A walk round the Swellands route will provide you with a sample of moorland walking on the Pennine Way, views across Colne Valley and a return on the Standedge Trail.
The walk starts in Marsden village centre. While not exceptionally long, it does cross moorland which can be difficult to walk on and navigate in poor weather. It also has some steep uphills to get high on the moors, so be prepared.
A full route description is available on the Marsden Walkers are Welcome website where you can also find the leaflet and a gpx file to download. The route is also well sign posted, with these way markers so look out for them as you walk.
Starting in Marsden village at the train station and head out of the village following the route to go under a road bridge and onto Fall Lane. Follow this right, to the roundabout. Cross the road here and head up Binn Lane. After the houses finish you will reach a wide track leading down the side of Butterley reservoir.
Follow this wide track as it heads gradually uphill passing another dam of Blakley Reservoir. Where you cross a cattlegrid there is a path on the right through the fence which heads downhill to eventually reach a bridge over the river.
Ahead of you the path climbs very steeply (and mostly slippy mud so take care) up to the top where you will meet another path.
Turn right here and follow the path above a deep valley. After crossing the stream help up the steps and continue to follow the path across the moors until you reach Swellands and Black Moss reservoirs. Cross the bridge and follow the path along the reservoir dam to the end. Here in summer you will find a tiny sandy beach, known locally as Marsden beach.
At the other end of the reservoir turn left and follow the paved path as it heads along the reservoir edge and then rightwards, all the way to a kissing gate, from where you will see. Pule Hill and Redbrook Reservoir.
Continue on the paved path till you cross a stream and arrive on the Standedge Trail track, a bridleway across the moors. Go straight ahead and drop down to be able to head right on the Standedge trail towards Marsden.
About 1km on you will drop down to pick up a track that will take you up to the road. Cross this and take Old Mount Rd and then turn on to the track signposted for Hades Farm. Follow this track as it heads towards Marsden and when you can see a stone barn on your right, drop down to take the path at the corner of 2 walls. This will lead you onto Old Mount Road. Follow this downhill back to Marsden and the A62.
High above Marsden lies Shooters Nab, possibly the greenest crag around this bit of West Yorkshire due to its northerly aspect. Near it is Deer Hill Reservoir, the high point of this walk.
The walk starts in Marsden village centre. A full route description is available on the Marsden Walkers are Welcome website where you can also find the leaflet and a gpx file to download.
The route is also well sign posted, with these way markers so look out for them as you walk.
The route heads up past Crow Hill house, built in 1801 and now a large wedding venue. As it continues up the hillside it heads through a field gate and follows a muddy path between fields towards Scout Farm.
Here you pass through the National Trust signed gate and head onto the moors, following the broad track which turns right and heads uphill in the direction of Shooters Nab crag. As you head uphill you cross a stone bridge over the water conduit for the reservoirs.
Turn around and admire the view across the valley!
As the track starts to flatten out it reaches crossroads near another stone bridge. Turn left here and head along this track towards the building in the distance. This is the shooting lodge. As you pass the building the track becomes tarmac as it circles the reservoir.
Along the reservoir are steps, follow these down and past a wire fence where just behind there is a series of steps to cross the wall. Turn left here and follow the wall, heading straight down past a house and continue to meet the road junction.
Cross the road and take the first left up the bridleway towards Delves Cottages turn right onto Delves Gate road. As this descends turn left up a path and then first right to follow a series of paths which bring you out on another road. Head downhill to find the first path which leads downhill on your left.
From here you arrive on the Colne Valley Circular route. Turn right here and as you come to the second set of houses there is a path that leads downhill on your left. Follow this through the fields to the A62. Cross the road and head straight on following the footpath over the river and onto the Huddersfield Canal.
Turn left and follow it all the way back to Marsden!
In the last month I’ve been working with members from East Pennine Orienteering Club to create a Marsden Virtual Orienteering course for their virtual series. Its live this week!
If you’ve never had a go at Orienteering this is a great way to try it out. From understanding the orienteering style of maps to learning how to navigate at speed and maintain the orientation of the map. The best bit is, you don’t have to be a fast runner – its all about ability to navigate accurately and come up with the best route between controls. You don’t even have to run at all, if you just want to use the courses for practicing navigation skills and techniques then just go for a walk.
