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March Hill from Marsden

This walk to March Hill from Marsden features a little summit, some moorland walking on the famous Pennine Way and a trig point. What’s not to like about this one?

Setting Off

This walk basically connects two walks already featured on the site, Five Reservoir Stride: Slaithwaite to Marsden and Station to Station: Littleborough to Marsden, using the Pennine Way as a link. It has been devised to be a mixture of all sorts; a little bit of town, gentle paved roads, moorland, the beautifully paved and easy-to-walk Pennine Way and a bit of hill strolling finished off with a canal towpath.

If I was to do this walk again, I’d think about travelling in an anti-clockwise direction for these reasons: Firstly, the view of March Hill is far more impressive from the Marsden side than wandering up from the already elevated moorland. Secondly, the view coming down into Marsden alongside the reservoirs is excellent and is far better walking towards it than away. I figure that if you find yourself turning round to take most of your photographs, you’re doing things backwards! Anyhow, this walk is written up the way I did it and I’m sure your GPS (if you have one) or your map-reading skills are sufficient to spin this walk around.

Marsden is a bustling little place on a weekend with people shopping and stopping by on the famous real ale trail. Setting off from the train station, where there’s ample free on-street parking, I wandered through the town a little before setting off on my route and found myself walking alongside the River Colne for a while. Very nice. Anyway, upon leaving the town, you quickly find yourself out in reservoir land. The trail of 4 reservoirs heading up the Wessenden valley is beautiful and well featured on the Five Reservoir Stride walk. However, this time I only passed two before darting across the valley and up onto the moorland, following the signpost to the Pennine Way.

Blakeley and Butterley Reservoirs

Blakeley and Butterley Reservoirs

6 (yes, six) Reservoirs

It’s quite a steep climb up the other side of the valley but once you’re up the top you’ll have a lovely view of Blakeley and Wessenden reservoirs. From here you’ll walk through a small river valley then through a lad of ferns before emerging onto the open moorland. As usual with the middle of the moors, there’s not a whole lot to see up here. The two reservoirs up here, Swellands and Black Moss, are at walking level so you can’t really see them until you’re quite near. I’m used to looking down towards reservoirs so it’s a bit strange.

I stopped at Black Moss reservoir for something to eat on the opposite side to the dam. Although this is no United Utilities, car park and ice cream reservoir, it was relatively busy along here. It is part of the Pennine Way so it’s to be expected and it’s nice all the same. The Pennine Way is mostly paved in this section with some lovely stone so the walking’s easy. After a short while, I set off again.

The views remained fairly sparse until you get to the brow of the hill overlooking Redbrook reservoir, an altogether more civilised place. The only thing to look at before this was Pule Hill, which cuts a rather dashing figure on the landscape which stays nearby for the most of the remainder of the walk. A nearby car park, pub and sailing club make Redbrook reservoir by far the more popular of the three reservoirs on this stretch. Upon passing the reservoir, you’ll find yourself in the aforementioned car park where, if your walk is anything like mine, you’ll find people lacing their boots up for a stroll on the Pennine Way.

Pule Hill from the Pennine Way 2

Pule Hill from the Pennine Way 2

View towards Diggle

View towards Diggle

The Edge of the Moors

Across the main road, the walk continues in slightly more cultivated land. You will be walking alongside the edge of the moors, here, so the views down into Saddleworth are beautiful. There are some interesting rock formations and random boulders along here too, if you like that kind of thing. Don’t forget the trig point which you’ll pass on this stretch which is, coincidentally, at the same altitude as the summit of March Hill.

After a couple of miles looking down into the villages Diggle, Delph and Readycon Dean reservoir, you’ll find yourself being shuttled back into the moorland again before reaching another main road. This time, however, you’ll be turning right and heading back towards Marsden, the majority of the walk completed.

March Hill

March Hill

March Hill

Although the path to March Hill isn’t marked on the OS map, it certainly is there. Take a look on the aerial photograph view of the walk to see. Paths run across from the main route and down the other side and they’re easy to spot so there’s nothing to worry about.

March Hill doesn’t have an obvious summit; no cairns or trig points here. From the direction in which I came, the views improve the further down the other side you go towards March Haigh reservoir. March Hill Holes are on your left as you descend towards the reservoir which is a popular area of geocaches, I believe.

March Haigh Reservoir

The grass surrounding me while walking alongside the reservoir was quite high for a while but it soon thinned out. There were broken barriers up on the dam saying that the footpath was closed and to use a diversion which ran alongside. Although there were people using the normal footpath, I thought I’d play by the rules just this once (this had nothing to do with me wondering if there was no way out on the other side!). It’s pretty flat walking for a time, here, until you get to a road a mile or so further on.

From here, you’ll walk along the top of a hill from where you’ll have some lovely views down the Colne Valley. Eventually, you’ll turn right and head down a hill, through the car park of the Standedge Visitor Centre (lovely building, couldn’t tell you what it’s like inside) and along the canal back to the station.

In Conclusion

As I said at the beginning, this walk is probably best done the other way around. I expect it will make you want to climb Pule Hill as well, what with it looking so impressive almost the whole time.

There are plenty of different things to see on this walk and even though you start and finish at the same place you get depart and arrive from different directions. However, there’s something about circular walks that fails to satisfy me. I quite like dropping myself in the middle of nowhere and having to get back home. The idea of walking away from where you end up is a bit alien after all these linear walks.

It’s certainly enjoyable though, if a little tiring and a bit harsh on the ankles when you can’t see the path properly from time to time.

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Route Downloads, Image Gallery and Further Information

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