Ripponden to Withins Clough reservoir

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This week’s 12-mile route is a definite favourite. Following the Calderdale Way [CW] from Ripponden to Withens Clough Reservoir and back again; it’s a beautiful but challenging walk in the current heat!writes Caroline Spalding.

We started at Saint Bartholomew’s Church [Ripponden – GR SE 041 197], walking up to cross the main road then up Royd Lane until the CW leaves the road turning right. A clear path; ignore the first obvious left-turn to continue towards a farm, where you turn left up a track towards Soyland. Meeting the road there, right for a short while until another clear way marker leaving to the right. Along this path for a while until a left turn into a field where the wonderful descent to Mill Bank begins. At the bottom left, then right along the lane until the information board next to the stream, turn left to climb through woodland until meeting a track where you continue until meeting another lane. Continue ahead along Eccles Parlour, passing the Christmas Tree plantation and leaving the road at the way-marker [right] ‘To Slate Delves Hill’. The stony track continues until an obvious conclusion when you climb a stile entering a moorland field tracing the edge alongside a wire-and-post fence. After the next stile despite initially looking indistinct the path is clear. This area, Flints, is a disused reservoir that was used as a decoy during the Second World War, where fires were lit, and lights erected to signify a settlement to distract from the nearby Manchester and Halifax. That said, whether any planes passed overhead remains to be seen.To your left is a path leading to Great Manshead Hill; territory to which access was banned until the water authorities granted a permissive path. I’m told that when access was allowed a camera was erected to record quite how often the pathways were used; I’m sure they were surprised at the numbers this grand hill attracted.

With the first glimpse of Stoodley Pike the CW turns right for almost 6 fields. Turning left it descends slightly to pass Catherine House and crosses a road to continue along Coppy Nook Lane. Just before Bank Top Farm turn left and then right, descending a track and at meeting an isolated cottage turn left almost back on yourself over a way-marked stile. It is a truly magical descent into Cragg Vale; it would be slippery in the wet and the winter, a little overgrown. Bear right at a wall, finally meeting a track at Marshaw Bank Barn, turning left down the track to meet the road.Cross the road, descend again to pass the pub and then a long, gentle climb up to the dam at Withens Clough reservoir where you leave the CW. Cross the dam, turning left to join a path that despite being ‘closed’ is accessible [it has been closed since Dec 2015 due to a landslide]. You’ll have to squeeze through the gap or hop over the gate but once on the path it is clear. It skirts the edge of Turley Holes Edge; meeting a stone wall bear right. A wild and overgrown path here but you will spot a way-marker of a joining path; keep moving ahead. It gets more overgrown with bracken but traversable; descending to a footbridge in an idyllic dip in the landscape. Climb out the other side [unclear] eventually meeting the end of a wall turning left to pass through a gate and up to meet the road.

Right along the road then left onto Sykes Gate. Turn right through the gate at Sykes Farm, then right again at the next way marker [a bridleway ‘Greave Head Road’]. Re-join the CW and retrace steps across Flints to the road, turning left and continuing until a way-marker just after a garden with a beautiful well. Take the path [right] through the Christmas Tree plantation, exiting through a gate before terraced cottages. Left along the track, first right, then right along the road at the bus stop. Pass Blackshaw Clough Farm, descend and re-ascend; right at next junction. Go left over the first stile, crossing field; turning right at the track, then left at bridleway ‘To Ripponden Old Lane’. Turn left before the metal gates, right on meeting road and the final descent left down Ripponden Old Lane to return you to the start.