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Top 12 Walks In The West Pennine Moors (Updated 2024)

Top 12 Walks In The West Pennine Moors (Updated 2024)

The West Pennine Moors is a picturesque but often overlooked area of the Pennines in the North West of England. Beck and I are fortunate enough to have the West Pennine Moors on our doorstep to explore. So, we’ve completed many beautiful walks in the West Pennine Moors, and, we want to share these great trails with you.

Often, West Pennine Moors walks are skipped in favour of the more popular trails in the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales or Lakes District. But, we were surprised at how much we enjoyed the West Pennine Moors, and, hope that you’ll give these 12 brilliant walks a ‘look in’ for one of your next hiking adventures.

West Pennine Moors

Spread across a small portion of Lancashire and Greater Manchester, the West Pennine Moors is a relatively compact area of moorlands packed with natural and historical attractions. In fact, the West Pennine Moors is a site of specific scientific interest (West Pennine Moors SSSI). This designated status highlights the importance of the area, which supports an array of wildlife and birdlife.

Dan and Beck are dressed in warm clothes as they wait for sunrise on a vast  stretch of moorlands. The moon and pink horizon are visible in the distance.
Beck and I braving the cold for sunrise at Darwen Tower

These 12 West Pennine Moors walks, discussed in this guide, are packed full of glorious scenery of the moorlands, rolling hills and countryside with reservoirs, waterfalls, ruins and monuments to enjoy. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds of busier national parks in North West England and want to tackle some gentler walks, we recommend visiting the West Pennine Moors.

To get the ball rolling, we recommend that you select two or three of these walks to enjoy over a day or a weekend. Hopefully, after a taste of the West Pennine Moors, you’ll be stoked to revisit the list, pick a few more, and visit again!

Read about the Forest of Bowland AONB, the Brecon Beacons and the NC500

A screenshot of the West Pennine Moors map
West Pennine Moors map

1. Peel Tower, Holcombe Hill and Bull Hill Loop

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 8.8km (5.5 miles)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 192m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Lumb Carr Road Car Park

Affectionately known as Holcombe Hill to locals, the walk up to Peel Tower on Harcles Hill is the best of the West Pennine Moors walks. It’s located next to a small village called Holcombe, which is a sub-district of Bury.

From Holcombe, with mostly cobblestone underfoot, you’ll begin winding and gently ascending up the hill. There are quite a few side trails and shortcuts shooting off in different directions but there’s a clear path to follow. Soon enough, you’ll arrive at Peel Tower – the monument at the top of Harcles Hill. It was built to honour the famous Sir Robert Peel (he was a resident of Bury who founded the Metropolitan Police Force, as well as serving twice as British Prime Minister). The monument stands tall on the hill, exuberating significance and grandeur.

After you’ve checked out Peel Tower and the magnificent sweeping countryside views, don’t head home just yet! You’ll want to explore the vast and open moorland towards Bull Hill to complete the entire loop. Although, this is where the Holcombe Moor firing range is located; so, just double-check the Holcombe Moor firing times before you plan on doing this walk. Don’t worry, it’s absolutely safe to walk here and is accessible to walkers most of the time.

After exploring Bull Hill, you’ll loop back via Moor Road, where you’ll pass the Shoulder of Mutton Pub and Restaurant in Holcombe (go on then, the pub does an excellent Sunday Roast) before finishing your walk.

Read more: Peel Tower and Holcombe Hill Walk – The Complete Guide

Dan walks at Bull Hill in the West Pennine Moors

Holcombe Hill for Sunrise

If you’re lucky enough to bag a clear day, Holcombe (Harcles) Hill may be the best place in the West Pennine Moors to watch sunrise. Additionally, Holcombe Hill can get busy during the day; so, to avoid the crowds, it’s worth visiting for sunrise. In fact, we enjoyed the sunrise at Holcombe Hill so much that we decided to write about it for Europe Backpacker.

Beck walks towards Peel Tower in the West Pennine Moors

2. Rivington Pike

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 3km (1.8 miles)
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 195m
  • Difficulty: Moderate (in winter)
  • Trailhead: Rivington Hall Barn

If you’re keen on another exceptional sunrise hike, head to Rivington Pike! Set north of Horwich, near Bolton, the walk up to Rivington Pike is a similar affair to the Holcombe Hill walk, where you’ll meander up a gently ascending and easy to follow trail. There is an interesting monument positioned at the top of this hill as well (there seems to be a theme to this list) called the Pike Tower! During the walk, you’ll enjoy the Rivington Terraced Gardens as well as other attractions in the Rivington Country Park.

