‘Where are all the trees?’, I used to ask.

A glimmer of spring sunshine inspires a gentle walk from Wessenden Head to Marsden, taking in four reservoirs en route.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_hidden-xs”][vc_empty_space height=”40px”][vc_single_image image=”1600″ img_size=”full” alignment=”right”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”5/6″][vc_column_text]

Trouble at t’mill

Yorkshire is blessed with some charming reservoirs. Having recently enjoyed the tranquility of the Lower Laithe Reservoir near Haworth, I set out to capture some of the scenery in Last Of The Summer Wine country.

Not far from Holmfirth is a series of valleys that cut through the northern tip of the Peak District, dropping down to ‘typical’ Yorkshire towns and villages like Marsden and Slaithwaite. This could perhaps be described as the path less trodden, since despite the Manchester Road (A62), a canal and a regular train service running through them, the cross-Pennine route of choice since its completion has been the M62. The motorway has afforded these towns a modicum of seclusion and anonymity, and they have become places that people pass by, rather than through.

Having said that, they are places of character, developed during former eras when they were important thoroughfares and engines of industry. Without exception, they house a rich heritage of old mills that, whilst sometimes suffering severe dilapidation, preserve a real link to those industrious pasts.

Where council funding allows, the mills that weren’t demolished are now being viewed as renovation opportunities for business, retail or residential development. Their central (often canal-side) location provides a perfect excuse for regeneration. And this is the story across this part of Yorkshire, including larger towns and cities like Leeds, Bradford, Halifax and Huddersfield. These great monuments are finally being recognised as part of the future, rather than simply an embarrassing reminder of previous glory.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_hidden-xs”][vc_empty_space height=”40px”][vc_single_image image=”1600″ img_size=”full” alignment=”right”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”5/6″][vc_column_text]

Moor heather, fewer trees

The moors and valleys in which these smaller up-and-coming towns nestle are quite captivating. On arrival in Yorkshire just prior to the millennium, I held a slightly different view. ‘Where are all the trees?’, I used to ask. But prolonged exposure to this landscape has a way of drawing you in.

You start to appreciate the bleak wilderness of it all, whether or not you have a Brontë novel or a Sylvia Plath poem to hand. You start to see the colours, and the way they change with the seasons. You start to see the big skies sitting proudly over those glacier-smoothed horizons.

On Saturday, the north side of Black Hill to the south from the walk’s starting point still had pockets of snow clinging to its darkest ravines. But the clouds abated, storm Beelzebub (or whatever the Met Office named it) seemed a distant memory, and the still-pale sun was weakly hinting at warmer days just around the corner.

The thing that really draws out the colours in these moorscapes is a blue sky, contrasting so beautifully with the sepia and ochre hues of the early March vegetation, greens still conspicuous by their sparsity. This is particularly pronounced when breaking the horizon sits a body of water, reflecting that blue firmament like a hidden treasure, a gleaming sapphire amidst the dormant heather.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/6″ offset=”vc_hidden-xs”][vc_empty_space height=”40px”][vc_single_image image=”1600″ img_size=”full” alignment=”right”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”5/6″][vc_column_text]


My walk took me from a road-side lay-by near the A635 at Wessenden Head, down through Wessenden Valley and finally past Binn Moor to Marsden, roughly 4 miles in distance, although it certainly didn’t feel that far because it’s downhill all the way. Obviously, this is only possible if you can somehow retrieve your car later, otherwise you’d probably be better starting in Marsden and doubling back at the top, as suggested on the National Trust website. That constitutes a bit more of an expedition. There are ways of making at least some of that walk circular, the imperative for which was laid bare in a previous post about a walk from Devil’s Bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale.

This was an easy amble and the joy of the one-way trip was that in the lack of exertion, it was genuinely possible to inhale the landscape, to notice everything, to be affected by it. The reservoirs are on one hand so human, so unnatural, yet on the other hand so integral to the scene. They speak of Victorian triumphs, when engineering was imbued with a pioneering spirit and a not inconsiderable social cachet. They are elemental, holding silently and with some elegance the elixir of life in their narrow, triangular forms. They are an idea, and a beautiful one at that.

Please enjoy the gallery.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column offset=”vc_hidden-xs”][vc_gallery type=”image_grid” images=”727,728,729,730,731,732,733,734,735,736,737,738,739,740,741″ img_size=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column offset=”vc_hidden-lg vc_hidden-md vc_hidden-sm”][vc_gallery type=”image_grid” images=”727,728,729,730,731,732,733,734,735,736,737,738,739,740,741″ img_size=”medium” onclick=”img_link_large”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row]