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’.
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.
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)