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Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands

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Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands
Author: Penistone Line, Published: 20 Sep 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide star1 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide star1 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide star1 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide star0 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide
South Yorkshire, Silkstone Common
Walk Type: History trail
Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide boot Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide boot Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide
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A 5 mile linear walk from Silkstone Common rail station to Dodworth rail station in South Yorkshire, enjoying some fascinating industrial archaeology and beautiful sections of woodland. There’s something for everyone on this route, from woodland spring flowers and pretty streams, to sculptures and old mining relics plus peaceful paths and far reaching views. The return leg can be completed by a simple 3-minute train journey.

The route has several steady gradients throughout, plus a few steeper sections. The paths are a mixture of roadside pavements, woodland and field paths plus a section of bridleway track, some of which can be very muddy at times. You will need to negotiate several flights of steps and footbridges, four gates, two kissing gates plus 6 stiles. Five of the stiles are wooden fence stiles (all of which have gaps alongside that most dogs should fit through) and one stile is a low and wide stone wall stile (which should be easy for most dogs to climb). You will cross the rail line at a pedestrian level crossing within the station, so be sure to look and listen for trains carefully before you cross. The vast majority of the route is livestock free, but you will cross one short field which may be holding a few cattle (the five cattle present when we walked through with our dog ignored us, but do take care). The final stretch of the route is through a golf course, so please watch out for any stray flying golf balls here. Allow 2.5 hours.

This walk is one of the Penistone Line Collection, published through a collaboration between The Penistone Line Partnership and iFootpath to help visitors discover the beautiful countryside and attractions accessible by train between Huddersfield and Sheffield.

The walk starts at Silkstone Common rail station, making it ideal for arriving by public transport. The station also has a small free car park and there is nearby roadside parking on Cone Lane if you are arriving by car. Approximate post code S75 4PU. The return leg is via train, with normal service being hourly Mon-Sat and every two hours on Sundays, but please check before you travel.

Walk Sections

Start to Huskar Memorial
Start to Huskar Memorial

Start point: 53.5353 lat, -1.5629 long
End point: 53.5315 lat, -1.5549 long

Leave the Silkstone Common platform heading down the steps to the road. Cross over to the far pavement and turn left along this. At the first crossroads, turn right into Moorend Lane and follow this road steadily downhill. Eventually you will pass a school on your right and then a lovely row of predominantly white terraced houses on your left, known as the South Yorkshire Buildings.

These buildings are our first clue to the rich coal mining heritage in this area. Coal from the Silkstone Seam was highly prized for its ability to burn, giving off good heat but leaving very little ash. Small scale mining began in the early 1800s and most villagers – men, women, boys and girls – were involved. These houses were built in 1877 when the industry had become more established. 56 dwellings in a rectangular design (side to side and back to back), they were built by the South Yorkshire Coal and Iron Company as homes for the workers constructing the railway between Worsbrough and Penistone via Silkstone Colliery. Every home had a range, an outside lavatory, a coal store and an allotment for growing produce.

Follow the lane downhill to pass under the old rail bridge and, about 50 metres later, turn right through the fence gap into the entrance for Nabs Wood. Head down the short flight of woodland steps to reach the Huskar Memorial. The bench here makes the perfect spot to pause and understand the history of this woodland. So, take a perch and we will begin our tale…

In the early days of coal mining, methods were less sophisticated than the deep pits we often associate with the industry. In day-hole mining, holes were made into which miners were winched down to the seam. The miners simply tunnelled along the seam using picks and shovels. Nabs Wood was home to Huskar Mine, which used several day-holes to access the coal. The memorial sculpture here commemorates a terrible disaster within Huskar Mine in July 1838, which led to the death of 26 children aged between 7 and 17. On this hot summer day, a heavy thunderstorm put the steam engine out of action, meaning it could not operate the pulley to bring miners in or out of the mine shaft.

A message was sent down to those working in the mine to go to the bottom of the shaft and wait for rescue. Several of the children, against advice from older miners, decided to make their own way out of the mine via a nearby day-hole. Unbeknown to the children, the heavy rain and flash flooding had filled House Carr Dyke with water. Suddenly, the weight of water swept away one of the trap doors and the torrent of water entered the day-hole. Some older children managed to climb above the torrent but sadly 26 youngsters drowned. The memorial sculpture was created in 1988 on the 150th anniversary of the disaster. Young Queen Victoria ordered a public inquiry and the eventual result was the Mines and Collieries Act 1842 which prohibited all females and boys below the age of 10 from working underground in the mines.