Although the trail was a bit slippery, Beck and I really enjoyed this walk after a healthy dump of snow in winter. Thankfully, despite our slow shuffle up, we made it just in time for sunrise, and finished the hike unscathed, even after a couple of tumbles on the snow-covered countryside. We can’t believe we forgot our IceGrips!

Read more: Rivington Pike Walk – The Ultimate Guide

Beck and Dan watch the sunrise at Rivington Pike

3. Waugh’s Well Loop

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 9.65km (6 miles)
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 230m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Dearden Fold

Scout Moor is one of our favourite areas of the West Pennine Moors. In fact, two of the West Pennine Moors walks on this list are on Scout Moor! For the Waugh’s Well Loop, you’ll start from Edenfield, and make your way through these moorlands, mostly via Rossendale Way.

Although, before even venturing far into the glorious moorlands, you’ll have the Dearden Clough Waterfall to enjoy near the start of your adventure.

After seeing the waterfall, you’ll have sensational views of the countryside to soak in, and this will distract you from some decent stretches of elevation gain. Of course, it’s all worth it in the end as you get to Waugh’s Well – a fascinating commemorative well built in 1866 to honour the local poet Edwin Waugh.

Interestingly, the final stages of your hike will cut through the Scout Moor Wind Farm, which is the second-largest onshore wind farm in all of sunny England! Walking by large wind turbines might not be your cup of tea, and we get that, but there’s still a nice trail to hike through.

Beck looks over lovely English countryside in the West Pennine Moors

4. Knowl and Hailstorm Hill Loop (Scout Moor)

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 10.6km (6.6 miles)
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 335m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Ashworth Moor Reservoir (Owd Betts Pub)

The second of the Scout Moor walks is the Knowl and Hailstorm Hill Loop. If you enjoy Waugh’s Well Loop, you should definitely head back to Scout Moor to do this walk. Starting from Ashworth Moor Reservoir, you’ll climb Knowl Hill straight off the bat, gradually taking in views of the sweeping moorlands.

Afterwards, you’ll head towards Naden Middle (and Higher) Reservoirs. By doing so, you’ll take in some classic Lancashire countryside and brilliant views of these reservoirs as well as Greenbooth Reservoir. Afterwards, there’s a short ascent up Hailstorm Hill on a fairly faint grassy trail. Once again, the trail concludes with a bit of meandering through the Scout Moor Wind Farm.

Dan and Beck doing one of the best walks in the West Pennine Moors – the Knowl and Hailstorm Hill Loop (Scout Moor)

5. Musbury Park Moor Loop (Haslingden Moor Loop)

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 10km (6.2 miles)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 250m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Helmshore Mills Textile Museum Car Park

For this next West Pennine Moors walk, you’ll head to Helmshore to hike Musbury Park Moor. The first hill to climb in these peaceful moorlands is Tor Hill. Having gained elevation relatively quickly, you’ll soon have vast views of the moorlands, farmland and surrounding urban areas.

Dan walks in the Haslingden area of the West Pennine Moors

You’ll then continue towards Burnt Hill. Through fairly boggy terrain (particularly in winter), you’ll cross Musbury Brook and weave your way through the winding Musbury Valley. By doing so, the trail you’ll be mostly following is the Rossendale Way! You’ll then head towards Ogden Reservoir, passing some fascinating abandoned quarry sites. Walking by Ogden and Holden Wood Reservoir provides a nice finish to this hike.

FYI – it’s possible to visit a third reservoir (Calf Hey Reservoir) during this walk if you’d like a slightly longer walk.

An aerial shot of Musbury Park Moor

6. Darwen Tower Walk

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 6.6km (4.1 miles)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 135m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Ryal Fold

We have yet another sunrise hike to recommend on this fantastic list of West Pennine Moors walks. Starting at Ryal Fold, you’ll likely set off in early light, making your way through lovely countryside. After a steep climb to Darwen Hill, you’ll arrive at Darwen Tower, otherwise known as Jubilee Tower. Similar to Peel and Pike Tower, Darwen Tower is another brilliant monument perched atop a hill, that provides a captivating scene for a sunrise.

On a clear day, expect amazing orange and purple hues in the sky. After sunrise, we recommend checking out some of Darwen Moor too. Although you’d expect hiking to Bigger Hill, to be a huge climb, the hills on the Darwen Moors are pretty flat and easy to manage. To complete the loop, head away from the moors, back through farmland, and follow Mills Lane through Roddlesworth Wood.

