Kirklees Council is embarking on a project to enhance a deteriorated pathway along a well-frequented walking route in the Wessenden Valley. With support from the National Trust, the Pennines National Trail Partnership, Natural England, and the Peak District National Park Authority, they will restore 200 metres of pathway on a steep stretch of the Pennine Way National Trail between Blakely Clough and Wessenden Brook.
The steps in Wessenden Valley form a part of the picturesque Pennine Way, showcasing the rugged landscape at its finest, featuring waterfalls, intriguing ecology, and connections to Kirklees’ industrial history.
Approximately 450 stone steps will be airlifted to the location by helicopter as part of the improvement project. Given the rural location, a traditional installation method is necessary. Each stone step will be meticulously put in place by hand, using time-honoured hand tools, by specialist contractors Aitch Conservation. These steps, crafted from locally sourced gritstone, will seamlessly blend into the natural surroundings.
The project aims to safeguard the fragile ecosystem of the area, which is under the stewardship of the National Trust as part of the Marsden Moor estate. This moorland is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, and a Special Area of Conservation due to its rare ground-nesting bird population and blanket bog habitat.
By enhancing this public right of way and providing walkers with a clear and safe route, it is anticipated that visitors will no longer need to forge their own paths through crucial bird nesting sites and areas of regenerating heather, particularly around Blakely Clough near Wessenden Brook.
Councillor Yusra Hussain, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees said;
“Installing new stone steps at Wessenden Valley will improve access and enjoyment on this popular route along the Pennine Way for all, while protecting the environment, local ecology and wildlife, and safeguarding the area for the future.
“The project also supports some of the council’s key commitments towards improving and sustaining a better environment, inspiring more people to walk, and working with and supporting key stakeholders within the Kirklees district such as the National Trust, Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England in protecting our precious countryside.”
Ian Dowson, Area Ranger for the National Trust, said; “Completing the works on this section of the Pennine Way will make a big difference – Protecting the valley from further erosion and making the path safe for people to enjoy”.
A clearly marked diversion is already in place around the reservoir, allowing walkers to safely enjoy the Pennine Way throughout the restoration period.
The project is partially funded through a grant from Natural England, in conjunction with the Pennine National Trails Partnership, with the aim of enabling people to relish the breathtaking countryside in the area. Kirklees Council has matched the grant with funding from the Public Rights of Way budget provided by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, covering the entire project cost.