The vast expanse of the moorland above Rishworth and Ripponden is a fantastic playground for keen ramblers; with open access land allowing for free roaming for the more ambitious, as well as established paths for those less keen to have their ankles scratched by brambles!
This route is a combination of two shorter walks featured in this column earlier in the year; and shows how various starting points in the vicinity can offer a variety of different ways to cover the same ground. I lead this walk for the Calderdale Ramblers, and true to my tradition, it was slightly[!] longer than advertised, with the true length differing between members’ pedometers and Garmin-gadgets. My approximation is that it is approximately 11 miles; however it is not a challenging circuit of the moors; no major ascents or descents; it offers stunning 360-degree views contrasting natural landscapes with manmade additions; my only advice would be to choose a day when the weather is kind, as you are certainly very exposed to all the elements on the moorland.
Beginning from the car park beneath the White House Pub on the A58 [OL15 0LG, GR SD 968178], we first headed south along the Pennine Way. It is a clear path with a steep descent to the right, curving the contour of the land before reaching a metal gate, where you turn left and climb uphill, following a former Packhorse route, thought to be a Roman Road originally. You will reach the Aiggin Stone, a way-marker or religious symbol thought to be approx. 600 years old, whose origin is not entirely clear.
The Pennine Way continues to the right, through the gate, meandering onto more exposed land with plenty of boulders on which to scramble. Just beyond the Trig point there is Robin Hood’s Bed; a millstone grit boulder that has a natural groove in which one can lie and where, it is said, that Robin Hood once slept. Despite reading another piece of folklore stating that ‘no wind ever blows’ at this particular spot; I can report that on this day; it was certainly rather blustery!
Continue to follow the Pennine Way towards the motorway, which is a ribbon of movement on the horizon. The way is quite clear, with sections of the path paved. The expanse of land; the colours, the roughness of the bracken and ferns; plus the views of distant suburbia really do make you feel far from civilisation, despite the faint audible hum of the motorway up ahead.
On reaching the motorway, follow the path to the left as it curves to meet a permissive path following the catchwater for the Green Withins Reservoir; thus leaving the Pennine Way, at a point curiously named ‘Lads Grave’ on the map – GR SD 983 148.
You will follow the catchwater all the way towards the reservoir itself, a path that can often be boggy but with beautiful views, having turned your back on the motorway! Passing the reservoir, crossing the dam and walking along another catchwater, or perhaps a drain [I am never sure!] you need to cross at the fourth footbridge. I am never quite clear of the path at this point on this route; as it is open access land and many different paths are discernible. My intention is always to follow Blackwood Edge Road [Path] and thus I climb slightly following an obvious passage; aiming on a ‘two o’clock [ish] trajectory, to pass under the trig point of Dog Hill and eventually meeting a much clearer path on the moorland top. My attitude is to aim roughly in the direction of Rishworth, mirroring the motorway, and you’ll find a way! You’ll reach a stone wall, where there is a large step ladder-type stile crossing it; but instead, turn left to descend and don’t pass over the wall. You will come to a farm at the bottom, and the homeowner has painted a sign to show where the path
passes through the property. Continue in the same direction, and you will meet the road, Long Causeway. Here we turned left, passing the Parrock Nook Chapel and following the quiet road for a few hundred yards. You will turn left off the road; taking a clearly waymarked permissive path that will lead you back out onto the wilds of the moorland. This path passes through Cat Moss, beneath the Cat Stones [hence the route name] and is not always clear, however the occasional way-marker shows you the way. You curve around Warm Withins Hill, following the same contour line therefore relatively flat underfoot, despite the steep drop between you and the A58 road. Eventually meeting a path junction, turn right to walk in the direction of the Blackstone Edge Reservoir. You will cross the Old Packhorse Road mentioned earlier and meet the main road at a layby. The final part of this easy, enjoyable hike returns to the start along this rather busy main road, so do take care. Despite all the walks I’ve done from this start point; I have yet to finish with a pint in the pub; but I would
imagine the proprietors are accustomed to welcoming those with muddy boots at the end of a rewarding ramble such as this!