A Heritage Hike and a Roman Road – out on a @walkandridefest hike

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.

Bank Bottom Mill
Heading through Bank Bottom Mill. I’ve mentioned it before but I’d love to do some urban exploring in there..

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:

Looking down Wessenden
Looking down the Wessenden valley from heritage Trail Stone #10. Alan was pointing out some of the features we could see, including the lie of the Roman Road over on Pule Hill (over on the left of this pic, just down from the sloping ridge of the hill and describing a straight pale yellow line diagonally across the photo)
Marsden Heritage trail hiking
Anthea leading the group down off the (windy) heritage trail and to the Wessenden deer farm
Lunch break At Heritage Stone #11
Lunch break At Heritage Stone #11 .. and the British Waterways mast .. used I believe to relay water level readings from the buoys on each reservoir in the valley.
Happy Brodie dog
We had another short break just before Black Moss reservoir. Brodie couldn’t believe her luck, I normally walk straight through this section, lovely though it is. But she had a second chance to nosh some of my sandwiches.
Group chat on Walk and Ride Festival hike
Anthea talking through fundraising and the work of The National Trust before we headed off towards Black Moss and Swellands reservoirs
Pule Hill climb
From Black Moss reservoir we picked up part of the Pennine Way and then headed across towards the base of Pule Hill. Rather than head up to the top (that path in the background) we diverted over to the right and back towards Marsden.. and to the partly exposed part of an old road, with the Roman Road itself a few feet beneath that.
I’ve walked near this section a few times and had no idea the Roman Road was there. I’m really captivated by the thought of soldiers (often from sunnier climes!) traversing this frequently dreicht, inclement area, before it was the village of Marsden. And of the Brigante tribes people also living in these parts before and during the Roman occupation.
Roman Road on Pule Hill
And now.. drum roll.. The Roman Road. Okay, it’s a rubbish photo. More to do with the fact we headed off sharpish after a quick chat and I didn’t want to tarry. And also there’s only a small area exposed. The actual section of road (2 layers), from a different angle is clearly discernible and I think was better exposed a few years back before the heather / grass / moss grew back over it.
I’m going to have a more in-depth look here soonish as part of a Roman Road walk I’m planning from Marsden across to Castleshaw Fort.
Heritage Trail Stone #15
Heritage Trail Stone #15 .. looking down to Bank Bottom Mill.
From the side of Pule Hill and the Roman Road we headed off downhill then on to the footpath towards the wonderfully named Hades Farm. And joined up with Heritage Stone #15, which I haven’t actually seen before. It’s another ‘mysterious’ Heritage Stone added to my collection. Although I didn’t get time to checkin on Foursquare there (I’ve been adding them into cybersocialspace whenever I see one). That’ll wait for another day.
Great views across the valley from here and I think you can literally see my house from here..

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.

12 thoughts on “A Heritage Hike and a Roman Road – out on a @walkandridefest hike”

    • I totally agree Chrissie, I’ve engaged more with history through standing in a field / on a hill and seeing the armies or village folk move through the area in my mind’s eye.. and things like Time Team helped a bit there too actually 🙂

    • I totally agree Chrissie, I’ve engaged more with history through standing in a field / on a hill and seeing the armies or village folk move through the area in my mind’s eye.. and things like Time Team helped a bit there too actually 🙂


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