Alpine plant above Wessenden, Marsden Moor

Wandering above Wessenden

I’ve walked up, down and around the Wessenden Valley countless times now (as witnessed by a quick search on this blog: but still only have a sketchy idea of its history, which was borne out at the weekend..

I was wandering up on the Heritage Trail from Holme Moor across to Binn Moor and then on up to Wessenden Head. Dog and I both had our heads down in a strong wind for the first hour or so – but I spent some time looking at the little alpine plants to be found on the moors and also at a couple of the waterfalls we walked past.

Alpine plant above Wessenden, Marsden Moor

Waterfall above Wessenden reservoir Marsden photo by

At one point went off track and headed on to the tops, kind of making a beeline for West Nab, before coming back down to the heritage trail for a snack stop.

Dog Wessenden valley Marsden
Brodie looking down the valley until she spies my sandwich..

And sitting down to look at the views made me realise that I hadn’t really stopped to look down to the valley itself. I’d been in micro not macro view mode. I’m getting complacent it seems with what is actually a really engaging vista, with the reservoirs daisy-chained along Wessenden Brook below you. What caught my eye was how empty they are just now; in preparation I think for the exploratory engineering works happening at the lowest (nearest to the village) reservoir, Butterley.

View down Wessenden valley near heritage Stone and Transmitter
Looking down the Wessenden Valley. Actually taken a couple of weeks before this walk when I was out with the National Trust. But in my ‘micro view’ mode I took more of alpine plants than valley views this time!

You can see a lot more of the expose structure of the reservoirs just now and I was musing on what an enormous engineering feat they represented.

My understanding of it all is sketchy as I say but kind of like History Tourette’s, I was proffering facts to the wind (and the dog) : “1870s. Or 1890s. Probably both. Dedicated railway. Explosions. Navvies. Spillway. Hester’s retreat.”

So when I got home I checked my ‘facts’ and they were sort of right. But rather than provide a fuller and accurate account of the real history of the Wessenden valley here, I recommend that if you’re interested that you look at the Marsden History group site.

There’s also more info about Butterley (the reservoir nearest the village) and the valley in general, on a site dedicated to saving the historic Butterley Spillway from proposed engineering / replacement work : Save Butterley Spillway.

1 thought on “Wandering above Wessenden”

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.