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.”
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 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:
Mountain runner friend Steve asked me on Friday night if I fancied doing the Marsden 10 mile challenge on the Sunday. I took a sip of my Guiness and asked “running?”. “No, there’s a walking part to it, two groups”.. phew. As it turned out it there were about 10 runners and 50 or so walkers/hikers and the entrance fee on the day when Brodie Dog and I turned up was £12. Money well spent as the main charity was the Laura Crane Trust. Which looks to be a great cause.
There are a couple of particular charities I support but this was a local event, I needed to stretch my legs for sure and .. it’s a great cause. Why wouldn’t I take part?
Well, other than the stress of trying to finish a load of work on a Sunday for my fledgling freelance/consultant business.
But (and one of the reasons for this post) .. it was a reminder for me about making time to clear your head and get some exercise. No point working all hours if you (by that I mean me) keel over prematurely due to pesky high blood pressure. And getting out of the house for those 3 hours (in semi sunshine – yay) gave me some objective thinking time and a clearer head to finish some work I had been staring at for a while before hand.
Anyway, the course itself took in mostly moors / farmland (see pics below of one well-wisher) but also some road. A nice mix although the motorbikes roaring up and down the Wessenden Head Road were not the dog’s cup of tea.
I know one side of the course really well (The Wessenden Valley side) but I don’t think I’ve ever gone around the other side of the course so that was good, seeing a new part of the area.
I’d noticed when we registered that the average time to complete for walkers was just over three and half hours. So I set myself the goal of keeping some sort of pace up and beating that time. Which I did with a finish time of three hours and five minutes.
It wasn’t a race (though the running part was I guess?) but it was good to push myself. We still had time to take some quick photos and even have a snack break (Dog insisted).
Some photos from the day: