9:17 AM 16th September 2020
Haslingden Grane – The Reservoirs & Ruins
I was drawn to this area having caught sight of a photo on social media of Troy Quarry; known to be popular for rock climbers. Despite preferring to remain firmly on two feet, I decided to venture towards this area to explore; knowing nothing of what I might expect. I was not disappointed.
This 8.5-mile circuit encompasses the three valley reservoirs, climbs to Musbury Heights, treks across some open access moorland to return via the woodland about the reservoirs and experiencing the ruins dotted about the valley, known as Haslingden Grane and interspersed throughout the wider landscape.
Researching the area, we learn that the village of Grane was abandoned on the construction and land purchase required to build the largest of the three reservoirs - Ogden Reservoir - which was completed in 1912.
Previously the village inhabitants had been occupied with farming, quarrying and mill-work which explains the numerous ruined buildings that remain, whilst still finding time to operate an illegal whisky distilling industry, known locally as “whisky spinning.” The valley was home to about 1500 people and was a “thriving community” but by the 1920s it was almost entirely abandoned.
The OS Explorer map 287 is very helpful for navigating, but the route also requires some intuition and, whilst I hate to admit it, a digital navigation app certainly comes in handy as you’ll encounter numerous tracks and paths that aren’t always marked on the map. The terrain is sometimes tricky to traverse – despite the dry weather it remains in places very boggy.
Beginning from the car park adjacent to Calf Hey Reservoir (Haslingden Grane CP), head back up the lane towards the main road to join a track on your left. The path is obvious but uneven underfoot, passing largely between two stone walls. It returns to the main road, the B6232. Here, continue left for a short distance, then cross and take the way-marked path opposite.
Ascend the field and the slope: you now follow the Rossendale Way (RW) which is clearly signed. Beyond Jamestone Quarry, the path runs an abrupt left, then right: Troy Quarry is clearly visible ahead. At the path junction, turn right, leaving the RW, before a left turning at a field boundary (GR SD 763 237) to follow the path around the edge of Troy Quarry.
Ahead, look for the remnants of a fence perched next to the drop; look for a place where you can scramble down safely. Descend into the basin of the quarry, then venture south to bump into the tarmac lane that is the main approach to the quarry. A left turn will return you to the main road; here turn left again along the main road passing the former pub (Duke of Wellington). Beyond that, cross over and at a metal gate and stile, take the way-marked path (West Pennine Way) to descend through the field to the water’s edge.
Turn right around the edge of the reservoir, crossing a footbridge and aim towards the distinctive channel ascending the hillside. This is the remnants of the former tramway connecting the village to quarry above and here at the bottom you can pass right underneath through an old tunnel. A short, steep climb up the shaft brings you to the summit, still with clearly defined paths. We took a right turn to the chimney, but making a mistake, afterwards initially followed the track that bears west. We had to traverse the quarried land on an unmarked pathway to return to re-join the Rossendale Way.
Follow the RW out onto the moorland. It offers beautiful vistas of the wide valley ahead; often very muddy underfoot. I had intended to turn right to join the green path marked at SD 759 211 but somehow missed the turn. Reaching the wooded dell, with the descending stream, instead of turning around, we continued to a clear turning point beside a stone wall (SD 759 206). The map does show a path (dotted black line) here but this peters out, however thereafter a very faint path continues beside the wall.
Use the wall as a guide: the ground is unsteady – lumpy is perhaps a good way to describe it - so watch your step. At one point you are suddenly confronted with a very steep drop at the top of a clough. The wall turns north then shortly after abruptly ends. At this point, you pick up the ‘proper’ path (SD 754 210), heading west but still, the ground does not suggest it is a path frequently traversed.
Begin a gradual descent following a field edge. Reaching a farm and a copse ahead, the gate states “no access” but at the very edge (right hand side) the path continues across a stile and beneath trees to emerge at a tarmac driveway and an approach to the buildings.
Turn right ascending the driveway, pass beside the farmhouse and the route is quite clear, with several stiles, gates and way markers. You pass beneath the trig point atop Hog Lowe Pike (to the left) and approach the pine forest plantation that surround this southern boundary to the reservoirs.
The path turns right and here is a clear descending pathway (on your left, unmarked on map) that is a steep descent towards the reservoir below. Re-join the Rossendale Way, turn left and follow the way markers (and not your digital guide, as the path appears to have been re-routed!). The RW brings you to the ruins of what I suppose was Grane village, which are enchanting. Continue in the westerly direction. You see ahead another clough with a footbridge across the stream. Cross the water, then, following the black dotted path on map (SD 741 227), descend alongside the gorge – a vague path is traceable.
Follow the water toward the reservoir; keep in that general direction. When the pathway splits, take the upper, faint pathway ascending slightly towards the woodland. Pass along the edge of the woodland and continue ahead, above the reservoir, until at a gate and stile, you can join a much clearer, gravelled track.
Here a left turn and a short distance returns you to the start. The car park does have a ticket machine (although was out of order) and the gate does inform you the car park is shut at 5.30pm – so bear this in mind when planning your day out.
Even this relatively short route I found tiring, but it is an area you could visit many times to try routes long and short, and certainly one I shall be returning to in due course.