We left the car in a dodgy carpark in Nelson assured by a couple of youths we wouldn’t get clamped. With nervous looks back we climbed modest streets eastwards towards Mecca or was that the local bingo hall. Views back down the streets showed a misty Pendle.
Anyhow we found ourselves in Marsden Hall Gardens which proved fascinating. Originally owned by the Walton family [more of them later] the estate passed into Nelson Corporation ownership in 1912. The 16th century hall still stands above the gardens. We came through the ‘Egyptian Gate’ a sandstone edifice with interesting carvings, most notably it is known as ‘the wishing gate’ and to this day people place leaves in the carved holes before passing through and making a wish.
Our next goal was an iron age fort marked on the map at Castercliff, despite its obvious size and prominence there was no local signage. It was constructed maybe 500 BC and there is no evidence it was ever occupied. The views from the summit over the towns in the Pendle Valley were hazy but retained the feeling of being up high. The way kept going upwards and ahead of us on a hill in the distance was the prominent monument to the Walton Family. A Victorian cross place atop a 9th century monolith which would warrant further close investigation.
The next hour or so found us navigating seldom used paths in rough fields between ancient farms. At one stage a Jack Russell harried us noisily for a good half mile through fields from its farm. At the time we were hopelessly lost and the farmer was shouting unclear directions. Things improved as we approached the south of Trawden, walking down a quiet lane we passed the idyllic and listed New Laith Farm. Once on the edge of town we turned off right into the narrow street of White Lee, old cottages gave way to new housing as we turned down an old mill lane to cross Trawden Brook and climb up to more Laith farms, the word meant granary or simply barn and is used a lot in northern England.
The way became rougher as we climbed higher. We found an enclosed track crossing the moorland to the west of Wycoller and lunch was taken high on this ‘Forest of Trawden’ looking over the Wycoller valley.
We dropped into the valley and made our way to Parson Lee Farm which we recognised from coming through on The Bronte Way last year. The winding track climbed slowly up into the moors, our journey pleasantly interrupted by a lengthy conversation with two passionate fell runners enabling Sir Hugh to reminisce on his one and only fell race. A trod took us across a wilderness to reach Watersheddles Reservoir, whereas last time we walked down the dangerous road from here today we found the concessionary path alongside the water. Up here we listened to Oyster Catchers by the shimmering water and Grouse and Curlews further afield, all very evocative.
There was only a short stretch of road before we turned up the quieter side road which gave us panoramic views over the Ponden area. We crossed The Pennine Way back to our car completing a satisfying 10 miles in perfect weather. Somewhere along the way we had crossed from Lancashire into Yorkshire which we will remain in for the rest of our route, so only the two great counties coast to coast.