The moorland heights of West Calderdale

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This week’s walk appreciates the expanse of the moorlands and the views they offer, whilst being incredibly simple to follow and relatively easy-going; therefore perfect for both this time of year and those new to the joys of hiking.

Beginning from Warland, between Todmorden and Littleborough on the A6033; there is a layby in which one can park [GR SD 944 201].

We began the 7.5-mile route with a climb up to meet the Pennine Way, passing a row of terraced houses along Warland Gate End to cross the canal and following the Todmorden Centenary Way. Initially a steep ascent, climbing a Tarmac lane, you then pass through a side gate at the beginning of a driveway [Calf Lee House].

Continue to ascend, bearing right towards some isolated houses, then follow the field edge onto more exposed land.

Essentially going uphill, the land is open access, therefore don’t worry should you lose the path.

That said, keep to the field edge, otherwise, like me, you’ll have to hop over a barbed wire fence in order to pass through the gate leading to the reservoir above.

Currently there is building work taking place under Warland Reservoir, but a path diversion is in place. Turn left to walk the edge of the reservoir; the Todmorden Centenary Way gives way to the Pennine Way, which is very distinct to follow having a path laid by large flagstones. It follows Warland Drain then curves to aim more directly at Stoodley Pike.

You’ll see Withens Clough Reservoir to your right, and the land descends sharply to your left.

Meeting a path junction; you could continue to reach Stoodley Pike for a longer walk; however we turned left to descend along the Calderdale Way towards Mankinholes.

Beware, this time of year, of paved paths; whilst the sunlight had melted snow and ice on the tops, here in the shade the ice rendered the pathway slippery.

At the next path junction, we turned right, climbing a stile, to keep following the Calderdale Way. You will pass 18th century horse water toughs on your right before entering Mankinholes, passing the Youth Hostel and then tuning left to pick up the Pennine Bridleway.

From this point you follow the Bridleway all the way back to the start; hence why this is such an easy route to follow.

The next settlement you reach is Lumbutts, passing a pub and descending in front of it down another steep and somewhat slippery path.

The former water wheel tower of Lumbutts Mill is still visible. The wheels were fed with water piped from three reservoirs on the land above; on turning the three wheels and re-entering the stream beneath, the power was three times as much as conventional mills.

Another fact of this cotton mill is that the owners in the 1830s, John and James Greenwood, were the only employers to admit to ‘tolerating’ corporal punishment in their mill [at the time of the review of employment conditions following the 1831 introduction of the Ten Hours Bill and the investigation by the Factories Inquiry Commission in 1833].

On meeting the road, turn right and walk along the Tarmac for about one mile until reaching the Shepherd’s Rest Country Inn.

Just before the pub, leave the road through a gate on your left, following a paved path across the field then continuing between two stone walls.

The bridleway ascends gently, you’ll see on the map ‘Blarney Castle’ marked; once a pleasure ground with swings and horse-rides; now only a field.

The bridleway is mostly paved; this is because it was once a packhorse route, before the time of railways and canals; allowing horses to traverse the boggy ground more easily.

The bridleway continues, meeting a Tarmac lane through some hillside properties, before descending then curving left to cross a footbridge at a place marked Bottomley on the map.

Descend to meet and cross the canal and follow the towpath back towards the start, noting the turreted wall of the property above.

A delightful and rewarding walk; perfect for a brisk afternoon stroll in beautiful winter sunshine.