Todmorden, West Yorkshire Sunday 23rd February 2014

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leader: Steve Budd   Distance: 10.25 miles Moderate/Hard

A circular walk up to Stoodley Pike. Starting from the car park we walk east along the Rochdale Canal for about 1.5 miles, then turn south and start a steady climb up to Stoodley Pike. The last part of this climb is quite steep (but not a scramble). Once at Stoodley Pike, if you dare, you can climb the spooky stairs to the top for great views. Hard work is now done, and we are rewarded with a good ridge walk ahead. From here we go south along the Pennine Way to Warlands Reservoir and then drop down a few hundred feet to the Rochdale Canal which we follow for about 3 miles back to Todmorden.

Moderate Leader: Jean & Leo Keenan   Distance: 7 miles

The walk today takes us out of the town to the south and east on the Calderdale Way, passing the Quaker Burial Ground. Once we reach the upper level we have fine views of Stoodley Pike. The tracks are bridle ways and minor roads which are good underfoot. We make our way to Lumbutts and Mankinholes and then along London Road (bridle way). From here we return back to Todmorden down through Shaw Wood and along the Rochdale Canal.

Leisurely Leader: Hazel Anderton & Ruth Melling   Distance: 6.5 miles

We follow the same route as the Easy group to start with going east along the canal, past Kilnhurst and through Lumbutt’s Wood. We do a circuit around Mankinholes and the reservoirs, and then go in the opposite direction to the other groups going west on the Pennine Bridleway or on a little lane called Lumbuitt’s Road. We go down an area called Knowl Wood and finally back along to town on a different stretch of the canal. There are only a few stiles, it is often good underfoot but care needs to be taken in Lumbutt’s Wood as the path is narrow and muddy due to recent rains. There are lots of good views.

Easy Leader: Derek Lee   Distance: 5 miles

We start off along the canal, then turn south and climb about 200 feet mostly on field and woodland paths to Kilnhurst and Lumbutts. Then some road walking before field and woodland paths bring us back down to the canal at Lobb Mill (there are minor road alternatives if the ground is very wet). For the last 1.5 miles we follow the canal and then the riverside back to the town.

Notes On The Area

Todmorden is a market town within the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire. Todmorden town centre occupies the confluence of three steep sided valleys which constrict the shape of the town and is surrounded by moorlands with occasional outcrops of gritstone sand blasted into sculptured stones by the winds.

The name Todmorden first appears in 1641. The town had earlier been called Tottemerden, Totmardene, Totmereden, or Totmerden. The generally accepted meaning of the name is Totta’s boundary valley, probably a reference to the valley running north-west from the town.

The earliest written record of the area is in the Domesday Book. Settlement in medieval Todmorden was dispersed, most people living in scattered farms or in isolated hilltop agricultural settlements. Packhorse trails were marked by ancient stones of which many still survive. For hundreds of years streams from the surrounding hills provided water for corn and fulling mills. Todmorden grew to prosperity by combining farming with the production of woollen textiles. Some yeoman clothiers were able to build fine houses, a few of which still exist today. Increasingly, though, the area turned to cotton. The proximity of Manchester, as a source of material and trade was undoubtedly a strong factor. Another was the strong Pennine streams and rivers which were able to power the looms. Improvements in textile machinery by Kay, Hargreaves and Arkwright, along with the development of turnpike roads, helped to develop the new cotton industry and to increase the local population.

In 1801 most people still lived in the uplands. Todmorden itself could be considered a mere village. During the years 1800-1845 great changes took place in the communications and transport of the town which were to have a crucial effect on promoting growth. These included the building of better roads, the Rochdale canal, and the main line of the Manchester and Leeds Railway. This railway line incorporated the then longest tunnel in the world, the 2,885 yard Summit tunnel.

In 2008 a group of local residents initiated the ‘Incredible Edible Todmorden Project’ to raise awareness of food issues and in particular local food. The project has been responsible for the planting of 40 public fruit and vegetable gardens throughout the town, with each plot inviting passers-by to help themselves to the produce. The project has attracted publicity, media attention and visitors, and the idea has since been replicated in at least fifteen towns and villages in the UK.

Todmorden has several attractions, the foremost being a large town hall that dominates the centre of the town. Todmorden is situated alongside the Pennine Way, Pennine Bridleway, Mary Townley Loop and the Calderdale Way, and is popular for outdoor activities such as walking, fell running, mountain biking and bouldering. It’s attractions include many canal locks, a park containing a sports centre, an outdoor skateboard park, tennis course, a golf course, an aquarium/reptile house, and a cricket ground. There are also many wooded areas around the town and a variety of cafes and restaurants. Its indoor and outdoor markets sell a wide rane of locally produced food. The town also contains a small toy and model museum, a library and tourist information centre, along with many independent retailers. Annual events include a carnival, agricultural show, beer festival and the traditional Easter Pace Egg plays.

Centre Vale Park in Todmorden is the setting for several pieces of local art, including tree carvings by the sculptor John Adamson. Also in the park are the reconstructed remains of Centre Vale Mansion, next to Todmorden War Memorial in the Garden of Remembrance, and nearby there is a sculpture of a dog. This was produced by local sculptor David Wynn in 2005, and was cast in steel at the local Todmorden foundry, Weir Minerals.

Stoodley Pike monument (120ft/37m was erected in 1815 to commemorate the Peace of Ghent and Napoleon’s abdication. It has a long history of collapse! The original monument looked like a mill chimney, but it cam tumbling down in 1854 on the day the Russian Ambassador left London at the start of the Crimean War. The present monument was constructed in 1856 when that peace was declared. It had a partial collapse in November 1918 just before the end of the First World War. A spiral staircase leads eerily into its darkest recesses to emerge on a viewing platform at the top of the plinth.