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South Yorkshire walk: Holme and Holmbridge near Holmfirth

Homebridge, lesser known than its neighbour, Holmefirth.Paul Kirkwood
Homebridge, lesser known than its neighbour, Holmefirth.Paul Kirkwood

For a midwinter walk this route takes some beating. It's well suited to shorter days being medium length and, near to the M62, quick for many readers to reach, and also features a cosy, traditional country pub at Holme exactly half way round, tucked into a northern corner of the Peak District. Mentioned in the Domesday Book and spaced around a large area of stone setts, the centre of the village with its 18th and 19th century buildings is a conservation area. Before the construction of the M62 one of the main cross Pennine routes came through Holme.

Walk the route in any season and you can enjoy following its many twists and turns linking four reservoirs plus numerous ups and downs into and out of forested cloughs and wooded troughs. Bilberry reservoir burst its banks in 1852, just 12 years after opening, causing 90 million gallons of water to flood the valley and resulting in 81 deaths.

The views across the valley are superb throughout - and all the better with a dusting of snow - while, as you begin the final descent to Holmbridge, you can take satisfaction from looking back over all the route that you've nearly completed. Wildlife in the Holme Valley includes hares, foxes, heron, little owl, meadow pipit, siskin, wren, redpoll and sometimes Canada geese on the reservoirs.

1. Follow footpath between houses 27 and 29 on Holmclose. Immediately turn right to stone gap stile. Turn left to walk up two fields linked by two stiles. In the third field continue up with a wall on the right and cross stile on left. Proceed with wall on left, cross three fields and turn right into a lane that leads to the road.

Great British Life:  Digley Reservoir. (c) Paul Kirkwood Digley Reservoir. (c) Paul Kirkwood

2. Cross road and pass to the left of Austonly Manor via path reached by a stile on the left. A second stile leads to the rear of the house. Proceed with wall on your right then go over stile. Continue with wall on your left to a stile on the left. Cross field diagonally to the right to a stile in the field corner and onto the road. Turn left to Digley reservoir car park. Just after the entrance turn right up a footpath along north bank of reservoir. Cross the embankment with Bilberry Reservoir on your right.

Great British Life: Bridge after Bilberry Reservoir. (c) Paul Kirkwood Bridge after Bilberry Reservoir. (c) Paul Kirkwood

3. Climb stone steps and continue along path to footbridge over a stream. Bear left then turn immediately right and up hill. Follow signs in the direction of a faint path and stile in the wall on the left. Cross the field to a gap stile. Cross another six fields heading towards Holme. Pass through stile beside a gate and follow a walled lane into the village. Turn left down the road and first right to follow an unsurfaced lane behind houses.

Great British Life: The Fleece .(c) Paul KirkwoodThe Fleece .(c) Paul Kirkwood

4. At the Fleece turn right down Woodhead Rd then left down a footpath to cross a stream via a bridge. Go up stone steps and cross a stile. Continue up hill and keep ahead where paths meet. Follow path to the right of a stone wall. Descend into the valley and at t-junction of paths turn right to cross a stile and footbridge. Turn left up slope passing through a gate gap to the right of a wall and over a stile. Turn left onto the lane to cross Riding Wood reservoir embankment.

5. Turn right onto bridleway. Where it bears sharp right turn left to cross a stile into a field. Go over a stile and follow path up hill to cross a pipe and collapsed wall. Eventually pass between stone posts. Go over stile on the left. Descend to cross a stream, pass through a wall gap and proceed through a wood. Leaving the wood go over a stile.

Great British Life: Descent to Holmbridge. (c) Paul KirkwoodDescent to Holmbridge. (c) Paul Kirkwood

6. Cross over lane and continue ahead over a stile and through a field. Pass behind houses and through a small wood to a stile leading to a footbridge. Go up hill and turn left along road to pass a school. Turn left and follow the road down to the church in Holmebridge. Turn left up Field End Lane and immediately right up steps back to the start.

Note: The route is signed as the Holmebridge and Holme Walk. Booklet about the walk with map available at bit.ly/HandHwalk.

POINTS OF INTEREST

Eat here

The Fleece Inn, Holme. Convivial, busy, efficiently run pub popular with locals and serving huge portions. Booking highly advised especially for Sunday lunches. The Pantry take away next door serves hot and cold drinks, ‘holme’ made bread pies, pastries, cakes and breakfast butties. fleeceinnholme.co.uk.

Great British Life: The Pickled Pheasant, Holmebridge.(c) Paul KirkwoodThe Pickled Pheasant, Holmebridge.(c) Paul Kirkwood

The Pickled Pheasant, Holmebridge. Smart, former 18th century coaching house. Signature dishes include braised ox cheek, pithivier and cassoulet. Open for breakfast and afternoon tea. Rooms available. thepickledpheasant.com.

Compass points

Start/finish: Holmebridge. HD9 2NJ, grid ref SE 120 069.

Time/distance: 3 hours/8.9km.

Accessibility: Many stiles and muddy in winter.

Maps: OS Landranger 110 Sheffield & Huddersfield. OS Explorer 288 Bradford & Huddersfield.

Parking: Holmclose, Holmebridge.

Map link: bit.ly/HandHwalkmap



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