So if you want to have a go, the Marsden courses – Long, Medium and Short – are all live on the website. If you don’t live nearby there’s lots of other virtual routes still live – as the courses will exist forever even after the weeks ‘race’ has ended.
Download the MaprunF app for your mobile if you want to log your time, and print out the maps. Instructions for MaprunF are on the EPOC website.
So get yourself outside and have a go!
(thanks to Richard for his help and putting up with my lack of IT skills!)
Stuck at home during the Covid-19 Lockdown I decided there had to be challenges I’d not done before right on my doorstep. Staring at an OS map it occurred to me my home in Marsden was surrounded by Trig points at some pretty good locations – and so the 6 Trigs circular was born!
The 6 Trigs Circular – 39 km /24 miles
Starting in Marsden village, the joy of this route is that it is possible to do as much or as little of it as you like. The route circles the Marsden area on mostly well marked trails with some good alternative paths to shorten the route.
The only exception to this is perhaps Black Hill – the route I took to get off the hill is the Old Pennine Way which is not very good, and I would definitely say avoid in bad weather as it would be easy to get lost.
While the route is mostly on good tracks and trails, definitely take a map if you don’t know the area well, as you could get easily caught out in poor weather.
If you want to see the route on OS Maps and download a GPX file here’s the link and here’s a zipped GPX file.
Heading from Marsden cross the A62 and take the Kirklees Way path up the Wessenden Valley. The route here takes you past Butterley, Blackley and Wessenden Reservoirs as you head up the valley on the track.
As the track passes Wessenden Lodge it narrows and become a path. From here it then winds into Sike Clough and then Layzing Clough. Just before crossing the bridge at Layzing Clough you will see a faint path in the grass that heads uphill, and as you head further uphill this becomes more worn and easier to follow. While not an official footpath you’re on access land here so able to walk on this moorland. Follow the path as it heads uphill towards the visible Ravens Rocks.
Here you need to cross the fence and continue to follow the path, which eventually becomes a worn vehicle track, towards West Nab trig pillar.
From here you can see down into Holmfirth, Huddersfield and beyond.
From West Nab trig pillar head down hill and onto Wessenden Head Road.
Watch the traffic as you follow the road, to reach the A635 Greenfield Road. Cross over here (definitely watch for speeding cars) and follow the paved Pennine Way path up to Black Hill summit.
This section is very easy to follow as its paved pretty much all the way, but as the sign says avoid this section after heavy rain as one of the rivers which you cross can be impossible if it is spate.
As you head uphill here you feel like you’re heading towards Holme Moss radio mast which is in the distant, but eventually the path steepens and leads you across the plateau to Black Hill trig pillar. Black Hill summit at 582m lies on the border of Kirklees in Yorkshire and High Peak in Derbyshire.
You can see from the height of the Trig Pillar (around a metre above the surrounding ground) there has been significant erosion of the moorland since it was erected in 1945. At the time the Pennine Way was created the route up to the summit involved wading through peat bogs, which had been stripped bare both through erosion from walkers but also pollution from the surrounding mills which had killed off vegetation.
Thanks to the construction of a paved path and moorland restoration work Black Hill is now grassy again. If you want to see the history of the landscape this is a great article.
From the summit of Black Hill head Northwest on a small worn grass path, which eventually becomes more visible as it wanders down the hill. The is the old Pennine Way path – if you’re not confident with a compass I would double back the way you came from the summit trig.
The path reaches the flattening plateau and around the spot height marked on the map as 506m (but frankly, good luck to you if you can ascertain the spot on the landscape) it crosses a few river beds and then totally vanishes. In poor weather you would have to have a compass, experience and faith. In good visibility you can just about make out wooden posts which guide the way across the moorland.
There’s a new fence line to cross just after the most northerly of the fords at Dean Head Moss. From here keep following the posts and/or compass to eventually pick up the end of the old fence line which is marked on the map. From here follow the path (black dotted line on the map not the green right of way which isn’t on the ground) to reach the road. Phew, thats your only actual trick navigation section!
