Walk – Warley Moor, Luddenden Dean

It was a nice day, quite mild, not too much wind and there were frequent sunny spells. I’d promised Lisa that I’d do a ‘proper’ walk with her today, rather than the shorter strolls that we’ve been doing of late. We set off at lunchtime on the number 500 Keighley bus from Hebden Bridge, intending to get off before Oxenhope and do a repeat of the Shackleton Knoll walk we did way back in October, but soon there was a change of plan…

We’d just got off the bus and started on our walk when Lisa looked back across the road at ‘The Conduit’ as it snaked its way round the opposite hillside. She asked me where it went and I suggested that perhaps she might like to come with me to find out. I already knew where it went because I’ve ridden beside it many times on my MTB and I ride the nearby lane on my road bike but Lisa couldn’t remember having walked that way before. She hesitated for a moment, and then agreed that we’d do the alternative walk provided that it wasn’t excessively long.

As we walked along beside the conduit, I noticed something really odd – it appeared to be going uphill! It definitely doesn’t because water flows down it in that direction so it must be ever-so-slightly downhill. There is something about the slope of the hill, the track’s curvature tied in with the perspective of the conduit and the walls that tricks the mind. See what you think…

The Conduit, Oxenhope Moor
The Conduit, Oxenhope Moor

The photo kind of captured the illusion, but the sensation is stronger when actually standing on that hillside. It reminds me of a bike ride that I once did in Wales with Lisa. We were along riding really quickly without any apparent effort – I’m talking of speeds of about 50 kph (30 mph). That road looked like it was going uphill at a 5% gradient but I’d say that it must have been more like 5% downhill – bizarre!

We continued round the conduit until it brought us out onto Nab Water Lane and we followed that round past Warley Moor Reservoir. Lisa was getting uneasy about where we were going and started asking me how much time we’d be walking on roads. I got a bit irritable because we didn’t have a map with us and neither of us could remember having walked across Warley Moor before. I wanted to stick with what I knew which was the roads. Lisa wanted a more adventurous route over the moor. I wasn’t about to set off over there in the vague hope that we could blaze a trail of our own, but then we spotted a footpath…

I still wasn’t happy because I could see the sunlight glistening off something in the distance and I knew that meant water! My walking boots have big holes in them, but I gave way and off we set. I muttered and grumbled for a while but I had to admit that it was more interesting than walking along that road. The views were great and there were some interesting rock formations in places.

I was definitely right about the water though! The footpath was fairly easy to follow but it turned into a bit of a swamp at times so it wasn’t long before my boots were full of smelly black liquid.

Rocking Stone Flat, Warley Moor
Rocking Stone Flat, Warley Moor

There was another walker just ahead of us and we finally caught up with him as we came down off the moor onto the end of Castle Carr Road. We had a chat with him next to the entrance to the Castle Carr estate. We plebs are only rarely allowed in there, it usually being open to the public on just one day a year when a spectacular gravity-fed fountain is switched on. Here’s a picture of the fountain.

Our fellow walker was a hardy old chap. I say ‘old’ but it is often difficult to tell exactly how old hardy outdoor types are – they often have deeply weathered skin, but are also pretty fit. I’d say that he was older than me (54) and less than 70. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say late-50s to mid-60s. He’d spent the night camping out on Oxenhope Moor. It had been pretty cold even though winter now seems to be over – he’d woken up to find a layer of ice inside his tent!

Every time that I start to think of myself as being pretty fit, I meet somebody fitter! This man is going to do a scenic, meandering LEJOG walk. He has a friend who will do it at 20 miles per day but he is going to do it at a more leisurely 15 miles a day. His route takes in the best scenery that mainland Britain has to offer and totals about 1,930 km (1,200 miles) so it will take him about 3 months to complete. As he said – you need to be single or have a very understanding partner who will be okay with you disappearing for 1/4 year!

I’d like to do a LEJOG by bike one day and like him, I would take an indirect route to maximise the scenery and minimise the busy roads. I’d probably aim for about 60 miles a day so I could take my time and enjoy it. That would be about 3 weeks in total. I’d time it to avoid the Scottish midge season but get the best weather so ideally it would be in May or August.

We were now on the lip of Luddenden Dean, one of my favourite local valleys. Another footpath took us down the very steep hillside of Height Clough past a couple of friendly horses.

Horses, Height Clough, Luddenden Dean
Horses, Height Clough, Luddenden Dean

We walked to the end of the lane which then crosses the valley and turns into a bridleway going back along the opposite hillside. There are numerous footpaths and a bridleway going directly up onto Midgley Moor above, but I felt that it would be easier and quicker to head back on the road to Midgley so that’s what we did.

From the village, we dropped down Midgley Road to Mytholmroyd, and back to Hebden Bridge along the Calder Valley Cycleway.

It had a been a good afternoon of walking – 16 km (10 miles) in total – but I have to agree with Lisa that we spent too much time walking on tarmac. Next time that we walk up there we will cross Midgley Moor, either to Pecket Well and home from there via Midgehole, or to Old Town and down through Nutclough Woods.

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