The South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival has been going on for the last few days but what with work, the Yorkshire 3 Peaks and the Mikron Theatre boatathon I haven’t been able to get to anything until this event.
On Saturday I joined some other walkers for the ‘Marsden Moor Heritage Trail South’ hike. And very conveniently for Brodie Dog and I, it started in, well, Marsden. And it would shed some light, I hoped, on the history of a trail I’ve walked a few times but not really genned up on, in terms of the history of the area and why certain water-catches or paths etc are where they are. I like a bit of context so this looked like a great walk to join.
The bonus, it turned out, was that apart from great weather, which is always a bonus in Marsden, we would be shown the route of a Roman Road (and what remains of it) close to where I’ve walked loads of times.
Anyway, back to the walk. It started at 10 from Marsden train station and the walk leader was a lady called Anthea from The National Trust.
[Actually - slipping into social media mode for a sec : Marsden Moor twitter account hasn't been profiling the events at all , even the one featuring one of their own folk , what gives? Seems a shame not to cross-promote stuff.]
Anthea was joined by Alan (I think that’s right..) who is a local historian and also involved in the Castleshaw (just over the border in that there Lancashire) Roman Fort group. Between them both they had lots of facts and figures about the industrial (and pre-industrial) history of the moors area and were really happy to share what they knew. There were about fifteen or so of us on the walk, nineteen if I include the four-legged attendees. Although I only got to chat to a couple of people, they were a nice bunch and the dogs were all in sociable mood too. Brodie spent a lot of the walk making eyes at a big Collie called Ben, he was more interested in playing fetch with his frisbee though, ah well.
One lady I got chatting to had black water rafted in New Zealand, done mountain hikes there too and all (I think) since she retired, an interesting lady to chat to.
The walk itself: we headed out of Marsden via Bank Bottom Mill and up the reservoir steps to get to the base of Wessenden and then walked up to join the heritage path above the valley.
The rest of the day described a route up to the deer farm at Wessenden then across to the Pennine Way and back round to the base of Pule Hill, where part of the Roman Road intersects. I’ll let the photo captions describe the (roughly) 5 hour walk:
I learnt quite a lot on this hike (including things about the Turnpike Road/s which I won’t go into just now) and if I’d had time would have done some more walks during the festival. One mystery remains though, why the Heritage Trail stones are placed specifically where they are and numbered in the sequence they are. Seems the thinking behind landscape constructions from Blind Jack of Knaresborough (he of turnpike road fame) and The Roman Army (both covered here) is easier to discern
But the ‘discovery’ (as in new to me) of the Roman Road, along with great weather and a nice bunch of people, made it a great jaunt out, thanks Pennine Prospects / Walk and Ride festival.
- Hiking A Roman Road In England (gadling.com)
I’ve had a couple of trips away of late, so this weekend I was determined to get out and get moving in prep for the upcoming Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge I’m doing (raising money for homeless charity Simon On The Streets). Saturday looked like the best day so that was the plan. A ‘proper’ walk, come what may. What I hadn’t planned for though, was just how long the (excellent) Olympics opening ceremony would go on for.. and how heavy the red wine I was drinking would be. Oops.
Saturday was therefore a bit of a slow start. And my reluctance to get up the hills wasn’t helped by the rain that started just as I was getting Brodie’s harness on. Anyway – rain,schmain – off we went, though neither of us in particularly high spirits!
I had planned (in my head) a route that would start out from the back of the garden (always a good place to start) and go straight up the hill to the catch-water near Shooters Nab above Marsden. The climb felt a bit hard this time (first time for a long time actually). I was a bit dehydrated and I was cursing myself for not drinking more water before I set off. There was approximately 10 miles ahead of us so I stopped to swig some water rather than start with a headache.
The route described a southerly, then west to north-westerly loop up above the Wessenden valley on the heritage trail and then joining the Pennine Way near the Deer Farm and heading over the moors between Swellands and Black Moss reservoirs towards the Oldham Way / Pennine Way.
The part between the Deer Farm and Swellands Res is one of my favourite parts of the moors whether rain, snow or (occasional!) blue sky. Walking down the little steep sided valley to the river (Wessenden Brook) and the wooden bridge, past the waterfall and then up the steepish hill to the phone mast (and Heritage Stone number X (can’t remember which one that is.. 11?)) is a nice little section and gets your heart going.. more so with a dog pulling you downhill sniffing out sheep and rabbits (every time).
We stopped for a quick lunch of cheese sandwich just after Black Moss res (Brodie being a bit partial to cheddar) before heading over the A62 and on to the impressive cliffs looking over Castleshaw reservoirs. I could have spent ages here poking around the interesting shapes of the rocks but would have had a bored dog to contend with.
