Walk: Saddleworth Moor, West Yorkshire
Enjoy this inspiring seven-mile walk across England’s great watershed, the Pennine Divide, linking the villages of Marsden and Uppermill via boat-horse trails
Saddleworth incorporates high moors, gritstone edges and a string of weaving hamlets.
Starting in Yorkshire, this walk links the Colne and Tame valleys, typical South Pennine countryside with distinctive architecture and robust history. Local trains make this linear walk between white and red rose camps a real pleasure.
1. Out of town
Leave Marsden station, cross the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and go down Station Road. Fork right along Church Lane and wind via Towngate to the A62. Cross into Old Mount Road and ascend this, the original turnpike road across the moors, surveyed in the 1760s by the pioneering road builder, Blind Jack of Knaresborough.
In around 700m turn right on a waymarked, fenced footpath beside Nethergate House, past an old barn into the National Trust’s Marsden Moor estate. Bear left along the moorland track; at the junction keep ahead to Mount Road. This area is a regular filming location for Last of the Summer Wine.
2. Reservoir ramble
Cross diagonally on to the thin, waymarked path, then use the plank bridge and climb to the grassy track, another old turnpike. Remain with it, above Redbrook Reservoir, and join the Pennine Way, shortly leaving Yorkshire. Follow it to a car park beside the A62.
Use the path beside the reservoir and turn left on the Pennine Bridlewayto a ruined house; bear right past this, downhill to a farm. Turn half-right along Boat Lane, the route that barge horses took across the hills while the canal boats were legged through the 3 mile-long, towpath-less Standedge Tunnel, more than 183m (600ft) below. This emerges at the Diggle Hotel. To your right are the portals of three railway tunnels; the canal portal is near the phone box.
3. To the tomb
Walk straight ahead down Kiln Green and rise to a junction with Ward Lane. Keep left; in 200m turn left on the Oldham Way, a walled rough track rising to a lane.
Turn left to use a ladder stile on the right in 50m; pass left of the gully, cross brooks and keep just below the house’s retaining wall to a stile and level grassy path ending at a gate into a tarred lane. Turn right through the yard of Clerk’s Cottage and drop to the atmospheric, soot-darkened St Chad’s Church at Pob Green. In the graveyard is the Bill o’ Jack’s tomb, a fascinating memorial to victims of a grisly murder in 1832.
4. Towpath to the end
Turn right. At the end of the graveyard take the left path and follow it through four stone stiles. Bear left on the wide path below a strip of immature trees to a tarred lane.
Keep ahead, then fork right on a narrow path behind houses that ends at a lane. Descend this and cross to the visitor centre and canal at Uppermill. Turn left on the towpath for 1¼ miles to bridge 80. Leave the towpath here; Greenfield Station is uphill around the sharp bend.
Click on the map below for an interactive version of the route.
A towpath and lanes, but mostly moorland paths and tracks. Hilly in places, and some short boggy sections are likely. A few paths will have high nettles in summer.
How to get there
by car: Marsden is at the western end of the Colne Valley, 7 miles southwest of Huddersfield on the A62. Park near the railway station or at the nearby National Trust Visitor Centre. Trains return you to here from the end of this linear walk at Greenfield.
By public transport: Marsden and Greenfield stations are on the Manchester to Huddersfield and Leeds line. Regular daily trains run until late evening from Greenfield back to Marsden.
Neil Coates is a Manchester-based writer with nearly 40 walking/guidebooks published.