Walking the Huddersfield Narrow Canal – Huddersfield to Marsden

Canal walks have a strong pull with their unfolding landscapes, wildlife, alternative and intriguing lifestyle options and the general calm and peace they bestow on all those who walk along them.

Take a turn from the industrial town centre of Huddersfield, away from the view of the historic landmark of Castle Hill and the Victoria Tower dominating the skyline, onto the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal for a walk with lots of offer.

Walking along this 8-mile stretch of canal, you pass through the villages of Milnsbridge, Slaithwaite and Marsden before finally reaching the Standedge Tunnel – Britain’s highest, deepest and longest canal tunnel.  The scenery along the towpath is full of dramatic contrasts: urban life, crumbling historic mills, industrial buildings and leafy woodland later give way to stunning views of rolling, rugged hills.  It’s a walk that has everything and more, from Huddersfield’s industrial centre to the tranquil greenness of the Colne Valley. Heading towards Slaithwaite, you’ll reach beautiful open countryside and long-distance views of villages sitting high above the valley.

The Slaithwaite to Marsden section is particularly picturesque, leafy and green with the contrast of the black and white locks.  Along this stretch, intriguing paths leaving the main towpath entice the walker to explore the woodlands and delve deeper into the countryside.  Once back on the towpath, this canal walk ends at the landmark Standedge Tunnel. Here is an opportunity to take in the views, have refreshments at the Watersedge Café and visit the Standedge Tunnel Visitor Centre. This tells the story of the tunnel, from its planning through 200+ years of history, including its rescue, restoration and reopening in 2001.

This is a fabulous walk with so many options for diversions along the way. You could visit the beautiful canalside mill villages of Slaithwaite (pronounced ‘Sla-wit’, or ‘Slath-wait’ if you are local) and Marsden, where you’ll find an abundance of independent shops, pubs and eateries.   

Returning back to the start of your walk is easy:

  • If you are feeling fit, there’s the option for a return 8-mile walk, retracing your steps while continuing to take in the lovely scenery back to Huddersfield
  • Bus/Rail – There are train stations and bus options at the villages along the way, taking you straight back to Huddersfield

This walk of ever-changing landscapes, arriving at the edge of the wild beauty of the Marsden Moor Estate, is a celebration of the collaboration of industry and nature, of the man-made and natural and of the history between the two.

For more ramblings about walks, pub stops along the way and the love of the outdoors, you can follow @rocknramblers on Instagram.

Photographs: Julie James/Peter Claxton

Malham Cove and Tarn Circular

Malham Cove is an icon of the Yorkshire Dales. This unique limestone amphitheatre dominates the scenery around.

Formed at the end of the last ice age when glaciers melted, this was once a huge waterfall carrying the melt water, eroding the limestone as it came crashing down.

malham cove

At 260 feet high and at nearly 1000 feet across, it is a place to stand in awe whether at the top or the bottom.

You can walk from the village of Malham to the foot and walk up the side of it to reach the top. There are so many treasures to take in here that you can combine into one epic walk.

malham scenery

You can also visit the beautiful waterfall of Janet’s Foss, up Gordale Scar with a small waterfall climb. If you cross the limestone paving above the cove, you’ll reach the shores of Malham Tarn (see the picture below).


Read all about all this over on BaldHiker.

Dog walkers: Top tips for keeping wildlife safe

Credit: Ben Hall/2020VISION

We have some top tips for keeping you, our wildlife and livestock safe this season as we explore more of Yorkshire’s finest landscapes with our dogs. Wildlife is at its most vulnerable at the moment and iconic birds like curlew, skylark and lapwing are nesting on the ground among the heather and long grass. Even the most good-natured dog can disturb nests inadvertently and young lambs can also be vulnerable.

Visit our blog to find out how you, as a responsible dog owner, can help us keep wildlife safe throughout the year:


Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is the only charity entirely dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring Yorkshire’s wildlife and wild places. To help protect our wildlife and wild places please:

Minimise travel– please reduce non-essential journeys or combine trips where possible.

