Weekend Walk: Todmorden Circular

This is a fine walk on the far edge of West Yorkshire and makes much use of hard surfaces.

Looking down on Todmorden from the Pennine Bridleway.
Looking down on Todmorden from the Pennine Bridleway.

The first 10-15 minutes or so involve a fairly steep climb up from the floor of the Calder Valley, but the effort is well worth it and the gradient soon becomes gentle. The reward for your effort is a superb promenade along part of the Pennine Bridleway, which is partly flagstoned. This provides excellent long distance views across a wide part of the South Pennines. The return stretch utilises the towpath of the Rochdale Canal, which runs 32 miles from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge and opened in 1804. Canada goose is the main bird species along the canal, plus the occasional pair of goosanders.

1. From the main junction in the centre of Todmorden turn right to cross a bridge and fork left at the Golden Lion pub. Beyond here take Honey Hole Road, which leads up to Shoebroad Lane. Climb steeply uphill, perhaps making use of a thoughtfully placed bench along the way, and at the top the surface is briefly cobbled then turns left on an unmade road to a T junction.

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2. Turn left and follow the track to an equestrian centre. Now on a tarmac surface go right, walk up to another junction and turn left. Walk with care to the Shepherds Rest Inn.

The Rochdale Canal at Walsden.

3. Across the road go through a gate and walk a short distance along a path, then turn right on a flagstoned path which carries the Pennine Bridleway. Follow it through a gate into a walled section to reach the open hillside. The path is well signposted from here, passing North Hollingworth Farm and the small hamlet of Bottomley before proceeding steeply downhill to the Rochdale Canal.

4. Cross the bridge and turn right to follow the canal towpath, leaving it only briefly to cross intersecting roads. The towpath eventually leaves the canal and rises to the main A6033. Cross the busy road with care, and since the towpath is temporarily closed here it is necessary to turn right and walk along the road for several minutes. Turn left to follow the A681 Bacup Road beneath the railway viaduct, then turn left and sharp right to rejoin the towpath. Follow it back to Todmorden.

Difficulty Rating: 3 stars

Time: 2 1/2 hours

The Rochdale Canal at Walsden.

Distance: 5 1/2 miles

Maps: OS Explorer (1:25000) OL21 South Pennines

Parking: Todmorden

Public Transport: Todmorden is served by trains on the Caldervale Line from York, Leeds, Bradford Interchange, Wakefield, Huddersfield and Halifax, and buses from Halifax. For all times check www.wymetro.com or call 0113 245 7676.

Refreshments: Todmorden, Shepherds Rest Inn (on route), Walsden.

Toilets: Todmorden, and for refreshments customers.