Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden
Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

This week’s walk is taken from The West Yorkshire Woods book by Christopher Goddard, available from www.westyorkshirewoods.co.uk, and explores the woods of Todmorden.

Distance: 5.5 miles (9km)

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Ascent: 440m

Character: Discover the greener side of Todmorden with this surprising exploration of the three hills around the town centre. Other than Buckley Wood, the area’s woods – Scaitcliffe Wood, Ridge Wood, Longfield Wood – are mostly small, but the charming hillsides are still dominated by trees. The walk is completed by a brief diversion to the Butt Stones and Blackheath Circle.

Information: Taken from ‘The West Yorkshire Woods’ book by Christopher Goddard, available from www.westyorkshirewoods.co.uk.

From the centre of Todmorden, head up the road towards the station from opposite the Town Hall. On the bend, bear right beneath the railway, then head straight on up Ridge Steps and take the higher of two tracks heading right into the wood. At a busy junction, double back to the left and wind up through Chimney Fields.

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Stay below the road and head straight on through Buckley Wood. Ignore a number of paths leading off and continue straight on, passing through the ruins of Carr Laithe to reach the road.

Turn left up Siggett Lane for 100m, then right up some steps to climb steadily through Buckley and Ewood Woods. At the top, follow the field edge up to Todmorden Edge, where you turn right down the track.

Where it forks, head straight on, then descend through an old wooden gate to pass between the buildings of Flail Croft. Head straight on down some steps and follow the walls down into Scaitcliffe Wood.

Descend steeply to the foot of Scaitcliffe Clough and follow the track right to reach the main road. Head straight across into Stoney Royd Lane and turn right at a sign, following a narrow walled path over the railway.

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Emerging at Cross Lee, turn left and follow the track all the way up to Bank House. Just beyond the buildings, turn right through a couple of scruffy gates and skirt along the bottom of the slope to a gate. A path continues along the top of the scrub woodland beyond and soon reaches the top of Ashenhurst Road.

At the top of Ashenhurst Road, bear slightly left down a narrow alley beside Ashenhurst House. The path leads out onto the heath above. Where it bends round to the left at a waymark post, head straight on and briefly join a larger track heading up the hillside. As this too bends left, go right and pick up a path contouring across the hillside to emerge at a fine viewpoint over-looking the town centre.

From the stones by the viewpoint, don’t head up the hill but bear right down into Ridge Wood. Follow any of the paths through the varied ancient wood to emerge on a large track. Head right, then fork left before Ratcher Rock and join the old walled route of Broad Gate.

When this reaches a signed junction, turn left to climb up onto Butt Stones. You can continue further, following the fenceline and pines along the edge of the golf course to Blackheath Circle. When you reach a second broken-down wall, head up to the right and look across the fairway to the faint ring that marks this ancient site.

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Best Foot Forward: The woods of Todmorden

Return to Broad Gate and follow the path to the next waymarked junction, where you turn right down another walled path. Continue to the botton and turn left on a track past Burnt House to emerge on Cross Stone Road.

Follow this down to the main road and head right past the petrol station. Turn next left on Key Sike Lane to reach the Rochdale Canal, where it is possible to take an obvious shortcut back into the centre of Todmorden.

The route continues straight on up Kilnhurst Road to the second bend, where you turn right down Badger Wood. Head straight on between houses to cross a bridge into Longfield Wood. Turn left and follow a faint path weaving up through the trees. Turn left along the wall at the top to reach a stile.

Follow the wall up to Far Longfield and turn right along the track past the farm. Where it bends right, head straight on over a stile and make a beeline through the stables at Longfield Equestrian Centre.

Follow the track round to the left, then turn sharply right. After 50m, go left through a gap opposite the house and aim for the far right corner of the field. The path soon emerges on Shewbread Lane, which you follow down past the Quaker Burial Ground to Honey Hole.

At the sharp bend, head straight on and follow a lovely path down through the grounds of Todmorden Unitarian Church. At the bottom turn left to reach the A6033, which leads right back into the centre of Todmorden.