I shot a short video near the Oldham Way / Pennine Way Cairn – Warning : terrible sound quality due to the incessant winds ..
We then headed a bit further north before turning east / south east, down Willykay Clough and down to Eastergate and the final tramp back into Marsden.
So about 10 or 11 miles in all and I had reckoned about 4.5 / 5 hours to complete. Which it turned out to be.
And after that first shower we had patchy blue skies but (very) strong winds to contend with over the first 3 or 4 hours or so (it got a bit wearing actually).
I’m glad I got out despite the initial reluctance and a few more 5+ hour walks to get fit for the 3 peaks are on the cards
If you enjoyed this post and admire my grit in fighting a mild hangover,
why not sponsor me for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks:
This is the second time I’ve walked to my dad’s house, about 13.5 miles over the moors. This time Brodie Dog and I were joined by my sons Joe and Ronan. They’re the other two men in the post blog title. Actual men, both being over 18. Which is alarming as I can remember carrying them both in backpacks and it really (really) doesn’t seem that long ago.
So, 3 men rather than the usual one Man And His Dog. Which made for a more conversational hike (The Dog is pretty monosyllabic unless there’s food on offer). And it was great making the journey to my Dad’s with my two sons.
The original trip (the solo version) blog post can be found here .. just to give you some additional perspective on the walk. As with that walk, the return leg was to be by car, with my dad kindly ferrying us home afterwards from his house. I think in the post about the first Stoodley Pike hike, I was musing about the Roman road I (nearly) intersected at one stage. I’m glad to say that this time we actually ‘found’ it and a short section of the walk included walking downhill on its surprisingly intact cobbles. More of that later.
Here’s a map of the route – zoomed out to fit it all in and what you don’t get so much from this is that it’s pretty much moors the whole way. Although the light brown shading does hint at it of course. Maps are good like that. So, lots of moorland but you’re not in the wilderness as such – this walk traverses lots of the built environment. From roads (and motorways) to reservoirs and pylons. Which means that it isn’t the prettiest of walks in places but it is an interesting one, reminding you just how industrious a species we are.
The hike started at around 8.20 on Easter Saturday, under fairly leaden skies but the forecast promised nothing more than a light shower, so we were hoping for just that.
We walked through Marsden up to the old Pack Horse bridge (Eastergate) so we could track across the bridleway to intersect with the Pennine way as it meets the A640.
Those folk who walk the long distance trail of the Pennine Way would have probably walked across from Standedge (west of where we started) to get to this junction but that would have added a bit more time onto our hike.
And the section across the moors from Eastergate (starting near the Hey Green hotel), to the Pennine Way at the A640, is a nice expanse of moorland.
It got a bit difficult in a couple of places actually, as the 12 hours of winter we had a week or so ago had dumped a lot of snow and had obscured the track, such that we waded through a foot or so of snow on some of the path’s gullies.
I’ll describe the rest of the hike with photos, all taken on my camera-phone so not the best quality – but hopefully you get a sense of the areas we went through.
The first stretch was (as above) a mix of saturated path and the remnants of snow drifts up past the March Haigh area of Marsden Moor. From here we crossed the A640 and joined the Pennine Way and we were lost in conversation and banter, so we were soon at the trig point up at White Hill. There were lots of ground nesting (it looked like) birds taking flight and getting quite shouty as we walked past, I’m guessing that was to distract us from where their nests were?
Something we discussed was that our collective knowledge (and mine should be the better, as the Good Parent) of the fauna and flora on the moors is pretty sketchy. Something I need to rectify I think.
After White Hill comes the huge satellite pylons above the M62 before you cross the high footbridge that spans the M62 – heading for Blackstone Edge.
Before we crossed the bridge we stopped to watch a helicopter sweep over (what you don’t see in this video is the M62 hidden in the steep valley below):
This bridge isn’t really one for those with a bit of vertigo. I did feel a bit weird halfway across.. probably because of the drone / constant white noise of the (always) heavy traffic below and the fact you are so high up.
After the motorway crossing you’re back into moors territory and after a short climb, amongst the rocky outcrops of Blackstone Edge. It was noticeably colder and windier at this stage, so we went down into the Blackstone ‘cliffs’ to take shelter for lunch. The cliff formation is pretty impressive., even more so with some minor snowdrifts picking out the rocks.
After refuelling, I had the urge to make a little arty (as in, a homage to Anthony Goldsworthy) ‘intervention’ .. which is a grand way of saying a quick nature doodle. And nothing like his work really. But I’ve always made little sculptures or doodles on trips out. I’ll sometimes make rock balances or circular formations based on any natural materials to hand. Don’t know why, just something I like to do for any one coming upon it later on.
