• James

Crowden Wild Camp

September 2020

Marsden Moor to Crowden. 15 Miles


Damn you, rain. It woke me up early, it meant a sombre start to the day, a grey day. Porridge and parkin to warm the body up. It seemed to take forever to pack up. Everything takes longer in the rain, albeit a drizzle rather than the torrent experienced in Heptonstall. Onwards through a quiet and chilly moor. Another Pennine Wayer “I removed my boots to get through the Black Hill streams yesterday”. Oh, jolly good. In the present, the moor its usual rocky outcrop, the path becoming ever more eroded as the A62 is approached. A pitstop in the small car park to rid the bag of 24 hours of rubbish and then the path to the reservoirs, narrowing between Black Moss and Swellands. The blustery wind combined with the waters to add a distinct chill to the morning air.

Mostly downhill to Wessenden, largely flagstoned with encroaching long grasses, and a break at the strange boxy thing, before the steep descent and climb either side of Wessenden Brook. Another northbound Pennine walker, carrying 20kg. More concerning news, the walkway over the reservoir at Crowden is closed, a diversion in place. Oh, jolly good. No rush then, along the Wessenden reservoirs and up to the Isle Of Skye Road. But on the horizon, a food van. I arrived just in the nick of time, too. A hot cob and a tea, as the shutters went down. Only a few sips of tea consumed before the sodding wind blew the majority of it over. Regardless, just the energy and morale boost needed for the slow climb up Black Hill. The two cloughs navigated en-route indistinguishable from the path until they are reached.

Yet more strong winds at the summit. but clear views over the beautiful Holme Valley. Grey skies the other way, southbound down Black Hill. The wind only relenting at the bottom where, thankfully, the criss-crossing of Crowden Great Brook that I imagined to be overflowing was a doddle. A climb to arguably my favourite Pennine Way view, that from the top of Laddow Rocks. The brook below, winding through the valley beneath patches of purple heather dotted among the khaki coloured hills. The Crowden hills beyond, tomorrows path to Bleaklow. I sat precariously on a rock and soaked it in. I could have sat there for hours.


Temptation to camp there thwarted by company. Somewhere, the Bearded Vulture. Everywhere, twitchers. The descent down the rocks and through a throng of paparazzi. No place for a wild camper. Only farmland thereafter, the campsite at Crowden closed, the nearby B&B, closed. The bridge over Torside Reservoir, closed. A 2.5 mile diversion around the western side of the reservoirs. This annoying extra milage ended up working in my favour. On the southern side of Rhodeswood reservoir, a lovely green field. Obviously, a farmers, but all other options exhausted. I crossed the bridge and found the field. Long, damp grass. Many alive and little things hidden among it. Up with the tent, down with the rain.




Walks and Wild Camps

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