Calder Valley views from Norland Moor

Grand views across the Calder Valley from a moorland plateau


Sowerby Bridge


1.75 miles (2.8kms)

230ft (70m)

About the walk

Norland Moor is close to the start of the Calderdale Way, a 50-mile (80km) circuit of the borough of Calderdale which, when it opened in October 1978, was Britain’s first Recreational Trail. There are panoramic views straight away, as the waymarked walk accompanies the edge of Norland Moor. The route was inaugurated to link some of the best Pennine landscapes and historical sites – moors, mills, gritstone outcrops, wooded cloughs, hand-weaving hamlets and industrial towns – into an invigorating walk while bringing economic benefits to local communities along its route.

Views and carvings across the moors

Norland Moor is a 253-acre (102ha) tract of heather moorland overlooking Sowerby Bridge and both the Calder and Ryburn valleys. Criss-crossed by paths, it is popular with local walkers. Riven by old quarry workings, it is a reminder that here in West Yorkshire you are seldom far from a site of industry. Originally a part of the Savile estates, the moor was bought for £250 after a public appeal in 1932. It still has the status of a common. Part of the attraction is to find such splendid walking country so close to the busy towns in the valley.

Ladstone Rock is a gritstone outcrop with a distinctive profile that stares out over the Ryburn Valley from the edge of Norland Moor. If you can believe the stories, barbaric human sacrifices were carried out on the rock by blood-thirsty druids, and convicted witches were thrown off it. The name might have Celtic roots, meaning to cut or to kill.

There is a tradition in the South Pennines of carving inspirational quotations into such rocks. And here on Ladstone Rock, among the names, dates and expressions of undying love, is a small metal plaque inscribed with a short psalm from the Bible.

During the walk you get good views from the moor across the valley to Sowerby Bridge and the outskirts of Halifax. Dominating the view is a curious edifice known as Wainhouse Tower (and also, tellingly, as Wainhouse Folly). It was built by John Wainhouse, who had inherited his uncle’s dyeworks. His first plan was to build a tall chimney that would help to disperse the noxious fumes from the works. Then he decided to add a spiral staircase, inside the chimney, leading up to an ornate viewing platform at the top. By the time the tower was actually built, in the 1870s, its original purpose seems to have been forgotten. To climb to the full height of the tower, 253ft (77m), you need to tackle more than 400 steps. The tower is opened up to the public on just a few occasions each year – generally on bank holidays. If Wainhouse failed to make a chimney, then he succeeded in creating a distinctive landmark.

Walk directions

Leave the car park on the well-used path that leads from the Access Land information board, away from The Moorcock Inn. Bear right at two successive forks as you climb, to reach the moor-edge path, among heather and bilberry, high above The Moorcock Inn. Enjoy expansive views across the Calder Valley as you pass the gritstone outcrop known as Ladstone Rock.

Keep straight ahead, now on a more substantial track, which forks right to descend to run beside the road. Reaching the corner of a wall by a caravan site turn left, alongside the wall, for a few strides. Where a bridleway passes through a metal gate ahead, disregard it and instead bear gently left, on a path that cuts a jinking line up the moor to a wall corner.

Continue ahead, now with the wall on your right, into an area of silver birch. At a junction, 500yds (457m) after meeting the wall, turn left along a walled track, between fields on your right and birch woodland on your left. Ahead to your right, Wainhouse Tower rises above far away Halifax, while the blades of Ovenden Moor wind farm’s turbines turn relentlessly ahead.

Follow the track to a wall corner, where three options present themselves. Take the middle route, ahead-left, which crosses the heart of the heath to reach the moor-edge path by a small, overgrown delph, or stone quarry. Take the path to its left, indicated by a wooden post and, where it forks after a few strides, bear down left, to a second marker.

Turn right here, then keep left on the path soon joined, which drops back to the car park.

Additional information

Good moorland paths and tracks

Heather moor and regenerative woodland

Dogs can roam off lead unless there are grazing sheep

OS Explorer OL21 South Pennines

Small car park opposite The Moorcock Inn on Moor Bottom Lane, Norland Moor

None on route

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