In wildness is the preservation of the world.

Henry David Thoreau

You are seeing above two maps rather than the usual one; this is because this trek was divided into two days – the first, on Saturday 25 July, was just 5.6 miles from Penistone to Carlecotes, where I camped. The next day started at 4am in the morning (!) and took me over some genuine wilderness to Marsden and was 16.6 miles. For this post, I have decided to merge these two days into one account. The more favourable weather on Sunday morning (this doesn’t mean it didn’t rain) made me change my plans – originally, I was planning to hike on Saturday only.

Just to explain, the first day was really just an attempt to get as close to where the actual Wild Yorkshire Way leads (as found on Long Distance Walkers Association [LDWA] and on this website). At all times, I finish my legs by getting to a nearest train station and Penistone is the closest here, but it’s 8 miles! I would only rejoin the actual route at Windle Edge, about 2 miles south west of Dunford Bridge (6 miles west of Penistone).

I arrived at the Penistone railways station on Saturday about 3.45pm. Most of it was on the TransPennine Trail, which I had walked on the previous leg before just at the end of it. For this reason, I did not take a lot of photos, but you notice things differently walking in the opposite direction and I found some lovely spots on the way that time, too – one passing the village of Millhouse Green and another just near Thurlstone Moors, both within the first 3 miles.

After 4.5 miles, I stepped away from the Transpennine Trail up a short, steep flight of stairs. First, there is a lovely view of the countryside to the north-west from here:

Now a tiny path leads to a small bridge crossing over River Don.

From here, it is upwards through the fields (quite steep) towards the village of Carlecotes – this was my walk for the day! At the campsite here, the owner and his wife (I presume) greeted me, let me onto the campsite and explained about the facilities. I started pitching my tent minutes later.

The view from the campsite is very impressive – now one can appreciate the surrounding hills (the edge of the Peak District), the moors and the vast space that one is surrounded by.

After pitching my tent and eating, I took a short leisurely stroll further west along the very quiet village road for about 10 minutes until the dusk brought with more annoying numbers of insects. Very close by, definitely less than a mile, there is a bus stop (curiously near no building whatsoever in particular) with a bench from which one can admire the nearby countryside and the views towards the hills surrounding Dunford Bridge (down in the valley). Near the bus stop, to the north of the road there is what looks like a no longer used quarry, now overgrown with all manner of plants and shrubbery, forming a tiny, picturesque park of sorts. Enjoy the photos below.

Next day, I got up at 4am, with the first light. It took me about 20 minutes to pack up the tent and my bag. In complete silence – there is something truly magical about getting up at that sort of time in these kinds of surroundings – I left the campsite. Before I did, I took this photo:

I needed to eat so I sat down on the same bench as the previous evening to have my highly calorific breakfast. After 15 minutes or so, the adventure of the day began.

There is no other way to get to Dunford Bridge and Windle Edge than constantly on the roads, but at this time of the day there are no cars on the road. Downhill to Dunford Bridge it’s just 1.5 mile, but from there is a phenomenal ascent up to the highest point of what is now the Windle Edge road. I turned back at one point to take a photo of the day’s sunrise just now.

There were another such photo ops just before leaving the road for the wilderness. In the first one one, you can see Upper Windleden Reservoir in the valley.

The next 5 miles or so are off grid – few paths, appearing and disappearing and quite wet too. Generally, one walks north-west towards Woodhead Road past a number of different mosses. But it’s not as simple as that because one needs to navigate their way around a number of different streams such as Dearden Dike, West Withens Clough and Black Clough. This is the area where River Don actually starts and it’s cut through by several such streams all feeding into and creating the river a mile or two east of here.

Off Windle Edge, just near A628 (the sounds of the motorway dies down quickly), there is a path to begin with, but that goes away quickly. In fact, my main difficulty here was sticking to a path – and I needed to consult my map to ensure I was walking in the right direction quite frequently. The path appeared and disappeared constantly to the extent that I was wondering if I was really seeing one at times or it was some kind of a mirage.

For the first half a mile away from the path near Windle Edge, I was walking alongside Salter’s Brook (needed to push my way through some rather tall grass) before turning north.