Keep a 2-metre distance from all other visitors and staff at all times.

Follow any signage on site, and don’t use any bird hides during lockdown.

Stick to the paths and trails, and check if dogs are welcome or need to be on a lead.

Take your litter home, as it’s harder for us to empty bins regularly.

Thank you.

10 Craft Activities For The Stick Connoisseur

Here at The Reluctant Explorers HQ (i.e. my house), we love getting out walking with the kids (well, I say we. But I mean me. The kids… well they are not always so keen and I include my husband in this!).

But when they are out, they LOVE a good stick collecting session.

If I said that in my house I don’t have vases full of flowers, but vases full of sticks, does that sound familiar? I’m pretty sure that it’s not just me who opens the boot of the car to find a stash of newly-found BRILLIANT sticks that can’t possibly be left behind?

These stick finds are so perfect. So special, that they are immediately inseparable from their new proud owner. So wonderful, that you know that even if you tried to SUGGEST leaving them behind, the devastation that would follow is just not worth the effort!

If you too are the proud parent of a stick connoisseur, I KNOW you need to hear some crazy crafty ideas as to what you can do with that stick stash!

1. Stick Worry Dolls

Inspired by the Guatemalan tradition of telling your worries to a doll before you go to sleep, all you need to do is find a little stubby stick, wind him a woolly jumper, stick on some googly eyes and… hey presto! A little worry buddy!

2. Make a Story Stick

This super ancient technique was originally used to help prompt a retelling or mapping of a route or journey. Take a medium-sized stick, tie either some rubber bands or some string onto it, then, as you walk, collect some nature treasure and attach it to it. Simple! Then, you can use your stick to tell somebody else all about your walk, using the finds as memory prompts (preferably, down the pub!).

3. Walking Stick

Oh no. Not just any old stick. A PROPER walking stick, perfect for those excellent walking stick-sized finds! Take your stick home, wash it (you can sand it if you’re feeling fancy), then paint it. You can do anything you like! Paint patterns, attach ribbons…. We did ours at Christmas time and attached bells and fairy lights! Be as creative as you like and when you’re finished, make sure you head out and show it off on your next walk!

4. Stick Bug Hotel

This one could be my favourite. It requires so little effort that it’s genius! Grab yourself an old cracked plant pot, tip it on its side and fill it with sticks big and small. You could add woody bits such as bark, pine cones, moss and stones too. Leave it, then check back in a few weeks to see what mini beasts have made a home there!

5. Magic Wands

Ooh it’s a classic this one! Grab a magic wand-sized stick, the thicker the better, then find some nature bits to add. Acorns dunked in eco-glitter, seed pod heads, leaves, more twigs, anything that’s exciting (and definitely magical!). For the bigger kids, you could have a punt at whittling. A lovely friend of mine over on Instagram (@catkinandco) introduced us to stick whittling using a potato peeler! So why not try whittling some designs (adult supervision DEFINITELY REQUIRED for that one)?

6. Stick Dreamcatcher

A dreamcatcher is supposed to catch bad dreams, but did you know you can make a stick version? Make a stick frame using some glue and some colourful string or wool. Weave the frame for a spider web effect, hang feathers and add anything else you like to it!

7. Stick Weaving Frame

Speaking of weaving… grab four sticks and tie them together to make a rectangular frame. Wind wool or string across the central area in the middle to make a weaving frame, then fill it with all the beautiful things you find on your walk. You could make this a sensory activity by finding something spiky, or smooth… why not check our free sensory scavenger hunt sheets on www.thereluctantexplorers.com.

8. Stick Crown

What better for the king or queen of stick collecting than to have their very own stick crown? It’s easy-peasy! Little twigs and sticks work best, so go grab some card, measure your stick regent’s head and glue the sticks all around it.

9. Rainbow Scavenger Stick

Time to grab those paints again! Find a middle-sized stick. Paint rainbow stripes on it and take yourself on a rainbow hunt! Try finding all the colours of the rainbow and match it to your rainbow stick. You could tie them on and create a beautiful rainbow to remember!