This was a simple circle that had some of the peat and fresh snow sat in a natural circular depression in one of the huge rock boulders.
We then picked our way across Blackstone Edge and down to the Aiggin Stone .. a medieval way-marker. And right next to what is reputedly a Roman road. I say reputedly, as various websites dispute this (and a couple of people I know). The cobbles and central channel are (I think) classic Roman road design but there is a school of thought that says this is also a medieval construction. I’m going with Roman.. I was enjoying the ‘in their footsteps ‘ vibe as we walked down hill on the short section that takes you onto the Pennine Way again.
From here it was downhill to join the A58 and the White House Inn, which you skirt around the front of, to get to Blackstone Edge reservoir. This Res is then the first of a series of waters you walk alongside (still on the Pennine Way), the last being Warland reservoir. It was just before there (if I remember the location correctly) that we came across a more permanent artwork on the rocks: Simon Armitage has created a series of poem carvings (carved by someone else) between Marsden and (I think) Ilkley, themed around Water and its role on the moors.
I keep meaning to walk up Pule Hill (which is local to me) to see the poem carved there. Now I’ve seen the Warland’s ‘rain’ poem in situ, I’ll have to plan a walk (or series of walks) to see the full set. Ever the collector.
Some more information about it is here. I’ve read some feedback that claims this project actually spoils the natural landscape. My view is that there’s nothing ‘natural’ about reservoirs or quarries, interesting ‘naturalised ‘ features though they are. And I like much of his work that I’ve read over the years, so its okay by me. But it does raise questions about who decides what art is public and to a degree enforced and who has the right to alter features without a general public vote or consensus.
Warlands reservoir has some other carved stone work at one end , but this is from the 1920′s and I think was to proclaim that this was built for Rochdale Council Water Works.
From the northern end of Warlands Res you then head north-east and follow what is now a really well flagged part of the Pennine Way. I remember parts of this section being quite boggy before so some of the stones must have been laid fairly recently. We could see the Pike from here and we were all pretty tired at that stage. In fact we had a final snack break (Jelly Babies and a slug of water for me!) before the final push.
Brodie had slowed down a bit by now – I’ve noticed she’s getting a bit slower on these longer walks.. still giddy when we start out but definitely slowing down he longer we go on. She’s about 10 now so hitting late middle age maybe, shame to see it but who am I to talk, I had aches and twinges most of the way
There isn’t much in the way of climbs involved on the route but it is a bit of a slog between the Blackstone Edge and the Coldwell Hill section. The Pike is just above my dad’s house and we were all thinking of a drink and sit down at the end.
The views just before the Pike (near East Scout) are great (the Pike is over to the right):
Anyway (nearly there!), we got to the Pike and could see my Dad’s house – part of an old isolation hospital complex, now converted to houses.
So down we went, for (as it turned out) a really welcome bowl of beef stew and beers (for those ‘boy’s of mine) and a coffee for their old man who wanted to stay awake enough to keep his old man company on the drive back to our house. So, not the most picturesque trail in parts but the industrial heritage thing makes it an interesting one. And the moors sections are great.
- Three men and a dog in a North Pennine bothy (backpackingbongos.wordpress.com)
Suggested by the Zemanta plug-in but I had just read this post (And didn’t steal the title, I’d already written mine). It’s a great post and the photos are excellent.
I need to get out and do an overnight with Brodie.. just to get her doggie pyjamas if for no other reason
- The 50 Best walking holidays (independent.co.uk)
As I out was on a walk on Sunday, taking some photos (below) and musing over why Pule Hill is the shape it is, I felt a bit like the guy from Close Encounters – focusing on his mashed potato mountain. The ‘mountain’ in this case was said hill, I’m not sure what classification of hill it is (I’d need to check the exact height) but mountain it certainly isn’t. I’m not obsessed by it as such but I kept it pretty much in sight for the whole of the walk and used it as pivot to base an improvised route around.
Anyway, back to the walk. After a couple of (really nice) busy weekends / trips away, I’ve missed the hills and giving the dog a long trip out. I’ve also been really conscious that I’m heading up to Rum in a few weeks time and I need to be a LOT fitter for that.. so I headed out on sunday for a leg stretch. I vaguely planned to end up Pule Hill and see Simon Armitage’s sculpture / poem , which I only found out about recently.
That said : I only had about 3 hours spare – the afternoon held a pre-arranged trip over to my dad’s (but I’m going to do the 5 – 6 walk along parts of the Pennine Way to his place again soon) so doing a decent walk and getting up to the top was a bit ambitious, particularly as I started by heading in the opposite direction.
