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A Landscape Strategy for Lancashire - Landscape Character Assessment

Farmed Ridges

Location map of Farmed Ridges - Character  Areas Farmed Ridges
Character Areas

7a   Mellor Ridge
7b   Upholland Ridge
7c   Langthwaite Ridge

Landscape Character

These gritstone outcrops are relatively low in comparison to the Bowland Fells and outliers, their distinctive ridge profiles set them apart from the adjacent lowland agricultural landscapes. Wooded sides, which rise sometimes dramatically from the farmed plains, are visible for miles around and provide a sense of orientation when in the lowlands. The ridges themselves support a mosaic of mixed farmland and woodland which provides a textural backdrop to the surrounding lowlands. The landscape character one side of the ridge may be totally different from the character on the other, despite their proximity to each other. The local vernacular is clustered stone built villages with scattered outlying cottages and farmsteads strung out along local roads, but more recent ribbon development and new houses display an incongruous mix of materials. There is a good network of footpaths, parking and picnic spots with views over the surrounding lowlands. The ridges also support some forestry and provide ideal sites for reservoirs and communication masts.

View from Millennium Footpath
Typical View photo 22:
View from Millennium Footpath

Physical Influences

The ridges are formed from high areas of Millstone Grit which rise dramatically from the surrounding landscape to elevations of between 140 and 230 metres. The Millstone Grit outcrops in places, but is largely overlain by Boulder clay. Upholland Ridge is orientated in a north south direction. It is cut in two by the valley of the River Douglas which also carries a railway line and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The lower, eastern slopes of the ridge shelters coal deposits, which shelve gradually into the surrounding landscape.

The Mellor Ridge, which runs in a east west direction, has been cut off from the larger mass of Pendle Hill by the River Calder. The Calder to the east, the Ribble to the north and the Darwen and Hindburn Brook to the south, have shaped the ridge by fluvial and glacial processes.

The Langthwaite Ridge is orientated north-south and is separated from the Bowland Hills by low lying land of glacial sands and boulder clay drift. To the west lie low drumlins.

Intensive farming practices, mostly concerned with the grazing of beef, dairy cattle and sheep limit the nature conservation value of the area, although the small woodlands associated with the steeper sides of the Upholland Ridge are important for their wildlife value.

Human Influences

The elevated nature of the ridges and the excellent views of the valleys and Lancashire Plain have ensured that they have been important strategically and symbolically throughout history.

There is evidence of a Roman signal station at Mellor, which was strategically placed to observe the surrounding lowlands and routes along the Calder and the Ribble.

Upholland was so named to distinguish it from Down Holland, the name referring to its location on the spur of a hill.

Intensive farming in recent history threatens to remove traces of early enclosure, although the early origin of field patterns is still discernible in the landscape.

The relative height and views from the ridges have more recently attracted communication masts, housing developments and recreational activities. The ridges continue to be resources for agriculture, stone and water to supply nearby urban populations.


Farmed Ridges occur in three distinct areas where outcropping millstone grit forms distinct ridges in the lowlands.


Character Areas



Mellor Ridge

A prominent lowland ridge which forms a south-western gritstone extension to Pendle Hill, separating the rural Ribble Valley from the industrial Calder Valley. It is under pressure for urban development, but despite this influence it appears rural in character from the surrounding valleys and provides an important buffer between the intensely urban landscape of Blackburn and the rural landscapes associated with the Ribble Valley. The prominent ridgeline is viewed from the busy A59 and M65 transport routes to the north and south respectively. There are also outstanding views from the ridge itself across the Ribble Valley to the north, over Whalley Abbey at its eastern end and across Blackburn to the south. Built development has taken advantage of these views and Mellor is sited on top of the ridge where it enjoys long views across the adjacent lowlands.


Upholland Ridge

An intensively farmed, but wooded gritstone ridge which stretches from Harrock Hill in the north, past Upholland and the M58 into Greater Manchester and Merseyside. The Upholland Ridge forms an important buffer between the urban landscapes of the NW Manchester conurbations and the rural landscapes of the West Lancashire Coastal Plain. The productive mixed farmland is punctuated by a strong pattern of hedgerows and woodland which provides a textural backdrop to views from the surrounding lowlands. The Douglas valley is an major feature, running through the Upholland Ridge. The valley is an important transport corridor and also contains several heronries, country houses and designed landscapes including significant ornamental lakes at Wrightington Hospital. Development has taken advantage of the views - it is a well settled ridge with gritstone walls and terraces. The farmsteads, which are local stone with slate roofs, add further texture and character to the area. However, as the intensity of farming increases, field size is enlarging and hedgerows are being lost, weakening the field pattern. This is a popular recreational area for residents of the extensive local urban conurbations and there are many parking areas and viewpoints on top of the ridge, most notably at Parbold Hill, as well as a country park and golf course at Beacon Hill. Reservoirs and communication masts are again a feature of the area and a number of quarries indicate the mining of local materials for building.


Langthwaite Ridge

This gritstone outcrop forms a prominent rounded ridge which forms a southern extension to the Docker-Kellet-Lancaster Drumlin Field. It separates the city of Lancaster and developed coastal drumlin landscape from the rural landscapes of the Bowland Fells. It is distinguished from the adjacent drumlin field by its smooth rounded form. It is typical of a farmed ridge with a rich mosaic of pasture, woodland and parkland. It forms a setting for the city of Lancaster and scattered built development takes advantage of views from the ridge. It provides suitable location for reservoirs and communication masts which stand out against the skyline. Mixed woodlands are a feature of this area, associated with the Quermore estate and the reservoirs. The largest block is Knots Wood, managed by Forest Enterprise.

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