Towns and villages

Town & Villages

The villages of the West Pennine Moors each have their own distinctive character, from planned industrial villages to more haphazard farming and industrial settlements. Some are amongst the highest in Lancashire, such as Belmont and Belthorn, located on the moorland margins.

Barrow Bridge

Barrow Bridge is a small, attractive industrial village, developed by Thomas Bazley and Robert Gardner during the Industrial Revolution. It features attractive cottages with bridges over a small stream, a picnic area and the 63 steps, built to help workers climb the hill to work and now allowing access to the local moors. The village was once the home of two six-storey mills that used to employ 1,000 workers. Benjamin Disraeli visited it in 1840, and subsequently incorporated it into his novel “Coningsby”, under the name “Millbank”.


Belmont is a moorland village situated some 275m above sea level. It lies about 4 miles northwest of Bolton on the A675 in a valley between Anglezarke Moor and Turton Moor. The original village was called Horden, but was renamed in 1804. During the 19th century, the village developed around the bleaching and dying industry .


Set high up on the edge of the West Pennine Moors, Belthorn is one of the highest villages in Lancashire, rising from 275m above sea level in the north-west of the village to 300m in the south-east. The village acquired its name from the 1701 house named ‘The Bell in the Thorn’ where a bell placed in a thorn bush would be rung to summon a fresh horse to replace a tired one bringing a load up the hill. Most of the cottages are reminiscent of typical weavers cottages built in the 19th century.


First mentioned in 1200 as ‘Brendescoles’ thought to mean ‘the burnt huts’ from the Middle English word ‘brende’ and the Old Scandinavian word ‘skali’. Brinscall was a small farming community owned by the de Hoghton family, who were lords of the manor in the 16th century. When the cotton industry came to Lancashire in the 19th century, a thriving community of handloom weavers was built up in the valley area. William Christopher Wood built the present Brinscall Hall in 1876, and a calico printworks which employed a number of people but which closed in 1928. The ruins of many of these buildings are now surrounded by woodland known as Wheelton Plantation.


Chapeltown is an attractive village of Tudor and 18th century stone cottages, situated five miles north east of Bolton on the B6391. The main axis of the village is High Street, which is designated as a conservation area. It includes the Chetham Arms, an 18th century hostelry, and Old School House (sometimes referred to as Chapel House). There are stocks and a cross, situated in the Rest Garden at the northern end of High Street.


Situated five miles north of Bolton on the banks of the River Brock. Edgworth was Known as ‘Eggwrthe’ in 1212, the name probably means ‘Enclosure on the edge or the hillside’ from the Olde English words ‘ecg’ & ‘worth’. A bronze axe head now in Manchester Museum was found on the moors above the village. The area is a popular starting point for walkers, with many routes accessible from the village, including footpaths around the Wayoh and Entwistle Reservoirs.


A moorland village, two miles east of Darwen and separated from the town by the 265 metre Blacksnape Ridge, Hoddlesden is centred around a large village square. The community grew up around the local industries of mining, pipe and textile making. The early origin of the coal mining is shown by entries in a local clergyman’s diary, describing visits for coal to the area in 1728.

Irwell Vale

Irwell Vale is one of several small settlements in the valley between Stubbins and Rawtenstall. It stands where two rivers – the Ogden and the Irwell – meet and owes its existence to John Bowker, a Manchester merchant. Bowker built a woollen mill on the east side of the Irwell in about 1800 and some thirty-two years later added a cotton mill on the opposite bank. In 1833 two rows of workers’ cottages were completed and the new village had been born. For many years the mill was leased to the Aitken family and eventually they bought the entire village. The street names, Aitken Street and Bowker Street, recall them and the original owner. Today Irwell Vale is a quiet village with a halt on the East Lancashire Railway and is a good starting point for walks in the surrounding countryside.


The charming village of Rivington is surrounded by attractive countryside of woodlands, moorland and reservoirs. It has an excellent network of footpaths and bridleways, making it popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders alike. Recorded as ‘Revington’ in 1202 meaning ‘a farmstead on the rugged hill’ from the Old English words ‘hreof’, ‘ing’ and ‘tun’ meaning ‘rough or rugged’, ‘place or stream’ and ‘farmstead or village’ respectively. Above the village are the Terraced Gardens, all that now remains of the former house and estate of Lord Leverhulme.


Tockholes sits around 200m above sea level and includes a number of dwellings scattered over half a mile or so. Tockholes was built along the ancient highway from Blackburn to Bolton, on the fringes of Darwen Moor. Around 1200 A.D. Tockholes, was recorded as ‘Tocholis’ and derives from the Old English words ‘toca’ & ‘hol’ being ‘a persons name toca’ & ‘a hollow’ which together mean ‘Tocca’s Valley’. Other spellings of the village which have been documented are: Tokhol, Thocol and in 1227 Tokholes, which is very similar to the present pronunciation.

White Coppice

White Coppice is a pretty hamlet situated at the western edge of Withnell Moor, and consists of stone cottages, which were originally built for workers in the weaving mill (now demolished). The 18th century cottages known as ‘The Row’ are good examples of the period. The mill was powered by a water wheel fed by a reservoir, which can still be seen adjacent to the picturesque cricket pitch. White Coppice is also the birthplace of Henry Tate (1819), who made his fortune in sugar and funded the Tate Gallery in London.


Divided into two parts – Higher and Lower Wheelton, this pleasantly laid-out village is situated on the main road from Chorley to Blackburn. Its tiny streets slope, giving an accurate impression of the surrounding hilly countryside, with Briers Brow being the steepest to traverse. The Top Locks hamlet is home to a small community, who’s fortune was once based on the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This spot is a hive of activity during the summer months as the tourists narrowboats ply their way along this pleasant stretch of the canal. Recorded as ‘Weltona’ around 1160 meaning ‘a farmstead by a water wheel’ from the Old English words ‘hweol’ and ‘tun’ meaning ‘wheel’ & ‘town’ respectively.