South Pennines walk - Mytholmroyd and Cragg Vale

PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 April 2019

The view over Cragg Vale

The view over Cragg Vale

Terry Fletcher

The paths are rough and steep but worth the effort to experience a different side of the South Pennines.

Rochdale CanalRochdale Canal

Mention the South Pennines and most people think of windswept moors. This walk explores their other face, the steep wooded cloughs, which seam the lower slopes; yet despite their gentle faces they could be very dangerous places indeed. This walk explores the bandit country of Cragg Vale. The lair of ‘King David’ Hartley. In the 18th century he led a gang of ‘coiners’, criminals who made their living by shaving some of the precious gold from the rims of coins before re-milling the edges and pocketing the stolen metal.

Even the distance of centuries has failed to soften his reputation. He was no Robin Hood but a violent gangster who murdered the man sent to investigate him. Hartley was eventually hanged at York for his crimes.

Although this walk is relatively short it is quite strenuous with two long, steep climbs and descents. The beck side section below Spa Bridge requires particular care.


1. From the car park turn right along the main road then left over the River Calder into New Road. Go under the railway arch and shortly afterwards fork left following signs to Orchard Business Park and then almost immediately right up Hall Bank Lane. This is the start of a long climb into open country. When the lane ends carry on straight ahead up a partially-flagged sunken path signed to Stake Lane. It climbs so steeply that already Mytholmroyd has been left behind and there are extensive views up the Calder Valley towards Hebden Bridge and Heptonstall Church.

Just after a newly-cobbled section take a gate and stile on the right, signed to Hollin Hey Bank. Initially the path traverses but after100 yards it forks. Take the left hand branch uphill, passing above a small barn to take a broad track climbing to a gate.

2. Ignore this and instead take the path to its right which crosses the hillside just inside the top edge of a wood. The trees eventually thin to give views of the valley with a handy wooden bench. About 100 yards beyond this, the path swings downhill, plunging through the trees to reach a gate and stile leading onto an enclosed causey. Go down this and between the houses to reach the road.

3. Go rightwards down the road until opposite the next row of houses, Spa Terrace. Turn sharp left down the drive of Spa Laithe Farm to cross a bridge then immediately take a permissive path signed to Clough Foot Bridge to follow the beck down the valley. This section requires care with loose uneven boulders while the ground between is laced with half-buried tree roots waiting to trip up the careless.

At Clough Foot Bridge go left up the lane for a few paces before taking a gate and stile on the right, signed Dauber Bridge. The path soon enters a wood and then crosses a footbridge over a side stream before climbing steps and a path to reach a concreted farm track.

4. Turn left up this. It is the start of a long climb to Erringden Moor. At a junction continue on the main track, still signed to the moor. When it reaches the entrance to Broadhead Clough Nature Reserve at a crossroads of tracks carry on straight ahead, still climbing the flank of the clough. Eventually the path leaves the wood at a gate, signed Stoodley Pike and Mytholmroyd. Continue up the slope to the open moor.

5. This is the first real taste of the other, more open face of the South Pennines. At the top of the slope go rightwards following the sign to Old Harry Lane. Go round the end of a tumbledown wall and follow the path beside the overgrown remnants of an old boundary wall, though now it seems more like an earth bank. When it reaches a wall corner ignore the footpath sign pointing rightwards and instead follow the wall leftwards on a narrow trod. At the next corner leave the wall and head downhill diagonally leftwards aiming for a ramshackle wooden stile in a cross fence, which is marked with a small yellow arrow.

The path drops beside a sunken way to a farm road. Turn right briefly to a stile on the left. The path continues descending, passing a pylon and then through trees to cross a road and follow a stream downhill to eventually reach a farm track. Turn right along this and then left at the buildings to reach the main valley road. Cross over to take the canal towpath rightwards. Pass a lock and at the third bridge take a flight of steps up onto the road and turn right back to the village centre.


Start/finish: : Mytholmroyd

Distance: : 6 miles/10km

Ascent: 850ft/260m

Terrain: Steep and rough woodland paths, old causeys and moorland.

Time: 3-4 hours

Parking: Car park next to the White Lion pub

Refreshment: Pubs and cafés in Mytholmroyd, even more in Hebden Bridge

Map: OS OL21 South Pennines

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