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davidx Todmorden - A travel report by David
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Todmorden,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

Todmorden – on the border.

  19 votes
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The TOD part of the name is accented. A man employed in the ticket office of King’s Cross Station in London said ‘You mean TodMORden, sir.’ I apologised and then said, ‘I live there; what’s your qualification?’ He conceded.

Todmorden travelogue picture
The problems don’t end with pronunciation. Stage 2 is location. Todmorden is in Calderdale. Calderdale is in Yorkshire. Therefore Todmorden is in Yorkshire. What could be simpler? However, post reaches us a day earlier if addressed to Lancashire and our postcode is OL [Oldham, part of what was called Greater Manchester until the metropolitan counties dared to vote Labour when Thatcher was Prime Minister – and hence were abolished]. If you find that confusing, join the club. It gets worse though. The brook separating the historic West Riding of Yorkshire from Lancashire used to run under the town hall and pregnant women had to be in ‘the right’ part when delivery was anticipated so that a boy could play in ‘the right’ cricket team. End of grumble. I’m an ‘incomer’and I love it here. The special feature is the wonderful scenic mix of the South Pennine hills and moors with the manmade remains of the textile industry. Before canals and railways, Todmorden was better connected with Rochdale and Manchester than with Halifax, Bradford and Leeds. However both the canal and the railway, [first route linking the counties in each case], were connected on the Yorkshire side first. Todmorden was split between wool [Yorkshire] and cotton [Lancashire], with the balance being heavily towards cotton. Hebden Bridge, only 5 miles on the road to Halifax had the opposite proportions and a bit of silk as well. In the centre of Todmorden the River Calder is joined by Walsden Beck, both running down steep valleys formed during the last ice age. Several tributaries flow in between Todmorden and Hebden Bridge. They also have steep valleys but are most interesting for the remains of water mills, some of which were eventually converted to steam. The main Calder Valley contains road, river, canal and railway, often leaving room for little else. The hills are dotted with old villages dating from a time when the valley was regarded as only fit for midges.

Favourite spots:
Gaddings and Stoodley Pike
Gaddings and Stoodley Pike
My favourite is the area between the Rochdale and Halifax roads. What might otherwise be the least interesting part is transformed by the memorial on Stoodley Pike to the dead in the Napoleonic wars [replacing the original, which was destroyed by lightning, in the 1950s]. This now provides an objective for local walks. Not far away is Gaddins Dam, which even has a sandy beach [v. small], a ‘compensation’ dam made to reimburse mill owners whose earlier supply had been diverted to feed the Rochdale Canal.The old quarries add to, rather than distracting from, the landscape. Creatures we have seen on the moor and in the fields and woods below include foxes, hares, peregrine falcons, kestrels sparrow hawks, spotted and green woodpeckers, jays, goldcrests and buzzards as well as the ever present rabbits, snipe, larks, curlew and a plethora of tits, finches, sparrows and, in season, fieldfares, redwings and starlings. Our pond is a major sexual congress point for frogs in February.

What's really great:
Approach by Rochdale Canal
Approach by Rochdale Canal
The Rochdale Canal, from Castlefields in Manchester, where it meets the Bridgewater to Sowerby Bridge, just outside Halifax, where it links with the Calder and Hebble, has been a major feat of engineering not once but twice. It was the first modern trans-Pennine link in the 19th century but soon was overtaken as the major canal link by the Ashton and Huddersfield Canals and was fatally damaged by the creation of a rail link, practically copying its route. It fell into disuse and parts were used for housing; others crossed by road bridges that blocked the canal. It was only saved at all by a canal buff, who obtained a commercial contract to collect waste on the one-mile stretch in Manchester, preventing the company from closing it. Now the whole length of the canal is open again as a leisure waterway. The fishing community seems to have come to terms with narrow boats passing through. The section from Hebden Bridge to Todmorden must surely be one of the most scenic in England.

Now no more. Mons Mill- demolished 2002
Now no more. Mons Mill- demolished 2002
Centre Vale Park, formerly an estate belonging to one of the Fieldens, a family which played a predominant role in Todmorden history, is in a beautiful seting beneath steep woods and the annual agricultural show draws crowds from a wide area, as does the renovated Victorian and stand when the Old Brass Band is playing.
Also associated with the Fieldens [John, associated with mill reform in the 19th century] is Dobroyd Castle, now owned by Bhuddist monks who have occasional open days. John’s wife didn’t go much on it so it was never a family home. Between these incarnations it served as what was called an Approved School, that is a school for young delinquents. Orchan Rocks and Whirlaw, a hill where ancient beaker remains were found, provide fine walks between the Halifax and Burnley roads.

Entering Mnakinholes - a 'Tudor' village
Entering Mnakinholes - a 'Tudor' village
The Youth Hostel in the village of Mankinholes, below Stoodley Pike, was originally the Tudor period [16th C] Mankinholes Hall. The Queen Hotel opposite the station provides accommodation; it was modernised after a fairly recent fire. Accommodation is also available at some of the pubs, at Scaitcliffe hall on the Burnley road and in a number of good B&Bs. http://www.calderdale.go provides much info on the town, including contact details of the TIC, which will sort your accommodation needs.

Lumbutts Chapel. John Wesley preached in this area.
Lumbutts Chapel. John Wesley preached in this area.
There are a number of pubs in the centre with historic interest. However you may prefer one of the hilltop pubs, the Shepherd’s Rest or the Top Brink on the T6/T8 bus route, which links the Halifax and Rochdale roads by a scenic route, or possibly the Sportman’s Arms on the minor road to Burnley, high up to the right of the main road.

Stoodley Pike [magnify to see it!]
Stoodley Pike [magnify to see it!]
Todmorden Old Hall
Tenth Muse
Dumb Waiter

Other recommendations:
Waterworks Tower, Lumbutts
Waterworks Tower, Lumbutts
More information on many aspects of the town can be found on
We are directly connected with Rochdale, Manchester, Halifax, Bradford and Leeds by train and with Halifax, Burnley and Rochdale by bus.
I have avoided Hebden Bridge [largely], Heptonstall and Hardcastle Crags here, because I hope to do a separate report covering them, but anyone staying in Todmorden could easily get to them by car or bus.
The long distance footpaths of the Pennine Way [Derbyshire to Scotland] and the Calderdale Way are convenient for a break in Todmorden.

Published on Sunday February 20th, 2005

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Thu, Dec 07 2006 - 08:19 AM rating by lance

David seems to know more about TODmorden than the natives. I learned quite a few things and I was brought up there. Well done

Sun, Feb 27 2005 - 09:12 AM rating by marianne

Hi david,
This is a beautiful description. I especially like your picture of the Rockdale canal. This is how I remember villages near Skipton (where we stayed end 70s) . We have never been back and these places must have changed.

Fri, Feb 25 2005 - 07:04 PM rating by mtlorensen

Easy to see why you love your town. Fun report!!

Mon, Feb 21 2005 - 02:08 PM rating by britman

Lovely report, amusing, informative all about a truly normal non touristy British town.

Mon, Feb 21 2005 - 01:46 PM rating by mistybleu


Another great report.


Mon, Feb 21 2005 - 06:14 AM rating by magsalex

great stuff!

Mon, Feb 21 2005 - 05:53 AM rating by rangutan

Excellent. Quite a funny report!

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