Blow away the winter cobwebs with a walk across the tops or an exhilarating cycle ride in the South Pennines this Christmas and New Year.

Posted: 17.12.13

At this time of year the lists of jobs to be completed, from getting the last few Christmas bits to preparing for parties, can become all consuming but it can also be a time to enjoy a change from the usual work routine and even an opportunity to get out and about in the countryside. Now the trees have shed their leaves the landscape, especially the woodlands, looks very different and offers a fresh perspective this time of year.

And over Christmas and the New Year there is a number of cycling events and organised walks, some with a festive theme, taking place in the South Pennines. In addition, for those who may wish to explore independently the Walk, Cycle, Ride website at www.walkridesouthpennines.co.uk has hundreds of rides and walks making it an invaluable free online resource.

This weekend there’s the opportunity to celebrate the winter solstice with an early morning walk. Michael Isherwood, a volunteer at Marsden Moor National Trust and Adventure Based Learning Centre, explained: “It’s that time of year again when we get up early and brave the elements to walk to an ancient site or viewpoint to watch the sun rise on the shortest day of the year.

“The exact location of the walk and start time are to be confirmed depending on the ability of the walkers who book to make sure it is as inclusive as possible. It will be an early start though; maybe as early as 6am,” he warned.

The winter solstice walk will leave the Adventure Based Learning Centre, Tanners Mill, Greenfield on Saturday, December 21. It is a free event but booking is essential. For further details visit the website at www.adventurebasedlearning.org.uk
For those interested in industrial heritage there will be a guided walk around the Saltaire World Heritage Site, on Saturday, December 28. It will depart at 2pm from outside the Visitor Information Centre at Salts Mill and costs £4 per adult and £3 per child.

Having walked off the Christmas calories there’s also plenty of opportunity to welcome in the New Year with guided walks in the South Pennines. A short flat family Fun Hat and Wig Walk will set off from Bingley Arts Centre at 12.30pm on Wednesday, January 1.

There will also be a Marsden New Year’s Day walk setting off from the railway station at 11am. Everyone is welcome to celebrate the start of 2014 and enjoy views of Marsden in winter on this family friendly walk. As on all theses winter walks participants are asked to wear suitable outdoor clothing and sturdy footwear.

For anyone interested in the history of Luddendenfoot there will be a guided walk organised by Calderdale Heritage Walks. Participants are asked to meet David Cant outside the Civic Centre, Station Road, at 2pm on Sunday, January 5. The walk will cost £3 per person.

Although only hardened cyclists venture out during the winter months for longer rides there are one or two cycling events over the festive period to either join or watch. Ladies can partake in a steady 11 mile ride on the towpath from Hirst Lock to East Riddlesden Hall, Bingley this Saturday, December 21. Places can be booked at www.goskyride.com for the ride that starts at 10.30am.

On Sunday, December 22 there will be a Christmas Fancy Dress cyclo-cross event at Heptonstall in aid of the Air Ambulance. Classes will include under-12s, seniors, juniors, veterans and women. Cyclo-cross is also a good spectator sport for those not wishing to take part. Also this Sunday, December 22, there will be a cyclo-cross event in Rossendale, at Edgeside Park, Lancashire with classes from 11am.

And the following Sunday, December 29, there will be a cyclo-cross event at Centre Vale Park, in Todmorden. This event is part of the Yorkshire Points series and features classes for youth, under-12s, women’s and veteran’s as well as junior’s.

“There are so many opportunities to go out into the countryside, either by bike, on horseback or on foot, to enjoy the South Pennines landscape this Christmas and New Year,” said Mark Turner, director of Pennine Prospects, rural regeneration company that organises the annual South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival.

“If you’re stuck for ideas why not join one of the many guided events taking place or visit the walk, cycle, ride website which has hundreds of routes to choice from,” Mark added. “The South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival, which proved bigger and better than ever before this September, may be over for another year but the online resource is still there for everyone to enjoy.”

Next year’s South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival will take place between Saturday, September 6 and Sunday, September 21.

Pennine Prospects was set up to champion the South Pennines; an area renowned for its natural beauty and wildlife, great people, quirky traditions and independent businesses. Funding for the Walk and Ride website was made available through the South Pennines LEADER programme (the Rural Development Programme for England), which was jointly funded by Defra and the European Union, and managed by Pennine Prospects.

Yorkshire Water United Utilities Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council National Farmers Union
South Pennines Association Lancashire County Council Pennine Heritage Kirklees Council Calderdale Council
Bradford District Council Northern Rail Natural England Environment Agency The National Trust