Tuesday, 11thMay.     8miles.    Hoddlesden.

  We were back at the start again outside the Ranken Arms, this time Sir Hugh had control of his car and keys, so we were able to start the walk.

  The plan was to visit three triangulation pillars haphazardly scattered on Sheet 103 of the OS 1:50,000 Landranger map. For the record. Rushton’s Height 324 m, Hog Low Pike 383 m and Rushy Hill 377 m.  Sir Hugh knows these things, I’m not sure how many that leaves to visit. Some of the time we were on The West Pennine Way some time on The Rossendale Way but most of the time on our way, I shall try and make three trigs as glamorous as possible.

  Our trials commenced shortly after getting out of Hoddlesden onto the moors. Stiles were missing, blocked or dangerous. Gates were locked. Waymarking virtually non-existent. It took us much longer than anticipated to reach the first trig point of Rushton’s Height. There were views to the nearby Darwen Tower.

Sir Hugh records RUSHTON’S HEIGHT.

  Getting through the next farm which was spreading like a rubbish dump tried our patience even more, we gave up on our original line and took to some easier tracks to Aushaw Farm. Then we were on the more open moor at last and following little used paths, The West Pennine Way, on rough ground. Small abandoned quarries scattered the moor, what a desolate life it must have been. Ahead of us was a rounded hill sticking out of the moor, we speculated that it may be our next trig point. A little ingenuity was needed to get around Broadhead, we almost took to canoeing the boggy sections. On the map we should have been walking through a forest but it had all been felled. A steep pull up fields, then we had a stroke of luck – part of the moor ahead has been planted with trees and opened up for our enjoyment. It led straight to the trig point of Hog Low Pike. Another group of walkers was just leaving it. Cold weather was blowing in with spots of rain, we didn’t linger, but the backside of Pendle was visible between showers.


  A look at the map for our way forward showed we were on open access land, a glance at the moor showed little paths everywhere so we were able to take a direct route towards the Grane valley, it was steeper than expected but led through newly planted trees. There has been a programme of tree planting in the Burnley and Rossendale areas  where sheep grazing had denuded the slopes. We came upon a deserted farmstead, many were abandoned when the Grane valley reservoirs were established and the land became water catchment. Farming began to decline but many of the smallholdings set up loom shops which kept them going but by the turn of the 20th Century most of the old farms were deserted and the people moved to the rapidly expanding mill towns, We passed many more later when on the Rossendale Way but by then we were in rain and not stopping for pictures. Lunch was taken amongst the mossy ruins to the sound of bird song and some warming sunshine. I later found some history to our resting spot on Haslingdens Blogspot.

Bentley House
Bentley House does have some striking history, especially in regards to “illicit whisky distilling” which took place during the mid , 1800’s – Here is an article published in the Blackburn Standard – May 20th 1857:

ILLICIT DISTILLATION OF WHISKY….. On Saturday at the Court-house, Haslingden, Jonathan Haworth, farmer, Bentley House, Haslingden Grane, was charged by Mr. Ellis Heath, supervisor of the Inland Revenue in the Blackburn Division, with being the proprietor of an unlicensed still for the manufacture of illicit whisky. Mr. Clough, who appeared for the Board of Inland Revenue, stated that this was one of the most compact and connected private distilleries which had been brought to light, at any rate in this neighbourhood; and but for the vigilance of the officers of the Board, it might have been carried on for a length of time without detection. At eleven o’clock on the night of 3rd April last, Mr. Ellis Heath, accompanied by the officers, went to the house of the defendant, which is situated at an unfrequented and isolated part of the township of Haslingden. On going into the house, the officers proceeded to a square weaving shop, but observed nothing there by two pairs of looms. On examining the room above that they found it was a much larger room. They descended again to the weaving shop, and tapped the wall, which defendant said was a gable end of the house. They found the mortar soft, but yet it corresponded with the other walls of the chamber. On looking at the flags they found that they had only breen freshly laid. A few were taken up and after taking up a quantity of earth, an arched entrance cut out of the solid rock was discovered with an aperture just sufficient for one person to enter in a creeping position. On the officers entering the chamber by this, the only entrance, they found a new still and every apparatus requisite for the manufacture of illicit spirits, with a number of tubs, a quantity of wash, &c., which were immediately seized and conveyed to a place of safety. The flue of the fireplace in the room had been cut out of the rock and taken below the floor of the weaving shop and house until a junction was formed with the chimney of the house, so that one flue only could be seen to emit smoke. With the stone cut from the flue the partition wall of the weaving shop had been built so that no material had to be brought to the house, –Mr. Ellis Heath and others proved the case and the bench inflicted a mitigated penalty of £50 and costs, in default of payment to be imprisoned during her Majesty’s pleasure. — On the 7th ult., the defendant had been convicted of being on the premises where illicit whisky was found and convicted in £30 and costs, in default to go to prison for three months. The prisoner then sold ten head of cattle and went to prison. The seizure reflects great credit on the vigilance of the officers and will do much to check illicit distillation in this neighbourhood.

   There was a substantial stone post aside the ruins with a faint inscribed word, again with later research this turned out to be ‘To Bolton’, the farm had been alongside the ancient road.

  As I said black clouds had built up and we were in rain for the next mile as we followed the Rossendale Way past many ruined farms at the head of the Grane Valley, the reservoirs could just be made out in the mirk under the steep quarried heights of Muswell. We safely crossed the busy road and were back on open moor and soon at the last trig point of the day, Rushy Hill. Nearby wind turbines were about all we could see.

Muswell Heights.

RUSHY HILL. Some sort of ritual.

  A boggy track took us back to the road and on to Pickup Bank. We left the minor road to follow an even more minor lane down the hillside past various farmsteads, many with attached horse paddocks. The lane was steep and rough, I can’t believe I actually tried to drive down here as a shortcut to Hoddlesden on our last ill-fated meeting.

Not recommended for my Mazda.

  Arriving back in the village we passed the remains of the cotton mills which once provided all the employment, now occupied by the usual assortment of ‘dodgy’ workplaces. In the village itself we were surprised at the quality of the stone terraces and cobbled streets, some effort had gone in to making the mill workers’ lives bearable.

The Ranken Arms.


An excellent days outing. What will Sir Hugh come up with next?

   As an aside, my first aid kit came into action on the drive home. Some plastic from my front number plate started flapping alarmingly above the bonnet but a quick stop and application of a blister plaster solved the problem. I wonder how long it will remain there? I did consider an Aspirin in the radiator at the same time.





    A splendid report. Mine was already written before I read yours just awaiting a final read through. It is now published (12:15am)

    That floppy white stuff on your number plate bears an uncanny resemblance to a similar piece of white repair stuff flopping from your left boot which I observed during the whole day.

        1. bowlandclimber Post author

          The local authority sites around here {Lancs and Blackburn} are quite easy to use these days for reporting problems, with an interactive map of public rights of way.

  2. Michael Graeme

    Bleak and boggy. That canoe said it all. I would have been tempted to take it home and patch it up.


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