There’s more to Marsden than at first meets the eye. This Colne Valley village brings together much that is emblematic of the South Pennines: stunning moorland, abundant wildlife, water (the canal, not rain) mill buildings, a micro-brewery, prize-winning brass band, a past populated by Suffragettes and Luddites and bags of local pride.
And it’s festive. Marsden Jazz Festival takes place each October and is a highlight on the musical calendar of the north. More quirky are the Marsden Cuckoo Festival, held to celebrate the story of the Marsden cuckoo and Imbolc – the pagan festival welcoming the return of the light after the winter.
Know what the locals know…
Simon Armitage, renowned poet, playwright and walker of the Pennine Way, is a Marsden lad. You can read one of his seven Stanza Stones poems by taking a dramatic walk up to 19th century quarry workings at nearby Pule Hill.
Stunning Marsden Moor rises high above the village and is a great place for a spot of ornithology – look out for twite, golden plover and curlew.
The entrance to Britain’s longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel, the Standedge Tunnel, is in Marsden. You can take a trip into it from the Visitor Centre, a short walk along the towpath from town.
Have a beer at The Riverhead Brewery Tap – it’s brewed on the premises by one of the country’s few brewsters – and many of the beers are named after nearby reservoirs.
Catch a play by Mikron, the country’s only theatre Company to tour by narrowboat. They’re based at The Mechanic’s Institute.
Pop up to the Loft Space, a hub of creativity where you can book on a workshop or buy work by local artists inspired by the Marsden landscape. It’s at Standedge Visitor Centre.
For more information and ideas on where to stay: