Station to Station: Littleborough to Marsden
This is a walk that’s featured on the excellent walkridesouthpennines.co.uk as the Station to Station Walk. Being from a station to a station, you can go by train, though they’re not on the same line as each other. I drove to Brighouse station, got the train to Littleborough then came back to Brighouse via Huddersfield from Marsden. I’m sure there are other ways.
The walk takes in a few reservoirs, a lot of moorland and some towpath walking and is quite challenging though no part is particularly tough. It was very dry on the tops when I went which is just as well as there is quite a lot of walking over open moorland to do. If it is boggy, I would not recommend this walk. It’s quite long and has a strangely unexpected tough climb just when you think you’re nearly done!
You begin at Littleborough station where you turn left to walk alongside the canal. It’s away from Hollingworth Lake, the main road takes you right to it, but this part is one of the more pleasant parts of the whole walk so I recommend it. Walking alongside the Rochdale Canal for a short while, you turn right over the lock where you follow the path of a small river until you reach a car park for Hollingworth Lake. Walk down to the reservoir and turn left along the road across the dam and continue on for a while until the waymarked Rochdale Way and Pennine Bridleway split up. Follow the Rochdale Way. After going under the motorway, walk along the hillside until you reach the rocky Tunshill Lane.
You’ll stay on Tunshill Lane for a good couple of miles. It’s a bit of a shame that it’s sheltered on either side meaning you can’t really see out. You’ll eventually reach Piethorne Reservoir with its impressive engineering. I stopped for lunch sat on a wall in a field just up the hill on the other side, overlooking the reservoir. Very nice it was too. It was here I decided that a wooly hat is a good idea and that stopping for lunch in an area known as Cold Greave isn’t. The clue was there.
Quite a walk uphill now to reach the A672 which runs from the motorway into Denshaw. There’s a pub here and, just like in Farnley Tyas, I did consider it, but I didn’t go in. Not sure why, that’s 2 pubs now. I must rectify this next time out.
Reaching The ‘Top’
Readycon Dean reservoir is not far off now and quite impressive it is too. Walk alongside this for a while and climb up and to your right towards the A640. It’s pretty bleak up here but it’s pretty much the only time on this walk you feel you’ve reached the top of anything. Most things so far have resulted in walking constantly uphill or in cuttings on the side of hills. It was nice to be able to look down into Marsden from here.
I’m not overly convinced I took the best route off of the moor and down onto the Standedge Trail. I had to climb down some rocks at the head of the hill. There were paths all over the place at the bottom and I’m sure one of them would have lead to where I was. Anyway, once down you cross the pretty Close Gate Bridge and follow the river. Then the walk throws in a stupidly steep climb! Right near the end! What were they thinking.
It’s quite nice once you get to the top, to be fair, and I suppose it is kind of worth it. Walk around the top of the hill for a bit where Marsden Walkers Are Welcome had done some fantastic work in keeping the area navigable. You’ll come down into the valley through someone’s garden (seriously, there are signs and everything). Once you’ve walked past their picnic table, trampoline, garden toys, kitchen window, cars on their driveway and gone out of their front gate, you can stop running with a confused look on your face and walk normally again.
Now, I was going to go to the Tunnel End for a pint as I knew that I was 15 minutes away from the station with 10 minutes until my train, but it had closed down. So, faced with a 55 minute wait for a train and the only nearby pubs being full of people on the Real Ale Trail, I decided to get a move on. Speeding through the Standedge Visitor Centre and along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal towpath, I reached the station with 1 minute to spare. The train was 5 minutes late though so I stood about in amongst lots of drunk people on the Real Ale Trail. A bit loud after the previous 4½ hours in solitude on the moors. Back to Brighouse via Huddersfield in about half an hour. They didn’t charge me on the Marsden train so it’s not all bad.
As a walk, it’s not a cracker. Quite hard work and if you like barren landscapes and uneven surfaces, this is great. The work didn’t bother me, it was the lack of surroundings. I think maybe I’ve been a bit spoilt by The Lakes over the years and a new appreciation needs to grow for The Moors. Although I’m not itching to get back out there straight away, it won’t be the last time I go out there, that’s for sure.
Route Downloads, Image Gallery and Further Information
If you'd like to go on this walk, this is the place for you!
You can download the GPX file for your GPS device, smartphone or tablet below. For more information on GPX files, what they are and how great they are for walking, visit the GPX files page.
Click images for larger versions. Images of 1920px along the longest edge are available from the Station to Station: Littleborough to Marsden Flickr album.