Best Foot Forward: Cragg Vale to Todmorden
This week's walk is the fourth section of our special Calderdale Way series, thanks to www.casualramblers.co.uk and is a 5.5 mile walk which crosses the Pennine Way and goes through picturesque Mankinholes and past the Te Deum Stone.
The Te Duem Stone near Stoodley Pike symbolises a long tradition of wayfaring. Crossing the Pennine Way, the route drops down towards Lumbutts and Mankinholes with its youth hostel; an attractive link path via Lob Mill leads to and from bus and rail routes in the Calder Valley.
Cross the main road in Cragg, following it for a short distance downhill before turning sharp left down to the church of St. John in the Wilderness and the Hinchliffe Arms.
The name perhaps arose because this was quite a remote area when the only access was by packhorse track. It was in Halifax parish until becoming independent in 1844. The church was built in 1839.
From the pub follow the main road up the valley, ignoring the right turn at the old gate house and continuing along the north side of Withins Clough for almost a mile to Withins Reservoir.
The valley has been dammed here to form Withens Clough Reservoir. The dam wall can be seen on the skyline. Withens Clough is a tributary of Cragg Brook which, in turn, has its confluence with the River Calder in Mytholmroyd.
In 2010 Yorkshire Water are repairing the sides of the reservoir until late 2011 so at the moment a diversion is in place. Go through the gate and follow the diversion until you reach the reservoir again. Bear right until you see a sign pointing to Stoodley Pike on your right.
Follow this until you come to a walled lane. Bear left and head towards a water trough where on your right the path follows the edge of the moor.
Keep bearing right following the Calderdale Way signs uphill to where a small stone stoop lies on the right of the track just before the gate. The inscription reads “Te Deum Laudamus” - We praise thee O lord.
Go through the gate, taking care as you go as the track can get very muddy and boggy in places until you reach an invisible line, where the Pennine Way crosses the Calderdale Way. There is a track on your right which follows the Pennine Way to Stoodley Pike.
The site on Stoodley Pike was probably used for bronze age burials, since bones were found when excavating for the first circular tower. This was built in 1815 to celebrate the peace at the end of the Napoleonic war.
Unfortunately, it collapsed when the next war started, on the day the Russian ambassador left London before the Crimean War. The present monument was built in 1856.
You can climb up the inner spiral staircase counting 39 steps in the dark to get a great view.
Stoodley Pike may also have been a beacon site. A beacon was temporarily put up and lit on July 19, 1988 to commemorate the great chain of beacons 400 years earlier, when the Spanish Armada was sighted off the southern coast.
The descent down to Mankinholes village is clearly marked by causeway stones winding downhil to a walled track overlooking Lumbutts and Lee Dam. When you reach the junction turn right over a stone stile onto a grass track between two walls to Mankinholes, passing the Water Trough.
When you reach the main road carry straight on noting the water trough and the Youth Hostel a little further on your right.
Keep straight ahead until you reach the last house on the right, this was the old Sunday school build around 1800s, a sign post on the opposite side points downhill to the Pennine Bridleway to Top Brink Inn.
From Top Brink Inn, follow the cobbled road downhill towards the Water Tower, At the bottom of the hill, bear right along the main road taking you uphill to farm on the right hand side of the road just past a bus stop. Here another Calderdale Way sign points the way to a gate at the far end. A stile a little further on on your left takes you through very muddy fields to emerge at
a Longroyd Farm. Here the path bears left across a small field to the equestrian centre on the opposite side.
Be careful when you go through here , as either the horses will be in the stable or on route to the fields. At the junction bear right and then right again taking you downhill to the Unitarian Church. This church was built in 1869, in the Decorated style, by John Gibson. It has a tall spire, and its position on the hillside to the SE of the town centre makes it a prominent landmark. It is no longer used as a church, and is maintained by a group of volunteers.
Keep following the road until you see the path leading you Fielden Square at Todmorden.
Bear right for the Bus and Train Station to finish the route.