Langsett 5 mile walk
...a walk to America?
This circular walk, taking in the ruined farmstead known as North America, is a popular excursion...
Around Langsett to North America
Langsett Barn is a magnificent 17th century building now used as a ranger base and community centre for the village. With the adjacent car park, it opened up a largely unknown area of the National Park to many more visitors for whom this circular walk, taking in the ruined farmstead known as North America, is a popular excursion.
The village of Langsett gets its name from the Old English for “long slope,” which is a fair description of the way that the village sits where the Midhope Moors slope down to the Porter, or Little Don, River (one of the few rivers in Britain with two official names).
The chief feature of Langsett today is the reservoir, which was built between 1889 and 1904 by an army of navvies who lived in a temporary village of corrugated iron huts beneath the dam wall, which included a hospital, canteen and recreation rooms.
Leave the car park at Langsett Barn by the gate which leads down through Langsett Bank Woods to a path which leads right alongside the reservoir. The path rises through a replanted area and you will soon glimpse the stone-built Brookhouse Bridge which spans the Porter or Little Don.
The path now joins the ancient bridleway known as the Cut Gate Track and goes down to cross the bridge.
Cut Gate Track
This ancient track was used by farmers in the Upper Derwent and Woodlands Valley to take their livestock to the nearest market at Penistone. The Cut Gate track runs from the reconstructed Slippery Stones bridge at the head of the Howden
Reservoir up Bull Clough and over Featherbed Moss to Mickleden Edge before dropping over Hingcliff Hill into Langsett. Stone Age arrowheads have been found in
the peat close to the Cut Gate track, so it seems that these now bleak and inhospitable moors have seen signs of human activity for many thousands of years.
Near the bridge are the remains of Brookhouse Farm, which was one of several which were depopulated in the interests of water purity when the reservoir was built at the start of the 20th century. In 1588, so a story says, the rent for this farm was a red rose at Christmas and a snowball at midsummer!
Cross the bridge and go through the gate up the hillside opposite on the track which soon leaves the trees behind and enters open moorland at Delf Edge. The way now climbs steadily over Hingcliff Common towards Hingcliff Hill, the high point of the walk.
Where the path forks, take the left hand path which leads down, with views across the reservoir to the ruins of an old farmstead.
North America Farm
In the old days of the Empire, it was the custom to name far-flung farmsteads after the places which were, in those days, on the edge of the known world. That is how North America got its name; other farms were called Quebec and Botany Bay. It is a sad ruin now, like Brookhouse Farm abandoned when the reservoir was built. The pockmarks in some of the stones of the broken-down walls were caused when the ruined farm was used for target practice by troops stationed near Langsett training for the D-Day landings in 1944 during the Second World War.
From the farm ruins, go down the track back towards the reservoir, keeping the conifers of Mauk Royd on your left, and crossing Thickwoods Brook, which enters the reservoir from the right. Passing through a metal gate, you should note the fine views to the left up towards the head of the reservoir. You now enter Thickwoods Lane with Thickwoods Plantation to your right.
Thickwoods Lane had to be reinforced to accommodate tanks during the Second World War for the Army training mentioned above. The brick rubble from which the track is made came from bombed out houses in nearby Sheffield.
Through another gate, you reach a concrete track across which is a medtal barrier. Go through the gap in the wall and turn lefdt up a walled green lane which leads to the hamlet of Townend, which is part of the hamet of Upper Midhope.
The twin villages of Midhopestones and Upper Midhope are linked by Midhope Lane, and are of very ancient origin. “Hope” is an Old English word meaning “a small, enclosed valley,” which is still a very good topographical description of the area. The tiny church of St. James at Midhopestones was restored in 1705, and has a fine, much earlier Renaissance pulpit.
Across the valley of the Little Don from Upper Midhope, around Alderman’s Head Farm, the lost market town of Penisale once existed. It was granted the right to hold a market as early as 1290, but nothing now remains.
Turn left and then right through Townend and take the bridleway down to meet Joseph Lane until it joins the road. Turn left at the road to the pavement which crosses the embankment wall of the Langsett Reservoir.
The embankment of Langsett Reservoir is 352 m/1,156 ft long and the reservoir has a depth of 35m/117ft. to the old river bed beneath. When full, the reservoir holds 59 million cubic metres or 1,409 million gallons of water. The castellated valvehouse at the northern end of the dam wall is supposed to have been modelled on the gatehouse of Lancaster Castle. The reservoir took 14 years to build, between 1889 and 1904.
The reservoir is now controlled by Yorkshire Water, and its naturally acidic, brown water is treated at the modern Langsett Treatment Works just below the embankment wall to the right.
Reaching the junction with the A616 opposite the Bank View Café, turn left and left again along a lane which leads past a large barn on your right. Turn left between two walls to return to the Langsett Barn car park.
Start/finish: Langsett Barn car park on the A616 Stocksbridge-Flouch road
Distance: 7km/5 miles
Approximate time: Allow about three hours
Highest point: Hingcliff Hill 327m/1,073ft
Maps: OS Explorer Sheet 1, The Dark Peak
Refreshments: Pubs and café in Langsett
Terrain: Forest tracks followed by moorland paths, boots required
Last Updated: 5 Oct 2015