Springhill is on the edge of the West Pennine Moors and we are lucky to have excellent moorland walking from the door. As well as natural beauty and wildlife, many of the paths pass near to sites of interest for my one-place studies project. These include places where Springhill residents worked, worshipped, took recreation and generally lived. Many walks are self-constructed though there are a couple of formal routes and a couple of organised events.
The most important of these is the Round the Hills walk which goes, er, around the hills. It begins at Marl Pits Sports Complex (100 yards along the road from Springhill and on land historically belonging to Springhill Farm) then vaguely follows 3/4 or so of the old boundary of the former borough of Rawtenstall, which includes Springhill. It is not a traditional ‘beating of the bounds’ type walk, being started in 1966 by Walter Whittaker as a family (and dog!) friendly community event, though the families have to be of a certain age to manage all 18 miles. It is run jointly by Rossendale Rotary Club and Rossendale Harriers, and is still free to enter although donations welcome.
It is almost entirely off road (apart from a couple of short sections) and passes over the major hills surrounding the village. It covers 18 miles and 3080 feet of ascent. The traditional route was modified after the introduction of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to include the summit of a hitherto inaccessible (cough) hill, for those for whom 3080 feet of ascent was not enough. The use of footpaths on that hill is closely monitored by a local farmer who has used voice (regularly) dogs (occasionally) and in more lurid versions shotguns (allegedly) to keep ramblers on the straight and narrow.This year the organisers have introduced a number of variations to shorten or simplify the route in an attempt to make the event more accessible to folk who would be put off the full walk.
It starts on land owned by Springhill residents passes along the tops to Hambledon Hill past the ‘weather station’ to drop down by Clowbridge Reservoir (adjacent to the site of Gambleside Colliery, once owned by John Ashworth of Springhill House). It then passes past Compston’s Cross (commemorating Samuel Compston, father of EL Compston of Springhill House... theme emerging here) to Water. The route then passes up Dean Lane to Jack Lodge and along Edgeside Lane (along land owned by Mary Ann Ashworth, daughter of the aforementioned John), losing some every year in the Jolly Sailor. It then passes up Lench and over Cowpe Lowe to Cloughfold, going through the quarry scrubbing mill at Cloughfold, visible from Springhill House... you are now about half a mile from the end but it is up Peel Street, only 1:10 gradient but a killer after 18 miles. The route then passes past Springhill (where to temptation to just go home and not finish has to be resisted) and back to Marl Pits. Then, to add the final insult, you have to go upstairs to get your certificate.
It is held annually on the first Sunday in September and has been cancelled twice - once for poor weather and once for the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001. This year saw 767 commence the walk, the largest number on record.
The second organised route and event is the Rossendale Way, a 40 mile route roughly round the boundary of the current borough of Rossendale (which was formed in 1974 by the merger of three former boroughs and includes Springhill). This, sadly, isn’t ‘from the door’ in the same manner as the Round the Hills. In the past the local Fell Rescue have organised a ‘Rossendale Way in a Day’ event and ‘Half Way in a Day’ for the less energetic (though still 23 miles) as a fund raising event but this has not been held in recent years. I have done the half way in a day and that was quite enough, thank you.
Are there any community walks or sporting events in your place? Are these historical events, or ones which emerged more recently?