Day 51: Marsden Moor (Eastergate) – Marsden – Butterfly, Blakeley, Wessenden, and Wessenden Head Reservoirs – Black Hill – Torside Reservoir – Clough Edge

16.8 miles – Classic sun and clouds

The eastern portall of Standedge Canal Tunnel

I awoke at 4:20, teaed, breakfasted, and set off at five past six. I find it extraordinary, always having been a night owl, to be getting up at first light – that’s hiking!

As I approached Marsden I found what I had been hoping for, Standedge Tunnels. The canal tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, opened in 1811, is the longest (at 3.1 miles / 5km), the highest (at 643 feet / 196m above sea level) and deepest (at 636 feet / 194m at its deepest point) in Britain, and it can still be used by suitable narrowboats.

But that’s not all; there are also three railway tunnels running parallel to the canal, and all are linked by ‘adits’ or cross-tunnels so that the whole forms an underground matrix. Fascinating and inspiring.

Above the eastern portall of Standedge Railway Tunnels. The canal tunnel is just out of sight in the trees to the left of the railway.

After breakfasting a second time in Marsden, I took to the moors – again – but at least the sun was bright enough to make them seem to shine – apart from Black Hill, that is: the moss really is darker on the top. And frankly, there was no practical alternative to the Pennine Way here. The path down from the summit of Black Hill is very slow; I only managed about 1.25 mph over loose stones and boulders, which (I can’t help it) I just find so dispiriting; it also meant I didn’t get as far today as I had intended.

The path from Marsden to Butterfly Reservoir.
Wessenden Head Reservoir (note how low the water level is) – the bracken seemed to shine.
Issues Road (not Roman) from near the top of Black Hill.
Descending from Black Hill I was surprised to find this small, isolated patch of slate, so crumbly that plants couldn’t get a grip.

I finnished the day with a gruelling ascent to Clough Edge, but it meant I would get a good start the next morning on the last stage of the Pennine Way.

Torside Reservoir from Clough Edge.
The spectacular view south-east from my pitch on Clough Edge, gorgeous in the evening sunlight.

Comments (1):

  1. Guy Harbottle

    19 July 2022 at 15:05

    Would I be right in saying that you have had enough of flattish, eventless moorland?

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