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Musbury Tor

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Title: Musbury Tor  
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Subject: Helmshore
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Musbury Tor

Musbury Tor is a flat topped hill overlooking Helmshore in Rossendale, Lancashire, England. It separates Alden Valley to its south and Musbury Valley to the north. It is a very popular walking spot and the views from the top are magnificent. It is on farmland and is mainly sheep pasture. It is one of the tallest hills (338m) in the Rossendale valley and can be seen from much of Helmshore. A panoramic view from the top is shown in Chris Aspin, Derek Pilkington and John Simpson's book of Helmshore.[1]


The underlying solid geology of the Rossendale fells is largely formed by the Lower Coal Measure comprising bedded sandstones, shales and mudstones. Rocks of the Millstone Grit series outcrop above the valley of the River Irwell and cap the hills. Musbury Tor is a perfect example of peneplanation leaving an almost isolated flat-topped hill where the harder Millstone Grit protects the softer underlying shales, leaving the distinctive sharp topography of edges and ledges characteristic of the uplands above the Irwell Valley.[2]

The other small scale topographic variations such as the undulating hummocky landforms are generally due to the former workings and stone quarries.[3]


Musbury was a township in the hundred of Blackburn. It was divided into three portions - Musbury Park; Musden Head (to the south), and the Trippet of Ogden (in the north). It was once the centre of the Earl of Lincoln's deer park, which was fenced by 1304, and stretches of the ditch enclosures still remain in the Alden and Musbury valleys.[4]

In 1894 Musbury ceased to be a township, and was transferred from Tottington parish to the borough of Haslingden.

World War II and after

" scan the skies for paratroops, four Home Guardsmen armed with one old rifle and six rounds of ammunition climbed each evening to the top of the Tor", says Chris Aspin in his memoirs. The guards apparently sheltered in a tiny hut, but they often "stumbled into bogs and old quarry workings". Chris Aspin also mentions American GIs practicing paratroop drops, and field exercises with live ammunition, before D-Day, setting up tents and a cookhouse by Great House on the Tor.[5]

In 1949 the Great House Experimental Farm in Helmshore was established by the Ministry of Agriculture on the flat top and southern slopes of Musbury Tor. Important experiments, including many on high-level grain planting and animal husbandry, and the effects of acidity in rain, were carried out. Great House Experimental Farm was closed in 1982, broken up and sold off to private farmers and others.


Coordinates: 53°40′58″N 2°20′51″W / 53.6829°N 2.3476°W / 53.6829; -2.3476

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