Rawtenstall, Lancashire Sunday 26th February 2017

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader : Carole Rankin   Distance : 10.00 miles

A circular walk from Rawtenstall along the Shoe Trail thru Whitaker Park to Top of Slate (and the Halo) and onto Duckworth Clough. We then make our way up Cribden Hill (401m, 1315.62ft), over Cribden Moor and down to Crawshawbooth.
Next we go north via Goodshaw Chapel to join Rossendale Way for a short stretch, and SW across to Bottomley Bank Farm. Then south passing Bonfire Hill and The Height back to Rawtenstall, hopefully in time for a drink this time…
Mainly paths and lanes (and mud).

Leisurely Leader: Pam Chamberlain and Joan McGlinchey   Distance 6.50 miles

We will take a leisurely walk out of Rawtenstall via Whitaker Park and head up past the dry ski slope centre to Cribden Hill via Cribden Flats and Top ‘o’ Slate and great views. This 1000ft climb will take us across the normal muddy fields, paths, and small roads. The journey back to Rawtenstall will take us down some slippery slopes where springs are close to the route and some fields are immensely muddy.
You may wish to wear over-trousers or gaiters, bring some dry socks and a walking pole. The wildlife on the way in the form of horses, donkeys, goats, and birdlife can be seen quite easily. Two points to mention; it is advisable to wear your gaiters; and there are many high stiles in the stone walls to climb over.

Easy Leader : Derek Lee   Distance : 5.00 miles

This is a linear walk, with no hills, along the valley to Ramsbottom with several exhibits from the Irwell Sculpture trail to admire on the way. We return to Rawtenstall on the Heritage Railway. The cost is £5.40 or £4.90 concession. But you must show a concessionary travel pass or other proof of entitlement.

Notes On The Area

Rawtenstall is one of the three main towns of the Borough of Rossendale, the others being Haslingden and Bacup. The area is dominated by the Pennine Hills and is rich in industrial archaeology. Rawtenstall grew as an important textile centre – first for wool, then for cotton, and latterly for the manufacture of footwear, particularly slippers. Gaghills Mill, Waterfoot, built in 1900 is still in operation as Lamberts Mill Shop. The same building houses the Rossendale Footwear Heritage Museum.

Power looms were introduced into Rossendale from 1822. This development had a mixed reception and many hand weavers, feeling their livelihoods threatened, took to sabotage. The Power Loom Riots led to the destruction of more than 300 power looms, and six rioters died in clashes with troops. However, by the middle of the last century Rossendale had so many textile mills that the Irwell became known as the hardest worked river in the world. The River Irwell was in fact the most polluted river in Europe until recent years.

St Mary’s is one of the many modern churches in Rawtenstall. St John’s at Cloughfold has lovely windows of the Apostles and a striking Crucifixion in Bronze. The finest church in the neighbourhood is St John’s at Crawshawbooth, standing on a wooded slope with a stream rushing by its churchyard. It has a significant tower with spire-like pinnacles, a handsome clerestory, and fine tracery windows. Crawshawbooth also has a beautifully kept Quaker Chapel of 1716, reminding us that Rossendale was one of the main northern centres of Nonconformity. Nearby is a Baptist Chapel of 1760.

Of the fine buildings in Rawtenstall, none is more unusual than the Weavers’ Cottage, situated not far from the Tourist Information Centre. The three-storeyed building, dating from 1780, was constructed specifically for handloom weaving. The close-set mullioned windows, so typical of this period, face south, thus providing as much light as possible for the weavers as they worked on the upper floors. It is now open as a Heritage Centre.

The East Lancashire Light Railway is a preserved line which, until recently, ran between Bury and Ramsbottom. Now however, steam trains continue along the line as far as Rawtenstall and is a great attraction for both visitors and local people. The reminiscent sound of the steam whistle can be heard throughout the day from the surrounding hills as the trains steam to and fro along the valley.

The Groundwork Trust Countryside Centre is based in a 19th century farm building on the banks of the Irwell, and tackles practical projects with the aim of improving the environment of the Rossendale valley. The Groundwork Trust co-ordinates voluntary activities, encourages the learning of countryside crafts and skills, and offers an information centre for visitors.