden on the A56 from Accrington, Musbury Tor dominates the skyline. From this direction it looks more like a stand-alone steeply sided small mountain rather than a moorland hill, although with a summit at 1116ft/340metres it isn’t exactly small. In reality it stands on the end of a spur of Holcombe Moor and is not truly isolated but from the direction I mentioned one can be easily fooled. It’s a long time since I last stood on the summit and took in the magnificent view so decided it was about time I revisited.
1. Leave the car park at the right-hand side of the entrance and then turn immediately right and turn into a track (there is a footpath sign) and follow the track and cross the dam of Holden Wood Reservoir then follow the track as it bends right and uphill to a metal gate and stile. Note: On the OS map Musbury Tor is called Tor Hill. The Old English word Tor means hill therefore the map is saying Hill Hill.
2. Cross the stile and carry on along the track for a short distance until a track appears on the left and follow this as it climbs diagonally left up the field then turns right and climbs up towards a farm. Reach three wooden gates and take the centre one and carry along the track past farm buildings on the left and go through a metal gate with a Higher Hill Farm sign on it. Enter the farm yard and then turn right and follow the rough footpath up to a stile. Cross this and the path carries on between two walls to another stile, cross this and enter a track and turn left and go downhill.
As the track bends sharp left, turn right just before the bend and follow the path to a metal gate with a stile next to it. Cross the stile and pass a ruined building on the right then bear diagonally right uphill to a stile. Cross the stile and keep straight on and pass through a broken wall. There is another bit of a ruin and the path turns left then almost immediately splits with a track going downhill, do not follow this but turn right and follow the path between two low walls to a stile.
3. Cross the stile and do not be tempted to take the obvious path straight ahead. Turn left – there is no obvious path but it is the footpath – and follow the wire fence that soon becomes a wall steeply downhill to a gate stile, cross this and carry on down to another gate stile. Cross this and enter a rough track and turn left and follow the track downhill to a gate with a stile and an Access Land Notice. Do not cross the stile or gate but turn right and, with the stream on the right, go down to a footbridge and cross this.
4. Once over the footbridge there is no sign of a path through what looks like a new tree plantation and the ground is very boggy. From the footbridge, turn left and climb diagonally right uphill and soon in front further uphill there is a ruined building between two large trees. Head directly for the ruin and to the right of it is a stile, cross this and keep the building on the left and follow a wall then bear diagonally right up to a stile with amazingly a footpath sign. Cross the stile and bear slightly right and contour the hillside climbing as you do so aiming for the far end of Musbury Tor. Cross two broken walls then aim for the right-hand corner of the field and a broken stile.
5. Cross the stile and turn right and follow the track uphill to a point where a path breaks left and starts to lead up the side of the Tor. Take the path and follow this as it makes its way up bearing right and around the nose of the Tor getting steeper as it does. Finally, the path reaches a wall and to the left are some old quarry workings, turn right into the workings and at the far end of these a path leads out and uphill.
Note: On the top of Musbury Tor we came across an amazing lady with a rucksack and chair on her back and just had to ask if I could take her photo. She is called Barbara Hoyle and runs a business making handcrafted cushions and homeware and was on the Tor with a chair for a photoshoot for her website with Matt Donnelly, an old friend and fellow photographer. storybookinteriors.co.uk.
6. Tor Hill summit, the views on three sides are fantastic. A little further on are some crags and it is worth looking at these as they give scale to the height of the Tor. Reverse the route back and down to point 5 but do not re-cross the broken stile instead keep on the track and follow the path that goes diagonally left downhill towards a gully then with this on the right follow it down to a stile and gate, cross this into the grounds of a white painted house. Take the track that passes the house now on the left and go through three stiles, one composing of chains, and keep following the track downhill towards a mill with a red brick chimney. Note: If you go down to the main road and turn left you will come to Helmshore Textile Museum containing some of Lancashire’s finest preserved and working textile spinning and fulling machinery. It has recently re-opened to the public and is well worth visiting as is its sister museum Queen Street Mill in Burnley that has working weaving machinery.
7. Eventually, the track almost reaches the main road but just before it does turn left and follow Park Road. Pass Tor Foot Cottage then the tarmac road becomes a track. Follow the track and keep straight on passing the drive on the left of Kiln Field farm. Pass Middle Park House on the right and keep straight on to a stile by a wooden gate cross this and follow the path between two wire fences and go through a metal gate and pass the house Lower Park Barn and follow the now tarmac road downhill passing behind a row of terraced cottage and join the main road. Turn left and follow this back to the car park.
Note: Walking this last section from Middle Park House you will notice on the right a square stone factory chimney standing alone in a field. This is the chimney that took smoke away from Whittaker Textile Mill when the boilers were in steam. It stands on a hill on the opposite side of the road form the mill and the flue pipe goes under the road from the mill to the chimney. The reason for this is to get the chimney higher up the valley side into better wind flow and create better draught for the flue. Note: I had to go back to take the photograph of the Tor and in doing so met a farmer who asked what I was photographing in a friendly way. I told him and that I was a walking writer and he mentioned there were a lot of footpaths in the area and said: ‘There are three things a footpath should lead to: one, the church; two, work; and three, the pub.’ Quite right.
Start/finish: Car park opposite the Holden Arms B6232 Grane Road Haslingden. The car park belongs to the Holden Arms but the pub welcomes walkers.
Distance: 3.5 miles/5.6km
Time: 2.5 hours
Terrain: Track and footpath and can be very muddy in places and some of paths are very indistinct at times with no footpath signs. Good boots and gaiters in the wet.
Facilities: No public toilets.
Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors.