Why Marsden in Yorkshire captures the essence of this most scenic county
After puffing up the Stanza Stones Trail to the top of Pule Hill, I find myself standing in an old quarry with poems by local Simon Armitage carved into the rock. His verse appears on six stones above the South Pennine watershed.
All are inspired by water and the one I’m reading right now is titled Snow. One line reads: “Snow, like sleeping water, a coded muteness to muffle all noise, arrest movement, silent time.”
Nearby, on the crest of the hill, is the Poets Bench, pointing in the direction of Ilkley, where the path ends. I walk to the other side of the peak to see Marsden, where I live, tucked deep in the Colne Valley.
As down-to-earth and resolute as more well-known West Yorkshire villages like Haworth – but more authentic and less touristy – Marsden owes its growth to the wool industry. The skyline tells its own story, with two square towers on either side of a pepperpot chimney.
Paul Kirkwood explores Marsden, an ‘earthy’ and ‘authentic’ village in Yorkshire. There he visits the nearby Tunnel End on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal (above)
The mills fell silent decades ago and the population has since shrunk to 3,800. Six tensioning posts, between which fabric has been stretched and dried after scouring, stand abandoned like tombstones of a vanished industry.
I wonder if the mills are ripe for a refurbishment as Marsden is surrounded by scenic National Trust moorland, on the railway line midway between Manchester and Leeds.
It also has a strong community vibe. Locals gather at the large former Institute of Mechanics, now a volunteer arts center.
Marsden owes its growth to the wool industry, though the mills fell silent decades ago, Paul reveals. Image courtesy of Creative Commons
There’s also the Riverhead Brewery Tap, a real ale pub with its own microbrewery. It’s located next to a weir so you can enjoy a drink and watch ducks waddle by. A sign advertises Asian steamed buns served upstairs.
The Cuckoo Day Festival with a costume parade heralds spring here; and in October, during the famous Marsden Jazz Festival (which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary), crowds spill onto the streets.
The highlight of my weekend is a visit to Tunnel End which marks the start of the longest, deepest and tallest Channel Tunnel in Britain. You can reach The End and its visitor center by shuttle boat from the train station, or take a short walk along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
Marsden’s Riverhead Brewery Tap is located next to a weir so you can enjoy a drink and watch ducks waddle by
Marsden is ‘hidden deep’ in the Colne Valley as pictured above
Flanked by a railway tunnel, two disused works tunnels and a spillway for a reservoir, the Channel Tunnel, which stretches three and a half miles, was dug with pickaxes, shovels and gunpowder for over 16 years from 1795.
The entrance with one of the tourist boats is like a combination of mine, grotto and sewage system. Historically, barges were weighted with water to lower them in the canal and provide headroom.
There was not enough money to build a towpath, so barges were run through by ‘leggers’ who lay across the tops of the boats and walked along the walls.
Meanwhile, horses carried cargo across the moors. I wonder who was worse off, the naggers or the leggers, as I continue along the old mule track.
The sudden rattle of a covertly passing train reminds me I’m almost back in town. Strolling past the football field and a bandstand in the Victorian park, I’m quickly reminded of what a cozy place Marsden is.
If someone asked me to take them to a place that encapsulated the essence of Yorkshire, this is where we would come.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/escape/article-11547187/Why-Marsden-Yorkshire-sums-essence-scenic-county.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Why Marsden in Yorkshire captures the essence of this most scenic county