For a short walk, and ultimately a pleasant one, this caused us a few headaches - even before we got to the start.

We knew that Blackmoorfoot Reservoir was above Linthwaite, just beyond Huddersfield. So we decided to approach it by car from Linthwaite itself.

Unfortunately it isn't signposted left off the main road. Nothing seems to be. So we took a chance, turning left at a set of traffic lights and following a steeply climbing road, stopping from time to time to ask people if we were on the right road for the reservoir.

We were, apparently, but we overshot it and found ourselves heading back towards Huddersfield on a high ridge road, enjoying the 360 degree views but missing our destination. So we turned the car around and saw it ahead of us, the sun glinting on its wind-blown waters. And minutes later we were parking at the side of the aptly-named dead-end lane, Reservoir Side Road, along with four other cars, one of which had been smashed up and dumped.

To the west was the cloud bank which the forecasters had warned threatened rain for later in the day. But otherwise this was still a blue-sky, late-January morning with a brisk, cool breeze which had tempted out quite a few dog walkers.

Our walk began along Reservoir Side Road, heading south with old quarries on the left to pass a small collection of houses known as Edge End where the road ended. From here we continued along a bridleway which would have been muddy had someone not generously spread it with sand to help the rain drain away.

The view ahead was terrific: across the hamlet of Helme, with its church spire, towards Meltham and the rugged Pennine moors beyond.

Just before the bridleway joined a narrow descending road, a footpath sign pointed right down a field. The green path was clear enough on the ground, heading down to the valley bottom and then on towards Helme. So we climbed over the stile and set off downhill.

Had there not been so much rain over the previous weeks, we would have been fine to proceed over a footbridge which a field further on spanned a stream running down from the reservoir, with a stile beyond. Unfortunately the footbridge was under about a foot and a half of water and the land either side of it was awash.

There was nothing for it but to slog back up the hill to the stile and follow the road instead - a road which was remarkably busy considering it appeared to be in the middle of nowhere (although it does in fact link up with the Huddersfield-bound ridge road we'd travelled along earlier).

We turned off that road before long and strolled along another, quieter one to pass the other end of the path we would have travelled on had the footbridge been negotiable and enter Helme. This is a pretty little place with some fine, large houses and rows of weavers' cottages, and a church which is only about a century-and-a-half old but looks much more ancient.

By a bus shelter, we followed a footpath sign through a large field, picking our way across boggy ground via tussocks for a while before climbing up to a gate stile into a copse. A clear path ahead took us up through the trees to another stile out into the narrow road at the top, where we crossed a bridge above a reservoir conduit.

A stroll along the lane past a farmhouse brought us to a footpath sign pointing to a walled path which soon emerged on the side of the reservoir. The blue was now vanishing from the sky as the cloud from the west arrived. But the air was clear and fresh as we walked around the water and headed back to our car.

Down the lane a policeman was examining the dumped car and reporting back on his radio. Even up here, where it was easy to kid yourself that all is right with the world, the bad lads had left their mark.

Step by Step

  1. Walk along Reservoir Side Road to far end, passing houses. Continue ahead, on bridleway. At far end, just before road, either (A) go right over stile following footpath sign into field (if there's been a relatively dry spell), crossing footbridge at bottom and continuing on clear green path to join road at Helme, or (B) keep ahead down road (Harrison Lane) turning right at bottom into Slades Lane and walking up into Helme.
  2. Just past middle of Helme, go through gate next to bus shelter on right. Walk across field to gate into wood. Continue ahead up through wood to stile into road.
  3. Turn right and follow road across conduit. Keep ahead briefly to go right into walled footpath immediately beyond house. Follow this to join reservoir road. Dogleg left-right briefly to go through gap in wall and join reservoir-side path. Follow this right, to walk around reservoir and arrive at gate on right close to where you set off.
Fact File

  • Start: Reservoir Side Road, Blackmoorfoot.
  • Time for three-mile walk: one-and-a-half hours.
  • Going: easy, if a bit boggy in places.
  • Map: OS Explorer 288, Bradford & Huddersfield.
  • Getting there: by car (avoiding Linthwaite) follow A62 Oldham signs from Huddersfield ring road. At a fork, go left on climbing road signed Crosland Moor and Hospital up to the top of the hill. Follow ridge road until reservoir is in sight, to left of road. Look for bus turning circle on left and go left here, almost immediately turning right into Reservoir Side Road. Buses from Huddersfield (No 305) leave Stand M at the bus station for Blackmoorfoot at ten past and 20 to the hour during weekdays. For weekend times ring 0113 245 7676.
  • Toilets: none along route.
  • Refreshments: pub in Blackmoorfoot.