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Rocks and Water at Anglezarke

A landscape shaped by quarries and reservoirs, full of interest both historical and natural.

Distance 7 miles (11.3km)

Minimum time 2hrs 30min

Ascent/gradient 689ft (210m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Mostly good tracks with some field paths, 20 stiles

Landscape Woodland, reservoirs, open valleys and farmland

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 287 West Pennine Moors

Start/finish SD 621161

Dog friendliness Can run free on reservoir tracks, sheep elsewhere

Parking Large car park at Anglezarke

Public toilets Nearest at Rivington (PWalk 30)

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1 Leave the car park by a kissing gate and follow a track near the water. Fork right, through Lester Mill Quarry, then go right, and straight on at the next junction. The track climbs a steep rise.

2 Go through a gap on the left, on a bend. The path traverses a wooded slope. Descend steps, join a wider track and go left. Beyond a stile follow a narrower path until it meets a road.

3 Go left 50yds (46m) to a kissing gate. Follow a track up the valley below Stronstrey Bank. Cross a bridge then go through a kissing gate and over another bridge to White Coppice cricket ground.

4 Bear left up a lane, then follow tarmac into White Coppice hamlet. Cross a bridge by the post-box. Follow a stream then go up left by a reservoir. Bear left to a stile. Cross the next field to its top right corner and go right on a lane. Where it bends right go left up a track.

5 Skirt Higher Healey, follow field edges, then angle up left into dark plantations. Fork left just inside, and ascend to an old quarry. Follow its rim for three-quarters of the way round then bear away left through a larch plantation.

6 Go left on a clear path then right to the large cairn on Grey Heights. Descend slightly right, winding down past a small plantation, and join a wider green track. Bear left over a small rise then follow a track to a lane by White House farm.

7 Cross a stile on the left, below the farmyard wall, then bear left to the corner of the field. Cross the stile on the left then up the field edge and join a confined path. From a stile on the right follow trees along the field edge to a rough track. Go right and straight on to Kays Farm.

8 Go right down a track then left on a lane below the reservoir wall. As the lane angles away, go left over a stile then skirt the reservoir until pushed away from the water by a wood. Join the road across the dam. Go through a gap and up a steep track. Go left at the top round Yarrow Reservoir to a road.

9 Go left, passing the entrance to Anglezarke Quarry, to a junction. Go right, and the car park entrance is on the first bend.

A string of reservoirs moats the western side of the high moors of Anglezarke and Rivington and quarries scar their flanks. This is not a pristine landscape by any stretch of the imagination, yet today it is seen by many as an oasis of tranquillity close to busy towns and a motorway.

A gentle start just above the shores of Anglezarke Reservoir leads to Lester Mill Quarry, which was worked until the 1930s. The quarry wall is imposing, but somewhat vegetated, and the rock is loose in places. It is much less popular with climbers than Anglezarke Quarry. The name is one reminder that this valley was once a thriving agricultural community. The mill, which served the whole valley, was drowned by the reservoir in 1855. Cheap imports further weakened the rural economy. Today there is only one working farm east of the reservoir.

The route continues through a mix of woodland and pasture to the head of the lake, then heads up the valley below steep, bouldery Stronstrey Bank. There's another quarry high on the right near the end of the bank, seemingly guarded by a number of gaunt, dead trees. Just beyond is another, set further back. Just beyond this an impressive spillway testifies to the potential power of Dean Black Brook.

Now you cross The Goit, a canal that feeds the reservoir, to White Coppice cricket ground. There's a small reservoir just above and you pass others on the way down to the present-day hamlet. These served the mills that flourished here for well over a century. Along with the quarries at Stronstrey Bank these made White Coppice a busy industrial village with a population which may have approached 200. The mill closed in 1914 and little remains today. The railway closed in the late 1950s, the school in 1963 and the church in 1984. This sounds like a story of decline yet today many people would see White Coppice as an idyllic place to live, a fact reflected in the local house prices.

After White Coppice you climb to Healey Nab. Trees obscure what must have been a fine all-round view from the highest point, but there's a good southward prospect from the large cairn on Grey Heights. Winter Hill is the highest of the moors, unmistakable with its TV towers. The main mast is just over 1,000ft (305m) tall, so you could argue that its tip is the highest point in Lancashire. The string of reservoirs is also well displayed and you get a bird's eye view of Chorley.

The walk finishes across the Anglezarke dam and then, to minimise road walking, makes a short climb to the small Yarrow Reservoir. The final descent gives an opportunity to look into Anglezarke Quarry.

Where to eat and drink

The Yew Tree, at Lane Ends, 250yds (229m) from the Anglezarke dam, lacks cask beer but has a cosy atmosphere and a choice of bar food or a restaurant menu. Families are welcome and there's outside seating for those with dogs.

What to look for

Subtle differences in the nature of the rock can be seen in the different quarries. These were significant for the uses to which the stone could be put. Parts of Anglezarke Quarry are 'massive' - there are very few cracks. Some of the rock here is especially pure and was used to line blast furnaces.

While you're there

On most days, but especially at weekends, there's a very good chance of seeing rock climbers in Anglezarke Quarry. It's one of the most popular venues in Lancashire. A recent guidebook listed 165 routes ranging in severity from Difficult (which isn't) to E6 (which is), and more have been added since.

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