Close Gate Bridge
This famous packhorse bridge, dating from either the 17th or the 18th century, is now scheduled as an ancient monument. Although named Close Gate Bridge on the Ordnance Survey maps it is usually known as Eastergate Bridge, perhaps because Esther Schofield kept the Packhorse Inn which stood here more than a century ago, and ‘Esther Gate’ became ‘Eastergate’.
‘Close Gate’ means ‘the road to the cloughs’, and the bridge now gives access to the National Trust moorland. The track which follows Oldgate Clough used to be the packhorse way between Marsden and Rochdale. In the famous court case at Leeds Assizes in 1908 the route was established as a public right of way after Sir Joseph Radcliffe, the Lord of the Manor, had tried to stop people using it.
Hey Green was the site of Marsden’s first fulling mill. Established in 1710, it was later rebuilt as a larger woollen mill which in turn was converted into a corn mill.
The mill stood at the eastern end of the pond, and across the road stands a row of cottages which were originally the coach houses, with the ostler’s house at the western end of the block. The stone weir, which raised the river to the level of the water wheel, can be seen from the bridge.
Higher Green Owlers
Higher Green Owlers, with a date stone of 1610, is one of the oldest buildings in Marsden.
It lies on a track which was probably a packhorse route between Marsden and the Rochdale Road, and there is evidence that the house was once an inn with its own brewery. The name ‘Owlers’ means ‘alder trees’.
Shooters Nab, on the edge of Deer Hill, lies on the northern boundary of the Peak District National Park. At 1,400 ft. above sea level there are fine views to the north and west.
The quarry face is sometimes used by rock-climbers, and the flat ground at the foot of Shooters Nab is used by a rifle and pistol club.Walkers should look out for the red flags which warn of shooting in the area.
The name is older than the rifle range and is probable derived from the old dialect word ‘shorter’ which means an archer. Perhaps the archers hunted the deer which once roamed on Deer Hill.
Image Copyright John Darch. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic Licence.
Now a farm hamlet, Slaithwaite Hall is the site of one of the oldest settlements in the Colne Valley. It was formerly the residence of the Tyas family who held the Manor of Slaithwaite in the 13th century. Part of the old hall still exists, with cruck timbers concealed behind a stone exterior, but now it is used as a barn.
The name Slaithwaite was first recorded as ‘Slathwait’ in 1178, since when it has had at least 38 different spellings. The English Place Name Society claims that it means ‘a clearing where timber was felled’ but others suggest the meaning ‘sloe clearing’.
Whichever you prefer, it seems certain that the township of Slaithwaite further down the valley owes its name to a clearing at the top of the hill where the hamlet of Slaithwaite Hall now stands.