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South Pennine Walks

Midgley Moor

Date: 6th Sept 2014
Distance: 6.4 miles
Ascent: 1146 feet
Time: 3 hours 20 mins
With: Tim and Jack
Start Grid Ref: SE012258

Walk Summary:
A wet and claggy walk up on to Midgley Moor from Mytholmroyd using a variety of interesting paths on the ascent and descent.

Route Summary: Mytholmroyd - Burlees Wood - New Burlees - Nook Lane - Cock Hill - Midgley Moor - Wadsworth Moor - Crow Hill Nook - Calderdale Way - Chapel Lane - Brearley Lane - Rochdale Canal - Mytholmroyd

Photos: Click on the photos below to enlarge.

St Michael's Church above the River Calder in Mytholmroyd
Mytholmroyd War Memorial
The inscription on the memorial
Crossing over the Rochdale Canal
A colorful corner in Burlees Wood
Low cloud closing around Heptonstall
Tim looking back towards the small village of Chiserley
Midgley Moor
The trig point on Midgley Moor recorded on the OS database as 'Keelam'
A path across Midgley Moor
Looking towards the ancient burial mound of Miller's Grave
The path leading to Churn Milk Joan
Churn Milk Joan
Delphs above Foster Clough
Wisps of low cloud added drama to the view of Calderdale
Descending into Calderdale
The colorful path just above Chapel Lane
The thin path at the start of Brearley Lane
These two trees looked like pillars guarding the entrance to this stretch of Brearley Lane
The Rochdale Canal

Walk Detail: After suffering a few nocturnal dizzy spells brought on by a bout of labyrinthitis I thought it best that I didn't risk driving. Instead I made use of the Calderdale line between Leeds and Manchester to catch the train to Mytholmroyd where I met Tim and Jack from Bowland Walks for our first walk together since April.

The forecast had been for any early morning rain and fog to clear by mid-morning leaving a day of sunny spells. It sounded good but unfortunately proved not to be the case. It rained on and off during the walk and the cloud never really lifted from the tops, indeed it barely lifted out of the valley in some places.

However, despite the rather miserable weather we still thoroughly enjoyed this walk. For me one of the most fascinating things about walking in Calderdale is navigating the intricate network of paths up and down to the moors from the valley and this walk was no exception. A highlight of the first part of the walk was along the bottom of Burlees Wood with a particularly colorful corner featuring a small waterfall as the path took a sharp bend before reaching the houses at Broad Bottom.

Having negotiated a route on to Nook Lane and open access land we enjoyed a dramatic view across to Heptonstall which was being enveloped by cloud. Continuing on we made our way up to the trig point on Midgley Moor which is named 'Keelam' on the Ordnance Survey database. Due to the low cloud the views from the trig point were fairly restricted so we didn't hang around long. We continued north to a junction of paths on Wadsworth Moor where we did a sharp turn to double back in a south-easterly direction on another decent path.

This eventually led to the large standing stone known as Churn Milk Joan. The stone is supposed to mark the spot where a milkmaid called Joan died in a snowstorm whilst carrying her milk churn. There is also apparently a tradition of leaving coins as offerings in a hollow on the top of the stone (though I didn't notice any). Churn Milk Joan is also the subject of a poem by Ted Hughes that starts:

"A lonely stone
Afloat in the stone heavings of emptiness
Keeps telling her tale

From Churn Milk Joan we descended the Calderdale Way passing an interesting area of delphs above Foster Clough. Shortly afterward we took a path branching off the Calderdale Way to take a narrow path above a heathery trench which, though now overgrown, looked like it may once have been a holloway leading on to the moor. This narrow path led on to Chapel Lane and thence on to Midgley Road.

After walking a 100 yards or so along Midgley Road we took an unpromising looking path behind a house that soon widened out and descended through some woodland. In places the path was slabbed hinting again at this being an old, now almost forgotten path. Near the bottom of the path I was particularly struck by two large trees either side of the path almost acting as gateposts. Not marked on the OS map this wonderful, but rather wet and slippery path, is recorded as Brearley Lane on Streetmap and which was presumably the continuation of the Brearley Lane that crosses over the canal. Once alongside the canal it was then an easy walk back into Mytholmroyd via the tow path - a pleasant end to a nice walk.

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