The Rossendale Valley is a borough in Lancashire, consisting of a number of small towns and villages including Haslingden, Rawtenstall, Bacup, Waterfoot and 1 Acre. . It lies within the West Pennine Moors.
1 Haslingden in the 14th century was a Royal Hunting Park, the "Forest of Rossendale". Parts of the park's boundary are still clearly visible around Helmshore, which lies a mile or so south and west of Haslingden. The town includes the suburb of Acre.
Haslingden became a mill-town during the Industrial Revolution, but few signs of its textile heritage are now immediately apparent. However, on closer inspection the visitor will find a number of cotton mills remaining - mostly without their chimneys, and either derelict or taken over by other businesses. The town has a slightly neglected air, although improvements to Higher Deardengate where the original cobbled road setts were restored, and a replica Big Lamp erected, have smartened up parts of the town centre.
It is the birthplace of the composer Alan Rawsthorne (1905–1971).
2 Bacup is a textile mill-town community that developed rapidly during the Industrial Revolution. However, in the late 20th century it suffered from serious economic decline from chronic depopulation and urban decay. Great efforts have been made to regenerate the town, with some success. Bacup's historic character, culture and festivities have encouraged the town's development as a commuter town and English Heritage has proclaimed Bacup as the best preserved cotton town in England, and its town centre is designated as a conservation area for its special architectural qualities.
Bacup is the base of the Britannia Coconut Dancers, a unique folk dance group of uncertain origin, who appear on Easter Saturday to dance around the town, attracting large crowds.
3 Rawtenstall is the largest town in Rossendale, about 16 miles north of Manchester, and like most of East Lancashire's towns is known as a 'mill town', meaning it was a centre of the textile industry during the Industrial Revolution. Only a small proportion of the many mills and mill chimneys that once dotted the Rossendale Valley now survive; and some can still be seen in Rawtenstall. The textile industry declined from the 1930s, steeply after 1950, and has now almost disappeared. Rawtenstall can therefore be viewed as a town in decline.
Rossendale also includes the village of 4 Waterfoot.
The M65/A65 runs directly to Rawtenstall from the M62. Rawtenstall is a little over 30 minutes drive from the centre of Manchester. A regular and high-quality bus service, the X43 and X44, or the Witch Way, runs from Manchester to Rawtenstall and on to Burnley and Nelson.
Rawtenstall and Rossendale generally suffers from the lack of rail links, although there are steam and heritage trains running at the weekend (and at other times, but infrequently) from Bury, via Ramsbottom.
Most towns are small, and easy to walk around, although there's no shortage of taxis if you need one.
Local buses run from Rawtenstall bus station to most neighbouring towns and the rest of the Rossendale Valley.
- The most interesting features are probably the landscapes around the town of Haslingden, which are stunning - with a wonderful view from 'the Halo', a short walk above the town, which looks down the Irwell Valley to Manchester and beyond to the Cheshire hills. The Halo is sculpture set in a landscaped park, known as a Panopticon. One unique feature is that it is lit after dark and glows a sky-blue colour, giving the effect of hovering above the town. The landscaped site around has information boards and a viewpoint.
- 1 Helmshore Mills Textile Museum, Haslingden (a mile or two south). It tells the story of the Lancashire textile industry. It's made up of two mills: the 18th-century Higher Mill with a large working waterwheel and fulling machinery that was used during the time of the industrial revolution. The second is Whitakers Mill, an adjacent Victorian cotton mill with original mule spinning and other related machinery. This building also house the Revolution Gallery, with interactive displays, an original Spinning Jenny, the unique Arkwrights Water Frame and a Lancashire Loom. The museum offers regular demonstrations of the waterwheel, fulling stocks, spinning mules and carding engines, and also offers visitors the opportunity to try hand spinning and weaving for themselves.
- Helmshore village is picturesque and set in lovely countryside. It offers several walks, notably alongside the distinctive hill known as Musbury Tor; by the three Grane reservoirs and also at Snig Hole ('eel hole' in dialect) which is a popular local riverside walk.
