The Sowerby Ramble is not one of the Milestone Society’s Heritage Walks, though perhaps it could be.
Rather it was a peculiar sub-district of Sowerby Township in the Calder Valley west of Halifax. South of the Calder the townships went, from west to east, Langfield, Erringden and Sowerby. Erringden township comprised principally the former manorial hunting-ground of Erringden Park, established in the 1320s. To the north of it, however, between the park/township boundary and the river, was a narrow strip of land belonging to Sowerby. This was known as Sowerby Ramble, and can be clearly seen on Myers map of 1835 (a section is pictured below: the Ramble is the pink strip). It is also marked on the first Ordnance Survey map, surveyed in 1848.
Mytholmroyd marked the north-east corner of the Ramble, from where it continued westwards past Hebden Bridge and Eastwood to Stoodley Bridge. Here a small stream, Stoodley Clough, heads up towards the noted landmark of Stoodley Pike, through what the OS map named as Ramble Wood. The Ramble followed this stream to a point about half a kilometre east of the monument where it stopped abruptly. This stretch separated Langfield and Erringden townships. The Ramble also went south from Mytholmroyd, to the east of Cragg Vale, but much wider in places.
It is thought that its purpose was to provide access for maintenance of the park boundaries, or for cattle or deer herding. Although the mediaeval park had been sold off several centuries earlier, the Ramble was not abolished until 1850, when it was incorporated into Erringden Township.
It lives on, however in a series of S marks on stones, gateposts, walls, etc all along the boundary. Pictured here (above) is one (a reverse S) on the east parapet of the railway bridge on Palace House Road, Hebden Bridge. Others can be found pictured on geograph.org.uk if you search for “sowerby ramble boundary”. When these Ss were carved is not known. It has been suggested that it may have been around the middle of the 19th century, to preserve the memory of the Ramble, but an earlier date seems more likely.
Sources: A Newell: Sowerby Ramble and Erringden Park (Halifax Antiquarian Society Transactions, 1915, p 233); Nigel Smith: The medieval park of Erringden (Hebden Bridge Local History Society, 2021)
RWH / March 2022