The Wizard of Whirlaw and Bride stones – Todmorden

Finally, we got out for a walk! This time was a visit to Todmorden. I’ve walked around the area before on the Calderdale Way (that I still need to finish!), but never to see a Wizard and a bride. I’d seen various pictures of the Wizard of Whirlaw, and he looked interesting, combine that with some more interesting rock formations and I didn’t need convincing to go find them. A bank holiday and all my uni degree work completed, meant nothing was stopping us from a day exploring.

We took inspiration for the route from the Happyhiker website and based our walk on this. We did adapt it to suit us and what I love about the paths around Todmorden, is that there are quite a few to choose from, should you wish to amend your route. I packed, as always, my paper OS map and have the OS map app too.

Having parked we made our way over the railway and the climb up the hill started. The kids had commented that they hoped we weren’t going up the huge hill we’d seen as we parked! We did. Through an overgrown footpath at the side of a farmyard and then up onto moorland. It was amazing how quickly we had gained so much height and already we could see for miles. You don’t have to wait for a lung and leg workout on this walk.

Landscape view of Todmorden below, taken from fields above landscape scene Man stands next to Wizard stone wiping its nose with a tissue. Man is smiling

After hills, the Whirlaw rocks and a field, we made our way over a stile, to the end of a farm track and another footpath, and there he was. The Wizard of Whirlaw. The large stone head is said to have been inspired by a novel by William Holt in 1959, who was born in Todmorden. Having admired the impressive wizard, well I liked him, we continued on our walk, picking up the Todmorden centenary way. In a roundabout way we made our way to the Bride stones. There are more direct routes and the route we took involved some road walking. Our legs have suffered not walking as much recently, so we didn’t mind a bit of a leg stretch.

Wizard of Whirlaw stone carved head and gatepost.

The Great Bride stones sit on Bride stones moor. If you don’t fancy a big walk people seem to park on Eastwood Road and walk over the moorland to the stones. The huge, weathered stones, with their fascinating shapes, have a great view over the landscape. There are many different names for the stones but one in particular is said to be ‘the bride stone’ and stands slightly apart from the others. You could almost convince yourself that it had a face. In my excitement of spotting the trig, I sadly didn’t get many photos of the stones. If this place is full of folklore, myths and legends then this is the place to stop and take a moment, so we enjoyed a windy picnic on top of the stones. The kids enjoyed exploring the rocks.

Bridestones wooden footpath sign Bride stones from afar Bride stones rock formations

Woman squats down next to trig point, hugging it. She is smiling at the camera. Pretty landscape can be seen in background. Hip2trek stood at a trig arms outstretched View from the top of the rocks across the landscape Hip2trek selfie smiling at camera, trig can be seen in background.

From here we continued across moorland, boggy in places, to a track and then into a woodland area and another footpath. This part was beautiful, and we were treated to the sounds of a woodpecker, although they kept hidden. The rest of the walk was just picking up footpaths that made their way downhill. Eventually we emerged from under the railway this time and made our way back to the car.

Shady woodland canopy under a tree, dappled sunlight and a partially hidden path can be seen infront. The floor is carpeted with brown pine needles and foliage. Looking downhill on a pretty public footpath. Grass and gorse bushes are on one side and a dry stone wall on the other. Hip2trek family of 4 selfie smiling in the sun

We walked approximately just over 6 miles. This walk had everything from lung busting hills, boggy moorland, fields and beautiful woodland…and a road. The views were fabulous above Todmorden and Stoodley pike waved to us from the horizon too.

We parked at Todmorden leisure centre OL14 7DF.

The Bride stones can be found off Eastwood Road OL14 8SA

We used OS map ‘South Pennines OL21’.

There are no facilities on route so pack a picnic and water. It can be quite exposed on the tops so remember something warm and sun cream.

Have you been on any wizard walks? Let me know in the comments.

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