Pleasant walks with camera and three dogs
I had read about Haslingden Grane a number of times, about how it was once a thriving farming area but that the farms were now long abandonded. So with the weather dry and sunny it seemed an opportune time to pay the area a visit and to explore what it had to offer the interested walker.
There is a car park at the Clough Head Information Centre on the B6232 (Grane Road) but it is locked up at 5pm each day, and as I wasn’t sure what time I would get back I decided to park in a layby about half a mile away westward along the road (grid ref: SD747 230). This meant I would be starting the walk from the opposite end from where I had intended, but as I didn’t have a set walk planned anyway it really didn’t matter.
After donning my boots, putting the dogs on leads and locking up the car, the three of us walked a few yards along the grass verge before turning right onto a grassy path.
Just a few yards farther on we crossed over this stile. There wasn’t a doggy hatch for Brett and Sam to get through but they soon realised that a little hurdling was in order. 😉
A few more yards farther on we came to a T-junction and, after a quick perusal of the map I decided we should go left and head in the general direction of the reservoirs.
Unfortunately the walls on either side of the path had long since collapsed and were strewn around, making walking a little tricky. A quick glance ahead though soon showed that the rubble didn’t go far and there was a clearer path a short distance further downhill. And now I got my first glimpse of Calf Hey Reservoir
Once past the rubble strewn section the path was covered in a layer of gravel, making walking a good deal easier.
Soon the gravel path ended at a metal gate with a stile at the side (grid ref: SD754 229). On an Ordnance Survey map of 1894 this area was the village of Haslingden Grane and the road ahead was Chapel Row (there was a Methodist chapel here). With the exception of a few houses it’s all gone now I’m afraid.
Once over the stile we immediately turned left to follow a narrow dirt path up alongside a small wood.
This brought us out to the B6232 Grane Road (grid ref: SD752 231), where we turned left and walked a short way along the grass verge.
Just before reaching the entrance to Clough Head Information Centre we crossed the road and went through the stile into the woods.
This quickly brought us to the Information Centre and we headed towards the main building.
Here we went to the left of the main building and through the stile into another small wood.
Once through the wood we went through the stile and up a rather steep field alongside a stone wall to meet another stone wall going off at right angles to the left. As there were a lot of sheep in this field I put Brett and Sam on their leads..
Upon reaching the junction with the other stone wall and just before reaching the top of the rise we went through the stile in the wall (grid ref: SD749 233).
Upon getting through the stile we climbed over the wall to follow the Rossendale Way. Now the going got a little easier as the path followed the contour of the hill, and I was able to recover my breath after the steep climb up the field. As this area seemed to be free of roaming sheep I let Brett and Sam off their leads to have a run around for a short time.
After a short distance we turned left to go over the stile (grid ref: SD744 234) and downhill back towards the B6232 Grane Road.
At the bottom of the hill I put Brett and Sam back on their leads then we climbed over the stile and crossed the Grane Road before turning left to walk a short distance along the grass verge.
At this point we were less than 400 yards from the car (near the woods in the distance) , but instead we turned right (grid ref: SD744 231).
Having turned right off the Grane Road to continue along the Rossendale Way, a few yards down the path we clambered over this stile.
A few more yards farther on we followed the sign for the Rossendale Way as the path veered to the right.
Here we went diagonally left across a short grassy area to pick up the dirt path again a short distance downhill.
A short distance farther on we came to what was probably once some farm buildings but is now just a rather sad pile of rubble (unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any information about it).
A little farther along the path a Rossendale Way signpost directed us to the left to walk across a short stretch of stone slabs (probably the paving stones from a long since demolished mill).
The next Rossendale way signpost seemed to be pointing towards a large tree and what appeared to be our first recognisable farm ruin.
This was the ruins of Pike Lowe Farm (grid ref: SD742 226), and next to it was another signpost directing us along a clearly discernable path. One tenant at Pike Lowe was James Morris the leading illicit whisky maker of Haslingden Grane. However, in 1858 Inland Revenue officers went to the home of James Morris and began digging in search of evidence. Eventually they found an underground room being used as a distillery.
James Morris was sentenced to the maximum fine of £200 and, according to the Supervisor of Excise, it seemed that the distillery had been constructed at the same time as the farm, some fifty years earlier. It almost certainly had been used by James Morris’ father before him.
The path quickly brought us to the more externsive ruins of Close Bottom Farm (grid ref: SD743 225), in the middle of which was an information board telling of the illicit whisky brewing that took place at a number of the farms in the area as a means of supplementing their income, as well as warming up many a winters night. 😉
A short way past the ruins a glance over the stone wall on our left gave this view of Calf Hey Reservoir with the hills of the Rossendale Valley in the distance.
A little farther along the path a rather rickety Rossendale way sign directed us straight ahead downhill.