Huskar Memorial to Orchard Wood
Huskar Memorial to Orchard Wood

Start point: 53.5315 lat, -1.5549 long
End point: 53.5343 lat, -1.5598 long

When you are ready to continue, cross the sleeper bridge over the stream and take the steps up to the right of the memorial. Follow the path as it swings right and then left to reach a fork (with a dry-stone wall on your right, and horse paddocks beyond). Take the right-hand branch, staying close to the wall on your right, crossing some large stepping stones over a stream and then swinging right (with the far boundary wall of the paddocks on your right).

Follow the woodland path meandering ahead before climbing some more woodland steps with a fence on your left. Behind this fence you will see the remains of the day-hole which featured in the mining disaster explained earlier. Your path now crosses a wide footbridge, climbs steeply via some steps and then continues through the woodland, initially with another stone wall on your right. Stay with the obvious woodland path meandering ahead. Nabs Wood is a section of ancient woodland and contains a succession of wild flowers in spring including wood anemone, dog’s mercury, bluebells and wild garlic.

Eventually you will cross another sleeper bridge (with a brick culvert on your right) and the path now climbs steadily to merge with the path you used to enter Nabs Wood. Follow the main access path swinging right and then left, passing the memorial sculpture to reach the road. Turn left and retrace your steps back along the road to reach the school. Immediately after the school, turn left through the kissing gate to enter another section of woodland, Orchard Wood.

Orchard Wood to Cone Lane
Orchard Wood to Cone Lane

Start point: 53.5343 lat, -1.5598 long
End point: 53.5351 lat, -1.5638 long

Walk directly ahead, taking the flight of woodland steps with the school fence running on your left. At the top of all the steps, the path bears right between holly bushes and soon swings left to reach a garden fence ahead. Turn right and, where the fence ends, keep ahead on the stone and dirt path to reach a grass clearing. Cross the clearing diagonally left, passing the stone sculpture called Children’s Friend across to your right, depicting a child with a dog.

In the far corner, emerge via the gate to reach the end of a residential road. Keep straight ahead to reach the junction with the main B-road in Silkstone Common. Cross over to the far pavement with care and turn right along this, heading back towards the station. Within a flower bed on your left you will see a number of sculptural tiles depicting a waggonway and tunnel (more about that shortly).

As you reach the station sign, fork left onto the tarmac walkway and go through the gate towards the platform. Do NOT join the platform, instead look and listen for trains and then cross over the rail lines using the designated pedestrian level crossing. Exit via the gate at the far side onto Cone Lane. Directly ahead you will see a Black Horse Tunnel 1830 plaque, our first proper clue as to how the coal was transported from the local mines. A waggonway was built that allowed waggons of coal to be pulled along rails, by steam-powered engines, by gravity and by horses. Directly below your feet, is the 80-metre tunnel through which horses pulled the waggons beneath what was then the turnpike road (and now is the railway). We will see much more of the waggonway later.

Cone Lane to Waggon Replica
Cone Lane to Waggon Replica

Start point: 53.5351 lat, -1.5638 long
End point: 53.5442 lat, -1.5646 long

Turn right along this residential road and, just before the T-junction, turn left onto the public footpath between garden hedges, signed towards Blacker Green. Soon beautiful views across the valley open up ahead and the path begins its descent. Take care as some sections can be slippery. You will come to a choice of two stiles. Take the right-hand one, go down the steps, go through the kissing gate and continue descending on the narrow, enclosed path.

At the end of the paddocks on your right, the path turns left over a stile into another woodland. Follow the path down the steps to reach a waymarker post. Bear right and cross the narrow concrete bridge over Silkstone Beck. At the far side, bear right, following the path with a fence on your left to emerge to a quiet lane. Turn right along the lane, follow it as it swings left and, immediately before the stone buildings, look for a stone stile on your right.

Turn right over this stile to enter a pasture (which may be holding a few cattle), and walk straight ahead staying close to the left-hand boundary. Follow this boundary as it swings left to take a stile into woodland. Follow the enclosed path around the woodland edge, emerging via another stile to reach the sports ground. Keep straight ahead downhill to reach the parking area and bear slightly left, passing alongside the filling station to reach a junction with the main road. Turn right along the pavement and then use the crossing point to swap to the left-hand pavement.

Continue just a few paces along this left-hand pavement and then bear left into Silkstone High Street, passing the waggon replica on your right. This is a full-size replica of a Silkstone coal waggon. It sits on cast iron rails and then on stone sleeper blocks on the original route of the waggonway. Today it highlights to visitors the importance of the local coal industry and the impact it had on the village during the 1800s. In 1821 the population of Silkstone was just 807, but this grew to 1291 by 1871.

Waggon Replica to Sewage Works
Waggon Replica to Sewage Works

Start point: 53.5442 lat, -1.5646 long
End point: 53.5537 lat, -1.5573 long

Just a few metres beyond the waggon (and before you reach the bus shelter), turn right across the road and join the signed public bridleway (a green path which runs along the right-hand side of the road). Soon you will find yourself walking along a section of stone sleeper blocks, a clue to the origins of this path.

