AN ambitious £300,000 bid to transform Worsthorne Moor into an oasis for ramblers, mountain bikers and birdlife has taken a step forward after plans to install a mountain bike trail in Hurstwood were unveiled.
Burnley Council has received a planning application for a change of use from a forestry plantation to mountain bike trails, including the construction of bike tracks, in woodland near Hurstwood Lane.
The plans are part of a wider project between Lancashire County Council and United Utilities to improve more than 1,000 square metres of moorland east of Burnley.
It is hoped that the measures planned for Worsthorne Moor will prevent the erosion of vital peatland and boost visitor access and amenities. It will be funded by the water company and the county council along with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Watershed Landscape Project, managed by Pennine Prospects, the regeneration company for the South Pennines.
Scheme bosses say that the mountain bike track will provide a dedicated facility for thrill-seekers who already improvise their own routes through the wood.
Other improvements will see Maidens Cross car park resurfaced, new information signs installed and wheelchair access improved, heather and peat restoration and removal of invasive, non-native vegetation.
The habitats of rare animal species which rely on the rugged landscape will also be protected.
Plans are being made to organise field visits for local schools to the revamped estate, to support students’ environmental studies.
Linda Williams, countryside ranger for United Utilities, said: “This investment will help to revitalise the moorland for the benefit of protected wildlife species and the thousands of visitors who enjoy this rugged landscape.
“Preserving the moorland also has a direct impact on the quality of water running off into local reservoirs. By reducing soil erosion, less peat enters the water, so less treatment is required before water is piped to our thousands of customers in Burnley.”
Pam Warhurst, chairman of Pennine Prospects said: “This exciting project will deliver a major boost to a spectacular and much-loved area of wild open space.
“It is a key strand of the Watershed Landscape Project, which is helping to restore landscapes, improve access and support heritage projects across the south Pennines.”
Worsthorne Moor plays host to many rare bird species, including the twite – known locally as the Pennine finch – curlew, golden plover, skylark, snipe and peregrine falcon, making it a popular destination among bird watchers.
Water from the moorland’s reservoirs of Cant Clough and Hustwood is sent to Worsthorne water treatment works, before being piped to thousands of customers in Burnley.
United Utilities is also finalising plans for a second, ambitious restoration scheme for the moorland, which could see up to 100 hectares of peat land reinvigorated. Full plans are expected to be announced later in the spring.