BEST FOOT FORWARD: Scammonden Reservoir

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This week’s stunning walk comes courtesy of the team at Yorkshire Water and explores Scammonden Reservoir.

This week’s stunning walk comes courtesy of the team at Yorkshire Water and explores Scammonden Reservoir.


Adjacent to the M62, this walk teeters around the edges of Scammonden Reservoir, taking in woodlands and rough pastures. Leave the A640 half a mile south of the bridge over the M62 and follow signs to Scammonden Water, Wood Edge car park is at point 1 on the map.


The walk is approximately 4km long (2.5 miles) and should take around 1 hour to complete. The route runs on well surfaced, aggregate paths but there are some steep gradients along the route.

This walk starts from Wood Edge car park on the north eastern side of the reservoir where there is ample parking. Please note that this car park closes at 6pm.

Important information

The route follows Yorkshire Water permissive paths and public rights of way. Please be aware that the weather can quickly change so remember to bring suitable footwear and clothing. Refreshments and toilets are not available along the route.

Things to look out for

Whilst the sound of the busy M62 can be quite deafening at the northern end of the route, as you head towards the southern end of the reservoir this soon fades away to almost silence. Scammonden is a great place for watching nature, in particular birds, and changes with the seasons. During the spring and autumn migrations you may be lucky enough to see an osprey calling off for a refreshment break to or from its summer and wintering grounds. The water itself can be alive with wildfowl such as Canada geese, mallard and coot. During the spring and summer months listen out for the unmistakable call of the willow warbler and chiff chaff and if you are really lucky the distinctive call of the grasshopper warbler. If you are walking this route at the weekend look out for the sail boats, from Scammonden Water Sailing Club, which was formed in 1971 when the dam and the M62 were constructed.

The route

Start from Wood Edge car park, point 1, which is the largest of three car parks available for use at Scammonden and is located just off Low Platt Lane. Please note there is a height barrier at the entrance to this car park which restricts vehicles higher than 6 foot 6 inch. Leave Wood Edge car park at the end of the car park nearest the motorway through the staggered fence exit and follow the well-defined path.

Where the path forks take the left hand fork and head towards Scammonden infamous Stanza Stone. This is a standing testament to the landscape and wildlife of the Yorkshire Pennines with the wording inscribed on the sculpture directly influenced by poetry from Simon Armitage. Look out for the stone bench; do you recognise its shape?

After the sculpture, point 2, follow the aggregate path away from the sculpture and bare left, following the path down the slope.

Where the path forks again take the right hand fork this time (following the National Cycle Network Route 68 signage) and head towards the motorway.

Where the path runs parallel with the M62 it is known as Bray Walk, look out for the marker stone naming the path. Follow the path for the length of Scammonden’s embankment.

This particular section of the walk can be very noisy, but don’t worry, it doesn’t last long and is a good incentive to walk faster.

At the end of Bray Walk turn left and head down the slope, following the well-defined, aggregate path, point 3.

The path now heads away from the noise and speed of the M62 and meanders along the western side of the Scammonden Valley, below the quiet village of Deanhead.

Keep following the good aggregate path and where there is an opening to your right, affording good views of St Bartholomew’s church in Deanhead village, point 4, bare left and head down the slope. If you would like closer views of the church you can turn right at this point and head into the village, continue past the church at point 5, up the steps and into the graveyard. Turn left onto the track and head back toward Scammonden via the public footpath.

Keep on the path until it comes to a wide, pedestrian gate at point 6. Head through the gate, remembering to close the gate behind you, there may be livestock in the fields, and pass a short length of fence on your left.

After the fence continue ahead and bare left following the path until you come to the top of some steps. Head down the steps, take care as they are very steep, and pass through another pedestrian gate before a bridge.

Cross over the bridge which crosses Black Burne Brook at point 7.

Just after the bridge you will meet a T junction in the path. If you turn right the path will take you back to New Lane car park and picnic area, however our walk turns left at the T junction. Follow the aggregate path until you get to a pair of pedestrian gates which are quite close to each other. This is a cattle pass used by the livestock to pass from one side of the Brook to another, please ensure the gates are left closed after you use them. Head through both gates, following the well-defined path.

The path now meanders close to the reservoir itself and provides some great views back down the valley towards the M62.

Keep the reservoir on your left and follow the aggregate path until it meets the bottom of a steep, tarmac road. Turn right up the hill until you reach the top, there’s a bench on your right hand side if you need to take a moment after the steep climb.

At the top of the steep hill turn left and walk along the tarmac road towards the Scout Activity Centre.

This building is a 17th Century farmhouse and barn that has been carefully restored and renovated to retain its original character. It now plays host to Scout events and can accommodate groups of up to 42 people.

To get a map of the walk see this week’s Courier.

If you love your walking and love the great outdoors of Calderdale, you will love our Best Foot Forward column.

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