Mesolithic March Hill

Distance : 6.5 miles/ 10.4 km
Time : 3 hours hours
March Hill with Haigh Clough in the Foreground

Hike up through outlying hamlets at the head of the Colne Valley, to reach March Hill, one of the highest points around, with stunning views back down the Valley. The hill was used by our Mesolithic hunter-gatherer forebears as a flint-knapping spot and hunting camp. Walk in the footsteps of the pack horses and their drivers as you descend the pack horse road on your return to Marsden.

This walk crosses exposed, open moorland. Make sure you wear suitable footwear, and bring weatherproof clothing.

Map Data Files

How Tricky Is it? - Mesolithic March Hill

This walk is graded as Difficult

Longer walks around 5-16km.

These walks require a good level of fitness, crossing hilly ground or moorland with rising and falling levels. Paths may be rough and uneven, with some steeper slopes or longer sections of ascent and descent.

Walking boots and warm, waterproof clothing essential.

Mesolithic March Hill Precis Map

The Full Directions - Mesolithic March Hill

  • Follow the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Tunnel End and Standedge Visitor Centre.

    Pass under the railway bridge and continue to follow the path as it crosses the canal and arrives into the visitor centre car park. Turn right, crossing the car park.

  • 1Follow the footpath across the grass on your left.

    Footpath across the grass

    Cross a lane and pass Teapot cottages on your right and continue to follow the path as it runs between waterways, crossing the former Tunnel End reservoir, now a nature reserve managed by the Canal and Rivers Trust.

  • 2At a gate onto Waters Road continue on the footpath.

    The path passes an attractive bend in the river, with a large picnic table and bench.  This area is known locally as ‘Marsden Beach’.  

  • 3Arrive at a wooden gate to exit onto Waters Road

    Turn left, passing Lower Hey Green cottages on your left.

    History Notes

    Note the decorated gate and blue plaque marking the establishment of the Hey Green Generator that brought the first electricity to a domestic house in the Colne Valley.

  • 4On your right you will see the large metal gate to Hey Green House, formerly a hotel.


    Go up several stone steps to a footpath on the left of the gate and follow the path alongside a wall, uphill.

  • 5During the winter the first part of this path may be very muddy as a stream runs through it.

    As an alternative, continue ahead up Blake Lea Lane, rejoining the walk at point 9.

  • 6Continue through a gap in the wall

    Gap stile

    Follow the path as it runs alongside a row of rail posts on your right, dated 1847.

  • 7Cross a stile.


    Continue diagonally uphill to a metal gate to arrive onto a surfaced lane. Turn around to admire the view behind you of Pule Hill with its ventilation shaft for the railway tunnel.

  • 8At the metal gate bear right slightly downhill.

    Metal Gate

    Walk past a white farmhouse, Lower Green Owlers.

  • 9Soon you reach a junction.

    Farm track to White Hall farm

    Turn left onto a farm track following a public footpath sign. Ignore the first stile that is on your left. Continue along the farm track uphill for a short distance going past the first entrance to White Hall Farm.

  • 10Arrive at a stile on your left

    The stile to cross

    opposite the second entrance to the farm. 

  • 11Cross the stile.

    View of March Hill in the distance

    Follow the track as it bears right across fields and moorland, with the rounded peak of March Hill ahead of you.  As you progress, enjoy the view down into the steep sides of Haigh Clough before you. 

  • 12Continue on this path for 0.5 m (0.8 km).

    Cross several streams, finally crossing a prominent stone footbridge as you approach the embankment of March Haigh Reservoir.

  • 13Take the path ascending left up the embankment.

    Embankment at March Reservoir

    Arrive at the shore of March Haigh Reservoir. Turn right to cross the reservoir embankment. (To cut the walk short, turn left to join the Pack Horse Road at point 19).

    History Notes

    Nature note really, sorry history buffs :-) Keep a look out for Canada geese on the waters of the reservoir

  • 14Cross the spillway.

    Path around the reservoir

    Step up and turn left, following the well-trodden path around the reservoir, towards March Hill.

  • 15At a path junction at the end of the reservoir

    Path turning left up the hill

    keep left and start the short ascent of March Hill, pausing on the summit to enjoy the view to Marsden.

    History Notes

    Mesolithic (‘middle stone age’) hunter-gatherers moved back into Britain after the last ice, around 10,000 years ago. March Hill and the surrounding area would have been woodland and scrub with a range of animals and plants to make use of. The hill is associated with fire pits and hearths along with flint tool working activity, spread over a few hundred years and is a renowned archaeological site for this period. Google ‘Mesolithic Marsden’ as a start point for more information.

  • 16From the summit of March Hill consider the views that Mesolithic people would have seen.

    The open moor at the top of March Hill

    No reservoir or roads, wooded valleys and rising smoke from distant camps.

    Head south across the plateau. The path may be indistinct in very dry weather.

  • 17At a path junction turn left to join the Pack Horse Road.

    The turn is clearly marked by a PH road stone way marker post.

  • 18Descend on the partially paved path.

    Pack Horse Road heading down hill

    Continue to follow the Pack Horse road as it crosses the moor and descends towards Marsden.

  • 19The descent is gradual until the last part.

    Easter Gate bridge

    The final stretch is more steeply downhill, arriving at the Pack Horse bridge at Easter Gate (aka Close Gate on OS Maps). Cross the bridge and follow the path alongside the river.

  • 20Go through a gate

    Turn right onto the lane slightly downhill to arrive again at Hey Green House. Continue straight on on Waters Road, retracing the way you came. Shortly after Lower Hey Green Cottages, turn right through a wooden gate continuing to retrace your steps. Follow the path once again to eventually arrive back at the Standedge visitor centre.

    Then retrace your route along the canal and return to Marsden Railway Station.