West Nab & Wessenden Valley From Meltham, Huddersfield
Sometimes the best walks are the serendipitous discoveries you make on your doorstep, and for residents of Kirklees – this 9.6-mile route certainly falls into that category.
Above the settlement of Meltham rises the dramatic ridge that curves between the peaks of Shooters Nab in the north and West Nab at the south end. Between them lies the danger area of Deer Hill Moss, inaccessible due to a rifle range located there, however this circuit cannot fail to please, providing extensive views and the sense of isolation so many walkers seek to experience in the wilderness.
Please do follow government guidelines and exercise common sense when venturing out for a walk. Walks should not be undertaken in groups of more than two people; those individuals must live in the same household as you. Do not use public transport; keep two metres from any other walker you encounter and only walk in an area that is local to you. Avoid touching gates and fences, particularly in local parks where others may choose to undertake their daily exercise.
Requiring maps OL1 and OL21, you begin from Meltham itself – a free car park is located on Carlile Street, behind the Community Centre (HD9 4AG). Walk through the Co-Op car park to the main road, turning left, past the fire station to cross the road and turn right along Tinker Lane. When the road curves, turn left along a way-marked path which crosses Heather Road and continues past some allotments to reach Calmlands Road.
Spring sunshine highlights that the moorland growth is far from just 'brown'
Here turn right to begin a long, gentle ascent; the tarmac quickly gives way to a rocky pathway. You pass a cemetery, looking down on Royd Edge Clough on the left. Meeting a stile and gate, turn right away from the continuing track, hop over the second stile and follow the field edge upwards, marked Bannister Edge on the map. Although easily missed, there are the remains of an Iron Age enclosure located in the field on your right.
Expansive views create a sense of isolation
Continue upwards, passing two square water reserves and beside the Orleans farmhouse to meet Wessenden Head Road. Turn left, along the road, past the unmissable Cock Crowing Stone, before taking a path on your right, over a stile, up towards the ridge. A well traversed path leads you to West Nab’s summit where on a summer’s day you’d be inclined to stop awhile for the breadth of the horizons and perhaps even a picnic. Please be aware, however, that dogs are not allowed around the summit; signs on the fence below provide information.
Trig point atop West Nab, with Huddersfield beyond
Continue beyond the summit towards Ravens Rocks. You’ll note no path is marked on the OS Maps, but this is open access land. The passing of the 2000 CRoW Act, which was campaigned for by many walkers and hikers, particularly the Ramblers, allows the public right of access to all registered common land and land defined as ‘open country’ for the purposes of open-air recreation, provided no damage is done to the land on which you are walking. This is a very brief explanation of the terms of the act; however land categorised as open access can easily be identified on an OS Map as it coloured pale yellow.
Here, as a popular route, a path is clear to Ravens Rocks. Beyond the rocks, however, you might need to follow your nose (or preferably, compass). Your aim is the footbridge of the Pennine Way beneath, and you loosely mirror Leyzing Clough to your left as you descend. You might have to clamber awhile over soft, pillowy clumps of grass, but should bump into a more defined pathway eventually.
Overlooking the Wessenden Valley
Lower down, with the footbridge in sight, you should see a path curving away to your right which runs above and alongside the Pennine Way beneath (this path is marked as a black dotted line on the map). Here you’re on the eastern slope of Wessenden Valley with a series of four reservoirs, built between 1836-1906, connected by brooks that feed eventually into the River Colne in Marsden.
The path becomes increasingly defined and keeps high above the valley. At times perhaps uncomfortable for those who dislike steep drops and edges, it is a delightful path, curving in and around the hillside on an almost continuous contour. You pass waterfalls, cross footbridges – the colours of the landscape are best enjoyed on a bright, sunny day.
You soon join the Deer Hill conduit above Blakeley Reservoir which you follow all the way to Deer Hill Reservoir itself, passing Scar Hill Waterfall, snaking along Binn Edge beneath Binn Moor until the conduit swings right above Marsden towards the rifle range and reservoir, offering vistas of the Colne Valley towards Slaithwaite.
At a defined junction with a bridge, there is the opportunity to climb to the rocky outcrop of Shooters Nab above on the right; however, access is inadvisable, given it sits within the exclusion zone of the rifle range and therefore whilst a right of way exists, it can be dangerous and is only accessible at certain times.
Instead, continue along the conduit to meet the reservoir. We circuited the reservoir joining a track at the south east corner, descending to join Deer Hill End Road. beyond the bend, marked with a shooting box on the map, take the right-hand pathway marked as Hassocks Road. Turn right again when the path divides before another bend and you’ll traverse several wall stiles that separate the fields. After three field lengths you reach a path T-junction, turn left, before a path on your right joins the Meltham Way following a catchwater drain. This final, snaking section is an absolute delight – gone is the drama of exposed moorland, replaced instead with a more gentle, bucolic surrounding.
Reaching Wesseden Head Road, turn left for an easy road walk back to the start.