This brought us to the ruins of Top o’th Knoll Farm (grid ref: SD744 224). According to an article by Arthur Baldwin (Grane Revisited: Four Walks Around Haslingden Grane, 1991) for about fifty years from the 1830s Top o’ th’ Knoll was the home of Andrew Scholes, known locally as Owd Andrey, who was a man of many talents. As a violin player he was often invited to perform at “beef neet” celebrations after a cow had been slaughtered at a local farm. Owd Andrey once constructed a cart inside the house, but when it was completed he discovered that it was a little bigger than the doorway so he left it leaning against the wall of the room.
The Rossendale Way signposts now directed us around the edge of the ruins to continue on our way.
Once past the ruins of Top o’th Knoll Farm the somewhat boggy path took us along the edge of a wood.
A short distance uphill we came to a stile that we passed through to follow the path throught the woods.
At last I was certain we were clear of the grazing area for sheep, so much to their evident delight I let Brett and Sam off their leads to have a good run around in the woods. 😉
A short distance through the woods we came upon this small clearing that contained what I can only describe as four “toadstools” carved out of tree stumps.
Shortly we came to the junction with another path, where we turned right.
Eventually we came to a set of wooden steps leading down to a small footbridge.
As we came out of the woods there was this great view of Calf Hey Reservoir, with the hills in the distance overlooking the towns of Haslingden, Rawtenstall and Bacup along the Rossendale Valley.
The narrow dirt path now follows the line of a wire fence on the side of the hill overlooking the reservoirs
A quick glance back at this point gives a great view of the valley upstream of Calf Hey Reservoir
At this point (grid ref: SD754 221) we got our first view of Ogden Reservoir. For the moment we ignored the path off to the left, but would be returning to it later on our way back.
A ittle farther along the path (grid ref: SD759 222) we came to the ruins of Under Heights Farm overlooking Ogden Reservoir.
And a very short distance later we came to the junction of two paths (grid ref: SD761 222) where we went right to climb up towards Musbury Heights.
Part way up the narrow track we got our first view of Holden Wood Reservoir.
A few breathless minutes later (at least for me, Brett and Sam weren’t troubled by the steepness of the path 😉 ) we came to the ruins of some old quarry buildings. The tall chimney stack appeared to be the only part of the ruins that is still intact and is thought to have been connected to the Scrubbing Mill where the quarried stones were cleaned. It was conserved with funding from English Heritage in 2004, reinstating the structure that was in danger of complete collapse.
After strolling around the ruins for a while we continued along the path leading uphill through this gap in a large wall.
On reaching this junction with another path we turned sharp left to make our way back.
This took us back past the other side of the old quarry buildings.
Just past the ruins of the quarry buildings, and at this junction we turned left to get back down the path that had brought us up onto the Heights.
Having descended from Musbury Heights we retraced our steps along the narrow dirt path till we came to the stile on the right (grid ref: SD754 221) where we turned right to head downhill towards Calf Hey Reservoir
At the bottom of the hillside path we climbed over the stile and turned right to walk along Calf Hey Reservoir embankment to meet another path leading away from the car park, where we turned left.
A few yards along to path we passed by this delightful little walled picnic area. Just as well I had already had my lunch as I was sorely tempted to tarry awhile. 😉
A short distance along the path we came to the ruins of Hartley House. According to the information board the house probably dates back to the reign of Elizabeth I (1533-1603) and began life as a single farmhouse. By the 1790′s it had been joined by another farmhouse and four cottages, and at the time it was sold in 1827 it consisted of four farmhouses (each with a cloth weaving handloom) and nine cottages (some of which also had their own handlooms).
This sketch from the information board shows the layout of the various farms and cottages.
And this artist’s sketch shows how Hartley House once looked.
Another sketch from the information board depicts a typical handloom weaver from the 18th century.
Brett and Sam were getting rather bored just standing around whilst I perused the ruins of Hartley House, so as there were no sheep around I let them off the lead and carried on along the path towards the next set of ruins.
The next ruins were of Lower Ormerods, that was owned by the Ormerod family in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Ormerods were one of the wealthiest families in the area at that time and owned several of the farms. However, the construction of Calf Hey and Ogden Reservoirs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries led to the steady depopulation of most of the farms. During the latter stage of its occupation Lower Ormerods reverted back to being a smallholding, with the western wing becoming barns and the rear loomshops becoming pig styes.
This sketch from the information board shows the layout of Lower Ormerods as it developed.
And this sketch shows how the farm once looked.
Having had a good look around the ruins we walked past them and turned right to follow the path uphill alongside a stone wall.
At the top of the rise the path veered to the left
A few yards later we left the path to go right and through the gateway.
Having walked uphill across a field full of sheep (and lots of lambs bleating to their mums for more milk) we came to another path, where we turned left.
A couple of hundred yards along the path we turned right to head up the the B6232 Grane Road.
We climbed over the last stile and walked the few yards to the road and turned left.
Back at the car I got Brett and Sam on board after a most informative and very enjoyable six miles (Sam soon chilled out but Brett seemed ready to go round again 😉 ). All that remained was to don my shoes and drive home for a nice cup of tea and a couple of pain au chocolat.