Read more: Darwen Tower Walk – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Darwen Tower in the West Pennine Moors

7. Ashworth Valley Loop

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 10km (6.2 miles)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 146m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Hutchinson Road (Norden)

Although not technically in the West Pennine Moors, Ashworth Valley in Rochdale is only a stone’s throw away, and so, we thought it would be rude not to include this fantastic hike!

We combined quite a few trails and paths to form a 10km loop around Ashworth Valley. Starting in Norden, you’ll essentially follow Naden Brook south, heading through various woodlands. On the way, you’ll pass by some old mill ruins located next to a small but pretty waterfall (known as Ashworth Valley Waterfall).

To form a loop, you’ll follow Cheesden Brook back north, before briefly crossing Old House Brook to complete the hike. For those keen to speed hike, this trail can be done in around 2–2.5 hours. With waterfall photography, drone flying and stretches of muddy terrain, Beck and I completed the hike in around 3 hours 10 mins.

Dan walks on a trail in a forest in the West Pennine Moors

8. White Coppice, Great Hill and Anglezarke Loop + Hatch Brook Waterfall Loop

  • Type: Double Loop
  • Distance: 24km (14.9 miles)
  • Time: 6–8 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 575m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: White Coppice Cricket Club

The White Coppice, Great Hill and Anglezarke Loop with the Hatch Brook Waterfall Loop is the longest of the West Pennine Moors walks on this list. So, for those looking for a longer hike in the West Pennine Moors, pop this one down on your hiking to-do list (we assume every hiker has one of these, right?!)

Starting from the White Coppice Cricket Club, head towards Brinscall, following the Goit – a pleasant canal with a flat dirt trail by its side. After passing Brinscall Park and Lake, make your way to Hatch Brook Waterfall. The brightness of the morning will make waterfall photography fairly challenging, but nevertheless, it’s fun climbing down to the base of the cascades. Keep in mind though, it is quite steep and slippery to access these cascades (unless there is a safer alternate route we’re unaware of!)

Hatch Brook Waterfall
Hatch Brook Waterfall

Heading through the woodlands, you’ll briefly return to White Coppice, before continuing the hike by following Black Brook. This track by the side of the brook is much quieter than the main track heading directly to Great Hill. After navigating through some boggy moorland, you’ll eventually arrive at Great Hill, which is the ideal lunch spot to refuel!

You’ll then make a loop around the moors, hiking parallel to Belmont Road, before cutting back towards Anglezarke Reservoir. After walking by the side of the reservoir, we veered away from the water’s edge for a viewing area of the reservoir, which was quite nice. If you follow suit, you’ll then need to re-join the trail following the Goit, which will lead you back to White Coppice.

9. Cheesden Mills Loop

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 6.5km (4 miles)
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 95m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Owd Betts Car Park / Ashworth Moor Reservoir

Similar to Ashworth Valley, the Cheesden Mills Loop technically falls outside of the West Pennine Moors. But again, Cheesden Valley is only a short distance from the West Pennine Moors. Plus, the Cheesden Mills Loop has something for everyone: a lovely reservoir, stunning countryside, fascinating mill ruins and even a waterfall! So, the Cheesden Mills Loop deserved its place on this list!

Dan on the Cheesden Mills Loop in the West Pennine Moors

The trail begins at the Ashworth Moor Reservoir. Following the reservoir in an anti-clockwise direction, you’ll briefly join Ashworth Road before following Deeply Vale Lane. The lane takes you to Deeply Vale Mill – an abandoned paper mill with interesting ruins to explore.

Eventually, you’ll follow Croston Close Road, and be taken to more mill ruins – the most impressive being Cheesden Lumb Mill. There’s a small waterfall there, adding to its charm. Overall, it’s a fairly easy hike, but with a few long muddy stretches that’ll slow you down.

Dan walks towards ruins and a waterfall

10. Lancashire Three Reservoirs Walk

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 17.8km (11 miles)
  • Time: 3.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 210m
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Trailhead: Jumbles Reservoir Car Park

Starting from the Jumbles, you’ll head through the lovely Turton Bottoms, before circling Wayoh and Entwistle Reservoirs. Entwistle Reservoir was our favourite of the bunch, despite hearing great things about the Jumbles prior to our visit.

For a shorter reservoir walk involving just Entwistle Reservoir, please read our Entwistle Reservoir Walking Guide.

Wayoh Reservoir

11. Tigers Clough and Crooked Edge Waterfalls

  • Type: Return
  • Distance: 3km (1.8 miles)
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 25m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Rivington Reservoir Car Park

After hiking Rivington Pike, you should also check out the nearby Tigers Clough and Crooked Edge waterfalls. On the weekend, you can expect the Rivington area to get quite busy. However, it’s possible to escape the crowds with this short walk. Set among lovely woodlands, you may even get these small cascades to yourselves! They’re certainly not the largest, but they’re full of charm and worth seeing if you’re in the Rivington area.

