Ear To The Ground Column: Some of the best walks are flat

Upper Walshaw Dean Reservoir
Upper Walshaw Dean Reservoir

The magnificent hills around the Calder Valley are a fabulous resource for those who believe the doctors who say we should all get out of breath for at least 20 minutes each day.

The reservoirs provide some of the best opportunities for enjoying the fresh air at a more leisurely pace.
Some of my favourite reservoirs in Calderdale are:

Ogden Water
If you want an accessible path all the way round, suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, there is Ogden Water. It’s very picturesque, and the route round is just over a mile. There are plenty of pines as well as deciduous trees, looking gloriously fresh and green with their new spring leaves. There are plenty of tracks through the woods, and the Giant’s Tooth stone to aim for at their highest point.

Walshaw Dean Reservoirs
North of Hebden Bridge, there are the three Walshaw Dean Reservoirs. You need to park at Blake Dean or Clough Foot on the Widdop Road. This walk is flat around each dam, but as they lie above each other, there are some long gentle inclines. The full circuit is about five miles starting and finishing at Clough Foot. You are not far from Top Withens, a ruin thought to have been the inspiration for Wuthering Heights. 

Upper and Lower Gorple Reservoirs
Another clough that feeds water down to Hebden Bridge is the one containing the two Gorple Reservoirs; another open moorland area, with a few blocks of incongruous conifers, planted before the art of landscape design had been applied away from parks and gardens. The circuit is about four miles allowing extra for the hill.

Widdop Reservoir
This grand reservoir, one of the oldest in the South Pennines, has a circuit round it of about three miles, allowing for a climb up the Burnley Way, going anti-clockwise, my preferred direction. The views from above the reservoir are as perfect as many in Scotland or the Lake District.

Baitings and Ryburn Reservoirs
These two are above Ripponden, one above the other. Baitings is quite new, from the 1960’s. The walk all the way round has not long been available to us, though, and is very nice, with lots of trees and bushes, and about 1.5 miles round, though the noise from the fast road nearby is intrusive.
Ryburn Reservoir is below Baitings. This is an older dam with beautiful woodland around it. It is unusual in having two tongues of water, and has a footpath all round it, though not all of it is very near the water.

Scammonden Reservoir
This is the one created when the embankment for the M62 was built across the valley. It has a fine path all round it, recently created, though there is a flight of steps at one point. It’s about three miles round.