The broad valley of the River Calder and its tributaries
running northeast/southwest between natural backdrops
of Pendle Hill and the Southern Pennines.
Intensely urban character derived from main
towns of Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley which
have developed rapidly since the industrial revolution.
A strong industrial heritage associated with
cotton weaving and textile industries producing
under-utilised mill buildings, mill lodges and ponds.
Profusion of communication routes along the
valley bottom including the Leeds and Liverpool
Canal, the Preston-Colne rail link and M65 motorway.
Victorian stone buildings well integrated
into the landscape.
Numerous large country houses with associated
parklands particularly on northern valley side away
from major urban areas.
Remnants of agricultural land fragmented
by industry and scattered development.
Field boundaries, regular to the west, irregular
to the east, and degraded round the urban areas,
formed of hedges with few hedgerow trees and, at
higher elevations by stone walls and post and wire
Small woodlands are limited to cloughs on
area is located mainly in the east of Lancashire.
It is bounded in the north west by the rural valley
of the River Ribble and the Millstone Grit outcrop
of Pendle Hill in the Bowland Fringe. The southern
boundary is formed by the Southern Pennines. The
Lancashire Valleys are concentrated in a broad trough
which runs north-eastwards from Mellor Brook just
This is a visually contained landscape which would
have once shared many characteristics with the rural
valley of the River Ribble in the north. However,
the development of industry and settlements has
created a landscape with an intensely urban character.
The remnants of agricultural land are now fragmented
by industry and scattered development which severely
disrupt the continuity of the field pattern. Field
boundaries on the urban fringe are hedgerows that
are generally degraded with an overall absence of
hedgerow trees. At higher elevations the field boundaries
are stone walls and post and wire fencing, many
of which are ineffective and in poor condition.
The main towns in the area are Blackburn, Accrington,
Burnley, Nelson and Colne, which have developed
rapidly since the industrial revolution. The expansion
of these towns has also been aided by the dense
transport network which lines the valley bottoms.
These include the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the
Preston-Colne rail link and the M65 motorway. The
buildings are predominantly Victorian stone terraces
generally in good condition. There are substantial
areas of contemporary industrial development which
have replaced the traditional textile industries.
However, there are numerous examples of industrial
heritage which remain. These act as reminders of
the historical importance of local industrial development
on the character of the landscape.
The extensive surface exposure of bedrock has given
rise to many extractive industries in the area,
including stone quarrying and coal mining. These
areas are now generally well vegetated and grazed
by sheep. Most of the more conspicuous dereliction
has undergone land reclamation schemes with some
reclamation by domestic waste landfill.
The surrounding fells of Pendle and the South Pennines
are an important natural backdrop which dwarf the
settlements in the valley bottom. The moorland tops
are linked to the valleys by small wooded cloughs
which extend up the steep slopes.
character of the Lancashire Valleys is dominated
by the key towns of Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley,
which occupy a broad trough underlain by Coal Measures.
The presence of the coal accounts for the early
industrialisation of the area. Coal has been worked
at depth and by opencasting at the surface. The
bottom of the trough is covered in glacial deposits,
mostly till. In the Feniscowles/Pleasington area,
west of Blackburn, extensive sand deposits impart
a special landscape character. Bedrock resources
have been quarried where the draft cover is thin.
The main materials extracted were sandstone, worked
on a small scale for local building, and mudstone,
worked for brick-making in large pits at Accrington.
The Millstone Grit outcrop of Pendle Hill forms
part of the northern boundary to this area and when
combined with the fells of the South Pennines creates
enclosure and serves as an important backdrop which
dwarfs the scale of the settlement in the valley
The main river is the Calder, which cuts out of
the trough through a gorge in the gritstone ridge
at Whalley. It joins the River Ribble at the edge
of the area to the north west of the town.
and Cultural Influences
to the expansion of settlement and industry during
the 19th century, this area would have predominantly
been used for agriculture and would have had a similar
rural character to that of the River Ribble further
The development which lines these valleys began
as a cottage industry during the 16th century and
was predominantly an area of weaving rather than
spinning. Traditionally wool came from the South
Pennine hillsides and flax from the low lying country
of the Lancashire and Amounderness Plain around
Rufford and Croston. By 1700 each district was specialising
in the production of one type of cloth. Blackburn
was a centre for fustians and most woollens and
worsteds were manufactured in Burnley and Colne.
The textile industry grew rapidly and with new machines
the domestic system was replaced by factory systems
which further accelerated the growth of these weaving
communities. The proliferation of mills and associated
residential development has created a fragmented
landscape with a heavily industrialised character.
Since the 1920s the textile industry has been in
steady decline with many mills becoming derelict
or converted to other uses.
within the Lancashire Valleys is extensive. There
is a high proportion of built up land which includes
the towns of Blackburn, Darwen, Accrington, Burnley,
Nelson and Colne. Buildings are predominantly constructed
from stone and are generally in good repair. There
is substantial new industry in the area as well
as many artefacts of the area's industrial heritage.
Scattered settlements on valley sides are comprised
of older stone buildings, often of the Longhouse
type, and isolated blocks of stone terraced houses
perched at precarious angles on the steep slopes.
There are also several large country houses along
the Calder valley including those at Read Park,
Huntroyde Demesne and Gawthorpe, Dunkenhalgh and
is predominantly an area of built up land with major
towns such as Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley
spreading across the valley bottom. In addition
to these urban developments the remaining land cover
is a mix of pasture with areas of acid and neutral
grassland and areas of semi-natural woodland/scrub.
The field boundaries in this area are hedgerows
with few hedgerow trees which give way to stone
walls and fencing on higher ground. Field boundaries
adjacent to urban/industrialised areas are frequently
degraded, indicating low economic viability.
Woodland is limited to small woods with areas of
grassland flushes and wetland comprising of oak,
alder and sycamore which extend along steep sided
narrow cloughs, such as Priestly Clough, Accrington;
Spurn Clough, Burnley; and Darwen Valley. There
are also small areas of woodland/scrub associated
with abandoned industrial land.
There are several areas of parkland associated with
large country houses. This area also bears the scars
of extractive industries. Some of the quarries have
undergone land reclamation schemes by domestic waste
landfill such as Rowley and Brandwood and at Accrington
Development pressures in the valley bottom particularly
associated with junctions on the M65.
Rationalising farming operations leading
to the conversion of traditional farm buildings
to alternative uses.
Pressures on remnant farmland adjoining urban
areas causing degradation of field boundaries and
alternative uses such as golf courses.
Loss of hay meadows and reduction in biodiversity.
Loss of industrial heritage features along
the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
The restoration of field boundaries especially those
adjacent to urban areas needs to be addressed.
The conservation of remaining hay meadows
is important as wildlife and landscape features.
Opportunities are available for areas of
new woodland especially on degraded farmland and
derelict industrial sites surplus to current needs.
The retention of valuable industrial heritage
features should be considered, especially along
Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
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and Co, London.
Kenyon. D (1991), The Origins of Lancashire, Manchester
University Press, Manchester and New York.
Lancashire County Council (1993), Lancashire Structure
Plan 1991-2006. Report 17: Landscape Evaluation.
Lancashire County Council (c 1990), Lancashire A
Trueman. A E (1972), Geology and Scenery in England
and Wales, Penguin Books Ltd, Middlesex.
Whittow. J (1992), Geology and Scenery in Britain,
Chapman and Hall, London.