Tackling the Kirklees Way

The Kirklees Way circles the borough providing a 73 mile/ 118km challenge which takes in some of the areas rugged trails and industrial scenery, along with plenty of farmland, moorland and woodlands.

I undertook this route over three days, but 4-6 days is more realistic.

I should add that like many named routes in the area, the Kirklees Way might be a marked trail on the map, but a lot of the route isn’t well signposted and can be quite overgrown (especially at the height of summer). Some of the stiles and gates are also in poor condition. Map reading is definitely required!

Scholes to Marsden – 24.5 miles / 39.3km

This first section surprisingly turned out to be a tour of woodland and golf courses (it crosses 4!) as the route heads anticlockwise around the District.

Scholes is a good place to start – a nice village which is well connected and crucially allows for a nice downhill start to the route. Leaving the village it crosses farmland and then the Willow Valley Golf Club before heading over the M62, another feature of this section of the route.

From here it heads downhill through fields and tracks to Hartshead and Cooper Bridge roundabout on the A62.

Here it’s easy to miss that the route heads down the side of the petrol station where it follows a track and then heads uphill into Bradley. From here it crosses through Bradley Park Golf Club and heads uphill to run alongside the M62.

There is a lot of really amazing woodland on this section of the route and worth exploring in their own right.

Typical of the quality of signs!

From here it continues through various woodlands heading to Fixby. Here it crosses through Huddersfield Golf Club before dropping downhill to cut through more woodland and houses to reach Ainley Top, back near the M62.

From Ainley Top it cuts through a new housing estate before cutting under the motorway and following it to reach junction 23 at Lindley. Here it drops down to Longwood Brook before crossing Outlane Golf Club and up through Nettleton woods to wind around Wholestone Moor radio masts.

At this point I was definitely tired from all the ups and getting up Nettleton is definitely a long slog!

Here the route enters moorland as it dips down to Scammonden Reservoir before climbing back out to drop down to Marsden. An annoying extra climb at the end of a long day!

Marsden to Flockton – 29miles/ 46.6km

This section of the route provides a great contrast – from the rugged bleak moorland of the Colne and Holme Valleys, with countless reservoirs to reach Shepley where the terrain becomes farm fields and tracks.

Heading out of Marsden the Kirklees Way heads up the Wessenden Valley all the way until the track meets Greenfield Rd. It then crosses the road and heads on paths and tracks down to Digley Reservoir. Its a valley I know well so I didn’t have to think too much on this section of the route, as it leave the Colne Valley and heads in to the Holme Valley.

From Digley reservoir the route heads across the fields to Holme and then drops down through the woods to Ramsden Reservoir. Here it crosses the dam and heads uphill through the woods on wide worn tracks to White Gate Road before taking more tracks to drop down through the woods to yet another reservoir.

A theme develops here, as the route climbs up the hill on tracks to reach Hades Edge before dropping into another wooded river valley to head towards Hepworth village. This was possibly my favourite woodland but also the only one where I found myself questioning if I had wandered off the path as I found myself stood in the river.

From Hepworth there is one last river valley before the route steeply climbs uphill on a road and then tracks to reach Dick Edge Lane. Thankfully the views are worth the sweating uphill.

Eventually its possible to see Emley Moor mast which is more or less in the direction of Flockton. From here the route heads in to Shepley, after which the terrain turns into farm fields and tracks as it heads to Denby Dale.

From Denby Dale there is an annoying loop which adds a hill up to Pool Hill trig point before the route drops down to skirt Scissett to head to Clayton West. If you look at the map its easy to question why this little diversion exists when the route drops down to be around 1km from where it headed uphill.

Here the route heads up and down through farm fields as it circles Emley and arrives at Flockton.

Flockton to Scholes – 20 miles/ 32km

This is definitely the most urban part of the whole route, and as such don’t expect it to be that well signposted. In fact there’s plenty of sections its easy to get lost without a map and a lot of judgement! While some of the areas along this route aren’t particularly desirable, there’s also some hidden gems.

I left Flockton knowing that this might be shorter than the previous legs, but it was going to be challenging nonetheless. From experience I know that footpaths through urban areas can often be badly maintained, lack use and be quite obscure. What hadn’t occurred to me was that at the height of summer I was about to encounter a jungle of nettles and overgrown footpaths that would leave me wishing I had a machete!

The route leaves Flockton and heads through farm fields towards Thornhill Edge. My first encounter with poor footpaths was largely down to meeting two frisky horses which left me jumping a river and having to carefully climb a barbed wire fence. That sort of set a theme for the day.

The route across Thornhill Edge was a nice traverse of the hillside around the estate and provides good views across the fields.

After winding through housing in Thornhill Edge the route cuts through a park and follows tracks to reach the Calder and Hebble Navigation. Pay attention here as the Wakefield Way is better signposted along this section and its easy to end up heading the wrong direction. The Kirklees Way heads under the railway and through a factory. I really had to double check the map along here as it doesn’t seem right as you head straight through the factory yard, particularly with the security gate.

As the route continues on I joins with the Spen Valley Greenway – a well surfaced cycle route. Here I confess to missing a turning and the dog leg but instead continued on to run under the road through the long dark tunnel of the cycle way.

As the path circles around the edge of Dewsbury, it crosses well managed woodland which as the path climbs upwards provides a great view across the town.

Here the route drops down to another factory and crosses through housing in Batley to head along farm tracks to join with the Leeds Country Way. This runs through the woodland on the edge of the town, before heading up the road to cut through houses to end up near the big retail park at Junction 27. Here the route is quite industrial and thankfully quickly crosses under the M62 to head through farmland.

The farmland here is notably less picturesque and many of the access points are difficult to access and one was completely buried in the hedge and required me climbing the adjoining wall.

Eventually it heads towards the M606 through nicer farmland, and towards the village of Oakenshaw and returns to Scholes via easy tracks and roads.

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