Lancashire Walks - Belmont and Winter Hill
PUBLISHED: 19:05 07 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:56 04 October 2012
Keith Carter wanders lonely as a cloud on a springtime walk around Belmont in the shadow of Winter Hill
The name Belmont is said to derive from Old French, bel plus mont hence beautiful mountain. Which of the several hills nearby they had in mind Im not sure although Winter Hill at 1498ft (456m) seems the most likely.
With its proliferation of radio masts it is recognisable from all directions including from the M61 from where it is clearly visible. The tallest mast was erected by the Independent Television Authority in the 50s.
A variation on the name appeared as Belmunt in the 12th century so it is a name with a long pedigree although the area was also known as Horden in the 18th century, a name that is said (in my new favourite book) to mean dirty or muddy valley in Old English. Dont, as they say, get me started.
The village is built on the slopes running down to a narrow valley into which several streams flow including Horden Brook and is the site of what was the Bleach Works dating back to 1800. The scattered buildings now house a number of businesses and retail outlets which make it the industrial heart of Belmont.
These moors can be lonely places with only the sound of the wind for company yet they have a beauty of their own without doubt. I parked beside the A657 road in a rough lay-by north of the village directly opposite Belmont Reservoir. Access to Longworth Road across the dam is restricted at present although cyclists and pedestrians use it and have no problem.
Cross the dam and immediately over the other side take the farm track on the left that leads to the isolated Higher Pasture House. On the far side of the house through a gateway a signposted path departs and we continue uphill through three gates to meet a prominent moorland track or drovers road now designated the Witton Weavers Way, a 32-mile long circular walking route starting and finishing in Witton Park, Blackburn.
We follow this trail for a mile or so encountering nothing more than a Public Right of Way sign, now probably redundant since the CROW Act was passed in 2005 giving the public free and open access to the fells in England and Wales. Our way forward is clear enough as we head towards then walk to the right of the conifers of Stones Bank Plantation. We meet a lane where cars are often parked while their occupants go fishing in a disused quarry in the trees.
Cross the lane and keep forward until reaching Longworth Road which we cross straight over to a stile in the wall on the other side. Descending from it into a rough uncultivated field we are swallowed up by a quagmire just like our goalmouth used to look at the end of the season.
Keep a wall to your left and when you come to another stile cross it to enter woodland, the path making a steep descent of the bank. Below is Eagley Brook crossed by a footbridge and the top end of Longworth Clough Nature Reserve.
We dont enter the reserve but once across the footbridge turn to the right, the path leading us to where it climbs steeply up a bank on steps with a handrail. On reaching the top keep right and go through a kissing gate to access a faint path running parallel with the brook and with a line of high tension wires for company.
Follow the path along the top of the bank, picking your way between puddles unless there has been a dry spell and we arrive at a lodge called Ornamental Reservoir on the map. We keep right, cross a footbridge of remarkable length and turn left. Climb a stile into a field and go up to meet Egerton Road.
Here the quicker way back to Belmont would be along the road to the left but its narrow and busy and not ideal. Slightly further but off the road is the green lane to the right of the road going up hill towards a farm, Lower Whittaker where the footpath has been diverted round two sides of the building, taking us back down hill again.
Keep to a wall on the left and enter a wood by a stile, continuing down towards the lane and emerging onto it via some steps at the former bleach works, now partly occupied by businesses and after crossing a bridge over Horden Brook we take a lane on the right which brings us out on the main street opposite the Black Dog pub.
Turn right and go the length of the village up hill until you come to
the reservoir where we left the car. If youve done it under two hours give yourself a pat on the back and get off home.
Area of walk: Belmont
Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors
Distance: 5 miles
Time to allow: 2- 2 hrs
Refreshments and toilets: In Belmont village
Wheelchair/pushchair suitable: No
Keith will be back next month with a walk around Bacup. For more great walks visit lancashire.greatbritishlife.co.uk where you can also suggest your own favourite routes and upload the photos you take while youre out and about dont forget they could win you great prizes.
The print version of this article appeared in the March 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
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