10. Stick Picture Frames

What better accessory to decorate the interior of a stick connoisseur’s bedroom than a stick picture frame? Grab an old picture frame, stick your sticks around the frame in any kind of pattern you like (it could just be a massive birds’ nest of twigs!), then add a picture. Maybe it’ll be of a stick….. I dunno! That part’s up to you!

So there you go. A lifetime’s worth of ideas as to how you can reduce your stick stash and turn it into stick wonder art! Hope you enjoy!

For more ideas as to what you can do with your stick collection (or pine cone collections, or stone collections, or leaf collections and so much more), head to http://www.thereluctantexplorers.com. You can also follow @thereluctantexplorers on Instagram and Facebook.

Harrogate to Ripley

The UK charity Sustrans created the National Cycle Network, with over 12,000 miles of walking and cycling routes, including many traffic-free paths on former railway lines with historic architecture. This beautiful four-mile stretch features the Grade 2-listed, seven-arch Nidd Gorge Viaduct.

Nidderdale Greenway. Credit Dean Smith

Useful links



Endcliffe Park to Porter Clough

Endcliffe Park is one of Sheffield’s most popular parks. It’s a great open space, with playground facilities and a family-friendly café, just a short distance from Sheffield city centre. It’s also where you’ll find the famed Mi Amigo memorial. Recently featured on BBC Breakfast, it marks the crash site of a World War II B-17 Flying Fortress.

If you’re looking for something a more than just a wander around the park, it’s also a great starting point for several other walks. In fact, Endcliffe Park is actually the starting point for one of Sheffield’s best walks, the Sheffield Round Walk. The Sheffield Round Walk is a 15-mile circular route that ventures around Sheffield, through parks and woodland. You can also break it down into four more manageable chunks.

The start of this walk is the 2-mile jaunt from Endcliffe Park, through Whiteley Woods, to Forge Dam. You can find that particular section as one of Walkshire’s featured walks here. It’s a perfect route for a Sunday stroll for families, finishing up somewhere for a nice cup of tea.

If you’d like to take your walk a little further, the full round walk part 1 route goes from Endcliffe Park to Forge Dam and continues up through Porter Clough to the very edge of the Peak District, ending up at a wonderful dog-friendly pub called the Norfolk Arms.

At Dog Friendly Sheffield, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow walking route that guides you from start to finish, with photos to help you along the way. That route can be found here: Endcliffe Park to Porter Clough.

The route from Endcliffe Park to Forge Dam can get a little busy as it is popular with families. Your dog will be fine off the lead, but you should note that there are several roads to cross. Beyond Forge Dam, the route does get a little quieter as you head up toward Ringinglow.

Cow and Calf Rocks

Ilkley Moor Walk – The Cow and Calf Plus The 12 Apostles

This walk around Ilkley Moor has so much to offer, from huge views to great rock landmarks and bronze age history.

There is a song about this heather-covered moor called ‘On Ilkley Moor baht ‘at’, also known as Yorkshire’s unofficial anthem.

The walk starts at the Cow and Calf rocks car park. There is a coffee shop here for refreshments at the beginning or the end. There is also the Cow and Calf pub nearby.

cow and calf backdrop

The rock formation is unmistakable at the start. There is one huge rocky outcrop, with a small boulder just away from it.

The big rock and the little one are together named the Cow and Calf. Their more official name, Hangingstone Rocks, is much less well-known.

The path heads left, running parallel to the Wharfe Valley. You get huge panoramics in all directions.

ilkley moor path

You can see all the way to the higher peaks of the Dales and then over The Chevin to the lower Wharfedale to the East. Below, you have a full aerial view of Ilkley itself.

You will come across many rocks en route which have markings dating back to the Bronze Age. Cup rings galore. This has been a special place to people for a long, long time.

12 apostles stone circle

Eventually you will turn right and head deeper onto the moor towards The 12 Apostles Stone Circle.

Surrounded by heather and moorland, this is a ring of 12 (small) stones. Originally, it is thought that there were up to 20 stones. It is also known that at some point they were scattered and fell deep into the heather, so people later on must have placed them in their current circle that you see today. 

