Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester Sunday 22nd February 2015

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Jimmy Need   Distance: approx. 10 miles

We begin our walk by making our way up to and thru Brandt wood, then a little long up Nevis One. From here we make our way to Stubbins Estate. We then make our way to the River Irwell and the Irwell Sculpture Trail from where we make our way onto Holcombe Moor where we come across Beetle Hill and fall up Pilgrim’s Cross Stone followed by the Peel Tower – a nice ramble back to Ramsbottom.
PS This walk will put a nice complexion on your boots!

Moderate Leader: Peter Denton   Distance: 8 miles

We’ll start our walk from Morrisons and we head off up and out of town towards Peel Tower. We then walk round the base of the tower Hill to Taylor’s Farm, then on along the bridle path to the edge of the MOD range. We then head up onto Holcombe Moor to the Pilgrim’s Cross Stone and then head for Beetle Hill. With over half the walk in the bag we start the descent towards Chatterton Close. This quarter mile section of paths hasn’t been recced because the path we took on the day was far too muddy. This revised path may be less muddy – it couldn’t be worse, fingers crossed, Ha!. We then follow the river back to Ramsbottom for tea, crumpets or a pint. You will have earned them.

Leisurely Leader:

We have no leisurely walk as no leader came forward.

Easy Leader: Derek Lee   Distance: 5.0 miles

We will pass to the west of Ramsbottom going north to Stubbins, mostly on field paths and tracks. Then along the railway line as far as Lumb from where we cross the present railway and turn south on alternate field paths and road, returning to Ramsbottom along Nuttall Park and passing just one artwork from the Irwell Sculpture trail on the way. No more than 200 feet of ascent and most of it right at the start of the walk. Most of the field path walk can be avoided by using minor roads if necessary, and the walk can be shortened by crossing the railway at Strangstry.

Notes On The Area

Ramsbottom is a small town in the Irwell Valley, north of Bury and south of the area known as Rossendale. Colloquially it was often known as “Tupp’s Arse” (tupp being a dialect word for a male sheep). The age of the town is not known but there is evidence of settlements in the area dating from about 4000 BC. Ancient burial sites and artefacts have been discovered on the hills surrounding the valley in which Ramsbottom nestles. The name is also thought to be a derivation of wild garlic valley. The valley would have been woodland in those times and eventually during the 11th century it became a Royal Forest. During the 16th century, deforestation of the valleys was commonplace to meet the growing need for timber. The Industrial Revolution brought with it factories for the spinning and weaving of wool and later cotton. The processes of bleaching, dyeing, printing and engraving also played a part in the regional growth.

Standing 112 ft high on the edge of Holcombe Moor, the Peel Tower is the most identifiable landmark of the West Pennines and from almost any part of the northern half of Greater Manchester it can be seen standing guard on a steep-sided spur overlooking the middle reaches of the Irwell Valley. There are spectacular views from the Tower. The Tower was opened in 1852 and celebrates the Repeal of the Corn Laws by the then prime minister Robert Peel, who was born in nearby Bury to the son of a textile manufacturer. This most famous son also founded the police force. The tower was built from local millstone grit, hence the quarried holes surrounding it, and has now apparently reopened to the public on some days.

The Peel Tower is a relative newcomer to Holcombe Moor, which takes its name from the old village which nestles beneath its stark shoulder. The moor is a southern spur of the Rossendale Uplands and in ancient times pilgrims travelling to and from Whalley Abbey in Lancashire crossed the moor and prayed and rested by a cross that is known to have existed here at least as early as 1176. The site of the cross is recorded by the present day square stone which stands on the flat plateau and was erected in 1902 by the Lord of the manor. The base of the original cross was removed in 1901 by some Edwardian vandals – even in those days you couldn’t keep anything unless it was nailed down!

Pilgrims were replaced by textile merchants, and Moor Road, running north-south along the edge of the moor was once an important highway between Bury, Haslingden and Clitheroe. Such routes kept high to avoid boggy valleys and also, in this case, to avoid the restricted access to the Forest of Rossendale which extended down to Holcombe. Not far from this highway is the resting place of Ellen Strange, a local girl and “hapless maid” who was murdered on the moor and is remembered by a stone pillar and cross.

The National Trust has had an interest in this area since 1943 when it acquired the Stubbins Estate It acquired Holcombe Moor in 1994 from the Ministry of Defence and this was definitely good news for ramblers. But military ranges are still to be found around Bull Hill and the Red Brook Valley, and a good view can be had of the army assault course which was once the star of ITV’s “The Krypton Factor”.

For the tourist there is Egg Rolling on Good Friday, a Game Fare on New Year’s Day, a Rhythem and Blues Festival and a Black Pudding Throwing World Competition. After all it is only just over 3 miles from Bury, the home of black pudding.