Wessenden Valley Steps project begins

This autumn, we are undertaking a project to improve degraded pathway on a popular walking route in the Wessenden Valley.

What’s happening? 

Supported by the National Trust, the Pennines National Trail Partnership, Natural England, and Peak District National Park Authority, 200 metres of pathway will be restored on a steep section of the Pennine Way National Trail between Blakely Clough and Wessenden Brook.

How will the pathway be improved?

The steps at Wessenden Valley are a part of the picturesque Pennine Way that shows the best of the rugged landscape, including waterfalls, fascinating ecology, and links to Kirklees’ industrial past.

The improvement project will see approximately 450 stone steps airlifted to the location by helicopter. Due to the rural location a traditional method of installation is required. The installation will see each of the stone steps installed by hand with traditional hand tools by specialist contractors Aitch Conservation. The steps which are made from locally sourced gritstone will blend in naturally to the surrounding environment.

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What does the project aim to do?

The project aims to help protect the delicate ecosystem of the area, which is part of the Marsden Moor estate, managed by the National Trust.

The moorland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, and a Special Area of Conservation. This is due to the rare ground-nesting bird population and blanket bog habitat.

It is hoped that by improving this public right of way and giving walkers a clear and safe route, visitors will no longer need to make their own way across important bird nesting sites and heather regeneration areas, especially 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”.

There is already a clearly signposted diversion in place around the reservoir so that walkers can still enjoy the Pennine Way safely throughout the duration of the restoration.

Who funded the project? 

The project is funded in part by a grant from Natural England, in association with Pennine National Trails Partnership, with the aim of helping people to enjoy the stunning countryside in the area. We match funded the grant, from money given to the Public Rights of Way budget by West Yorkshire Combined Authority, to cover the full cost of the project.