After a break at the circle, you can either turn right for a shorter route back to the car park, or, as I have here, continue on to the summit of the Moor. The path goes straight on and very gradually upward to the summit trig point.

ilkley moor trig

Take in the expansive views before taking the path gradually down, making your way back to the Cow and Calf.

This is a walk that you won’t forget, one that entices you back time and time again. There are pathways in so many directions and so much to see.

You will find the downloadable GPX for my actual route that takes in all this at Walkshire.com

Children walk, cycle and scoot their school journeys as part of Sustrans’ Big Pedal

Children in schools across Yorkshire are taking part in the Big Pedal, from 19-30 April, to get active during their school journey. Held each year across the UK by Sustrans, the national charity that helps more people walk and cycle, this year’s challenge will see more than half a million children and young people walk, cycle, scoot and wheel to and from school.

This year’s Big Pedal is supported by Dame Sarah Storey, active travel commissioner for Sheffield City Region. According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Sustrans for the Big Pedal, almost three fifths (57%) of pupils described the environment around their school as having too many cars. The survey also found that 40% of pupils thought more people  walking, cycling or scooting to school was the best way to bring down levels of air pollution near their school. Over a third (38%) thought that walking and cycling more for local journeys was the most important thing adults should be doing to tackle climate change overall.

The research showed that children are keen to get more active on their regular journeys. Seven times as many children want to cycle to school and five times as many want to scoot to school more than they currently do. 

The National Cycle Network and other traffic-free paths through parks and green spaces are critical to help more families walk, cycle or scoot their journeys to school. With over 1000 miles of the network in Yorkshire alone, many people live within just a few minutes’ walk of their local section. Yorkshire has some of the most beautiful routes in the UK, including part of the 170-mile Way of the Roses, which passes through many urban areas and villages. There are also local paths, such as the Spen Valley Greenway between Dewsbury and Bradford, and York’s Solar System Way.

Dame Sarah Storey said, “I am delighted to be at the launch of Big Pedal 2021, it is fantastic the event is running this year and I know it will have huge benefits to all who take part. It isn’t just beneficial to our physical health that we use short journeys as an opportunity to be active, but it supports our mental wellbeing too.”

Find out more about Sustrans’ Big Pedal and check out more routes near you on the National Cycle Network

hardraw force

Hardraw Force, Wensleydale

In the heart of Wensleydale, behind the beautiful village of Hardraw near Hawes, is a magnificent waterfall by the name of Hardraw Force.

A formidable sight, set on the grounds of the historic Green Dragon Inn, this 100 ft drop waterfall creates an awe inspiring view to look at.

Created over thousands of years, this remarkable waterfall setting has inspired scenes from movies as well as becoming one of the most popular attractions in the area.

You can find out about this short walk and unique location on BaldHiker

Useful links



The big swim – Swinsty and Fewston Reservoirs walk 

The joy of a ball in a reservoir – no chasing it with the current!

Coming into the Swinsty Reservoir car park, you’re immediately into this glorious view – a sandy beach area and the start of the circular walk. We usually go all the way around this reservoir but work is going on at the moment, so we did half of it and then continued all the way around Fewston.

These walks are the woods and water family heaven type. They feature loads of den building opportunities, logs to walk along, tree stumps to leap off and bridges to cross. There are lots of benches dotted along the route and plenty of dog swimming opportunities – for Merlin that is!

Picnic spots are plentiful and the blue sky and tall trees reflecting in the water make for an amazing backdrop.

Daddy i wanna get on!!

The large bridge crossing Swinsty gives you a great view of the scale of the reservoir.

You can see the walk mapped out below- it’s also really well signposted and easy to follow. Dogs can be off lead almost all of the walk, with just an occasional road to cross.

You can put Swinsty Reservoir HG3 1SU in the sat nav and park in the main car park.

The treat at the end of the walk was a glorious ice cream from the Dales Van – sat by the side of the reservoir obviously!

For more of Merlin’s adventures, follow him on Instagram: