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Pilgrims Cross
Pilgrims Cross | © Annapurna Mellor
Liverpool & Lancashire

Pilgrims Cross and Peel Tower Circular Walk

This five-mile circular trail across Holcombe Moor passes various interesting landmarks enroute. Visit Ellen Strange’s memorial, read the inscription on Pilgrims Cross and admire the impressive Peel Tower. You may even be lucky enough to see a steam train along the East Lancashire Heritage Railway barrelling through the countryside with plumes of white smoke billowing from its funnel. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a lead during nesting season (1 March and 31 July) and near livestock.

Total steps: 9

Total steps: 9

Start point

Lumb Car Road car park, Holcombe, Bury BL8 4NN.

Step 1

Start at Lumb Car Road car park, Holcombe, Bury BL8 4NN. Please take care when crossing Lumb Carr Road. As you head out of the car park, cross the road heading slightly left to a footpath gate which will take you onto a short path. You will emerge out onto an old, cobbled road heading right for 150m before you join the tarmac road again.

Step 2

Continue for 400m through the hamlet.

Step 3

Take the first track (opposite The Shoulder of Mutton pub) on your left, between the old stone houses. You will climb 500m until you are on the historic Moor Road, which would have been used before the later roads in the Irwell valley were built.

Step 4

You will see a bench nestled in the hillside to your left. Continue north along Moor Road, passing two large farm buildings on your right. A further 1.2km, and you will pass through a five-bar gate at Chatterton Close Farm. This farm was first recorded as 24 acres of worked land in 1623.

Step 5

As you carry on straight ahead, you will see Buckden Wood to your right.

Step 6

Carry on a further 700m until you reach a five-bar gate in front of you. At this point turn left and climb the hill for 250m following the track uphill towards Ellen Strange’s memorial. You will come to a large standing stone on your left commemorating Ellen Strange.

Step 7

At the memorial continue straight on bearing slightly left, ignoring the path going right with a West Pennine way name plate. Follow the yellow top posts on your right for 1.2km until you reach Pilgrims Cross. You will see signs for the Army training ground above you and to the right.

Step 8

Continue until you come to the famous Pilgrims Cross. The original cross is long gone but make sure you take a moment to read the inscription. At Pilgrims Cross leave the yellow markers and fork left to join a newly flagged path installed by the National Trust in 2023 as part of a programme to stop further peat erosion. At the end of the flag stone path, continue climbing gradually past one stone cairn and onto the second which is the top of Harcles Hill. On a clear day, you’ll witness stunning views of Peel Tower with Manchester in the middle distance and if you’re very lucky, the mountains of North Wales and the Peak District beyond. The descent is a bit rutted, and you will need to take some care in the wet. As the hill levels out, cross a small stream continuing towards Peel Tower. Once you've crossed the stream, take the path that climbs slightly to the left and continue towards double gates and on to Peel Tower.

Step 9

If you walk round the tower, you will see more of the new flagstone footpaths on the moor. Continue south on the broad stone track passing Top O’Th Moor Farm on your right. This track soon bends sharply to the left and continues downhill with a zig zag at the bottom keeping left until you get to the cobbled road you originally started on. Retrace steps 2 and 1 to take you back to Lumb Carr car park.

End point

Lumb Carr car park, Lumb Carr Road, Holcombe, Bury BL8 4NN.

Trail map

Pilgrims Cross and Peel Tower circular
Pilgrims Cross and Peel Tower circular | © OS 287 West Pennine Moors

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Chatterton Close, Bury, BL8 4NZ

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