Calderdale Way – West Vale to Todmorden – Day 1

This is a part of the Calderdale Way. See more about the Calderdale Way

You can download a .gpx file of this route here

Calderdale Way – West Vale to Todmorden.gpx

The Calderdale Way was created in the 1970’s, so its not a new route, but it is worthwhile giving it  a try. The Calderdale Way is 50 miles long, and being a circular route you can start and stop at any point on the walk.

This section is 17 miles long, Can be done in 3 sections 5-6 miles long

It is suitable for dogs, but take a lead

Total ascent is over 3000 feet

I class this as a moderate to hard walk. Smaller sections would be said to be relatively easy

You will need good stout boots, and be prepared for any kind of weather.

Mobile Phone signal was generally good throughout the walk

Officially the route starts in West Vale, close to a bus stop at Grid Ref SE095214.  One thing that I like about the Calderdale Way is that you can tackle it in very small chunks. The route has lots of “access path” sections which are always well marked. These short pathways lead you off the Calderdale Way to civilisation, and public transport. Finding the start is quite easy, the biggest landmark is “Andy Thornton’s”, an Architectural salvage company in a repurposed mill. About 100m North of the bus stop is the start of the walk, at Clay House Park, which is where my journey will begin.

My route along the Calderdale Way is planned to be 3 sections each of around 16-17 miles. This is the first section and is around 17 miles long including the detours. It will take around 6 or 7 hours to walk. This section can very easily be split down further to 3 or 4 parts. I arrived in West Vale at about 8am and was struck by how few references to the path there are. In fact, I couldn’t see any. The OS map shows the route along the main road, turning Right up some steep stairs, a left and another right at the Star pub. This is okay and will lead you to a narrow path on a cliff top.

Two OS maps cover the route

This path will be closing on the 18th March 2017, and will stay closed for repair work for about 18 months. There is a better way. Instead of the roadway, you can walk through Clay House park, and you will join the Calderdale way after the soon to be closed section. Distance and elevation are similar, and the OS map does show clearly a footpath.

The Calderdale Way is marked with Signs and symbols very well. There are occasions when you are left wondering where to go, luckily these are few and far between. Take a map or the gpx from above with you. It will prove to be preperation well worth doing.

After the clifftop, Take a the road downhill briefly, the back into the woods. This part is really muddy. In the woods you will be joined by the alternate path I mentioned, just in time for a pretty stream.

A few yards further, at the bridge, you leave the woodland behind and head for the fells. Norland moor is not a huge are, but its easy to get lost. There is no Calderdale Way marker at the first major junction. The path divides into at least 4 routes at a low electricity pylon. Turn Left, heading on a bearing of 255′ until you see a cairn, where the signs resume and you go right.

On the top of Norland Moor is a trig point at grid ref SE054214. Its actually just off the Calderdale Way, but I do occasionally detour if its worth it. Do you take a selfie at trig points? I do.

You leave the moor a few minutes later and walk along the tarmac of Butterworth End Lane, looking out for a Right turn through a farm yard. Grid reference is SE052208. Before long you will be on Moor Bottom Road, which is nice and level, but there are a couple of dogs behind a wall that make you jump. At the end of Moor Bottom Road, you turn right to head downhill, and can if you desire have a stop for refreshment at “The Fleece”

As your way continues down Greetland road, past the Fleece, keep a look out for a very steep side road on the right. You need to follow this down into Ripponden. Pass St Bartholemew’s church on your right, cross the bridge and, after a short climb, you will be at the A672. This is a busy road, taking a good amount of traffic from Halifax out to Oldham or Manchester on the A62, so please cross with great care. The route at the other side is uphill for about 200 yards, and turns Right at grid ref SE038199. On the day I passed this way, the parts that were flagged were slippy, and the other ares were deep mud. This however leads you to more pleasent pastures with a good view of the valley. Signposting along this section is excellent, just be careful to look for the correct waymarker, as several routes converge here.

Following the signs, you will arrive at Soyland Town, and here I was left with no guide. You will see from the gpx plot that I missed the Right at grid ref SE036205 and instead, took a fork in the road a few yards further along. This could have been a good thing, as by now the rain was torrential and my steep downhill section on tarmac may have been somewhat safer. I rejoined the Calderdale Way just on the outskirts of the pretty little village of Mill Bank, where maybe 30 yards after the bridge the route hairpins around and leads you up into the woods. On your right as you walk up you can look down onto the old Mill pond, but take care not to get too close to the barbed wire fence. A warning sign telling you it is there is shown at the other end of the wood.

Follow a well marked route along tarmacfor a while, passed Great House and Hole Head turning right at SE017218 on a dirt track heading up towrds the dissused quarry. There is no shelter, but walkers can always adapt.

The bridleway you follow is very wet, and you can see it will get much worse just a bit further up. You turn left before you enter the mud pit.

After about a mile on theses green paths, if you are following along with the well signposted route, another potential finish point is reached. The Hinchcliffe in Cragg Vale awaits, along with a cheeky barman who will photo bomb your selfie

I was drenched and filthy when I arrived, and they could not have made mw feel more welcome. This is a great place for walkers to visit.

Leaving the bar, if you can, head outside and turn right. stay on this road, don’t turn off, even though tempted. A lack of signs will encourage your return to the real fire in the pub, but perseverence will lead you uphill to eventually find Withens Clough Reservoir, and a level but stoney pathway around its northern shore. You almost cannot miss the gate taking you away from the water and NorthWest on another hill. This one has awelcome rock strewn skyline to draw you along. You will be turning left before the top, along the bridleway. There is a footpath taking a diagonal for the two sides of the square you are about to walk, but I couldn’t find the start of it. I was onlt aware it exists because at the other side there is a marker pointing across the field. You have arrived at a strange place called Red Dykes. No longer used, there is an abandonned building and a lot of tall drystone walls. I would hazard a guess that this was used when the sheep were driven across the moor to market. I my be wrong, but the path has the feel of a drovers route. You will follow one of these walls up the hill to the start of Withens Gate.

This ancient way marker is one of several along this 300 yard stretch, with a large stone at its other end, leaning to one side, as if pointing you up the hill. It is not necessary to follow its suggestion, the Calderdale way continues straight ahead. If you are feeling strong in the legs though, be tempted. The stone is showing you the way to Stoodley Pike. It s much further thn you think. The structure is massive, and can be see from a long way off. Stoodley Pike was completed in 1856, and at 121′ high it dominates the landscape. If you have a torch, and are feeling brave, you can climb the steps to the landing and have a view all around. It is open all the time.

Retrace your steps back to the leening stone, and thank it or curse it for its suggestion. Either way, it marks your retur to the Calderdale way, so turn right and begin the long downhill walk on the well worn drovers path.

On the tarmac you will pass through Mankinholes (look for the YHA building) keeping an eye open for your left turn back on the drove route, leaving the road.  You will get to Lumbutts. A nice straight road leads away from the village heading generally West. Turn off the road at SD949233, through Croft Farm and then take a left at SD948235, which is marked, but not immediately visible. This next section is the muddiest of the walk so far, and was well above ankle deep in a few places. I tested the depth with my stick, a wise move, as some areas are very deep. At the end of the quagmire is a riding school, and welcome hard surfaces to tread upon. All that remains for this section is a pleasent walk down hill into Todmorden, about 1/2 a mile away, passing the old quaker burial site and the very large Church.




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