For enthusiasts who enjoy walking a historical path

The final stages of the Wakefield Gate. Photographer : Allan Friswell
The final stages of the Wakefield Gate. Photographer : Allan Friswell
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This walk, courtesy of Allan Friswell from www.walkingbritain.co.uk, is not long or strenuous but one to be followed if you like the feel of history beneath your feet alongside looking at the impressive views across Halifax.

Start from the car park by the railway station, turn right and walk down Church Street, then along Bank Bottom on the left of Matalan to the junction.

The Magna Via plinth with details of the Wakefield Gate. Photographer : Allan Friswell

The Magna Via plinth with details of the Wakefield Gate. Photographer : Allan Friswell

On the other side of Southowram Bank you will see the setts that mark Old Bank. The path climbs steeply away from the town, and you will doubtless appreciate stopping some time to look back and take in the excellent view across Halifax.

Where the path divides you should go right and follow this up to Beacon Hill Road (built to supersede this very steep approach to the town), turning right for a few steps, then crossing to continue along the signed path with a low wall on its right. This is the start of the Magna Via. Until the mid 18th Century this, with the Wakefield Gate (from the old Norse ‘gata’, a way), was the main approach to Halifax from the east, for both packhorse and foot traffic. It also linked across town with the Long Causeway to Burnley in the west.

From now on it is simply a matter of following your nose.

What is of note are the varying ways in which this medieval track to Wakefield has been constructed when reinforced in the 1720s - setts of different shapes and sizes, flat or on edge, stone slabs, cobbles, simple stones, sometimes just (possibly medieval?) clumsy rocks; but all the time climbing away until suddenly you arrive out in the open, with suberb vriws across Calderdale on your left and the broad tarmacked / cinder track of Barrowclough Lane ahead, making for Hipperholme. This is the start of the Wakefield Gate.

The beautifully setted Trooper Lane dropping into Halifax. Photographer : Allan Friswell

The beautifully setted Trooper Lane dropping into Halifax. Photographer : Allan Friswell

It is not long till this both changes its name to Dark Lane and begins to descend, and the construction of the path becomes again nore rugged and narrow, although still beautifully laid out in most places.

Eventually, a third of a mile after you started climbing, you arrive at a stone plinth on the left with a plaque describing the path’s history.

Follow Norcliffe Lane down to the left and arrive at some farm cottages with a beck crossing under the road.

Turn right and follow the path, always keeping the beck on your left and climbing above it.

View of Halifax from Trooper Lane. Photographer : Allan Friswell

View of Halifax from Trooper Lane. Photographer : Allan Friswell

When you reach the ruins of former works turn left and then right to ascend the waymarked steps in the wall ahead. (Mind the exposed inspection chambers).

The path comes out at a track, where you turn right and climb to the lane by Ivy House Farm.

To the left are steps and a stile heading for Marsh Levens. After the second squeeze stile follow the wall on your left to the stile in the corner and then make for the left of Marsh Farm Lodge and Marsh Lane. Here turn left, walk to where Norcliffe Lane comes in from the right and take the unsigned path on your left.

Follow it to Law Lane, Southowram, where you cross the field on the other side of the road via the stile a few yards uphill. The exit stile is next to the lamp post by the cottages.

The old railway station, now part of a massive play-scheme for children. Photographer : Allan Friswell

The old railway station, now part of a massive play-scheme for children. Photographer : Allan Friswell

Turn left along Pinnar Lane and after about 100 yards, immediately after the nursey, turn right and follow the track past the greenhouses. It bears left and at the corner of the field you cross the stile to the clear track (Coal Pit Lane) and turn right.

When you come to the obvious crossing of paths after a third of a mile (se 105 236), pass through the right-hand gate and follow the path to a stile in the wall.

Go through this and follow the path round, keepin parallel with the wall on the left, to reach a green lane leading to the left of Snydal Farm.

Bear right after the farm along Higgin Lane and then take the bridle track on the left of the radio mast to the estate of modern houses.

Walk down the steep beautifully setted Trooper Lane as it bends left, then right then left again, until you reach Swan Bank with the entrance to Stoney Royd cemetery on your left.

Cross and walk along the right hand pavement of Water Lane and turn right at the beck down Waterside. Follow this lane, eventually turning left under the railay, clibling steep steps, crossing the Eureka play area.

Turn right along Church Street, passing the station, back to the car park.

Walks Diary

August 15:

West Yorkshire Geology Trust: Rocks and Fossils on Todmorden Moor. 3 mile walk (moderate) along the geological trail, looking at different rocks, old mines and quarries and hopefully finding some fossils! Todmorden Moor is high and exposed so bring waterproofs, wear good shoes or boots and warm clothing. Bring a magnifying glass if you have one to see fossils clearly as well as a snack and a drink. Particulary suitable for families (strictly no unaccompanied children). Phone Number: 01289 305842 or 07831 637634. Meet Alison Tymon at 1 p.m at Sourhall Road, Todmorden (grid reference SD 917 247). Walk ends around 4 p.m (earlier if weather is poor)

August 16:

Calderdale Heritage Walk: Wainstalls Village. 2-3 hour guided walk exploring the heritage of this rather special area, including looking at the remaining evidence of the manufacturing industry and see how the village is evolving into a new phase of its history. Meet Iain Cameron at 2:15 p.m by the bus terminus in the centre of Wainstalls. Fee: £3. There is no need to book, just turn up and day on the day. For enquiries, email: CdaleHeritageWks@aol.com

August 16:

Calderdale Ramblers: Stoodley Pike. 7 mile (moderate) walk. Phone Number: 07733 352398. Meet Fred Goonoo at 10:30 Lobb Mill picnic area cp, Todmorden (grid reference: SD 954 247)

August 16/17:

Walk It Together: Todmorden Health Walk. Walk lasts 1 hour. Meet at 10:45 a.m at main entrance of Todmorden market. Phone number: 01422 264745

August 17:

Walk It Together: Ovenden Health Walk. Walk lasts between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 mins. Phone Number: 01422 244302. Meet Mike Barnett at 1 p.m outside Beechwood Medical Centre, Keighley Road, Ovenden

August 18:

Walk It Together: Sowerby Bridge Health Walk. Walk lasts between 60 - 90 mins. Meet at 10:30 a.m at Sowerby Bridge swimming pool. Phone Number: 01422 264745

August 21:

Walk It Together: Illingworth Health Walk. Walk lasts 1 hour (moderate). Meet at 10:00 a.m at Illingworth Moor Methodist Church, near fire station. No dogs, some inclines, not buggy friendly.