Harley Wood, Hawk Stones and Great Bride Stones

Statistics and Files
Start: Harley Wood Distance: 4.3 miles (6.9 km) Climbing: 322 metres
Grid Ref: SD927253 Time: 2 hours Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Todmorden
Statistics
Start: Harley Wood Distance: 4.3 miles (6.9 km)
Grid Ref: SD927253 Time: 2 hours
Climbing: 322 metres Rating: Easy
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

Summary: Have you a couple of hours to spare? Do you fancy taking a walk with a climb to some very interesting grit stone outcrops? If you answer yes to both of these questions then this may be just the walk you are looking for. The walk begins in Harley Wood near Todmorden and takes you on a climb of around 200 metres to Bride Stones Moor. You can meander on one of a number of paths up to the moor and back again in the anticipation of a leisurely walk amongst these fascinating stones. After you have spent some time at the Bride Stones (and you will) then it is all downhill back to Todmorden. At two hours (plus the time you spend at the Bride Stones) you can set off mid-morning or mid-afternoon and still be back for lunch or tea. This could be spent further exploring the Calder valley. (Important note: Though my walk route completely follows permissive paths there are many paths criss-crossing the ones I took. Therefore it is important to keep checking your map and location during the walk. You are unlikely to get lost but with this being farming land and an area of small holdings paths may have been temporarily or permanently changed)


The Walk:

Harley WoodHarley Wood
Hawk StonesHawk Stones

One of the great attractions for me in my walking is visiting interested rock outcrops. The shapes that have been weathered in the stones over millions of years always fascinate me. I will never tire of visiting them. Local to me in Leeds there are examples at Otley Chevin and on Ilkley Moor. A little further away in Nidderdale are the famous Brimham Rocks. In the Yorkshire Dales there are examples scattered everywhere like my favourites at Norber Erratics. I am now discovering there are many more superb examples in Yorkshire like these I visited today above Todmorden in Calderdale on Bride Stones Moor.

Hawk Stones Close UpHawk Stones Close Up
Reaching the Great Bride StonesReaching the Great Bride Stones

The Bride Stones are a super example of Yorkshire bouldering crags formed when glaciated within the last 15000 years. These edge tors are periglacial in origin and probably the result of freeze thaw and sand blasting. The post-date the end of the Devensian Ice age and they are spread all over the hillside. Many of the interesting ones are individually named. They include the Indian's Head, the Villain, the Cheeseblock and the Bride Stone itself which is a large rounded rock in the shape of an egg perched on a slender pillar. It is an amazing sight as it stands precariously on its small base. Myth has it that the stone is a rich source of fertility for newly married couples. I wonder how many have come up onto this moor and 'touched the stone'.

Great Bride StonesGreat Bride Stones
Looking over the valleyLooking over the valley

I wandered amongst the stones for ages as I was drawn from one interesting formation to the next. Around every corner unfolded new amazing sights and I saw many faces in the rocks, strange beasts too. I am not superstitious at all but it is not hard to understand the illogical reasoning of people to such fancies when I visit places like this. I enjoyed my time at the Bride Stones for as long as I could before I left and continued my meander on the moors above Todmorden. It was a reluctant departure.

Trig Pillar on Bride Stones MoorTrig Pillar on Bride Stones Moor
Bride Stones MoorBride Stones Moor

I trust you like my photographs of the grit stone outcrops used in the report to accompany this walk. The moor itself is pretty bleak apart from the obvious attraction and there are more eyesores local to the site such as a large wind farm to the west. There are a couple more rocky outcrops to dwell your eyes on though. There are the Hawks Stones to the north west to which there is no access and the Whitlow Stones to the south which are much smaller and more scattered. I visited then on my descent off the moor as I made my way to Kitson Wood and back into Todmorden.

Defying gravityDefying gravity
A superb sightA superb sight

The walk up to Bride Stones Moor was fairly steep and the descent the same. It was achieved by the usual course of bridleways and tracks with a few dwellings having to be encountered. This was pleasant but not exceptional and whilst there were some interesting sights and features on the way like gulley's and woodland they were insignificant in comparison to the fantastic sights I came across during the time I had at he Bride Stones. I can fully recommend a visit to this excellent example of geological features, whether you are newly married or not!

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