Here we have joined the main line section of the waggonway. About twenty coal mines used branch lines that converged onto this central waggonway here in the valley bottom. From here it’s another two miles along this track to reach the canal basin at Barnby. Generally, two horses would have pulled four waggons at a time. It was a single track but there were a number of passing points to allow waggons to run in both directions.

Follow the waggonway, passing the rear of a pub and a few houses on your left and then continuing ahead. Soon you will have an idyllic section of Silkstone Beck on your right. Just before you reach a road junction you will see a complex of stone buildings on your right, Pot House Hamlet. Pot House Hamlet is a perfect mix of old and new, being a retail and farmers market complex that makes use of the historical buildings. In the 1600s this was the site of a glassworks using local coal as its fuel. In the 1700s the site became a pottery with, no surprise, the kilns being heated using Silkstone coal. There was also a water-powered corn mill here, powered by Silkstone Beck.

At the road junction, cross over and go straight ahead to continue on the waggonway. Simply follow this for about half a mile, passing a bench and plaque that marks one of the passing places. As you reach a turning circle, bear right to stay on the main track and continue to a point just before a brick-edged bridge leads you over a stream (this is immediately before the sewage works).

Sewage Works to Golf Course
Sewage Works to Golf Course

Start point: 53.5537 lat, -1.5573 long
End point: 53.5542 lat, -1.551 long

At this point turn right and pass under the head-height pipe (or using the steps over this if you prefer), following the path with the sewage works fence on your left. The path swings left over a footbridge and then turns right to cross a second footbridge. At the far side, pass through the gate ahead to reach a T-junction with a woodland path.

Turn left along this path for about 100 metres and then pass through the kissing gate or the field gates to enter a hillside meadow. With your back to the gates, walk at about 2 o’clock, crossing the meadow and then a narrow crop field to reach the left-hand edge of the tallest woodland clump. Here you will find a stile. Cross this and bear left to follow the narrow path through scrub. You will emerge to the corner of the golf course.

Golf Course to End
Golf Course to End

Start point: 53.5542 lat, -1.551 long
End point: 53.5445 lat, -1.5312 long

NOTE: This next section of public footpath follows the edge of this course, so please show respect for the golfers by walking quietly and keep your eyes peeled for any stray flying golf balls. Keep straight ahead on the grass footpath, climbing steadily and staying close to the boundary tree line on your left. At the top of the first rise, you will emerge out into an open area and it is worth taking a moment to glance back and enjoy the views that have opened up behind you.

Turn left at this open area, staying alongside the golf course boundary fence on your left. Now simply follow the grass footpath meandering around the course boundary, at the top of which you will be rewarded with more far reaching views. At the top of the course, turn left to join the stone access track which leads you uphill between hedgerows to reach the car park.

Turn left through the car park and then follow the tarmac access road as it swings right. Keep straight ahead along the access road to reach the roundabout. Cross over with care to go straight ahead, signed to Dodworth. Pass Fall Bank Industrial Estate on your right and immediately afterwards you will reach Dodworth rail station on your right. From here, you can catch a Penistone Line train back to Silkstone Common where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author Penistone and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 Comments for: "Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands"

felt a little bit here & there, more of a wander around than a purposeful walk, some really beautiful spots on the way so could be some more interesting routes to try.

By catt88 on 04 Feb 2018

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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5 Gallery Images for: "Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands"

9048_0Penistone1505922893 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide Image by: Penistone Line
Uploaded: 20 Sep 2017
The Huskar Memorial sculpture commemorates a terrible disaster within Huskar Mine in July 1838, which led to the death of 26 children aged between 7 and 17.
9048_0Penistone1505922994 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide Image by: Penistone Line
Uploaded: 20 Sep 2017
Black Horse Tunnel 1830 plaque - Directly below is the 80-metre tunnel through which horses pulled the waggons beneath what was then the turnpike road (and now is the railway).
9048_0Penistone1505923065 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide Image by: Penistone Line
Uploaded: 20 Sep 2017
A full-size replica of a Silkstone coal waggon. It sits on cast iron rails and then on stone sleeper blocks on the original route of the waggonway.
9048_0Penistone1505923336 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide Image by: Penistone Line
Uploaded: 20 Sep 2017
The main line section of the waggonway. About twenty coal mines used branch lines that converged onto this central waggonway
9048_0Penistone1505923394 Penistone Line: Silkstone Waggonway and Woodlands Walking Guide Image by: Penistone Line
Uploaded: 20 Sep 2017
The view from the golf course near the end of the walk.

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