West Pennine & Rossendale Walks
Hail Storm Hill & Scout Moor Wind Farm
Date: 18th Jan 2011
Distance: 7.3 miles
Ascent: 1204 feet
Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SD839207
An enjoyable ramble to the top of Hail Storm Hill, the highest point in Rossendale and now dominated by Scout Moor Wind Farm.
Route Summary: Cowpe - Pennine Bridleway - Cowpe Lowe - Rossendale Way - Whittle Hill - Hail Storm Hill - Top of Leach - Pennine Bridleway - Cowpe Reservoir - Cowpe
Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
Walk Detail: Having finally had my first walk of 2011 on the Sunday I was keen to get out again so took a day's annual leave and headed off to the West Pennines/Rossendale area for the first time since July 2010.
The initial climb out of Cowpe towards the Pennine Bridleway was the steepest of the walk, once I'd arrived at the junction with the Rossendale Way a lot of the hard work had already been done.
Although not marked on the map there was a clear path leading to the trig point on the flat top of Cowpe Lowe. Arrival at the trig point coincided with the arrival of low cloud obscuring much of the views. Just as I began to descend back down to the bridleway I was able to briefly enjoy the views again.
I next followed the Rossendale Way past the ruins of the old farmhouse of Fo Edge to Waugh's Well, a memorial well dedicated to the memory of the 19th century Lancashire dialect poet Edwin Waugh.
Leaving the Rossendale Way the full extent of the massive Scout Moor Wind Farm suddenly came into view. Completed in 2008 the 26 Nordex N80 wind turbines form the largest onshore wind farm in England. Visible from miles away close up the wind farm is quite overpowering and the combined hum of the turbines quite loud.
My route to the cairn on Whittle Hill took me directly below one of the turbines. Each one stands about 100m high with blades 40m in length. Looking directly up at the blades passing overhead it was difficult not to flinch as they came down towards me even though I knew the tips would pass metres above my head.
I sat and ate my lunch behind the scant shelter offered by the cairn on the top of Whittle Hill. Surmounting the cairn is a large wooden cross with a plaque commemorating Geoffey Molyneux, a flying officer and Scout Group founder who was lost on a flying mission in 1955.
Leaving Whittle Hill behind I initially followed the wind farm road before heading up the moist pathless slopes to the top of Hail Storm Hill, the highest hill in Rossendale. The moor top was exceedingly squelchy and the cairn consisted of about 3 or 4 stones.
Leaving the uninspiring summit behind I headed just over half a mile south east towards the highest turbine to cross the county boundary line to walk over the unmarked point which is supposedly the joint top of the Rochdale Unitary Authority. This little detour said very little for county top bagging.
Perhaps the finest 'top' of the day was Top of Leach. Situated just over a mile from the main summit of Hail Storm Hill this subsidary stands just 3m lower. The surrounding area was covered with some rare surface rock and, with the addition of good views, a trig point, a fine wind shelter and a stone pillar enscribed with the names of some of the local Rossendale towns it was a fine place to be.
The descent from Top of Leach back into Cowpe was easily accomplished with nice views down to Cowpe Reservoir and across to Cowpe Lowe. A pleasant end to a walk which ultimately provided much more of interest than just the wind farm.