Todmorden – 19th January 2020

Strenuous Leader: No leader at present                              Distance: 10.00 miles

A map and previous notes will be available.

Leisurely Leader: Peter Denton                                              Distance: 7.00 miles

We set up and out of Todmorden for the Calderdale way, heading for Gaddings Dam. Todmorden is sat in the bottom of a deep valley, so we walk up a hill or two enjoy the views of the valley. After lunch we will be heading down hill towards the Rochdale canal where we pick up the towpath to Todmorden. This is our last mile before a well earned cuppa and a look around the town. Happy New Year to you all.

Easy Leader: Jackie Gudgeon                                                Distance: 5.00 miles

The easy group will start their walk in Hebden Bridge, and the coach will then return to park at Todmodern. I think that means that the other groups might be getting dropped off first in Todmodern.

Today we will be taking the coach to Hebden Bridge where we can have coffee and sticky bun before walking back to Todmorden along the canal. All nice and flat, good underfoot.

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.

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 2885 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. The many attractions include canal locks, a park containing a sports centre, an outdoor skateboard park, tennis course, a golf course, an aquarium and reptile house, and a cricket ground. There are also many wooded areas around the town and a variety of cafes and restaurants. It’s indoor and outdoor markets sell a wide range 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 or 37m was erected in 1815 to commemorate the Peace of Ghent and the abdication of Napoleon. It has a long history of collapse. The original monument looked like a mill chimney, but it came 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 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 darkest recesses to emerge on a viewing platform at the top of the plinth.