HOLCOMBE BROOK - GREENMOUNT - AFFETSIDE - HAWKSHAW - REDISHER WOOD - HOLCOMBE BROOK
Distance: Approx 8.5 miles/13 km
Starting Point: Start from: Hare and Hounds pub, Holcombe Brook. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 287, West Pennine Moors
Time: Allow about 3.5-4.5 hours
Walk Summary: A fairly demanding, but very pleasant walk, taking in lanes and field paths through attractive moorland
The northern most part of the route is occasionally closed for military training purposes, so you may wish to ring 01204 882991 to check on this before setting out. Also look out for warning flags in this section of the walk.
- Facing the Hare and Hounds pub, head left up Bolton Road. Take the first right onto the unmade Park Road. Pass the terraced houses and carry straight on along the signed footpath between field and wood to a field gate on the right, just after some stone cottages. Turn left here and, ignoring the track coming in from the right, carry on down Redisher Lane to the main road. Turn right and immediately look out for a narrow footpath across the road between two houses on your left. Take this path and follow it along the field edge behind the houses.
- After passing the old stone Holhouse farm, turn right through the stile in the fence and follow the path around and along a pleasant wooded valley, skirting the golf course. The path becomes muddy and descends to a stream. Cross the small bridge and enter the golf course. Head right, up the slope behind the green. On reaching a track turn right and then left along the access road to the golf club and then Hollymount School where you turn right. Holly Mount was built in the 1860’s as a ‘school for young gentleman’ the site has since been used as a convent, hospital and an orphanage. Continue straight ahead as the track becomes a field path. Continue through a stile beside a gate and downhill. Pass one stile; descend to a second (on the right). Climb it and turn left in or beside a sunken track which swings right and behind cottages down to the valley-bottom track. Bottoms Hall Cottages are all that remains of an industrial site, probably a bleaching or calico printing works, dating from the 1880s. The surrounding Bottomshall Wood is a Site of Biological Importance (SBI) and is home to many woodland birds such as great spotted woodpecker and tawny owl.
- By the cottages, turn left up the greatly ascending drive to the road and then up the footpath directly opposite. At the next road, continue up the avenue of trees. At the corner, bear left through a wooden gate and away from the farm. Keep by the hedge on the left and up the drive to the house. Follow the right-hand edge of the garden and keep straight on to the road. Now turn right along the (Roman) road to the Pack Horse Inn at Affetside Village. If you are planning to stop at the Pack Horse Inn look out for the ancient skull behind the bar and the poem that explains its origin.
- Immediately past the pub, turn right down the walled path to the next road. There turn right and then, at the far side of the row of cottages, left and down the edge of the field and between the two lodges. Beyond them, follow the narrow path descending to the right of the buildings. Go through the stile and turn left down the broad green path to the bridge. On the far side, turn left and follow the track and lane round to the right and up to the main road in Hawkshaw.
- Go straight over the main road and onto Hawkshaw Lane. Follow this bitmac lane for 1.25 mls / 2 km past a number of farms and cottages until arriving at a T-junction. If you have time turn left at the T-junction for a little way and you will see a garden containing the grave of Roger Worthington, a Baptist preacher who died in 1709.
- At the T-junction turn right and then left through a field gate to a ‘hollow way’ which rises towards the moor. This track passes through another gate, gets wetter and eventually leads through a gate onto a track which skirts the moor bottom. Turn right and follow this track for 1.5mls / 2.5 km around the head of the valley and back around the foot of Holcombe Moor. At the head of the valley you cross Red Brook which perhaps gives Holcombe its name. Hol is Norwegian for glacial hollow and cwm/combe is ancient British for hollow in the side of a mountain. Listen for the distinctive sound of stonechats.
- After passing a number of ruins and the inhabited Bank Top Farm, look for a squeeze stile in the wall on your right, opposite a hawthorn bush and a stile on your left. Go through the squeeze and follow first the wall on your right and then, after a step-stile, a wall on your left. The path descends becoming steeper and muddier, into Redisher Wood. In the wood take the descending path on the right to a side stream. Cross it and the path soon leads down steps to a track. Turn left over a stone bridge across the main stream and up the track to a field gate and kissing-gate. Go through them and follow your outward route between the wood and field track to back the start of the walk.