A Transpennine Challenge Walk

with Jim Jarratt

About the Walk

The walk featured in this book is a high level traverse of the Pennine watershed beginning in the Calder Valley at Burnley and finishing in the Aire Valley at Bingley. For the most part it passes over open moorland, dropping from the 'tops' only to descend into small 'deans' or 'cloughs' or to cross arterial roads. Between the watershed at Gorple and the Altar Road at St. Ives there is no substantial loss of altitude. The highest point of the walk is on Nab Hill, 1479 feet above sea level. This geography makes Burnley and Bingley, deep in their respective valleys, ideal terminii. From Bingley, one could continue onwards, passing over Rombald's Moor to Ilkley and thence through Washburndale to Harrogate, but this would be merely labouring the point. The moors don't end at Bingley, but neither are they quite the same beyond. Between Burnley and Bingley the uplands are unbroken, and there are similarities between both ends of the walk, which makes them ideal starting or finishing points, depending in which direction you choose to tackle the walk. The walk is arduous, for the most part lonely, and is not a venture to be undertaken lightly, especially during the winter months. It should not, however be beyond the capabilities of the average walker in reasonable physical shape. The walk, as far as possible follows public rights-of-way, and where it does not, opposition to passage has not been encountered. All in all the walk is challenging, scenic and very satisfying, despite the blisters. It took me about twelve hours, but I was surveying the route. For a walker in good training I would reckon about eight hours, for an athlete less. The walk begins in Lancashire and ends in Yorkshire. This in itself, is enjoyable, connecting two very similar yet also different environments; and in between..... the rolling Pennines, grim and bleak in winter, lofty and breezy in summer. The route passes over these lofty uplands at their widest part, avoiding the industrial valleys to the south which penetrate deep into the hills. By the time you reach Bingley you will be well into Yorkshire, yet you will have skirted the industrial conurbations of Halifax and Bradford and hardly noticed their prescence! To return to Burnley using the routes of modern communication is an education! Passing through city sprawl on bus or train, one marvels at how such places can be found within a stones throw of those wild and desolate uplands. But this is the part of the story of the Pennines, a pattern of social evolution marked by a continuous descent from the hills to the valley floors. On the train you will find the recent past, but on the hills, on lonely 'causeys' and tracks you will find an earlier past. Drovers, delvers, broggers, spinners, weavers, limers.... their faint and half forgotten traces will speak to inner ears, and when you have finally slogged your weary way to Bingley or Burnley, rest awhile; and you will find that the high moors of the South Pennines, with their strange aura of defeat, ruin and dereliction, will whisper........ AND CALL YOU BACK !!

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Copyright JIM JARRATT 2002