Eastergate Marsden Moors

Featured in the @FieldandTrekuk nominated Top UK Walks

Looking Over Castleshaw Reservoirs

I took part in the recent Field & Trek recommended walks feature – where they asked various UK outdoors bloggers to nominate their favourite walk / hike. Not that easy to do, as a few of us said in our responses.

There’s some great walks in there (well, all of them by the looks of it) – seventeen have been featured. Some from blogs I already read and some new ones too which is cool.

After some deliberation I went for one of the loops I like to do around the Marsden Moors. Here’s what I said:

“It’s really hard to choose that one favourite walk: I think that walkers, hikers, ramblers, trekkers (or how ever you tag yourself in the Outdoors tribe) are always looking to the horizon – the next walk might well be your favourite. I think some of my favourite walks have been those where I didn’t know what was around the turn in a path or what view was going to unfold over the brow of a hill.

If you held a compass to my head though and made me choose, then a particular walk around the Marsden Moors of West Yorkshire , where I live, would be my favourite. You start in Marsden, a lovely industrial village, and navigate your way along a Roman Road, skirting the top of imposing Pule Hill where Iron Age remains have been found. You then walk along Millstone Edge, an escarpment with wide open views that takes in farmland and moor, with history (from Roman to Victorian) in abundant evidence. Having picked up part of the Pennine Way for a while, you swing back along the old packhorse trail to Marsden.

Eastergate Marsden Moors

I’ve done this walk of approximately ten miles many times but changes in weather, across the seasons and also in how I’m feeling make me notice and appreciate different things each time. And, conveniently, the finish point of the walk is the local real ale pub – which I’m sure must feature in many a favourite walk!”

And here’s the route I had in mind, previously mapped on one of my walks BUT the one below is a bit longer as it diverts off Millstone Edge and the Pennine Way to go down to the Castleshaw Roman Fort:

Marsden Roman Road circular
My Viewranger route – loaded onto my phone to track the Roman road sections where footpaths / access allowed.The red pin is approx where the fort remains are and the red line from there back to Marsden is the road itself.

 

 

between Holme Moss Black Hill Yorkshire Moors

Le Hike to Le Grand Depart

between Holme Moss Black Hill Yorkshire Moors

The Tour De France Grand Depart, as anyone with a TV or radio will know, started from Yorkshire this year. And whilst I’ve never had more than a passing interest in watching bike races; it seemed crazy not to be part of such an enthusiastically embraced event, living so close as I do to part of the route.

By close, I mean I could have headed off into Huddersfield (about 7 miles away) on the train with my wife and daughter (not just The Grand Depart swinging through but a Food and Drink festival, hmmm … tempting).

Or, I could hike over the moors to Holme Moss (about 6 miles each way) with my son and son in law (man I feel old typing that, ho hum).

The moors won out and the three of us (four, with Brodie Dog) headed off up Wessenden Valley, across towards Black Hill summit and then tracked across to Holme Moss, where we joined (apparently) 60,000. There were less people right at the summit where we were compared to lower down the valley but still enough to line both sides of the road to see the bikes whizz through. It was a great atmosphere.

Tour De France Grand Depart Holme Moss

It was pretty humid on the outward journey and Brodie is starting to drag her feet more and more on longer walks, kind of sad to see but she still likes a yomp out.

It was perfect weather at the summit of Holme Moss and she / we had plenty of water to revive with, ready for the return walk (avec un short sharp shower just near Black Hill which caught out the surprising number of folks without waterproofs).

I’ve never seen the moors across to Holme Moss so busy, it looked how I imagine the Kinder Scout mass trespass must have years ago.

Below is a little film I put together with my GoPro.

 

NSPCC North HACK 2014 Hike

The NSPCC North HACK Challenge Hike 2014

NSPCC North HACK 2014 Hike

I thought the NSPCC North HACK, albeit 22 miles long, would be maybe a bit of breeze. I based this tremendously complacent view on the fact that I had just walked 3 days and 45 miles or so along a hot Ridgeway Trail and carrying a heavy rucksack at that.

So 22 miles along some (to my mind) gentle gradients in Calderdale, with just a light daypack, would be an easier jaunt, right?

Nope.

Without over egging it, it was a challenge indeed. A day of midges and nettle stings, humidity and steep gradients (the downhills can be a tiring as the uphills can’t they?).

But it was also a day of varied and beautiful landscapes, peaceful woods, valley views and wide skies. And great company: both my own ‘team’ of Jenny, Taru and Karl and also the other folk we met along the way, including the enthusiastic and hospitable volunteer stewards and checkpoint staff.

NSPCC North HACK 2014 Hike

NSPCC North HACK 2014 Hike

The other reason for my complacency was that I thought I knew the area. My Dad and Step Mum lived, until recently, just below Stoodley Pike. I assumed we’d start and finish the hike at around the Pike contour level and traverse a horseshoe of Calderdale hills tops. I know, “read the map”.. it was my fault, the NSPCC briefing pack was really good and showed the up and downs. If only I’d have read the map fully.

Also my Dad’s Mum and Dad – my grandparents – lived in the Illingworth area (downhill from where we were starting, which was at the friendly Moorlands Inn on the Keighley Road) for 40+ years. I used to look up and across sloping farm fields and hills from their garden – and those blue remembered hills of schoolboy holidays were gentle ones.

As I say, I don’t want to over egg it, I was never in doubt I’d complete the day but it was a tad tougher than I’d prepped for :-)

And family connections to both the area and to the reason for the walk itself started to resonate with me as I completed the challenge. One of the roadside stewards was a bit emotional when she clapped us as we passed her. She told us that she worked as a Childline Counsellor and said that without the hikers taking part in the annual HACK Challenge, there’d be less money to fund posts like hers. It was a bit gratifying but also humbling to hear that. And it occurred to me then that the service, had it been around in my Dad’s day, may have helped what I’ll euphemistically call ‘bad times’ he had as a boy. Which is as far as I’ll share on that, but that connection was made in my head and I mulled it over for the remainder of the day.

Anyway, back to cheery stuff: we traversed some lovely countryside, and took in wooded dells, agricultural vistas, expansive moorland and commanding hilltops.

NSPCC HACK Challenge Moors 2014 Calderdale

 

And there was a nice sense of camaraderie.. even sharing some banter with folk on a different challenge (they were doing a 50 mile 24 hour challenge and had started out in pretty much the opposite direction to us over in Littleborough, Lancashire).

I seem to do one sponsored /official type challenge each year, for a variety of reasons and I’m glad to say this one was really enjoyable.

Good work, NSPCC volunteers and organisers .. great finish line BBQ too!

NSPCC North HACK 2014 Hike
Me, Karl, Jenny and Taru after the BBQ (looking more perky than when we first crossed the finish line).

I filmed bits of it with my GoPro and if you haven’t visited this part of Yorkshire here’s a taster of how lovely it is:

Hiking on the Yorkshire hills and further afield

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