Lancashire walk - Worsthorne
- Credit: Archant
A map doesn’t do justice to this lovely walk over lonely moorland, as John Lenehan discovers
Worsthorne is one of the many small villages surrounding Burnley. Before the rise of the industrial revolution that transformed Burnley into the weaving capital of the world, cloth was produced in places like Worsthorne.
These communities were often built around a single mill and developed an independence that can still be felt as one enters the village. It stands on a crossroad between Brierfield and Holme in Cliviger and, more importantly, the old packhorse road from Burnley over the lonely moors to Yorkshire.
I thought it might be nice to explore the area and designed a circular walk to take in what I thought on map would be an interesting trip.
1. Leave the car park and cross over towards the Bay Horse Inn then turn left up Church Square passing the church on the left. Turn right into Green Terrace then follow the footpath sign left. The footpath is flagged and passes behind a wall. Reach a metal gate stile and cross this into a field. The path is obvious as there are flagstones randomly spaced in the grass. Cross the next stile into a green lane between two walls and exit this through a stile at the end. Head directly for the footpath sign leading into the main road. Turn left and follow the road into the village of Hurstwood. Carry on down until the church then turn right at sign for a car park.
Note: The village was originally called Worthesthorn meaning Thorn Tree of a man called Weorth. Worsthorne has one village shop. In 1914 it had 18! It was also the birthplace of Ron Greenwood, once the England football manager and a former player.
2. Enter the track for the car park and once over the bridge turn left onto a footpath. Keep on this until it reaches a house on the left with a wooden gate and a black electrically-operated gate to the side of it. Go through the gates onto a tarmac track. Pass the old Burnley Pump House on the right and proceed up towards the reservoir. There is a sign pointing right saying footpath, ignore this and carry on to the reservoir going through a gate and onto the track that follows the reservoir bank.
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Note: Hurstwood Reservoir is one of a series in the area feeding water to Burnley. The Pump House is particularly impressive and looks as if it is being refurbished.
3. Follow the track along the reservoir and until reaching a T-junction and a fingerpost. Turn right following the fingerpost sign that says ‘Pennine Bridleway Widdop Reservoir 2.5 miles’. Keep straight on and ignore the next fingerpost pointing left saying ‘Pennine Bridleway North’. Eventually, the track reaches a metal gate. Go through this and follow the track as it starts to bear left.
Note: You are now looking down onto Upper Gorple Reservoir. Hurstwood Reservoir supplies Burnley, Upper Gorple supplies Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. These moors mark the border between the two counties.
Keep on until the track reaches Gorple Stones. This series of little crags is quite impressive as they sit isolated on the open moor. The track reaches a fingerpost. Keep going straight along the track and follow the sign to Widdop Reservoir. The track descends steeply downhill towards the reservoir and then starts to zig-zag.
Note: The name Widdop means wide valley. The reservoir was built to supply water to Halifax using only gravity to take it from the dam to the town eight miles away.
4. On the point of the first bend there is a rather tatty fingerpost with most of the fingers missing but from here there is a small footpath that leaves the bend and heads straight towards the head of the reservoir, following a wall on the right. Keep following the path although it does fade at times and gets a bit muddy.
5. A footbridge appears downhill on the right. Leave the path and cross the bridge, then turn left and climb uphill diagonally left to reach the main road. Continue left and follow the road uphill.
6. A heavy steel gate appears on the right side of the road and opposite this a path leads left onto open moor. Follow this.
7. The path reaches a gate. Cross this and keep straight on heading downhill. Do not turn right. Reach a fingerpost that says ‘Pennine Bridleway Mountain Loop 1 mile and Swinden Reservoir 1 Mile’. Follow Swinden Reservoir. You come to a gate and a stile, cross this and the path forks, take the left hand fork downhill into the valley. After a while the path seems to disappear but the tip of the reservoir can be seen in the valley straight on. There is a hillside on the right of you so, keeping the reservoir tip as a marker on the left, contour the face of the hill and eventually you will see a wall coming up from the reservoir in front of you. There are two reservoirs upper and lower.
8. There is a stile in the wall. Cross this and follow a rather indistinct path that heads downhill to the corner of the lower reservoir. There is a stile next to left side of a pylon cross this and go down to a ladder stile. Cross this and then through a metal gate onto a road.
9. Once on the road turn left and follow it as it runs below the dam then bends right uphill.
10. The road joins the main Extwistle Road. Turn left and follow this all the way back to Worsthorne.
Start and Finish: Worsthorne Village Square
Terrain: Mostly good tracks and footpaths though the section from Widdop Reservoir to the road is indistinct in places and can be muddy. Also the end section path dropping to Swinden Reservoir is also indistinct but quite easy to negotiate. Another good boot walk that done in good weather is fantastic.
Distance: 8.5 Miles/ 13.6 Km
Time: 4.5 hrs
Map: OS Explorer OL 21 South Pennines.
Facilities: Public Toilets on Brownside Road.
Parking: Limited parking on Extwistle Road in village centre.
The Crooked Billet is a real pub that sells real ale. One of the best in my view is Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Bitter and what could be better after a heavenly 8.5 mile walk on a hot evening than quaffing a pint in fantastic atmosphere? I might be tempted back to walk from Worsthorne again at a weekend when pie and peas are served! They also have beer brewed nearby from the Worsthorne micro-brewery.