Worsthorne Moor

Worsthorne Moor is situated to the east of Burnley, and is one of the largest water gathering areas in the South Pennines, feeding the reservoirs at Hurstwood and Cant Clough. The reservoirs feed Worsthorne Water Treatment Works which provides Burnley with up to 21,500,000 litres of drinking water per day.

Worsthorne Moor is owned by United Utilities who, as part of the Watershed Landscape Project, continued an important programme of moorland management and restoration work.

Through the project, United Utilities worked with the Offshoots Permaculture Centre in Burnley to propogate cotton grass plugs to plant on specific sites on the moors. Cotton grass is a key species on the South Pennine uplands as, once established, it stabilises the peat-land surface therefore helping to prevent further erosion. Cotton-grass seed was collected from approved sites and germinated in polytunnels at Offshoots. The plants were then raised as plugs by volunteers working at the centre and then planted the following season with the help of community groups and school children. The cotton grass propogation work fits into a larger moorland management programme on site at Worsthorne.

In 2004, United Utilities planted 105 hectares of native broad-leaved woodland on the estate. This creates shelter, increases visual and biological diversity and brings Burnley’s woodland cover closer to the national average. Trees that are growing can store carbon (known as sequestration) and so help to reduce the amount in the atmosphere ultimately helping to reduce the potential scale of future climate change.

Large areas of purple moorgrass are being managed through the use of mown fire brakes which protect the wildlife from unplanned moorland fires. The firebreaks also encourage the sheep to graze these areas allowing other plant species to grow increasing the area’s biodiversity. Above Gorple Road, large areas of purple moorgrass have been managed to encourage the growth of cotton grass and heather, a habitat favoured by many upland bird species.

Below the open moorland at Worsthorne is a network of waymarked trails, including 'The Hushings, Sheddon Clough Circuit' and the' Hurstwood Loop', each providing an opportunity to discover the local and natural history of the area. In partnership with the Watershed Landscape team, United Utilities made access improvements at both the Hurstwood and Maiden Cross car park and improved interpretation at both sites to help visitors learn about the historic shaping of the landscape and the restoration work that has been taking place.