Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Caroline Spalding
Features Correspondent
9:02 AM 19th September 2020

Norland Moor, Barkisland And The Ryburn Valley

This route I know like the back of my hand, but after months of not visiting it was great to go back.

Beginning from Sowerby Bridge train station (HX6 3AF); it is easy to get to by car (free street parking on Station Road) or of course by train. The walk is 8 miles, requiring the OL21 map.

Start by walking a short distance up Norland Road, beside the doctor surgery. Just after JMS Motorcycles, turn left through gap in a red fence beside a lamppost. Climb the overgrown steps to the childrens’ play area and begin an ascent. Initially go left and up, right up some steps, right again then commence a zigzag. Head on up above the railings and you emerge from the top of the woodland heading towards a house with a transmitter.

Turn left at the road, then cross and take the way-marked path on your right, through the fields. Follow the path as directed by the notice at the second field around its edge – you need to get to the top left-hand corner of the field. Pass through the gate and keep to the right-hand side ascending toward the vaccary stones above.

Vaccary wall, Norland
Vaccary wall, Norland
A vaccary wall was an enclosure used in a system of farming dating to the 12th and 13th century. Here, the land was apparently monastic land belonging to Fountains Abbey from the early 13th century. The vaccary system was used for the commercial rearing of cattle in enclosures and was specific to the Pennine area, usually found at mid-level pastures.

Turn left at the stones and pass behind them. At the field edge pass through the gate straight ahead and continue to the visible stile. Cross the yard and the road and continue opposite down the path way-marked “Moor End Lane.” At the far end, pass through the gate and continue ahead. Another gate opens onto a lane. Turn right, then left and then turn right after Stormer Hill Barn – you’re weaving your way through the lanes of Norwood to reach the edge of the moor.

On the right-hand side of the moor you join the moorland and follow the path that is closest to the road and runs, initially, alongside it. This is Norland Moor – a place that I hold dear. It is a pocket of untamed beautiful wilderness in a place you wouldn’t expect: not somewhere you’d serendipitously stumble across. That said, it is incredibly popular amongst those who know of its existence; often frequented by dog walkers and families and it connects so many wonderful walking routes in this corner of the Calder Valley.

Reaching a path junction beside a bench, go straight on (this is now the Calderdale Way, and it follows a stone wall). Beyond that at the conical cairn take the left-hand path (leaving the Calderdale Way, which goes right).

After a time is a path junction with a large, open field on your left. Enter the field and keep to its edge – on your right in the middle of the field is the farmhouse, marked Spring Head on the map. Halfway across, you climb over to follow the other side of the stone wall, but continue in the same direction as before.

Across Norland Moor
Across Norland Moor
Turn right at the end and this long stretch keeps to the very edge of the moorland. On the other side, you drop to a road beside the caravan park, turn left. After a short distance, you see the Calderdale Way turns right towards Highlee Flat, but instead, take the next left, behind a collection of cottages. This path follows field edges to join a private driveway, close to the properties listed as Abbots Royd. Meeting another road, cross over, continue ahead down what appears to be another driveway, to the left of a property. cross the road and go down what appears the house’s driveway. Climb over the back wall, through the obvious gap and descend across the field with the transmitter and likely, the cows – over the hump you spot a stile beneath.

Turn left again at the road, then cross and take the way-marked path opposite. This descends slightly to the top of Sandyfoot Clough. At the stream, venture left a short distance until you can cross over the water, then follow the track up between the stone walls. You will reach Barkisland at Stony Croft Lane, meeting Stainland Road.

Almost opposite, looking left and beside the lamppost the path continues. You make a surprisingly steep decent to Barkisland Clough with a gorgeous ascent back out the other side beneath trees. Reaching Howroyd Lane, turn right – you pass beside a rural estate, somewhere in the grounds of which I believe is Howroyde Hall, built in 1642 by a local gentleman called William Horton, for his bride, Elizabeth Gledhill. Horton was, according to the “first Provincial Grand Master of the West Riding Province of Freemasons.” It was sold for the very first time in the 1960s and a huge amount of restoration work has been undertaken to the property since the 1930s.

You pass between the two large stone pillars at the end of the driveway and turn left along the road for a short time. On the right, a way-marker begins a path across several fields, another road crossing and another field, currently occupied by cows.

Reaching Rishworth Road, head down the narrow Fiddle Lane almost opposite. Follow this quiet farm track all the way down until it bumps into the main road descending to Ripponden. Turn uphill, you will have to cross and re-cross the road to stick to the pavement. Pass The Fleece, then left turn onto the track marked on map as Moor Bottom Road. This long, flat stretch gives great views of the valley.

At the end, right turn and then a left-turn, over a stile into a field. For me, this next stretch is one of the best in Calderdale.

The path back to Sowerby
The path back to Sowerby
Keep to field edge, cross a small stream as you enter woodland. Keep to the main pathway and you begin a very slight descent before turning right at a way-marker to venture back uphill. You come to a stile, hop over, but keep beneath the trees, keeping to the top edge of the woodland in the same direction as before. You follow the top periphery of Rough Hey Wood: sometimes the path is narrow and sometimes there are steep drops.

A gate leads you through the grounds of a large property with horse ménages – beyond this, turn left down the narrow lane, before an un-way-marked path leaves between two buildings on the right-hand side. At the next junction, a right then left – keep in the same direction, you meet another country lane: again right then left and then cross some open fields for a distance until you meet another road.

Turn left along the road and opposite the New Hobbit pub, turn left to descend Goose Nest Lane. Follow this down and around to the right: the final stretch is all by road, but they are quiet. You will join another lane at a junction, continue right. Ignore the first turning on the left, begin another ascent and take the second left for a steep return to the start via Boggart Lane which becomes Norland Road, meeting Station Road from where you began.