This 9 mile circular walk is a wonderful quiet walk full of variety. Starting by the Huddersfield Canal in the village of Marsden you get to enjoy Standedge Tunnel, a climb up the expanse of Marsden Moor, a remote reservoir, a few miles along the Pennine way, and a quick climb up the unique Pule Hill.
The views on this walk are ever changing and are really terrific. You get views not only across West Yorkshire but also over to Greater Manchester and Cheshire, especially when the weather is clear.
The GPX route I have added to this post starts in the centre of the village of Marsden. A great place to start and finish with a variety of refreshment options after the walk.
For parking you may be lucky and find roadside parking in Marsden itself, being respectful to residents of course.
I visit Marsden a lot so know there is a big free car park right by the canal at the Marsden Moor National Trust Office. At the top of Station Road, turn right with the railway line on your left, and you end up into the car park. Postcode HD7 6DH.
From Marsden you take the canal towpath for about a mile and it opens up at Standedge Tunnel.
Standedge Tunnel is a destination in itself for many and rightly so. It is the longest, deepest and highest altitude canal tunnel in Britain.
In the 18th Century a canal passage was required through the Pennines here to boost the important textile industry and the movement of materials. It was decided to make a tunnel right through the Pennines connecting the villages of Marsden here and Diggle on the other side.
In 1811 it finally opened and is 3.5 miles long deep under the hills. A huge engineering feat. Then came the railway and the Leeds – Manchester trains now run under the hills here.
The canal tunnel was only wide enough and tall enough for a narrowboat and even those needed to be walked through (image someone lying on their back on a boat, walking it through on the tunnel ceiling).
For our walk and the first half we climb up where the tow horses had to go up and over, as they could not go through.
The Climb Up Out Of Marsden
From the tunnel the route heads to the right, by a couple of houses and then up onto the pathway. It doesn’t take long to start feeling away from civilisation. You can see the moorland ahead that we were to pass over.
The first couple of miles before getting into open consists of small grassy paths that wind up and round the low hills.
The odd bench with a view along the way.
Then, once you reach the Farmhouse named The Dean, the path suddenly becomes open moorland.
March Haigh Reservoir
This is where you start to realise how expansive the moorland views are and how quiet it is. For such a dreamy walking area it is you will hardly meet anybody on your way.
The path up here follows a stream, Haigh Clough, that leads you up March Haigh Reservoir.
It was a warm day so the dogs were enjoying the stream as well as a good paddle in the reservoir.
This reservoir, in the middle of nowhere, halfway up the moors, was built over 200 years ago to help supply water to the Huddersfield Canal below and keep it going.
Up To The Pennine Tops
From the reservoir turn left and at the t junction of pathways turn right and upwards.
You really are in open moorland at this point. Amongst the brown grasses that typify the area. The shadow of a future hill on the walk, Pule Hill, looming on the horizon.
Once you get to the top you then get even greater views.
Pennine Way Section
At the top you join the Pennine Way and turn left to head southwards.
So far you have only been seeing views within the Yorkshire side but now you get even bigger views over to Greater Manchester and beyond. You literally are walking on the boundary of Yorkshire and what is now Greater Manchester.
I have walked this section so many times I have lost count. The familiar view from the rocks up here down towards Castleshaw Reservoirs.
I am from the Oldham area, not far from here, and have already written about walking over this section with my children, along Standage Edge.
Keep in mind that in the industrial era of the early 19th Century there would have been tow horses and handlers galore passing over here as the canal boats were walked in the deep below through the tunnel. 194 metres (636 feet) underground.
Malc has a thing about rocky lookout points and always likes to pose on them.
After walking along the Pennine way and the ridge for about a mile you will come to a junction. Instead of heading straight on towards the big car park, turn left and wind down to the A62 lower down.
You will end up crossing the A62 right by the Great Western Pub.
Now the unmistakeable shape of Pule Hill comes into view ahead properly. If you have ever driven over the Pennines from Oldham to Huddersfield as you came over the tops and dropped down towards Marsden then the triangular shape of Pule Hill stands there straight ahead of you.
In the picture above you can see the path that literally goes straight up Pule Hill.
The prominence of Pule Hill is 78 metres high but once you reach the top of it you are at 437 metres above sea level. Another great landmark to get to on this great circular walk.
The path straight up may not be long in distance but it is certainly good for a heart and lung workout.
The dogs still ran up though for sure.
Every time I have ever been up on Pule Hill it always seems to be breezy. In fact this hill is where we filmed the Karcher video.
Still you can sit and pause for breath as you get a incredible view across Marsden Moor from up here as well as look down at the now tiny looking cars travelling on the A62.
From the top the path heads down on the shallow less steep side. You will see quarry works down on your left and dotted along the top you will see square brick chimneys.
These are the air vents that had to be put in to allow fresh air to reach the canal tunnel way under your feet below.
This is then where you start to drop down and down back towards the village of Marsden.
Looking out over the village is a memorial cross dedicated to the local Yorkshire soldiers who gave their lives in WW2. The 2nd/7th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington Regiment.
The original cross was put there by veteran Walter Horne in the 1950s. It needed repair in the noughties but today a few people climb up here on remembrance day to pay respects.
Back To Marsden
And a fine view over Marsden you sure get here. Beautifully nestled beneath the West Yorkshire hills. The Colne Valley winding round with Huddersfield in the distance.
Drop back into Marsden, back into civilisation, after a grand and varied walk.
Route Details and GPX
Distance: 9 miles
Time taken: 4 hours
Other walks nearby: