National Character Area 36

Southern Pennines - Key Characteristics

  • Large-scale, open, sweeping landscape with high flat-topped hills providing extensive views, cut into by narrow valleys with wooded sides.

  • Mosaics of moorland vegetation on the plateaux, including blanket bog and heathland, supporting internationally important habitats and assemblages of upland birds, invertebrates and breeding waders.

  • Enclosed upland pastures and hay meadows enclosed by drystone walls on the hillsides, and narrow valleys with dense gritstone settlements in the valleys, with steep slopes often densely wooded, providing strong contrast with open moorlands.

  • Many reservoirs on the moors, supplying drinking water to adjacent towns, wintering and breeding habitats for birds and high quality recreation experiences.

  • Medieval villages and smallholdings on the higher shelves of land above the valleys, with small fields and a dense network of lanes and paths.

  • Local stone buildings, with stone flags on roofs, bring a high degree of homogeneity to towns, villages, hamlets and farmsteads.

  • Rich time depth, from prehistoric features such as carved rocks, to medieval boundary stones, old mineral extraction sites and more recently, mills, factories and non-conformist chapels.

  • Historic packhorse routes traversing the moorlands, with more recent road, rail and canal routes located along valleys.

  • Prominent features, including Stoodley Pike, Darwen Jubilee Tower, Rivington Pike, wind farms and communications masts, visible from afar.