The West Pennine Moors is a special landscape that is contained within the Southern Pennines Landscape Joint Character Area (JCA36).

Key characteristics of this landscape area include:

  • A large scale sweeping landform with an open character, created by exposed gritstone moors, treeless and unpopulated.
  • Deeply incised by cloughs and narrow valleys with steep wooded side, with broader valleys on the fringes.
  • Extensive views in all directions from elevated locations.
  • Prominent features, such as windfarms, communications masts, power lines and quarries.
  • Early packhorse routes across moorlands, and later main, road, rail and canal routes followed the valleys.
  • Densely populated valley bottoms with distinctive stone buildings extending along valley sides.
  • Gritstone villages and towns centred around industrial heritage of textiles and engineering, with older settlements on moorland fringes.
  • Reservoirs and related artefacts common throughout the area.

The Valleys

  • Narrow valleys, often steep wooded sides and some pastures and meadows on the valley bottoms
  • Smaller scale field pattern, with gritstone wall and occasional hedges
  • Localised areas of wetland, including wet woodland, in valley bottoms and alongside streams

The Moorland Fringes

  • Enclosed pastures defined by strong rectilinear patterns of drystone walls
  • Mosaics of varying grasslands important for wildlife, including wading birds and twite, a small upland bird almost entirely restricted to the Southern Pennines
  • Clear patterns or tree cover, with wooded cloughs, broad-leaved woodland along watercourses and on steep slopes and valley sides, and copses associated with farmsteads and villages

The Moorlands

  • Moorlands of blanket bog or heathland, including areas of heather, cotton grass with associated mires, flushes and bracken
  • Very few tree, limited to groups of trees around farmsteads, or along watercourses or in cloughs
  • Predominantly unenclosed, with only occasional gritstone field barns and many archaeological features such as carved rocks or old tracks