Soon, I was walking (steep! 100 feet up in just 3-4 minutes) north east until reaching a fence (two sheep appeared, watching me curiously on my ascent, the only creatures I have seen for the next 4 miles). Once on the upper plain, I was walking along this fence until I would reach Britland Edge Hill 2.5 miles later. It had rained overnight and the ground was well-saturated and boggy, lots of puddles and where it was grassy, very wet. I was often surrounded by cloud and the visibility seemed to be changing by the minute – windy too, but such a nice breeze was quite welcome.

The trail follows the fence for the 2.5 miles changing directions often – the first half a mile is to the north east, then there’s a sharp turn towards the west… – the photo below (to the east, looking backwards, should give you an idea of how wet and remote this was!, and of how quickly the weather changed – the second photo taken 5 minutes later)

…then the path (this is now actually a visible path) turns north to then slowly swing back south-west until reaching Britland Edge Hill. Below are some photos from this stretch (the last two from the long-slog grassy ascent towards the hill’s top itself (the last photo in the batch looking downhill, not uphill).

I took a break at Britland Edge Hill (523 m) – a quick drink and sustenance (not that there was anywhere in particular to sit!). From here, the beautiful views towards Holme Moss and Black Hill (which I would climb later) come into view. The sun was peeking through the clouds, creating beautiful magic of light.

From here, it’s about 1 mile, more or less on the flat to Woodhead Road – the path joins right next to Wilmer Hill. There is a parking space here with an incredible view to the north-east – I believe the body of water down below is Yateholme Reservoir (but could be wrong).

Holme Moss is on the other side of Woodhead Road and I was soon off the road now hiking to Black Hill (582m). This is first north-west with the final part west. The hills to the left of the path here are simply enchanting.

Black Hill itself was suddenly (!) shrouded in mist and fog. I took another break at the peak.

Here, my trail meetings the Pennine Way and its lovely comfortable stone slabs, but I wasn’t to enjoy them! My route was taking me north west, across Wessenden Head Moor (eventually to cross Holmfirth Road), certainly away from the nice “pavement” of the Pennine Way, but hey! it was awesomely spectacular!

Yet again, not an easy route. First, there is a relatively easy (but muddy) path, but as one crosses some boggy areas, grasslands and has to go over some muddy-banked streams (some took some figuring out to cross), it is superbly easy to lose the general direction – without constant looking at the map, it would be a lost cause.

It was less than a mile from reaching the fence in the last photo to Holmfirth Road, but here the boggy ground and navigating the mud, jumping from one tuft of grass to another took on a somewhat new meaning – and what would normally took me 10 minutes to walk took 30.

Eventually, though, I reached the road and a 5 minute walk on it took me to a small parking space. Beyond that, almost to the north-west, lies Featherbed Moss (I had walked in this general area before on the Pennine Way in 2018.)

Before I set off further, I took this photo from parking area.

Walking in Featherbed Moss was like attending a cocktail party by comparison to walking just before! – nice slabs laid out most of the way here to Black Moss Reservoir, with only the last bit more muddy and on more regular paths. I was now just a few miles away from the town of Marsden, my destination that day.

About half a mile before Black Moss Reservoir, Featherbed Moss becomes Black Moss. The beautiful views towards Wessenden (east) are becoming more and more striking.

Now the path leads directly north and falls towards the reservoir.

Walking just past the reservoir, the view to the west, towards Manchester, is striking, too.

North on from the reservoir, a familiar stretch as I had walked this on the Pennine Way – slightly up and then beautiful views downhill towards Redbrook Reservoir and the surrounding hills near Standedge.

From here, Wild Yorkshire Way goes further north towards Hebden Bridge. Today, I needed to get to the railway station in Marsden, so just next to Redbrook Reservoir I took a sharp turn to the right (east) onto Standedge Trail. As I reached the Trail, I took a short break and another photo of the area:

From here it’s just 2 miles into Marsden; the landscape surrounding the town is unbelievably beautiful. On the way to Mount Road, which descends into Marsden, I was treated to the following (the sun kissing the hills now certainly helped appreciate this area even more):

It is useful to cross Mount Road onto Old Mount Road and then onto a path running a ridge overlooking the town directly to the north of here. The views are simply spectacular.

A shockingly steep descent into Marsden and I finished my route that day at the bridge over River Colne lazily flowing through the town.

This was one stunning, invigorating and gorgeously remote walk, a lot of it with no one around for miles in actual wilderness. I want a repeat!

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