Here cross back over the A635 and head left along the road to continue to the small car park to follow the path (thankfully paved).
To reach the third trig on this route requires an out-and-back dog leg, which perhaps lends itself to being cut from the route for anyone wishing to shorten it.
Looking at the map it would seem like the route is a wander across a pathless moorland to reach the Broadstone Hill trig pillar. However, as anyone in the South Pennines knows, if you see a perfectly straight waterway marked on a map it’s an old waterway conduit and as such is highly likely to have a path running alongside it. As it happens this one does and is well worn thanks to it being used by the gamekeepers to access the grouse butts nearby.
The start of the conduit is picked up at a point where there is a wooden sign.
From here it is 3 km to reach the trig pillar. When you get to where the conduit starts to head down hill there is a sheep fold marking where the path turns off to reach the trig itself. See, you’re never the first person to think a route to a trig pillar is possible.
From here you can see across Saddleworth and into Manchester.
As I turned around to head back along the conduit it started to drizzle. Not proper rain but just enough to make my run along the route feel like it was perhaps not going to be completed. As I reached the paved path again I was wondering if it was sensible to bail off when I reached the Standedge trail path.
Once back on the paved path I headed north towards Black Moss Reservoir and towards Marsden, joining up with the Pennine Way path again just after the reservoir.
On reaching the Standedge Trail I convinced myself I could at least do one more trig point and perhaps bail off later on, so continued on towards the A62 at Standedge. This is another point on the route to watch out for traffic.
Here you continue along the Pennine Way to reach the Millstone Edge trig pillar overlooking Castleshaw and Delph.
The route here is rocky as it passes the Dinner Stone and continues on. When you reach the stone way marker continue on the Pennine Way, across the moors towards Haigh Gutter.
Once at Haigh Gutter it’s possible to drop down the path into Marsden if you wish to cut the route short.
At this point there’s another out-and-back leg to reach the White Hill Trig point, just outside of Yorkshire in Lancashire. Crossing the A640 continue to follow the Pennine Way for 1.5km to reach the trig pillar.
Once you’ve doubled back to the A640 there’s no other way to reach Cupwith without a long slog along the road. By this point of running the route I was trotting rather than running and grateful for little traffic. This isn’t a super busy road but as its over the moors traffic does tend to speed along.
Unfortunately its about 3.5km along the road to reach Cupwith, passing Buckstones Edge along the way. Once you’ve passed the carpark at Buckstones the road has a better verge.
Turn off the road at the first lay-by where there is a gate and the trig is visible. From here take the worn grassy path to reach Cupwith trig pillar. Number 6!
From here the route back to Marsden is to drop down to the Kirklees Way/Colne Valley Circular path next to Cupwith reservoir. While slightly longer I’d head on the North side of the reservoir to avoid a bog where the drainage ditch on the south side ends.
From here follow the Colne Valley Circular path downhill, where it joins the old Huck Hill Lane and circles between properties to drop you on the road near Marsden station. From here you can stroll/ hobble down to one of the many pubs or cafes to refuel.
Deviations/ Escape routes
Along the route there are many options for shortening the route if you so wish. The two trigs of White Hill and Broadstone Hill for example could easily be missed out.
The Standedge Trail after Black Moss Reservoir can be used to head back downhill to the village, as can the path from Haigh Gutter and the A640.
There’s loads of fantastic paths to why not explore them all, just make sure you have a map!
Of course there’s one more….
Yes I missed a trig pillar out. The observant of you will note that very close to Marsden there is also the trig pillar of Krives just East of Deer Hill Reservoir. I opted to miss this one out knowing that is in in the middle of quite difficult to access fields and I decided didn’t qualify as it wasn’t on ‘moorland’ terrain…..
Perhaps there’s a more urban version to do, which sends me out towards Huddersfield but I suspect that might include a lot of wading in undergrowth!
I first walked the Colne Valley Circular when I moved to Kirklees 11 years ago. All I recall of that time was the mud, failing to find the route properly above Slaithwaite and more mud.
