partnership projects

Partnership Projects

A partnership approach to managing the West Pennine Moors has resulted in many countryside, rural regeneration and community projects being delivered throughout the area. On-going projects include:


Access and Visitor Management Projects


West Pennine Moors Bridleway Strategy 2006-2013

This on-going seven-year strategy aims to provide a strategic network of bridleways within the area, which is able to meet the needs of local communities and visitors and also contribute to the economic and environmental well being of the area.

Several major routes competed or currently being developed are:

  • West Pennine Moors Bridleway Loop – this is a long-distance multi-user route being developed to provide a circular loop around the West Pennine Moors, linked to the Pennine Bridleway National Trail. This a major project funded by Lancashire County Council, Natural England, Northwest Regional Development Agency (through the Lancashire Rural Recovery Action Plan and SRB Regional Park Programme) and the West Pennine Moors partnership. The route is scheduled for completion in 2010.
  • Catherine’s Edge to Egerton Bridleway – this route provides a bridleway link for the communities of North Bolton into the wider bridleway network including the Loop.
  • Chorley to Healey Nab – this route will provide a multi-use link from East Chorley out to the Nab.

Further routes are planned for development over the next few years. For more details on these and other routes, download the strategy or consult the latest maps 

Multi-user and “Tramper” Routes

A number of bridleway and footpaths within the West Pennine Moors have been adapted to allow access for people with mobility difficulties, making them true multi-user routes. Also, a number of routes are open to “Tramper” vehicles, a type of all-terrain mobility scooter, which provide even greater access to the countryside previously off-limits for some people. Multi-user routes have been developed at Entwistle Reservoir, Sunnyhurst Woods, Roddlesworth/Darwen Moor, Calf Hey Reservoir and Cronkshaw Fold Farm. More of these routes are planned for development over the next few years.

Healey Nab Mountain Bike Trails

Healey Nab is an LCC-owned woodland on the western edge of Chorley. It is well-used by local people from the surrounding communities and can be accessed using rights of way; in and around the site (including the West Pennine Moors Bridleway Loop).  Whilst well-used and enjoyed by many, the site also suffers problems of vandalism and littering.  Healey Nab is also important for its biodiversity and is classified as a Biological Heritage Site because of its semi-natural woodland. A local community group, Friends of Healey Nab, assists LCC with the management of the site.


Following selective timber-felling operations in early spring 2008 to improve the biodiversity of the woodland and create access for the proposed trails; the first trail-building phase of the project has now been completed.  This phase required intensive community involvement to both help assuage local concerns about the trails and promote local involvement in managing the site.  LCC worked with Friends of Healey Nab to implement new management arrangements.  LCC staff patrols are now made regularly to the site to help to deal with minor maintenance issues, vandalism and littering problems.  In addition, the staff had to remove informal mountain bike trails, which were being built by some local riders.


The majority of the trail-building work was carried out, over a four month period from December 20008 to the end of March 2009, by local contractors Terra Firma, with design assistance from Rowan Sorrell, a trail designer and international downhill mountain bike rider from South Wales.  In addition to these contractor-built trails, LCC organised regular volunteer work parties for local riders (particularly from Blackburn and District Mountain Bike Club) to assist with trail-building throughout the four months; with up to 15 volunteers hand-building sections of the trail on each work party.  It is hoped that the involvement of the local clubs and riders in management and maintenance activities on the trails will help to reduce the problems of informal trail-building at the Nab in future.  LCC intends to continue work with Friends of Healey Nab and local mountain bike groups to develop further trails on the site and an application to Natural England for Local Nature Reserve status during 2009/10.

Biodiversity Projects


West Pennine Moors Statutory Designation Proposals

The Biodiversity Working Group has worked with local partners (including the Lancashire County Council Ecology Unit, RSPB and local naturalists) to co-ordinate the data required to make the case for significant areas of West Pennine Moors to be considered for SSSI status.  In April 2007, the partnership submitted a proposal to Natural England for the statutory designation of much of the upland areas of the West Pennine Moors.  Natural England started assessing the area in 2012.  More information about the SSSI notification process is available here

Blanket Bog Re-wetting Projects

Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council and United Utilities have led a number of projects to investigate techniques for re-wetting of blanket bog in the West Pennine Moors.  Projects have been developed on areas of blaknet bog at Aushaw Moss, Bentley Moss, Darwen Moor and Hempshaws. Blanket bog restoration has been linked with improved water quality and flood control, as well as combating climate change by acting as an effective “carbon sink”.

Sunnyhurst Woods Local Nature Reserve

Sunnyhurst Wood is a beautiful 85-acre woodland set in a valley below Darwen Moor. The woodland is an important site for wildlife and was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2005, and has since achieved the Green Flag award status. Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council in partnership with the Friends of Sunnyhurst Wood is working to continue improvements in the wood for wildlife and visitor access.

Smithills Hall and Country Park

Smithills Country Park is a 800 hectare estate owned by Bolton Council. At its hub stands Smithills Hall, a grade-1 listed building which along with its grounds were significantly restored in 1999. The Smithills Estate, which now operates as a country park, is still significantly intact since it was established centuries ago. It is a mosaic of moorland fringe farms, wooded cloughs and woodlands, and open moor. Working to a Landscape Restoration and Management Plan and in conjunction with tenant farmers Bolton Council is leading on improving access, developing wildlife habitats and restoring heritage features on this historic estate as a gateway to the West Pennine Moors.

Longworth Clough and Dean Clough SSSIs

Since 2005, The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Greater Manchester and North Merseyside has led a work programme to improve the condition and biodiversity of West Pennines Moors’ two Sites of Special Scientific Interest at Longworth Clough and Dean Clough.

Sustainable Tourism and Business Development Projects


West Pennine Walking Festival

Formerly the Witton Weavers Walking Festival, this event is led by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and takes place each year in late August/early September. There are a variety of walks to suit all ages and abilities, including some “Tramper” walks.

Pennine Lancashire Food and Drink Festival

Held for the first time in September 2006, the Festival hosts over 25,000 people, who enjoy a riotous and colourful carnival of great food and drink featuring Lancashire’s finest chefs, producers, hoteliers and restaurateurs. Many events are held in the attractive villages and countryside of the West Pennine Moors. Following this success, the Festival has become an annual event.