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Gorple Rocks on Black Moor in the Pennines.

It was a chilly winters morning in December when I was at a loose end in Burnley, East Lancashire. I could have mooched around the town centre shops attempting to procure some Christmas presents. No thanks. A spot of walking in the bleak Pennine moors to the south east of the town was a much better prospect. So I headed up to the picturesque little village of Hurstwood on the edge of the moors, since the map showed that there was a car park.

The plan was to walk past Hurstwood reservoir and join the Pennine Bridleway, following it eastwards across Hameldon Moor up to Black Moor. Then I would make my way back to Hurstwood across Worsthorne Moor past Cant Clough reservoir. It pretty much went to plan.

From Hurstwood I followed the footpath to the north of the reservoir. The path was initially quite muddy and slippery but as I climbed the small elevation up past the wood, the ground firmed up due to the cold. The footpath was enclosed by pine trees to the right and a dry stone wall to the left. The dry stone wall had rocks sticking out of the side of it at regular intervals along its length, which I though was quite unusual. Looking over the wall to the north east, Pendle Hill could be seen across the valley, its summit enveloped in cloud.

Onwards and upwards along the Pennine Bridleway.

Once past the wood the single track footpath wound its way along the hill side up to the Pennine Bridleway. Heading east along the bridle way was a bit of a dull trudge, particularly when the sun disappeared behind the clouds. Looking back towards Hurstwood reservoir were views of open space across the moors and lower level farmland. Looking straight ahead, the bridleway headed onwards and upwards, straight toward a cloudy grey sky. The Pennine Bridleway is a great track for mountain biking since, when going west it runs down hill, is not too technical and has rounded drainage humps that are good for getting a bit air!

At the boundary fence between Hameldon Moor and Black Moor the bridleway levels out and you can see the higher of the two Gorple Reservoirs. It was as this point that I could see that it was snowing, with the snow clouds advancing towards me. I quickly put my waterproof jacket, over trousers, Lowe Alpine Mountain Cap and Extremities gloves. There is something good about being warm and dry when in the midst of a windy snow storm! Thank goodness for modern outdoor gear. Thus equipped I proceeded eastwards to a point north of the Gorple reservoir dam, here I followed a slippery, muddy track to the dam. With the snow still falling, I walked past the rocky outcrops of Gorple Stones and down to the dam. Turning right I followed the footpath more-or-less back on myself. As I climbed towards the ruined building, a fell runner was rapidly advancing towards me. Despite my need for a full set of waterproofs when it is snowing, the happy fell runner was wearing shorts and lightweight waterproof top. Subsequently the snow stopped and I overheated!

The view from Worsthorne Moor across to Cant Clough Reservoir and beyond.

Somewhere near the ruins I lost the path that heads across Worsthorne Moor towards Cant Clough reservoir, but since I was headed in roughly the right direction I assumed that I would chance upon it at some point. The lumpy peat is harder to walk across when you stumble away from the footpath, so I was glad when I finally found the path. After crossing a stile the path headed down towards one of the the streams that fill Cant Clough reservoir. The large amount of rainfall from the previous week was evident where the grass around the side of the stream had been completely flattened. Again I lost the path, so followed the stream down to the reservoir. From the back of the reservoir I walked along the service track to the dam.

From the dam at Cant Clough reservoir I headed past the slag heaps back up to the Hurstwood reservoir. This track afforded views right across the district of Burnley and to Pendle Hill. The road from the reservoir back into Hurstwood is lined with pine trees and provided a very pleasant stroll back to the village.

More walks can be found in our Hikes, Trips & Travel section of the blog, and you can see our Hameldon Moor walk photos on Flickr.

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