Marsden Moor autumn heritage trail
Climb up above the Wessenden Valley and enjoy views of the autumnal colours of the valley below.
As you stroll across the open moorland keep your eyes open for the red grouse, an iconic moorland bird which is easy to spot with their distinctive red 'eyebrow'. Listen out for their characteristic call, a warning to 'go back, go back, go back' as they fly up from the heather.
Marsden railway station, grid ref: SE047118
From Marsden railway station, head down Station Road through Marsden and cross the A62. Walk through the park, past the band stand to come out on Carrs Road. Cross the road and take the path at the end of the row of cottages. Continue along this path for a short distance before taking a narrow walled path off to the right. Head uphill until you arrive at a house and stables. Turn left, go over two stiles and follow the path behind the house and up to two gates.
Go through the left-hand gate and follow the subtle path up the slope. The path eventually levels off and turns right to contour along the slope to a gate. Continue through the gate uphill passing over two stiles to bring you out on a tarmac track. Track left and head past Upper Acre Farm to meet the Deer Hill conduit. Turn right and follow the conduit until you reach the number 9 Heritage Trail stone. Here you can take in the view of Marsden and its mills and appreciate how important the mills were to the local economy.
Continue along the conduit to reach the number 10 Heritage Trail stone and take in the fine views over Butterley and Blakeley reservoirs. Keep walking along the conduit, crossing over a stile. Just before you reach the next stile head down the field boundary to a corner stile. Cross this stile and follow the path marked by two waymarker posts through rushy grassland before following a wide path that goes behind Wessenden Lodge.
Enjoy views over Wessenden
This is a great place to take a break and enjoy views over the Wessenden Valley. On a fine day, the reservoirs reflect the changing colours of the sky, from the grey of the clouds overhead to the bright blues of a clear sky. This valley is home to a series of four reservoirs built in the 1800s. The distinctive stepped Victorian spillway on Butterley reservoir is the only listed spillway in the country.
When you emerge at the main Wessenden track turn right down the cobbles and follow it in front of the Lodge for about 850yd (800m) until reaching the Pennine Way marker post. Follow the Pennine Way steeply down into the bottom of the valley, crossing the bridge before climbing steeply up the other side to the Heritage Trail stone 11. Here is a good point to catch your breath and admire the views of the Wessenden Valley and the former shooting lodge below.
Follow the Pennine Way to the right along Blakeley Clough, before crossing the brook at the small sluice and taking the steps up onto the moor. Follow the path, which is flagged in sections, to eventually reach Black Moss and Swellands Reservoirs.
Spot red grouse
Open moorland is the ideal place to spot red grouse as they nest in and feed on the heather. As you walk across the moors in Step 3 you may spot them flying up from the ground and hear their distinctive call, a warning to ‘go-back, go-back, go-back’. Red grouse are medium-sized plump birds, red-brown in colour. If you get a close look at a male bird you may spot its distinctive red ‘eyebrow’.
Cross the dam wall and follow the wide path left along the fence line by the side of Black Moss reservoir, going through a gate before heading right to follow a flagged path through one of the National Trust sheep exclosures. This areas was once badly eroded, but eliminating sheep grazing and spreading heather brash and seed has allowed the vegetation to recover. Keep walking along this path until you meet the Pennine Bridleway. Turn right and walk along the bridleway to meet Mount Road, where you will find a Heritage Trail information board about the historic turnpikes.
At direction 6 you pass through one of the exclosures that were put up to protect areas of the moor from sheep grazing. High levels of sheep grazing can alter the mosaic of moorland vegetation, resulting in higher proportions of grasses and few moorland shrubs such as heather and bilberry. At this time of year the difference in vegetation is evident from the different colours either side of the fence line – the gold of the grass on the outside compared to the bronze of the heather inside.
Follow this step a short diversion up Pule Hill for some stunning views of the estate and a chance to visit the Stanza Stone, or alternatively move onto direction 8. Follow Mount Road left/westwards until you come to a signpost on the right for the Standedge Trail, which contours around Pule Hill. Continue along, past the quarry incline and take the next path uphill, passing the ventilation shafts on your left. Just below the summit take the path right into the quarry for a chance to see the Stanza Stone. Afterwards retrace your steps. Follow the path right along the edge to the summit and Heritage Trail stone 14. Follow the steep path down to join Mount Road and walk left to rejoin the walk.
Walk past the information board and just before the cattle grid turn left onto Old Mount Road. Follow the track towards Hades Farm until you reach Heritage Trail stone 15. From here head down the walled path to the right to join Old Mount Road, and follow the road left to head back into Marsden. Cross the A62 and walk past St Bartholomew's church to Station Road and then left back up the hill to the station.
Marsden railway station, grid ref: SE047118
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