Trapped at home over Easter I decided to run the route one afternoon and figure out if it really was as bad as I remembered.
Firstly, if you’re keen to walk (or indeed run) the Colne Valley Way you absolutely must have a map. This is a route which is NOT well signposted and at various points it actually feels like you’re being prevented from progress. Persevere though, as the route has some hidden treasures along the way.
If you want a GPX of the route download this zip file.
The Colne Valley Circular is 13 miles long. I began from my home in Marsden, a perfect place to start as there’s a great selection of cafe’s and pubs to eat at when you finish.
Heading out of Marsden you walk through the derelict Crowther’s Mill and up the steep steps at Butterley Dam. If you want to know more about the history of Marsden I highly recommend a visit to the Marsden History Group webpage and Huddersfield Exposed for history of the reservoir.
From here head up the road slightly and pick up the path heading up to the farms and continue up the hillside. From here the route circles the hillside, dropping down briefly to a little bridge and back up to pass old quarries and past the Piper Stones before reaching Meltham Road.
From Meltham road the path drops down and passes another fantastic bench before it turns to cross fields and follows old lanes, passing farms and houses above Slaithwaite. Take note of the map as its not always clear when you reach farms which way the path continues to take you across the fields ahead.
There’s some fantastic benches along the route, and my favourite is the one closest to my house with possibly the best view of Marsden.
As it reaches Varley Road at Slaithwaite you also reach possibly the muddiest section of the route, at Kitchen Clough. Here the route drops down below the road and heads into the first field on your left. You’ll never spot the hidden stile here, and the sign ahead makes it look like you should go ahead. Don’t – you really do have to head left and into the boggy field. Yes the broken fence is the exit from the bog to cross the river. Good luck.
From here stick to the right side of the field as you’re heading for the house above to exit the field and onto the road. Its again not obvious.
Continue across fields, passing Heywoods Farm and on towards Linthwaite. When you reach houses make sure you turn left to head downhill towards the road.
Crossing the road you drop down the lane to the mill, through the yard (past the Bat Tower) and pick up the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to follow it towards Golcar.
The route crosses the road near the Titanic Mill, at continues along the canal before crossing it, and heading up through the woodland on an old track. Here you emerge in Golcar and head continuously uphill, passing through one of the many ginnels on the Golcar Lily ginnel trail.
At this point I confess to no longer running along the route as it is quite a steep continuous climb from the canal to the high point on the Colne Valley circular at Golcar. As you reach the end of the lanes and into the edge of Heath House Wood, I had to wonder why the route didn’t follow the steep drop down into the woodland and back up again (a nice alternative) but instead did a huge dog-leg around the top of the Clough. Perhaps I was tired in the sunshine.
Whilst it does feel like a dog-leg, it provides a good view across the valley to Golcar. Follow the path across the fields and right at the lane towards the Golcar Lily pub (a good stop for food or drink).
Following the roads you eventually drop downhill to Crimble Clough, (where the path isn’t obvious to access at the houses); drop into the Clough and back up again into the fields to Highfield Farm.
Its best to follow the road around Heath farm to access the route, which then crosses fields to head to Wilberlee.
At Wilberlee the route follows the lane downhill and round to Intake Road, before crossing through the farm and fields towards Merry Dale. Keep straight ahead along here, as its not always obvious where the route goes, especially in some of the fields.
Merry Dale is a lovely little valley; a cobbled lane takes you down into the woodland before it rises back out again on a stony track.
From the top of the track I would personally continue straight up to the road to end up near the Rose and Crown pub (another good stop), as the route across the fields towards Wham farm is not only not clear, but barred at one point by a temporary fence.
I’m inclined to think its down to the renovations at the farm to create expensive houses which has lead to the path no longer being attractive to homeowners there….
Eventually the road runs out and you pick up the path across Slaithwaite Moor. Where the path meets the Kirklees Way and heads downhill to Marsden, there’s another fantastic bench – you’ll have to go and check this one out as by that point I forgot I was taking pictures of them!
In winter the route downhill can be muddy but dries out quickly in the sun and sections have been paved in the last 10 years.
