Walk – Parts of Pennine Bridleway/Mary Towneley Loop

I'd promised Lisa that I'd go for a walk with her today. The forecast wasn't brilliant but we thought we'd manage to get out for 3 hours or so without getting wet. For a change, we decided to catch the 906*** bus up the Widdop Road to Clough Foot and walk along part of the Pennine Bridleway/Mary Towneley Loop. I've ridden that part of the PBW/MTL many times on my MTB, but I've only walked it a couple of times. Lisa had never walked certain parts before and was looking forward to seeing where I was going to take her.

Clough Foot is where the PBW/MTL emerges onto Widdop Road. Another bridleway starts from the other side of the road and heads off round to Walshaw, above Hardcastle Crags. There is a small car park at Clough Foot if you fancy doing a circular ride or walk from there. It tends to fill up fairly early at weekends and on bank holidays so get there early if you want to park.

As we got to Gorple Lower Reservoir, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds and Lisa promptly announced that we were stopping for a ‘picnic'. Some picnic – it consisted of me sitting watching her eat the one sandwich that she'd bought with her – humph! 🙁

Eventually we were on the move again and following the bridleway up the hillside above the reservoir. I stopped to take a few pictures looking back the way we'd come. The hillsides round here have a lot of heather on them this year, and look rather pretty.

Heathery hillsides above Gorple Lower Reservoir
Heathery hillsides above Gorple Lower Reservoir

Having descended from the hill above Lower Gorple, we got onto Edge Lane where I had an opportunity to snap yet another picture of Stoodley Pike, taken from an unfamiliar viewpoint…

Stoodley Pike from Edge Lane
Stoodley Pike from Edge Lane

We walked 2/3 of the way along the lane before turning right and heading down towards Rodmer Clough. The PBW/MTL goes up to the left in the trees, and there is another bridleway up to the right through Rodmer Clough which takes you round the hillside up to Duke's Cut. I haven't been up there for a long time so I can't tell you what state it is currently in, but I can tell you that the bridleway often used to be boggy after wet weather, and Duke's Cut itself flooded.

We headed up to the left where I soon noticed that remedial work is being done on the bridleway. I rode it a couple of months ago and since then the surface has been dug up and smoothed over. It is a bit muddy at the moment, but it looks like it should settle down once the grass has grown back.

Lisa had never walked that bridleway before and said that she liked the views from up there. It was pretty damn muddy underfoot though, which doesn't bode well for the Mary Townley Loop MTB ride that I am planning to do with some fellow members of the CycleChat forum in a couple of weeks time. My bike will definitely be wearing its CrudGuard and CrudCatcher, me not being a huge fan of the muddy-stripe-up-arse-and-spine look! 😉 (Note to self – buy a new rear tyre for the MTB before then, since the old one has no tread left on it).

Eventually we got onto the farm track which leads down to the road from Jack Bridge to Blackshaw Head. I had intended to take us up the PBW to Badger Lane, but Lisa thought that we ought to be heading back into town or we'd be in danger of missing the cafe. We are cutting down on our cafe visits, but had decided to go for a coffee and currant teacake today.

So, we headed off down Colden Clough (Ragley Wood) and I took the opportunity to have another rant about idiots with Satnavs. Lisa thought that I was going on a bit, but what did we spot further down the bridleway? You got it – fresh car tyre tracks – they are still at it, despite the additional handwritten notice at the beginning of the bridleway! Whoever it was had been remarkably persistent – they carried on for many hundreds of metres before apparently giving up and reversing back the way they'd come.

After a long descent back into the valley we headed round to Innovation for some well-deserved treats!

I measured the route using my Memory Map software when I got home – 7.25 miles (11.7 km) – quite a nice little Sunday afternoon walk.

***Unfortunately, the 906 bus is a summer only service so by the time you read this it will just about have stopped running for this year. It runs between Hardcastle Crags and Widdop Reservoir (via Hebden Bridge) from mid-April to early October.

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6 Responses to “Walk – Parts of Pennine Bridleway/Mary Towneley Loop”

  1. Good on you and Lisa for catching the bus!!! Unfortunately Saturdays my day! i hope ANTON wasnt to miserable? the last weekend is the 3rd and 4th of Oct (Seasons of Mists) all them cyclists will wind Anton up.
    Collecting my cycle MON 21ST SEPT will be tight for SOM, but determined to have a go!

  2. Hi Andy.

    It’s a nice little bus ride that one so I thought I’d mention it in case anybody else fancied it the sound of it. I can see why the bus doesn’t run all year though – there was only one other passenger (he was staying on until Widdop Reservoir). One other person tried getting on at Heptonstall for Blackshaw Head and took some persuading that the bus doesn’t go there. I think he might have been drunk.

    The driver seemed friendly enough. We told him that we were walking up to Lower Gorple and he slowed down on the approach to Widdop Gate and asked if we wanted to alight there. We told him that we were walking up from Clough Foot so he dropped us off there instead.

    I’m glad to hear that you will be getting your bike in time for SoM. You can join me in the tailenders if you like and just ride round at a nice easy pace. My mate Bill might be riding it too now that he has a compact chainset on his bike. He said that he’d wait until the day of the ride to make a final decision though because he doesn’t have any wet weather cycling gear over here. If he rides he’ll either go with the faster riders if he feels frisky, or perhaps he’ll dawdle along too. I’m not sure that he’d want to ride as slowly as me though! 😉

    I’m doing the Shakespeare 100 from Stratford-upon-Avon at the weekend so I’m hoping that the weather settles down a bit.

    See you soon,

  3. I got completely lost around Hbden bridge thanks to these ‘roads’.

    I stood at the top of the first bridleway looking down it in pure dis-belief that that was the turning the satnav wanted me to take / it was the road marked on the map

  4. Yes, old maps show these as ‘roads’, ‘streets’ and ‘lanes’ but really a lot of them are just former pack horse trails and farm tracks now classified as bridleways. It’s why the locals are putting the hand-written signs up, but people are still listening to their satnavs rather than using their eyes and brains.

  5. BTW, I’m looking forward to riding the MTL.

  6. Me too, but I hope that we have a few dry days beforehand to let the mud dry up a bit!

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