From the Pennines to the Peaks on foot

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This week’s walk provides a perfect setting in which to lose yourself, your thoughts and concerns by being distracted by the great expanse of moorland and feeling miles from civilisation. Yet as a popular walking destination, you’ll never be far from another rambler, writes Caroline Spalding.

Beginning in Marsden, this seven mile route is a perfect warm up for a lunch on return in one of the many village eateries. You’ll need the OL21 and OL1 Explorer maps for this route. If arriving by train, [station HD7 6AX, GR SE 047 118] walk down to the village along the main street, cross the A62 continuing along Peel Street, turning left along Carrs Rd before turning right following a muddy path behind the school. Turning right between two stone walls, you pass a tiny waterfall to emerge next to what appears a newly built cottage. Keep going up, along a very muddy path, bearing right. Pass through a metal gate on your left to climb towards a stone hut where you join the Colne Valley Circular Walk route, passing over two stiles, turning right following the CVCW way-marker to descend along a Tarmac lane. Leave the track at a way-marker on right, with a white house below. The path passes this home, reaching a farm, going straight ahead through a wooden gate, descending along a clear path, meeting a road at the bottom. Turn right before left along the broad bridleway [Kirklees Way] which runs alongside the reservoir.

Butterley Reservoir Dam marks the boundary of The Peak District and the impressive spillway carries excess floodwater safely past the dam. It has been modified since its original construction [completed in 1906] and is the only spillway listed on the National Heritage List for England. One of three reservoirs fed by Wessenden Brook; its construction cost more than double the original estimate and claimed the lives of at least three of the navvies employed in the project.

The bridleway makes a gentle ascent beyond Butterley Reservoir and climbing higher above the banks of Blakeley Reservoir, on which you see newly planted oak trees in their collars.

Looking back down the valley now, it’s a beautiful blend of the natural and man-made; certainly not appearing ‘like the valley of the shadow of death, from which great clouds of smoke were being belched as if from the place of torments’ as a view towards Huddersfield is described in an 1894 edition of the Huddersfield Chronicle.

Turn right at the Pennine Way signpost to descend to cross the brook via the footbridge. It’s then a short, steep clamber up the other side of the clough and bear right. You enter the real wilderness on this stretch, part paved rendering it relatively easy underfoot. You cross Blakely Clough, one of many watercourses that traverse this hillside, and you continue upstream. Despite the elevation, you cannot see far ahead as the peaks swell around you and it could be a very lonely path; however on this bright, mild Sunday morning I was at no point alone, seeing other walkers enjoying the route. Approaching Black Moss Reservoir, the flagstone path looks newly laid, offering a beautiful array of natural stone colours to complement the surrounding landscape. You follow this past the reservoir, then bear right, where you see Pule Hill directly ahead.

Pass through a gate and a small descent takes you towards Redbrook Reservoir. Cross a small ford to meet the clear Standedge Trail. Turn right to follow the stony track back to meet and cross Butterly Clough via a footbridge, then climb to cross the road above.

Take Old Mount Road, leaving it to continue along the Standedge Trail [marked “Hades Farm”]. After almost 1km take a way-marked path on the right – “Marsden Heritage Trail” [GR SE 042 110] which descends to meet a farm. Pass through the gate, turn right, pass the house and walk down the driveway to meet the lane beneath. Turn left to return you to the A62 at the bottom and you’ll see Marsden up ahead.

A wonderful, all-year round route; one I plan to repeat on a warm, summer evening when I can finish with a good pint next to the river!