I’ve had a few shortish walks on the hills and moors over the past few weeks but nothing that could really be called a ‘proper’ walk / hike. And the annual ‘Snowdon in the Snow‘ date looms so I wanted to get some leg-stretching in. The recent snowy conditions were perfect timing for myself and son Joe to hit the hills
We basically took the same route as my last post – up the Wessenden Valley in Marsden and onto the Swellands area (home of two adjoining reservoirs) and describing a big loop back down in to Marsden. But what a difference the snow made.. it took us an hour or two longer than last time and was pretty tough going in parts. Both of us had ice spikes on which made a big difference in places!
On Saturday I did the last of my route / map check walks for the soon to be published Marsden Walkers Are Welcome guides. Despite really strong winds on the exposed parts of the moors the weather was great. No actual rain, for the walk or indeed the whole day, amazing
The overview of the walk from the WaW site is : “This 6.5 mile walk will take you from the Marsden centre into the scenic Wessenden Valley, containing ancient woodlands and deep upland reservoirs, then onto sections of the Pennine Way and Standedge Trail close to the watershed and above Swellands Reservoir. This walk contains some sustained ascents, descents and rough terrain.”
Time to walk off some more of those mince pies (I made them, pretty good as it happens), so Joe (Robin to my Fatman) and I headed out again this morning to walk one of a set of new routes marked out in some soon-to-be-printed leaflets. A while back I helped the Marsden Walkers Are Welcome group check rights of way /paths in one particular OS grid (as part of the national Walkers are Welcome initiative) and these new maps are part of that. I think there will be six in total initially. I volunteered to check two of the routes before the 9th Jan deadline (when I think they go to print) and report back any errors / confusing path descriptions etc. Today’s route was “Intake Head’. Next weekend I’ll be doing ‘Swellands’.
The obligatory Boxing Day walk / hike / ramble. I think this was more of a ramble, as we (Son Joe and I and Brodie Dog, of course) set off with no clear route planned.
We headed south up the Wessenden Valley in Marsden where we live – a ‘day out’ route for 120 years a least. But the low winter sun in our eyes was a bit too much.I’m not complaining – too much rain of late – but after 45 minutes or so, we got fed up looking ground-ward the whole time.
We definitely had a blast of air, a really strong cold wind to clear the Christmas day head
Folks did a similar thing years ago – I found reference to an old advert extolling the walk up Wessenden (and the air / wind):
There are mountain and moorland, rivulet and lake,
Health giving breezes, Fernbank and Brake,
Bracken and heather, shrubbery and tree,
Good road to get there, these are all free
Nowadays it would probably have mentioned free wifi too?!
The lodge at the top doesn’t do teas anymore and the Isle of Skye Inn a further walk up, is long gone, so there was no compulsion to stick with the dazzling sun.
So we diverted right (West) when we got to the intersection with the Pennine Way and headed across the moors towards Black Moss and Swellands reservoirs and then Standedge.
We did get the ‘health giving breezes’ though.. I love clear sky and a bit of wind but it was actually a tad too biting on the tops - definitely had those cobwebs blown away!
That’s about as much of a hike write-up from me as you’ll get on this post. It being Boxing Day, we have visitors due and there’s 5 gallons of ginger wine to make a dent in.
I’m planning another couple of walks in the next week or two – helping to ‘stress test’ some soon to be published route maps for Walkers Are Welcome, so I’ll be writing those up.
And then it’s the annual Snowdon trip in early Feb which I’m looking forward to.
In the meantime – have a brilliant New Year’s eve!
I’ve been helping out on the Walkers are Welcome initiative, by surveying a little patch of England near to me, to check that all the paths, stiles, gates and access points are as they should be. I didn’t get a sheriffs badge but I did get a nice big map. And a sense of community spirit. The map I was allocated covered an area 1km by 1 km, so not huge as such but it allowed for a good inspection of the various paths and bridleways concerned .
I think there are 23 maps / squares to be surveyed and the average time to check each one and all the paths and bridleways, stiles etc is about 6 hours. As a volunteer grid checker I was given a laminated A3 map with OS squares centered on my 1km x 1km part. And using an indelible pen (naturally, this is rainy UK after all) I had to mark on any problems encountered along each path. That could include flooded areas, obstructions on a path, diverted paths, angry dogs on the loose etc. My area was pretty clear as it happens.
I went a bit gadgety of course and used my Viewranger App to mark out the paths and routes I checked for later reference. See image below for part of the route taken (other paths are marked in the central square that was ‘mine’ but just not shown in red on this viewranger snapshot).. I was still in checking mode when this snapshot was created.
Marsden is a great place to be based for walking. You get plenty of ‘hardcore’ hikers doing the Pennine Way, which glances off Marsden before heading north / south (depending on which way you do it of course), as well as casual day walkers (like me up on the hills). I think this initiative will only make the paths and rights of way crisscrossing the valley and surrounding hills even more popular, great for inward revenue for the area. I’ve noticed a lot of Marsden’s shops have W-a-W window stickers now.
And probably the same boost to local businesses in the other towns who have taken up the Walkers Are Welcome scheme.
If you’re local to Marsden or just want to know more about the specific Marsden initiative (and find some routes) have a look at the link.
Or here for an overview of the Marsden area shown on Walkers are Welcome website.
Related Books (sort of) Corner:
I think Walkers are Welcome is supported by Julia Bradbury who (coincidentally to this blog post is launching a book about Wainwright’s Walks today/tomorrow (1st Nov), good on her for supporting it. And the Wainwright book looks good. And timely…
I’ve just (yesterday) finished Simon Armitage’s book on his North to South Pennine Way trail.. good book, read it (short review there for you).
Anyway – this is a great initiative, we should all exercise our rights (or just to, you know, exercise) to walk the countryside / urban / historical areas around us and this grass-roots and community-led approach is top-notch I think.