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West Pennines & Rossendale

West Pennines - Introduction

The West Pennine Moors together with the area known as the Forest of Rossendale forms an upland area that heads westward away from the main north/south axis of the Pennines. The area shares many characteristics with the South Pennines in that the valleys are often densely populated and the marks of industry past and present are never far away.

West Pennines Gallery: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Winter Hill
The Peel Tower above Holcombe
On Top of Leach
Hog Lowe Pike
The Scout Moor Windfarm
Darwen Hill with it's rocket shaped Darwen Tower
Freeholds Top on the Lancashire / Yorkshire border
High Level Reservoir on the side of Hail Storm Hill
Rivington Tower
The cross mounted cairn on Whittle Hill
Haslingden Grane and Ogden Reservoir
Darwen Hill from Rushy Hill
Above Withnell Moor
Hail Storm Hill from Top of Leach
Hoddlesden Reservoir

The West Pennine Moors proper are generally held to be the moors to the west of the Irwell valley and includes Bull Hill, Hog Lowe Pike, Rushy Hill, Darwen Moor, Turton Moor, Great Hill and, of course, Winter Hill. The Forest of Rossendale encompasses the moors immediately to east up to the main Pennine watershed and the boundary between Lancashire and Yorkshire. Together the West Pennine Moors and the Forest of Rossendale are very much the Lancashire Pennines.

As with the South Pennines and Dark Peak the underlying rock is millstone grit (gritstone) though it is much less in evidence on the surface. The moors tend to be made of rough grassland rather than heather. Indeed on the West Pennine Moors there was a 50% loss of heather cover between 1946 and 1988. One reason for this is that unlike many upland Pennine areas the West Pennines moors are not managed for grouse shooting (hurrah!).

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The hand of man is perhaps even more apparent on the moorland heights here than anywhere else in the Pennines. A high number of these moors are decorated with man made constructions that range from 19th century memorial towers on Darwen Hill and Harcles Hill to the more recent collection of masts on Winter Hill and the huge Scout Moor windfarm on the flanks of Hailstorm Hill.

It wasn't until January 2010 that I visited the West Pennines for the first time, the main reason for my first visit being that I had started work on this website and I thought that I couldn't have a site called 'My Pennines' if I'd never visited the West Pennines!

That first walk was on to Bull Hill and was memorable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was my first walk after a knee operation the previous December so it felt great to be out in the hills again, and secondly, I witnessed a superb cloud inversion with the views south beyond the Peel Tower particularly striking.

Since then I have, gradually, begun to explore more and more of the area. Along with the South Pennines the West Pennines has somewhat unfairly been left unprotected by National Park or AONB status. Admittedly it cannot be compared to the Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales but there is still some wonderful scenery to be found.

West Pennines & Rossendale