The Rossendale Valley also known as the Forest of Rossendale, is an upland area of the Pennines in Lancashire, North West England. The area is within the Borough of Rossendale. It consists of the steep-sided valleys of the River Irwell and its tributaries, which flow southwards into Greater Manchester and cut through the open unwooded moorland, which is characteristic of the area, despite the ancient designation of "forest".
The forest contains two Marilyns; Hail Storm Hill and Freeholds Top, as well as the summit of Great Hameldon. Geographically, it is sandwiched between the West Pennine Moors to the west and the South Pennines to the east.
The geology of the area is layers of gritstone, coal and glacial deposits of sand and gravel. These rocks were cut by fast flowing rivers, the Irwell and its tributaries, to form steep valleys with sides 600 feet in high and a narrow valley floor. Woodland on the steep slopes includes remnants of ancient woodland but other areas are more recently planted.
The Rossendale Valley is characterised by the steep sided valley of the River Irwell and its tributaries which dissect the moorland of the Rossendale Hills In the valley bottom, urban settlements grew up at river crossing points between Rawtenstall and Bacup and form a contiguous urban and industrial development. Textile mills and chimneys and gritstone terraced houses are the dominant buildings and roads are concentrated in the narrow valley.
One of the earliest sites of historical interest in the valley is that of the dykes at Broadclough, which are associated with the Battle of Brunanburh. Rossendale was governed by a constable nominated by principal landowners who held the position of "The Greave of The Forrest" which after 1515 became a quasi-hereditary position held by the Whitacker family at the only ancient hall in the district: Broadclough Hall Later, the valley was part of the medieval Forest of Rossendale. Settlement in late Middle Ages would have been in "booths" or farmsteads and encroachment into the forest would have developed them into small hamlets.
Most Rossendalians consider themselves to live in 'The Valley' and this is still locally a commonly used term to describe the district.
The Valley is part of the Rossendale and Darwen constituency. Jake Berry has been the Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen since 2010.
- Settled Valleys Irwell, Lancashire County Council, retrieved 2010-09-26
- "History of the County Palatine and the Ducht of Lancaster".