- Bacup Natural History Museum, Bacup (near the centre on the road to Todmorden). Thursday evenings from 7:30PM and Easter Saturdays 10AM-3:30PM. Characterful, contains collections of domestic, industrial, religious and military artefacts. There is so much to be seen that only a visit can adequately describe it. The library has a collection of around 2000 books and copies of Bacup newspapers dating from 1863.
- Whitaker Park Museum, Rawtenstall.
- [dead link] Fitzpatricks Temperance Bar, Rawtenstall. Britain's last temperance bar.
- Visit the Textile Museum (see above), which has a cafe and gift shop and frequent demonstration days showing working textile machinery.
- Walk. in the surrounding hills and quarries.
- Lee Quarry Mountain Bike Trail, Bacup. Over 8 km of technical mountain bike trails have been completed in Lee Quarry
- Watch out for Juliet Bravo locations. The series was largely filmed in Bacup.
- Lee Quarry is perfect for mountain biking.
- Use Rawtenstall as a base to explore the local countryside and industrial archaeology.
- Ski-slope, Rawtenstall.
- The Britannia Coconut Dancers, or 'Nutters', on Easter Saturday and other local events.
- Ruby & Daisy, 15 Deardengate, Haslingden, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday-Saturday 9AM-5PM. Well known locally for good service, quality and value. Suppliers of on-trend ladies fashion. Free parking is available outside of the shop or at one of several free car parks in Haslingden.
- Perhaps oddly, Rawtenstall is the centre for a number of high quality women's clothes shops - clustered around 'Sunday Best' on Bank Street.
- Rawtenstall has a characterful market, open Thursday and Friday, 9AM-4PM, at the far end of Bank Street on Newchurch Road. It's where 'Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit', Jeanette Winterson's semi-autobiographical novel was filmed for the BBC.
- Fitzpatricks traditional botanical brews can be bought in the shop to take away.
The area has several restaurants, and a number of take-away food outlets.
- Cissy Green's Pie Shop, Higher Deardengate, Haslingden. It sells pies with a high reputation, especially the cheese and onion pie.
- Mario's. Bacup's main restaurant
- The White Horse Helmshore Rd., Helmshore, Rossendale BB4 4LU, +44 1706 213873. A friendly pub with a good selection of local craft beers, plus a reasonably-priced restaurant, using locally sourced ingredients. Welcomes walkers.
- There are plenty of small restaurants: a tapas bar, a number of Indian and Chinese restaurants and takeaways and Italian restaurants in Rawtenstall.
- Russian Tea Room, Bacup. It serves over 82 varieties of tea – most from a traditional Samovar. It also serves snacks with a Russian theme.
- There are plenty of pubs, many of which are very basic drinking holes.
- Fitzpatricks Temperance Bar, 5 Bank Street, Rawtenstall, BB4 6QS, ☏ . Founded in 1890, it's the last remaining Temperance Bar in the UK. Have a pint of black beer, sarsaparilla, blood tonic, cream soda or home-made lemonade!
- 1 Sykeside Country House Hotel, Rawtenstall Road End, Haslingden, ☏ .
- [dead link] Marmalades B&B, 357 Newchurch Road, Stacksteads, Bacup, OL13 0LD, ☏ . Free wifi. Email via contact form on website
- [dead link] Parrock Lumb Cottages, Parrock Forge, Todmorden Road, Bacup, OL13 9UT (Just off the A681, 1.2 miles outside Bacup), ☏ , . Check-in: 4PM - 9PM, check-out: 10:30AM. A group of 4 converted holiday cottages in a rural setting. Email via contact form [dead link] on website. £65-90 / night or £455-630 / week.
- [dead link] The Britannia Bed and Breakfast, 1 Britannia Heights, Rochdale Road, Britannia, Bacup, OL13 9SD, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 4PM - 7PM, check-out: 10:30AM - 11AM. Small B&B with 4 en-suite bedrooms. Free Wifi. £55-85 / night.
- One 3 One Guest House, 131 Haslingden Old Rd, Rawtenstall, ☏ .
|Routes through Rossendale|
|Burnley ← Accrington / ←||N S||→ Bury / → Manchester|