Distance: 5 miles from Marsden. From Hey Green, it is less than a mile to Higher Green Owlers, but it feels further!
Difficulty: Easy on the top, but v diff to severe in places.
Links with: Tunnel End to Hey Green; Berry Greave and Fairfield.
This walk begins at Hey Green, where there is roadside parking, though, if preferred it can start at Marsden railway station, following the walks Marsden to Tunnel End and Tunnel End to Hey Green.
From outside the ornate gates to Hey Green House, climb the hill up Blake Lea Lane. As we have noted before, a lea, or lee is the name for temporary grassland pasture, so this was maybe black grassland, or grassland belonging to a man called Black (Old English Blac).
The lane climbs steeply, up two hills, which you will not get up unaided. Don’t even think of asking someone to push you up – they will let you go and cackle madly as you roll to you death.
It is so steep that I have to get off and walk, using the scooter as a walking aid. If you can do this, it will save your battery and motor, and strengthen you legs. If you can’t, you will need to use the car to get up here.
But, if you can get even part way up you can look down to the old packhorse bridge, where the old trail to Rochdale crossed the river, and the view will open out with every step you take. The packhorse bridge, by the way, cannot be reached by wheelchair. It is known as Eastergate, which has nothing to do with Easter, but was a toll gate owned by a woman called Esther. The OS map calls it Close Gate.
When we emerge on to the little plateau that holds the farmstead of Banktop the open skies and the wind feel wonderful. Banktop is no longer a farm, and has been turned into houses, but it was obviously a big farmhouse, with a courtyard and outbuildings.
Here the land is open to the weather, the broken walls like bones, the long heaves of the moor like the soft folds of thighs. It feels marvellously liberating for someone who is normally confined to houses and streets and wheelchairs.
After a short distance, the narrow road drops a little to the white farmstead of Lower Green Owlers (the name “Owlers” means alder trees, a tree of wet ground).
Immediately after the house, there is a rough track rising to the left. Climb this for a sense of height and remoteness, to the area known as Hatter Lee. There is a farm here called White Hall, and here the path forks to the left. Eventually, this track goes to the high reservoir of March Haigh (means boundary pasture), but I’ve not as yet got past White Hall Farm.
Please contact us with details of accessibility beyond White Hall.
I don’t think you could be pushed up here, and, even for a rugged scooter, I would grade this section as v diff or severe! Be prepared and willing to turn back.
Returning to the bottom of the track, at Lower Green O(Owlers, you can turn left and on to Higher Green Owlers. Higher Green Owlers has a date stone of 1610, and it used to be a remote “mini micro” brewery. Who were the customers?
This section is graded Easy, but I have not been beyond the farm.