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Warland & Blackstone Edge / 1 day / 15 miles (24km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 06 Feb 2008
Start / Finish: Todmorden rail station. Free car park.
Maps: Explorer OL21: South Pennines.

Day 1Warland & Blackstone Edge15.0 miles / 1930 feet (24km / 588m)

An easy circuit of moorland reservoirs south of Todmorden to Blackstone Edge, returning via the Rochdale canal towpath. The South Pennines is rich in historical interest, particularly its industrial heritage as we discovered when we did a short season of day walks here years ago. Todmorden and its neighbour Hebden Bridge make excellent centres for combining high moorland walks with an exploration of this heritage. This walk gives a good introductory flavour of the area on easy tracks and paths.

It really is hard these days to work up enthusiasm for single-day walks and this was our first in over two years, a determined effort to get out for a walk after a terrible January with just one short backpack, and waiting in vain for two or more days of decent weather.

Day 1 - Warland & Blackstone Edge

Descending the station access road to the A6033 and turning right to the canal bridge, there is a large wall mounted display: this would signal the exit point from the canal towpath on our return, it isn't easy to tell exactly where you are when the canal is largely shielded from the surrounding buildings and reference points.

Rochdale canal display at Todmorden
Rochdale canal display at Todmorden (06 Feb 2008__08:02:08)

Just past the Golden Lion inn a steep lane signed 'Calderdale Way' climbs up by the church with its prominent spire and an aerial view of the town is quickly gained. The path southwards to Rake End was very wet and muddy in a few places after the heavy overnight rain, but this was alleviated for a while by an old packhorse trail of flat stones, one of many that criss-cross the South Pennines that can inspire whole routes based on their legacy. An easy path gently ascends Rake End from a gate towards the Basin Stone and Gaddings Dam. The obelisk of Stoodley Pike monument came into view and a very cold north westerly wind was whipping waves along the water.

The Basin Stone on Walsden Moor
The Basin Stone on Walsden Moor (06 Feb 2008__08:48:41)
Gaddings reservoir and Stoodley Pike
Gaddings reservoir and Stoodley Pike (06 Feb 2008__08:58:43)

After Gaddings the path curves eastwards briefly towards Stoodley Pike and the map shows no path on the ground to Warland reservoir, but in fact there is a new paved path all the way, which was just as well because the intervening glutinous bogs were of fearsome proportions after all that rain.

The reservoir track takes over at the water edge and gives easy walking past Warland, Light Hazzles and Blackstone Edge, with distant views of the rough rock-strewn moorland beyond: this section is used by the Pennine Way, Todmorden Centenary Way and Rochdale Way.

An outflow of Warland reservoir
An outflow of Warland reservoir (06 Feb 2008__09:18:43)
Rock formation on Light Hazzles Edge
Rock formation on Light Hazzles Edge (06 Feb 2008__10:23:59)

On reaching the A58 and turning R, the Pennine Way continuation signpost is a short walk down the road and the path climbs onto the moor to arrive at the Aiggin Stone, a mediaeval guide stone set on another packhorse trail that follows the line of an ancient Roman road. The path continues through the rocks and peat to the trig point of Blackstone Edge.

The Aiggin Stone
The Aiggin Stone (06 Feb 2008__11:17:48)

View from Blackstone Edge
View from Blackstone Edge (06 Feb 2008__11:37:45)
View from Blackstone Edge
View from Blackstone Edge (06 Feb 2008__11:39:15)

Returning to the Aiggin stone, the Roman road descends on a wide line of packhorse stones almost to the A58 and then alongside a wall to a minor road, where we picked up the Pennine Bridleway northwards past Higher and Lower Chelburn reservoirs. This route passes the Field of Dreams retirement home for animals where we saw horses, sheep and a couple of peacocks.

The path descends to the canal at Summit, a seemingly strange name for a village in the valley but we soon saw the reason: West Summit Lock is the summit of the Rochdale canal and is proclaimed as the 'highest broad lock in England'. The canal towpath provides a generally pleasant return to Todmorden, with the occasional narrowboat and a variety of ducks and geese. The birds had started pairing up already and some of the males were getting a bit intense.

Rochdale canal near Walsden
Rochdale canal near Walsden (06 Feb 2008__14:21:42)