Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Wessenden Moor Wander

Tuesday morning began with the threat of rain and seemed to get even worse when I read the forecast for the day - heavy rain, potential thunderstorms and flooding. Not ideal conditions for moorland walk where there'd be river crossings and peat to cross.

Still I went ahead and met with Joe armed with a map and several potential routes to walk. After perusing them for a while and advising him of a few road problems. meaning a couple of the route may be hard to get to, we chose to head up the Isle of Skye road onto the moors between Manchester and Holmfirth. After pulling into the dinky car park on the Wessenden Head Rd and consulting the map we set off.

After reading the sign about the Kirklees Way by the gate and noting that there were endangered birds about we set off alongside Wessenden Head and Pudding Real Moss along the shared Kirklees and Pennine Way path, down a lovely limestone slab/cobble path and across a few bouncy bridges to come alongside Wessenden Reservoir by the Cradles and Great Dike Springs.

After reading another sign about the area - over 5000 acres belong to the Marsden Moor Estate and tended to by only a few farms - we chose to follow the Kirklees Way across the dam wall and up Long Grain. As the path climb higher and higher, the path got narrower and narrower and squelchy underfoot. Then we saw a sign saying there'd been a bit of subsidence and could clearly see a little of the path had disappeared down into the valley, although the rest of it was fine.

We carried on this path and came to a lovely waterfall and the first of our river crossing points. Luckily the brook wasn't too wide and the water wasn't too deep and there were plenty of big rocks to clamber over before getting to the other side. Once over the other side we had to scramble over rocks almost hip height before we could get back on the path, which became more squelchy underfoot. At this point we were trying to find little grassy hillocks to stand on as the path seemed to be made of peat too and any attempt to stand on it resulted in a boot sucking experience. Joe went first and found some areas were OK to bear weight. I followed on and found that said areas wouldn't bear my weight, so opted for the hillock stepping places. After getting onto one big lump of grass and working out where to step next I managed to find a nice big hole to stick my other foot in - a hole that wasn't seen by anyone! Thankfully it wasn't full of peaty water and was only squelchy to the ankle of my boot.

After lots of chuckling from me and more squelching we made our way to another meeting point of the two trails, by a solar panel for the Lodge. Just past the solar panel we saw the back of a sign, so went round to read it - "Warning, path dangerous. Please use the Pennine Way" Mmm, seems Joe and I had just traversed a highly dangerous path that had no danger signs at the end we came from! We plodded on, thankful that the path hadn't given way on us; around Grouse Butts and to the second river crossing, this time involving a bit more scrambling down a steep valley to get to the bank and across the other side to a set of limestone steps bordered by lots of bracken. Those steps seemed to go on forever. Once at the top, we plodded on for a little while alongside Blakely Clough between Black Moss and Great Butterly Hill before stopping for some lunch.

After teacakes and coffee we continued on our merry way and followed the limestone slab path that'd replaced the well worn path through the moss, heather, cotton grass and bracken to reach Black Moss and Swellands reservoirs, where the rain decided it was going to put in an appearance.

We decided that it'd be best to head back as we were quite far from the car on a peat moor with nowhere to shelter from the rain, with the prospect of the place becoming extremely dangerous. So, after a rest stop, we set off back to the solar panel and the warning sign.

Deciding to play it safe we took the Pennine Way to the left of the panel....down a very steep sided valley (probably talking about 45% gradient to get down and back up on the other side). As I was descending, my knee decided to play up with searing pain through it. Not the best of places to get severe knee pain really. I put it down to the way I was descending, as I seemed to hover on that leg for quite some time before putting my left foot down anywhere, so I presumed I was putting undue stress on it. I managed to get down OK without too much pain, crossing the brook and back up the other side. By the finger post at the top of the climb, we had another rest which gave me time to assess my knee to make sure I hadn't really buggered it up.

This was where we made friends with an adorable ram. He walked past us initially following his missus, then decided to turn round and come have a look and a sniff. Perfect picture moment as he looked at us with a little bit of disdain.

Then Joe put some biscuit on the floor and the ram quite happily came, ate it and stayed put, so Joe put more bits out. The ram got so close that I ended up holding onto the signpost with one hand, kinda slightly hanging over the edge, just so I could fit the whole ram in the frame for another shot!

After the ram had decided he's posed long enough he ran off to find his ewe, leaving us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and head back to the car.

Stats - view route
Miles: 7.31
Climbed: 814ft


  1. Have you got your first MTB ride planned yet?

  2. I'd want a rope for 45%, that is practically vertical!

  3. That looked a really fab walk. Thought you would have taken Rammy home, you look like you have made a friend for life..... or Joe has. Shame about your knee. How is it now? Does it affect your cycling? I hate knee injuries. ( 3 years worth and counting)

  4. Red - been on a short ride on it. It's not really me (the bike that is, not mtb riding). I think it's too much of a female frame and i feel a bit of a knob riding it! I guess I should be grateful I got a free bike, but I might end up selling it for a bit of cash.

    Trio - that hill was a nightmare. So not the place for your knee to start screaming at you! It was very scary coming down it, but up the other side was just plain knackering!

    Crimmy - I was very tempted to smuggle Rammy out of there, but as I'm allergic to wool it wouldn't be good idea! My doc said that my knee is ok......for now! There'll be a bit more info in a blog post for today.