Read more: Tigers Clough – How To Find This Epic Hidden Waterfall

Tigers Clough waterfall
Tigers Clough
Crooked Edge Waterfall
Crooked Edge Waterfall

12. Clough Head (Haslingden Grane)

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 4km (2.5 miles)
  • Time: 1–1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 110m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Clough Head Cafe and Tourist Information Centre

Clough Head is an underrated walk in the Haslingden area of the West Pennine Moors. Starting from the Clough Head Car Park, situated next to the cafe, you’ll loop around the Jamestone Quarry and its reservoirs. Along the way, you’ll explore the lost village of Haslingden Grane. For a longer walk, you could combine the Musbury Park Moor Loop (Haslingden Moor Loop) with this walk.

Beck and her sister Rachel doing the Clough Head Walk

Top 12 West Pennine Moors Walks Recap

We hope that the top 12 West Pennine Moors walks list has inspired you to visit this less-frequented area of North West England. With an excellent combination of gorgeous countryside scenery, natural attractions and fascinating monuments and ruins, there certainly isn’t a shortage of superb walks to do in the West Pennine Moors.

West Pennine Way

The multi-day West Pennine Way hasn’t been included in this list. But, the West Pennine Way (AKA West Pennine Moors Circuit) is certainly worthy of a mention. If you’re interested in doing a long-distance walk in the West Pennine Moors, then you’ll want to do the West Pennine Way. Covering approx. 78km (48 miles), the walk climbs around 2,500 metres and takes anywhere between 3–5 days to complete.

By doing the West Pennine Way, you’ll cover most of the walks covered in the list above.

Getting to Lancashire and Greater Manchester

Of course, you’ll need to fly to Manchester to do these walks from abroad. If you’re travelling to Manchester, use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search.

Getting to the West Pennine Moors

Spanning across Lancashire and the Greater Manchester area, the West Pennine Moors is a reasonably short drive for anyone lucky enough to call the North West of England home. Exploring the West Pennine Moors is much easier with a car. Accessing many of the trailheads would be time-consuming to reach by public transport.

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

Accommodation in the West Pennine Moors

Being local to the West Pennine Moors, we’re unable to recommend any specific accommodation. Your best bet is to search for accommodation using Airbnb or

Hiking Gear Essentials For the West Pennine Moors

These are our five hiking gear essentials for exploring the West Pennine Moors.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Trail Navigation In the West Pennine Moors

Each one of these West Pennine Moors walks is fairly straightforward to follow. But, some of the hikes combine multiple trails and can be tricky to navigate if you’re unfamiliar with the area. So, it may be best to use an OS map or any map for that matter. If you’re after GPS-guided directions for these West Pennine Moors Walks, head to our Wikiloc page, where you’ll find maps for most of these walks.

For those not so prepared, if you need navigation help during your hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Although, you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.

Bonus Tips About the West Pennine Moors

  • Sunrise hikes are the best: we absolutely love hiking to the peak of any trail to watch a sunrise. It’s hard to beat golden hour for epic colours in the sky; plus, it’s a great way to avoid the crowds. So, consider timing your West Pennine Moors walks with sunrise!
  • Visit lesser-known places: yes, we admit it, the West Pennine Moors walks can’t compete with the epic trails of the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and the Lakes District. But, don’t be afraid to dedicate your weekend to walking in the West Pennine Moors. We promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
  • Check out the waterfalls following rainfall: for the West Pennine Moors walks that include waterfalls, make sure to check them out after a decent downpour; in particular, the White Coppice, Great Hill and Anglezarke Loop and Hatch Brook Waterfall Loop trail. The waterfalls will be even better after a bit of rain!
  • West Pennine Moors pubs: you’ll come across many awesome pubs by doing the West Pennine Moors walks described in this guide. We highly recommend visiting the Shoulder of Mutton after doing the Holcombe Hill Walk. After doing the Darwen Tower Walk from Ryal Fold, you should stop in at the Royal Arms. Whilst you could stop for a drink at the Holden Arms after doing either of the Haslingden walks.
  • Explore the South Pennine Moors: once you’ve explored the west side, it’s time to explore the South Pennine Moors!
  • Nearby places worth visiting: Belmont Reservoir is a beautiful reservoir located in the West Pennine Moors worth seeing.

Read our big Lancashire Walks Guide.

Daniel Piggott

Dan is a travel blogger, physiotherapist, hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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