Cragg Vale, 8th April 2015

  1. 10.5 miles, 400 metres ascent

  2. 5.5 hours

  3. See the route on

Stoodley Pike monument from just before Withens Gate.

It had suddenly turned from winter to summer. I’d got sunburn the day before while working on Marsden Moor with the National Trust, I’d also half killed myself from a full day’s manual labour (hard work for someone fresh from 27 years as an office worker) followed by an evening’s climbing. I thought a nice stroll from home over to Cragg Vale and back would be an easy change from some lake district mountains (which had been my plan). Not really a photography day. There won’t be so many of them now until autumn but at least there are plenty of flowers to photograph.

Stoodley Pike on the way up from Todmorden.

I took the familiar route up to Withens Gate and the reservoir beyond, the way we’d gone the year before to see Le Tour climb up Cragg Vale. It had been a busy route then but today I was on my own. The sky had nice wispy clouds making interesting chevron shapes, I’d like to know how that happens.

Withens Clough reservoir

There was a lovely moss garden growing all along the dam wall and looking very ornamental.

Wispy clouds in the middle of the day.

There is a very nice permissive path from the reservoir that contours on a level route alongside a drain (sounds bad but is actually very attractively overgrown) looking down all the way on Cragg Vale and Calderdale beyond.

Looking down Cragg Vale from the contour path from the reservoir.

Eventually you drop down to the valley bottom and the really gorgeous riverside walk along the vale. This really is a local treasure, probably not much known outside Calderdale. Strong midday sunshine in the woods made good photographs almost impossible (I’ll have to come back in autumn) but close-ups can be made to work. I saw two deer but, as usual, as soon as you see them they run away.

I was surprised I resisted the urge to get coffee and cake at Greens in Hebden Bridge but bought a naughty cake to take home with me on the train.

The Rochdale canal on the way from Mytholmroyd to Hebden Bridge. All the bargees seem to have little vegetable or flower gardens next to their moorings. Despite the summer weather and abundance of flowers the trees are still naked.