Official – Rossendale is the number one walking area in England and Wales

Published September 27, 2023 at 15:47

To those who walk every week with Rossendale Ramblers and other walking groups, the pre-eminence of Rossendale as a walking area is self-evident.  If you were in any doubt, then one look at the tired but happy faces of the 600 or so walkers who tackled the Rossendale Rotary-organised Round the Hills Walk in glorious sunshine on September 3rd this year would confirm it.   

But now a major new report by Britain’s national walking charity, the Ramblers, has revealed that Rossendale has been ranked the highest in England and Wales for having the longest length of public rights of way (paths) within 800 metres of people’s homes.  The report, written by the New Economics Foundation, calculated that Rossendale ranked first above areas such as Malvern Hills, Calderdale, High Peak, Burnley, and Pendle, meaning that Rossendale residents have the best access to paths within a 10 minute walk of their home.  Jack Cornish, Head of Paths for the Ramblers, said: “availability of paths close to people’s homes has a massive impact on health outcomes – with those from more deprived areas or underserved groups missing out”. 

Halo Panopticon, Haslingden, with Cribden Hill behind

In response, Rossendale Council Leader Alyson Barnes said: “We are very lucky in Rossendale to be surrounded by such great countryside, and the fact that we can take advantage of it so easily is a real bonus.  We have a number of excellent walking routes of varying difficulty around the borough – you can see the walking board routes at various points – so there should be something to suit most abilities.  Plus it’s free, and there’s not many things we can say that about these days.  I’d encourage everyone to get out there and enjoy our beautiful Valley”. 

Rossendale Ramblers – the local face of the Ramblers nationally – organise around 150 walks every year, from two-hour pub walks, through six mile and 9-12 mile more strenuous walks, right up to an annual challenge walk of around 25 miles.  The group is very sociable, both during and outside of these walks, plus they are working hard to improve the local footpath network, given the squeeze on local authority budgets.  With funding from Rossendale Rotary and other local organisations and individuals, the group’s very active team of volunteers clear vegetation on paths, repair stiles, and replace stiles with gates to improve accessibility.  They even check out the Round the Hills route for safety, and repair any stiles that are failing.  David Clegg, chair of Rossendale Ramblers, commented: “The increasing number of our green signs dotted around Rossendale, saying ‘Improved for you by Rossendale Ramblers’ show our commitment to improving access for all walkers”.   

Round the Hills walkers taking a break

John Lowe, chair of the Rossendale Rotary organising committee for the Round the Hills Walk added: “This is a great accolade for the Valley and is testimony to the work done over many years by local walkers, landowners and various organisations (including the Peak & Northern Footpaths Society) in establishing and maintaining such an impressive network of accessible footpaths.  In 1966, Walter Whittaker and his colleagues at the old Rawtenstall Sports Federation Council were visionaries in understanding the benefits of walking as an aid to good health, leading to the annual Rossendale Round the Hills Walk”.  His Worship the Mayor of Rossendale, Cllr Andrew Walmsley, who chatted to Round the Hills walkers while handing out certificates of achievement, testified to the popularity of walking in the area. 

Lake at Lee Quarry, Bacup

Finally, Sir Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, commented: “Rossendale is a wonderful place to live, and one of the things that makes it so special is the beautiful landscape that surrounds our valley’s towns and villages.  There is nothing better to help clear your head after a frantic few days in Westminster than getting out for a couple of hours with the dogs for some fresh air, some cracking views and then a well-deserved pint in a local pub.  Volunteer groups like Rossendale Ramblers do a sterling job helping to keep our local paths well maintained, so I’d like to add a huge thank you to everyone who contributes to keeping our local walks and trails accessible for as many people as possible”. 

The full report can be downloaded from  

One of Rossendale Ramblers’ stile repairs

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