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Marsden to Greenfield over Black Hill

Marsden to Greenfield over Black Hill

Postby poppiesrara » Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:51 am

Date walked: 25/11/2013

Time taken: 4.5

Distance: 22.75 km

Ascent: 825m

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A glorious day of unbroken warm sunshine, and a long tramp across the highest moors of the northern Peak.

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Marsden is a rather lovely old mill village, full of smartly preserved buildings of the early industrial age. Plenty of people obviously take the paths south from there up the Wessenden valley, past a chain of four beautifully-set and handsomely-appointed reservoirs, and it’s a very easy way to gain height and join the Pennine Way onto the high moor.
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Butterley Reservoir

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Blakeley Reservoir dam

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Butterley Reservoir

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Blakeley Reservoir

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Wessenden Reservoir

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Wessenden Head Reservoir

After crossing the main road (this spot seems incredibly bleak and remote for somewhere only a few miles from the sprawl of Manchester), the path all the way along the couple of miles to the top of Black Hill has been sympathetically flagged – a look either side for much of the climb gives a pretty grim prospect of what the walk might have been like in wet conditions before that. Even now, the ground quakes too much in one or two places to support the path properly and you need to trust to luck that there is something firm beneath the murky pools into which the slabs have disappeared. The Holmes Moss mast looks prominently close from the summit – curious to imagine what the Tour de France riders will think of this ‘mountain’ as they spin past there next summer, but it must surely seem several worlds away from the Alps and Pyrenees…

After the immediate descent from the summit (past a few implausible patches of lingering snow in what seemed almost summer temperatures), completing 7 or 8 miles on wholly good paths, the going rather deteriorates, this part of the Pennine Way heading into the valley of Crowden Great Brook having been trodden into a very muddy and slippery gloop. I was always planning a little off-path detour here to ‘bag’ the rather esoteric peak of Black Chew Head (county top of Greater Manchester, for obsessives…!), but – damp and quite haggy as the open moor is around here – it was actually a relief to walk on by comparison.
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Wessenden Head from the ascent of Black Hill

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Over Hey Clough towards Huddersfield

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Black Hill summit

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Black Hill from near Black Chew Head

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Black Chew Head summit

It’s still rough and boggy going west from here to the Chew Reservoir (quite a contrast from those on the ascent, this is a bleak and wild place, looking – until the dam comes into clearer view – like a natural high tarn). Below that, the brook has cut a remarkably deep gorge into the exposed rock – spectacular if almost claustrophobic surroundings for the road down to the field and woodland paths that head down into Greenfield past one final beautifully-situated reservoir.
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Chew Reservoir

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Dish Stone Rocks

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Alphin Pike

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Alderman's Hill

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Dove Stone Reservoir

I had just missed an intended train from Marsden to Green field to start this route, and with another hour to wait for the next one and doubts about the amount of daylight remaining, ended up probably walking it in the ‘wrong’ direction – descending gradually at the end, along good paths through the best scenery with the sun behind, would have been even better. But it’s still a great route built around what in itself might seem a rather undistinguished summit.
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Re: Marsden to Greenfield over Black Hill

Postby icemandan » Sat Nov 30, 2013 9:06 pm

Black Hill is the only top I know with a patio on it. The tour riders will also miss the excellent pub in Holme village.
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Re: Marsden to Greenfield over Black Hill

Postby ChrisW » Thu Jan 23, 2014 7:02 am

That's a fair old chunk for winter P, I love that bleak desolate openness of the moors outside Huddersfield, I lived and worked in Hudds for a few years in the early 90's and cycled around here often, I really loved the area too so it was wonderful to see your photos of the vast nothingness.... :clap: :clap:
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