Lancashire walk - Great Hill and Belmont Reservoir

Fellow walkers on the summit of Great Hill

Fellow walkers on the summit of Great Hill - Credit: Archant

Our walks expert John Lenehan plots a scenic course that also provides a little Lancashire history.

The lovely view back down to Belmont

The lovely view back down to Belmont - Credit: Archant

If you get a clear day, this is a walk with some stunning views rounded off with a great cafe popular with walkers. This route was a popular run on Tuesday evenings in summer for Clayton Harriers although we used to start from the Visitor Centre car park in Tockholes.

Having described the majority of the route from the Visitor Centre to Hollinshead Hall ruins in a previous walk, I decided to start at this car park as this is not far from the point at where the previous walk left the ruins to climb Cartridge Hill. This time the route leaves the ruins in the opposite direction and climbs Great Hill.

1. Leave the car park and turn left heading back to Tockholes. The road bends sharp left and on the right is a gate and stile, cross the stile then almost immediately there is a stile on the left in a wall. Cross the stile and follow the track up hill and cross a stile by a metal gate. Keep following the track as it descends downhill to the road then cross a stile into the road, cross the road and cross the stile opposite. Follow the path with a wooden fence on the left and continue to the ruins of Hollinshead Hall. The path becomes a track as it enters the ruins follow this then turn left and follow the track up to Belmont Road A675 then turn right to reach a building on the right. Note: The history of Hollinshead Hall goes back at least to the 1700s. It was owned by the Hollinshead family until it was sold in 1838 to Eccles Shorrock a mill owner and businessman from Darwen whose most famous memorial is the India Mill chimney he built in Darwen. He never lived in the hall and gradually it became derelict and was demolished when Liverpool Corporation acquired the surrounding lands and water catchments to build the reservoirs in Tockholes. The wishing well that stands in the grounds was left intact although it is now locked, it is possible to view the very interesting interior through the windows.


The long march down Horden Stoop

The long march down Horden Stoop - Credit: Archant

2. Opposite the building on the other side of the road there is a stile and footpath sign. Cross it and follow the path and cross a ruined wall then with a wall on the right follow the path towards the distant Great Hill. The path eventually reaches a stile, cross this and descend steeply into a valley then climb the steps on the opposite side to reach the steep path that leads to the summit shelter on Great Hill.

Note: On a clear day the views from Great Hill are stunning.


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3. Reach the summit of Great Hill and turn left at the signpost to Winter Hill and follow a flagstone path downhill in the direction of Winter Hill with its TV masts. Cross a stile and keep following the flagstones as the cross the open moor.

Belmont Sailing Club basking in sunshine

Belmont Sailing Club basking in sunshine - Credit: Archant

Note: I have been on these flagstones many times and I suspect a lot came from old textile mills. On some of them there are holes that show something was bolted down and I often wonder what it was and where they came from.

Eventually the flagstone gives way to a good path that leads down to a stile then on to Rivington Road at the car park at Hordern Stoops. At the road turn left towards Belmont.


4. Follow the road until a stile on the left, cross this and follow the path as it goes downhill passing some old quarry workings on the left. Reach a gate and stile and cross the stile and carry on down the path that ends at a step stile over a wall. Cross the stile and carry on with a wire fence on the left to a metal gate and stile, cross the stile and enter a track and follow this until a metal memorial bench on the left.

Motorists Stuart and Millier taking in the view

Motorists Stuart and Millier taking in the view - Credit: Archant

Note: Belmont was called Horderns before 1804.


5. At this point the track forks, take the left fork and follow the track that eventually turns into a road. Follow the road down to the main road in Belmont Village and on reaching it turn left and cross the road then follow the pavement uphill until a gap in the stone wall on the right and cross the stile there and follow the path to the reservoir dam, turn right and follow the road along the dam and pass the barrier gate then turn left and follow the road up to a farm then go through a gate into the farmyard and turn left then right through a metal gate to the left of the farmhouse. Follow the track uphill to a wooden gate and go through that and onto a metal gate with a stile next to it. Note: The farm is called Higher Pasture House but to Clayton le Moors Harriers it is known as Dog Bucket Farm as the then owner kept his collie dog tied with rope to a bucket filled with concrete.


Time for a brew at Vaughn's Country Cafe

Time for a brew at Vaughn's Country Cafe - Credit: Archant

6. Cross the stile and then where the track meets a main track turn left and follow the track that is now heading back towards Tockholes. Cross a stile next to a gate and carry on along the track to a gate and stile then pass in front of a magnificent house on the right. Here the main track bends left, do not follow this but keep going straight on towards a gate and stile and cross the stile then follow the track all the way back to the first stile you crossed on the way from the car park, cross this and turn left to the car park. u


Compass points

Walk: Great Hill and Belmont Reservoir

Start and finish: Car park at the end of Tockholes Road near its junction with Belmont Road.

Distance: 7.9m/12.7 km

Time: 4.5 hours

Terrain: Good walking in dry conditions but there are boggy sections up to Great Hill and down from Horden Stoops to Belmont. The section between Great Hill and Horden Stoops used to be awful but now there is a flagstone track and good paths between the two. Good boots and decent weather are essential. The views can be stunning on a clear day but end of the nose stuff in rain and mist.

Map: OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors

Facilities: There are public toilets next to Vauhgns Café on the Visitor Centre Car Park in Tockholes.

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