I started out heading out of the house, up the footpath behind us and as mentioned, in the opposite direction to Pule, as that’s the easiest way to gain height for me.. up toward (but not as far as) Deer Hill reservoir to meet the catchwater path there:
The path was strewn in places with loads of spawn : not sure if it was Frog, Toad, Newt , Moors Dragon – any eagle eyed blog readers know?
We followed the path as it turned into the Heritage Trail, round to waymarker stone ‘number 9′. I still don’t have a definitive list or map to explain why these stones are in the specific positions they are. They seem to denote particular views (or historic events?) but I can’t find any info online or in leaflets that explains the spacing or location of them. Number 9 gives a great view over Butterley res across to Pule Hill though:
From here we headed south along the heritage Trail before we took the short and steep path down hill on our right to the Deer farm at Wessenden Lodge. The deer looked lovely in the sunshine, albeit in a fenced off space.
There was a short section walking back towards Marsden down the valley before we cut down a steep path on the left, which is the Pennine Way and then onto the paved section across the moors toward Swellands and Black Moss Reservoirs. This was pretty much the only part of the walk where we couldn’t see Pule Hill (had the mothership landed?! Quick! I had to get it back in view!! .. enough of the Close Encounters nonsense, sorry).
It was really tranquil on this section, the sun was out and thoughts of work/money worries (for another time) disappeared.. open spaces, wide skies and spring warmth kind of quieten the mind. Even the dog wasn’t pulling , less rabbit or hare scents maybe and certainly no sheep to feel compelled to chase (which is why she’s always on a harness and lead up there).
I grabbed some short ‘footage ‘ of the space up near Swellands.. gives you a feel for the area if you’ve never been there (the audio was poor so I added some music with Youtube’s new instant soundtrack thingy .. ever the geek):
We cut around Swellands res and past another reservoir – Redbrook. Keeping that to my left I picked up a really faint track away from the well-worn path that seemed to aim straight to the bottom (south-facing) side of Pule. It got a little bit boggy in parts but we got to the base of Pule (and Mount Road) at which point I decided not to head up it but to complete the trip downhill and home.
I was running out of time, so the poetry stone and a general mooch around the top up there will have to wait.
Turns out I wasn’t the only hiking blogger using Pule as a waymarker or pivot this weekend – have a read of Paul’s Walking blog.
We seemed to have circumnavigated oposote sides of Pule in circular walks .. doing a figure of eight and possibly at the same time.
- Keep Our Rights of Way Open (stravaigerjohn.wordpress.com)
I had a walk out this morning with my son Joe as we both wanted to blow away the cobwebs. Him from being stuck indoors a lot finishing his 3rd year dissertation and me from having overstretched myself in the present buying and wrapping stakes (amazing how tiring that can be). And I fancied I should build up some credit in the health bank before I eat my body weight in turkey and chocolate in the next couple of days of course
It wasn’t much of long walk really and certainly didn’t really trip into ‘hike’ mode (e.g no mountains or wilderness and only about three and half hours in all) but it was really nice. Firstly for the company : having a geologist with you makes for interesting conversation (fracking, who knew, obviously not me.) .. and he’s a great conversationalist about anything from music to quantum mechanics. I know I’m biased but if I do a long trek (vague thoughts for Nepal at some stage) or another road trip (like we did in Iceland a couple of years ago), Joe would be on my list for trek buddy. And he should be on yours. Professional trek buddy , is there such a thing ? He’s looking for work from summer onwards, hire him. I’ll pay the outward travel fees, contact me.
By the way , we got talking about the what and the how of ‘a good walk’ and I mentioned a book I read recently that I’m passing to him. If you like your walks and hikes (and guessing you do if you’re here) then get hold of Geoff Nicholson‘s ‘The lost art of walking‘, its a personal and historical essay on what it means to be a walker (remote, rural or city based).
Oh – just googled to get a link whilst typing this and Geoff has a blog about walking in hollywood area .. it looks great, some holiday reading for me I think (http://hollywoodwalker.blogspot.com/)
It was also a nice walk because despite some rain and a lack of blue sky, it took in some great views back down the valley to our village. And also involved some deer spotting (not hard as they are enclosed in a deer farm) and some Ram avoidance (the horns on the biggest were really impressive). And we had a good chat with the ladies in the road side mobile cafe at the top of the valley. (So the health credit thing didn’t really work out – it was a bacon sandwich for me).
The route we took was straight up the Wesenden valley along some reservoirs .. and straight down again, nothing complicated but still really nice to spend time with my son and chew the fat (and the sandwiches).
happy Christmas / holidays to you
Some photos (bit blurry I know) from the walk
- A snowy hike .. nearly (nearly) the Black Hill circular (halfwayhike.wordpress.com)