As you head downhill through the farm, you pass what I think is the only finger post which marks the CVC.
If you’ve headed out along the route I’d love to know your favourite bits and those you found a nightmare to navigate!
Ok, so I didn’t get out on a big hike this weekend – and all I really wanted when I woke up Sunday was a fantastic coffee and to play out in the snow which is still on the hills around the South Pennines.
So, with no great trek involved I headed the longest way I could manage down the valley to Slaithwaite for a coffee and lunch. Lazy I know, but just look at the views whilst I headed on the Colne Valley Way from Marsden up to Cupwith Reservoir and down Merrydale Clough into Slaithwaite centre. All in all about a 6 miles circle, heading back along the Huddersfield Canal.
The Colne Valley Way is a fantastic 13 miles walk around the top of the valley – but as much of it is on either the moors or farmland it is boggy, unless you tackle it at this time of the year when the ground is frozen. Its a great walk though with some fantastic pubs en-route and this is certainly my favourite section.
I must start by saying, my beloved bike might be the second oldest possession I have, but it hasn’t really been out for the last 15 years (if you don’t count cycling at Kielder 3 years ago). But, this weekend I decided to make friends with my bike and headed off, with Dewsbury as my goal.
Ok, Dewsbury is not a glamorous destination I’ll admit. But I knew that from the Colne Valley to the west of Huddersfield, it was possible to cycle there via the canal towpaths and the Calder Valley Greenway and so should keep me away from two barriers to me cycling – traffic and hills. And should you decide to follow this route too and perhaps doubt how far you might get – fear not. You are also following the train line so you can always catch it back, which was my initial plan (and which I wished I’d taken as I got within 1 mile of home and my legs started to seize up).
The towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal is generally accessible to bikes with only one barrier to negotiate, being just before reaching Slaithwaite.
The towpath from here crosses a few very quiet roads but otherwise is simple to follow as it meanders through Slaithwaite and skirts the centres of Linthwaite and Milnsbridge. The best bit is that in this direction the route is entirely downhill towards Huddersfield. (Note to self – that means its uphill home)
The towpath narrows as it heads towards Huddersfield, just as the navigable section of the canal seems narrower. Just before the town you pass under the Longroyd railway viaduct and then dip under Huddersfield Road. From here the surface suddenly improves, presumably due to the new Kirklees College development.
Unfortunately at this point the towpath disappears and you need to follow the pedestrian signs to reach the Huddersfield Broad Canal. However if you’re on a bike, once you have crossed the main road you might as well continue straight through the university area instead of trying to rejoin the towpath, as bikes need to come off again, as the tunnel under Wakefield Road isn’t bike friendly.
I joined the Huddersfield Broad Canal at Aspley Wharf and followed it all the way to Red Doles lane where I was looking for the Sustrans route 69 Birkby Bradley Greenway. Sustrans and Kirklees Council have done a great free map which help plan routes from Huddersfield to Dewsbury, (although some minor roads are not marked on it) but frankly the route is really well signposted so you should be ok.
The Greenway route heads through woodland and housing towards the A62 Leeds Road. At this point you need to cross the A62 to head through a small industrial estate to pick up the Calder Valley Greenway (route 69).
Follow the route to Mirfield as the path winds uphill to a surprisingly nice view across Huddersfield.
Follow the route around the hill and enjoy the long cycle downhill towards Mirfield, next to the railway and crossing the river. (note to self, again uphill coming home!)
As you emerge onto roads in Mirfield you need to stay on them, following the route signs as you head firstly along the A644 Huddersfield road and then through the back streets to reach the point where the Greenway route splits and you could pick up the Spen Valley Greenway.
The Calder Valley Greenway route eventually drops down to the A644 again. However, I had another destination in mind. Knowing there was a good pub at Savile Town wharf accessible by a nice towpath along the canal I diverted off the cycleway at this point. Here I should add that not all of this route from here to Savile Town wharf is recommended on a bike, or at least an old bike. Or at least by someone who hasn’t cycled hardly for the last 15 years. I headed over the bridge.
