Took 4 people 3 hours leisurely.
Walk to Railway street and turn right down the road (away from the station). The TNT depot on your left occupies the former site of the Grant Brothers’ Square Mill, built in 1821. Where the road bends to the left turn right along a narrow path. Then bear left along the flagged path, climbing steadily towards St. Andrew’s Church. The church was built in 1832 as a Scottish Presbyterian church by William Grant and the family coat of arms survives on the north and south elevations. The clock was made by an engineer at Square Mill. and hot air from the mill was used to heat the church. On reaching the main road, turn left and continue as far as St Andrews School. Cross to the opposite side of the road and continue up Dundee Lane. On the left you’ll see the School House. This was built in 1864 incorporating features from Holcombe Courthouse and Manchester Cathedral. The front doorway came from the former and the 1414 datestone above it from the latter. When the road narrows turn left up Downfield Close and then climb the steps on the right leading onto a path. Follow the path, climbing onto a setted path, until you reach the Grade 2 listed Shoulder of Mutton pub. The pub dates from the 17th Century but was extensively altered and extended in 1751. It was known to have been a venue for cock fighting until it was made illegal in 1849. Holcombe Village is a fine example of a preindustrial settlement and is now a conservation area. Holcombe was attacked by Zeppelins in World War I, the church being damaged and the school still bearing the bullet holes! Turn left, cross the main road, and bear right along Cross Lane. Keep going until you reach a lane on your right, which you take before forking right, following the track signposted to Peel Monument. Climbing steadily, make your way up the side of the hill until you reach Peel Tower. Peel Tower is a monument to Sir Robert Peel, born in Bury, who as Home Secretary was responsible for founding the modern police force and as Prime Minister repealed the Corn Laws. William Grant was Chairman of the appeal committee which erected the Tower and arranged for it to be constructed on a line from his front door beyond the steeple of St Andrew’s Church. Immediately past Peel Tower, bear left along the green path above a hollow on the left.. Continue along the path leading to a gate. Go through the gate and follow the path across Holcombe Moor (owned by the National Trust) and over Harcles Hill. Continue along this path for a mile to Pilgrims’ Cross. Pilgrim’s Cross is a marker on the pilgrim route from Manchester to Whalley Abbey. The present stone marks the site of earlier ones which have existed since at least 1166. On reaching Pilgrims’ Cross, take the right hand path. Follow the path marked with poles, passing the flag pole on your left, and on your right a notice board. Leave the main path, heading down to the corner of the stone wall leading onto another path. Continue dropping down along the path going through rough pasture which is walled on both sides.
Cross the wide track and go over the ladder HOLCOMBE MOOR - STUBBINS - RAMSBOTTOM stile, following the track as it drops down beside Buckden Wood to the main road. Cross the main road and continue along track dropping down, taking the first turning on your right. Continue 10 yards, over a stile on your right. Turn left, continue dropping down the fenceline on your left. Go over two stiles, dropping down, cross the stream by a footbridge, bear left, along the path following the stream which is on your left. Buckden Wood and the Stubbins Estate were given to the National Trust in 1948 by Colonel Porritt in memory of his son Richard, who was killed at Dunkirk. The farmland includes the only grassland SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) in the West Pennines. You now re-cross the stream, continue along the path leading over a stile, take the path on your left, with the stream on your right. Follow the path as it drops down, passing a house on your right. Continue along the path bearing round to the right leading onto a metalled road. Turn left, passing under two bridges. After the second bridge, turn right immediately, onto a narrow path, with houses on your left, follow narrow path with the River Irwell on your left Across the river, on the playing fields, stood Aikin’s Mill, the site of the famous Chatterton Riot in 1826, when a crowd of Luddites, concerned that the power looms in the mill would deprive them of a living as hand loom weavers, entered the mill and destroyed machinery. Soldiers were called out and 6 protestors were killed. Others were transported to Australia. Continue along the path and when you reach houses follow the path which continues at the rear of the houses and gardens, eventually leading onto a main road at Stubbins. Turn left, crossing the River Irwell by the footbridge. Turn right, cross main road and take the track opposite with the mill on your left, River Irwell on your right. Ignore the two lanes which branch off to the left. Continue ahead, passing through a gate, bearing left to pass through another gate in the wall on your right. Follow the path alongside the stone wall. At the end of the field pass through a kissing gate then over a footbridge. Continue straight ahead, with the river Irwell on your right. Follow the trodden path diagonally to the left corner of the buildings ahead. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path around onto Kenyon Street. Turn left and on meeting the main road, turn right over the river and continue back to Railway Street.