Communications Across the Landscape

There has always been a need to travel and transport goods over the uplands, but the ground conditions, and the lie of the land have often made that difficult. Despite those difficulties, the importance of maintaining such links, especially economic links, has been a major priority since at least Roman times. There is evidence of abandoned route ways all across the South Pennines, especially the many remains of packhorse trails with their bridges, and the stone paved road at Blackstone Edge. Other evidence of abandoned routes known as turnpikes and holloways can also be found, again showing just how important it was for people to keep contact across the open spaces of the uplands.

Finding the easiest ways across the landscape has always been restricted to just a few areas, one of which is between the Castleshaw and Upper Colne valleys. Here there is a remarkable concentration of evidence, and the series of Roman forts on the Castleshaw side clearly demonstrates just how important a route way it was even at that time. That it continued to be so, is demonstrated by the huge investment of effort put into driving through the Standedge canal and railway tunnels. They may not have brought the success that was hoped for but at the time they were considered to be vital in maintaining and expanding economic links.

The Watershed Landscape Project worked with Minerva Heritage to develop podscroll trails to help you to investigate these routes for yourself:

  • Passage to the Pennines Heritage Trail
  • Going the Distance Heritage Trail

Available to download from the Resources section.