Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Walk Around Wessenden Moor and Black Hill, with a Bog Hop or Two.

Earlier this year I did a walk, just prior to starting Forgotten Tracks, that just missed out on being included. This resulted from a lack of photographs of the route. So I decided to go and do the walk again. This was quite a challenge as there is a section of the walk potentially requiring very good navigational skills in the right (or wrong) weather conditions.

The route is based around Wessenden Moor and Black Hill. Some easy going path sections, a steep section, some great views and some lovely Peak District Bogs. So this walking guide comes with a warning. I would advise that you do not attempt this walk without the right gear; sturdy boots, gaiters and a great deal of caution. I take no responsibility for anyone deciding to do this walk.

I started out early in the morning on the A635 just west of Holmfirth where the Pennine Way crosses the road. There are descent parking spaces and easy access to the path. It wasn't looking good though. Black Hill is in easy view, but the peak was clouded over, making it look bad for finding my way off later. The path I planned to use to come down off Black Hill is marked on the map, but not well trodden.

The path off the road to Black Hill (Pennine Way) is a bit of a dog leg. It starts off approximately South East and about half way to Black Hills peak it takes a right, South West.

The path is easy to walk on as most of it is paved, with a couple of excursions into the top of a clough and a Dike.

The walk up to the top of Black Hill is at the most a couple of hundred meters with Soldier's Lump coming up a few hundred meters after reaching the top.

The top of Black Hill is quite a large flat plateau. It's covered in small ponds and boggy areas, so sticking to the path is generally a good idea. This creates a problem as the path I planned to follow involved heading off through these hazards. From Black Hill, the route takes a direction of approximately 312 degrees. It is possible, if it is a clear day, to just make out the cairns you need to follow for the path once you are off the dip where Soldier's Lump is situated. Once at the cairns, the path becomes clear, for a while anyway.

Once at the edge of the Black Hill plateau, some stakes can be made out, along with some trodden path in a few places. At this point there is still a physical path, but it disappears as you descend from the Black Hill plateau.

Once you reach the more level areas of the route, the pairs of stakes are your only physical guide to the paths existence. It's this area where caution is needed. You can't pass through this section without having to work your way across at least a couple of streams. Streams in this area come in the grassy, boggy, sphagnum moss filled variety. Walking poles and fast feet are a plus. I did end up to my knees a couple of times, but stayed dry.

The path takes a slow turn steadily west until you are stopped by the A635. There are a few concrete blocks here that make an excellent place to stop and take a break.

From here head west up the A635 till you come to a lay-by at the other side of the road. This is your path, heading roughly north west taking you through Featherbed Moss, White Moss and Broadhead Moss down to the Black Moss Reservoir.

This path is more of the paved kind, that is until you reach the upper end of Broadhead Moss and start to descend to the reservoir.

Here the paved section stops and it's a bog hop. I'm not sure if there is any intention to continue paving this area, but since there seems to be a push for the Marsden Moor Heritage Trail, it's quite possible.

The path remains this way all the way down to Black Moss Reservoir. This would appear to be quite an old Reservoir and I'm not sure if it is still in use. The workings for the reservoir seem to be in a state of disrepair. It's another nice location for a pitstop.

From here, at the west and of the reservoir, there is a clear view out across Diggle, with Manchester visible in the background.

The path now goes around the north side of Black Moss Reservoir, onto the Pennine Way and heads east through Blakely Clough.

At the end of the clough you can either drop down through the valley across to the other side and the Pennine Way.

Or, as I did, continue around to your right, following a path that takes you along side some waterfalls, covered airshafts and old mine workings.

The path then crosses the Wessenden Reservoir Dam to pick up the Pennine Way heading past the Lower Hills.

This valley is very picturesque and in the right weather can provide some excellent photo opportunities.

The path works it's way up the valley and gains quite a bit of height. It's a straight forward walk up to Wessenden Head Reservoir and back to the main road where you parked your car.

So in places, quite an easy walk, in places not to be taken lightly. It covers around 9 miles and will take the best part of a full morning to complete.

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