A couple of months ago we decided to go for a drive out to West Yorkshire. We’ve been doing quite a lot of driving and exploring over the past months during lockdown. Discovering new places to visit and re-visiting old favourites. I think on this particular day we were thinking of going to Haworth, but on the way over to Hebden Bridge, hubby decided he wanted to have a look at Withens Clough Reservoir which is in Cragg Vale and on the way to Hebden Bridge.
We have many fond memories of Cragg Vale as we used to be members of a local walking group called Shaw Endeavour, which sadly disbanded many years ago. Our Christmas ramble and meal were based in Cragg Vale and we used to stay in a school hall near to the local pub, the Hinchcliffe Arms. Many happy memories I have of times in this pub.
Back to this summer – we parked up near to the Hinchcliffe Arms and proceeded to walk up the lane towards Withens Clough Reservoir. It was another lovely day and nice to be out again, admiring the scenery and wildlife including a rather noisy bull in a field (we gave him a swerve). I think he had been separated from the cows and was complaining loudly.
We got to the reservoir in quite a quick time and had a look along one side of it. The actual walk around Withens Clough Reservoir is approximately 1.5 miles and rated 2 out of 4 difficulty. Perfect for an afternoon walk I thought. Hubby I think had different ideas, he had found a sign at the end of the lane which said ‘Stoodley Pike’ and had ventured into the field and started climbing. ‘I’ll just have a quick look up here and see if I can see anything’ he said and promptly bounded off.
A few weeks prior to this visit on another drive out, we had visited the town of Todmorden, from which you can see Stoodley Pike in the distance dominating the hillside. I did actually comment on that day that I wouldn’t mind climbing it ‘one day’. This could well be ‘that day’ I thought to myself now feeling slightly apprehensive.
I then followed on through the field and started to climb. I’m not brilliant on steep slopes and have a tendency to go a bit dizzy sometimes, so regular pit stops are a must. Hubby had now reached a large stile near to the top of the slope and exclaimed ‘I can see it’. This definitely spurred me on, so after another pit stope I powered up the legs and plodded up the hill.
At the stile sure enough there was Stoodley Pike (it’s actually pronounced ‘Studley’), we have a peculiar dialect in our region. It is a very impressive monument and looked quite dark and forboding looming up in the distance. Hubby enquired if I was still up to walking to it, as it looked nearer than it was, being so large. The terrain going forward was fairly flat and marshy and I thought I’ve got this far, I’m going for it now!
With best foot forward I marched on through the boggy ground and onto the path. It was further than anticipated, but eventually we finally reached our destination.
What struck me first about the monument was it’s sheer size and it did make me feel a little uncomfortable as it towered above us. I also noticed had some interesting graffiti sprayed on it which said ‘Man City – Bell’ which made me laugh. That’s a blast from the past, late 70’s early 80’s I thought. Think I followed United back then though.
The monument is based on Stoodley Pike, which is a 1,300 foot hill based in West Yorkshire and dominates the moors of the Calder valley. It is near to the villages of Mankinholes and Lumbutts and approximately 2 miles from Hebden Bridge and within clear distance from Todmorden (2.5 miles away). It was designed by local architect James Green in 1854, and finished at the end of the Crimean War in 1856. This was not the original construction as it replaced an earlier monument started in 1814, commemorating the defeat of Napoleon. It was completed after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, but had to be rebuilt in 1854 after an earlier lightning strike and years of weather damage. In 1889, a lightning conductor was finally added and although having been struck since, no serious damage has been noted.
As we stood at the base of the 121 foot monument gazing upwards, we discovered that there was staircase inside the monument which has 39 steps. This of course meant another climb in near darkness this time. A torch is highly recommended for this as it is pitch black in some places. My phone torch was adequate for this. At 40 feet above ground level the surrounding views of the Calder valley and the villages previously mentioned were well worth it. I was really chuffed with myself and I felt I had really achieved something worthwhile. After another good look around the monument and it’s various inscriptions and carvings we decided to make our way back across the moorland towards Cragg Vale. Stoodley Pike is only accessible by footpaths via routes from Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd, but it is well worth the effort to get there.
Walking back down into the valley towards Withens Clough Reservoir (which we will complete another day), I realised I was suddenly very hungry and thirsty. All the excitement of the day, I think! Luckily hubby felt the same way and we decided to have a nostalgic visit to the Hinchcliffe Arms for a well-deserved meal. I can really recommend a visit to this pub, not because I’m biased but it does serve good quality food at a reasonable price and in the current climate the Covid checks were spot on (temperature checks, etc). The staff are very helpful and friendly too.
This was just what we needed to round off an exhilarating day out – good walk, visit to an impressive landmark with superb views and a great meal to finish off with. It certainly makes it all worthwhile and lifts your mood.