The towpath around the Calder Hebble Navigation is a lovely route, but not if your bike doesn’t have good shock absorbers or your bum isn’t attuned to riding such distances!
Eventually I reached the point where the Calder Hebble navigation splits and heads off either to Wakefield or for a mile or so to Savile Town Wharf.
While being essentially a deadend, this arm of the canal is very popular with men fishing, there is also some great art along the way.
I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with myself when I arrived too early for lunch at the Leggers Inn, mostly as it meant I had to carry on into Dewsbury.
Except, perhaps buzzing with adrenaline for having managed the 17 miles to Dewsbury in one piece on my first foray back into cycling – I foolishly didn’t stop and turned around and headed back along the Greenway from Dewsbury to head home. The Greenway is a considerably shorter and more bum-pleasing route to Dewsbury as I found on my return.
Whilst I did eventually stop for coffee in Mirfield, for whatever reason I decided to cycle all the way back (yes uphills as well) instead of bailing out and taking the train. As proud of myself I might now feel for managing 36 miles that day and not pushing my bike once, my bum still hurts!
I might have done this whole route nearly 7 years ago, but living in Marsden I regularly walk along bits of this route near my home. Something in the landscape never change! Looking back through these pictures has a tinge of sadness though, as my companion Dougal is no longer with me and he loved to roam the moors of the South Pennines.
Day 2 -Standedge to Hebden Bridge – 15.25 miles / 24.4km
We set off from Standedge in typical West Yorkshire mist and low cloud. This section of the Pennine Way is a nice one in good weather as you walk along the watershed of the South Pennines, first looking out over Delph and then crossing Buckstones Road you eventually reach Windy Hill radio mast and the bridge over the M62. Ok, not exactly the most picturesque bit of the route, but walking over what is the highest motorway in England its certainly interesting. (As a regular commuter on the M62 I can say it is never normally this quiet!)
From here there is yet more moorland to get to Blackstone Edge. On this day you couldn’t see down into Littleborough and Hollingworth Lake; Dougal could barely keep his ears on his head!
As you cross Blackstone Edge you also cross the old Roman Road and pass the Higgin Stone before you reach the A58 at the White House pub.
I’ve recently walked this next section a couple of times to see the new Simon Armitage poem ‘Rain’ which has been carved into the rock. Back when I walked this route though, the poem hadn’t even been thought of as a concept. Eventually you come to Warland Reservoir after which the route heads Easterly towards Stoodley Pike and views over Todmorden.
From Stoodley Pike the route drops down to the Rochdale Canal leaving you half way between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge. Dougal and I then walked into Hebden Bridge for a well earned drink and the train home.
Having embarked on the mission to finish the Pennine Way soon, I thought I’d share some old photos of the route from when I first started, back in 2006.
Day 1- Edale to Standedge – 29 miles/46.7km
Edale is a fantastic place to start a long distance trail, easy access on the train from Manchester and Sheffield and a really easy to follow route to start you off.
From following the track along the valley you eventually head up Jacobs Ladder a steep brutal ascent to get onto the Kinder Plateau. I’ve been up Kinder many times since and still haven’t seen a view from the top! In mist this isn’t the easiest area to navigate.
The route along this section has some great metal signposts by the Peak and Northern Footpath Society. This one is looking back to Kinder and the route back to Edale.
The path continues to wind across the moorland to cross the A57 Snake’s Pass and on to more relentless moorland up Devil’s Dyke – a large deep cutting in moorland top which feels like it is winding a lot before you finally reach Bleaklow Head and the descent down to Crowdon.
Living in Marsden it was too tempting to walk on and make it home so from Crowden I motivated my dad with ice-cream from the visitors centre before dragging him onwards.
The path becomes less barren as it rises up and crosses Laddows Rocks. From here much of the path is now paved to prevent erosion to the peat. Black Hill summit is a bit less barren than this now!
The paving continues down the other side from Black Hill trig point and down to meet the A635 at the top of the Wessenden Valley.
From here it was getting dark as we crossed to descend the Wessenden Valley and follow the route between Black Moss and Swellands Reservoirs to meet the A62 at Standedge.