How rocks shaped Rossendale's hills

Rossendale's distinctive scenery is one of flat topped hills with steep sides and a characteristic terraced or stepped skyline. This is a direct result of the geology beneath. Throughout the area the underlying rocks are almost horizontal layers of alternating hard sandstones and much softer shales (clayrock). Tough sandstones create the obvious steep steps or ledges, and the softer shales are more easily worn away into shallow slopes. Sometimes known as ‘edge and ledge’ scenery, the steps rise tier on tier above the narrow river valleys of Rossendale. Overall, the impression is a broken up (dissected) upland plateau with a characteristic terraced or stepped skyline. 

Double edges on Holcombe Hill

Often, hard sandstone outcrops protrude at the tops of the plateau edges. These were where many of Rossendale’s quarries were started and in places man-made features have replaced the natural shape of the landscape. Many outcrops have been quarried away and replaced by quarry remains.

Musbury Tor – an almost horizontal plateau cut by valleys on both sides. A rock outcrop protrudes at the top of the right-hand side

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