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Old Salt Road via Saltersbrook

Probably the most well known old trading route to pass through our district is the one starting at Northwich in Cheshire heading for various Towns and Cities in Yorkshire, this old route is often described as a Pack Horse Trail or a Salt Route.

Although both descriptions are correct, the traders that used this route would have used wheeled vehicles also, particularly after the route was upgraded as part of the Turnpike era of the 18th  and 19th century, and many other products other than Salt would have been transported, particularly on the return journeys to Cheshire.

Salt was indeed a very important commodity at the time, being used primarily as flavouring and for the preservation of perishable goods such as meat.

The towns of Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich where at the centre of the Salt mining industry in the county of Cheshire, and Northwich was the starting point of this route.

The section from Cheshire as far as Saltersbrook was turned into a Turnpike road following an act of 1732, followed by the section from Saltersbrook to Barnsley and Doncaster in 1740 and then the section over Hartcliff Hill to Rotherham in 1741.

From Northwich the first part of the route would pass through Altringham, Reddish, Denton, Mottram and Tintwistle before following the valley of the River Ethrow (Longdendale) to arrive at Woodhead.

At Woodhead the track is now cut through by the Manchester road, and then runs parallel to the newer road on the north side of the valley finally arriving at Saltersbrook.

In earlier times the Cheshire border extended up Longdendale to the border with Yorkshire, this extension of the County served as a means of securing an important source of income for Cheshire.

Teams of Pack Horses led by handlers known as “Jaggers” would use this isolated moorland trail, most likely in Spring through to Autumn when the days would be longer and the weather less severe than in the Winter months.

We will explore the route and its passage through our district from here at Saltersbrook to a point just east of the village of Wortley, and take a look at what remains of its historical past.

This first photograph shows the track arriving at Saltersbrook after the long climb along the north side of the hill from the valley bottom at Woodhead.

After crossing the road the track drops down a slope towards the Ladyshaw Bridge.

This photograph shows the route looking down from the main road towards the bridge with the ruins of Saltersbrook House shown in the background, the track then continues up the hill towards the Langsett Moors.

Ladyshaw Bridge is shown in the foreground of this photograph with the bridge carrying the main road in the background.

The present Ladyshaw Bridge is believe to date from around 1730 to 1740 and probably replaced an earlier bridge most likely constructed from wood, it has recently been rebuilt and now forms part of the Trans Pennine Coast to Coast Trail.


A short distance after crossing the bridge we arrive at the ruins of Saltersbrook House, which as can be seen from this photograph, was situated right at the side of the track.

The inn is believed to have opened in 1795 and closed in 1852, and would have been a regular stopping off point for those who used this route.

The old mile stone shown in the next photograph is situated on the opposite side of the track from Saltersbrook House.

Although most of the inscriptions are no longer visible it displayed “Wortley XII Miles” “Rotherham XXI Miles” and the initials “IWB” towards the base.

The letters IWB are found at various unrelated places around the moors of South West Yorkshire and Derbyshire and on the Lady Cross, which we will come to a little later, could they be simply an early form of graffiti by a one Isaac Watt Boulton?

Moving on from Saltersbrook House the track rises towards the Langsett Moors until we reach a point at where it divides as shown in this photograph, looking back along the path we have just ascended.

The road to the right follows an old route heading northwards through Dunford Bridge towards Wakefield.

The other track shown at the bottom of the photograph crosses a stile and then rises up and over what is now open access land, heading in a direction towards Penistone.

Following this track we soon pass what was the site of Lady Cross Farm although there is little sign at ground level to indicate the site the outlines of the buildings can still be seen on a satellite image of the area, as can many of the features described on this section of the route. 

After about three quarters of a mile we arrive at Lady Cross.

The exact date of the cross is uncertain but it is referred to in documents from the early part of the 16th Century.

It is crudely inscribed on its base with the letters IWB, an X and some other initials, and indicates the eastern edge of the Manorial Lands of Glossop.

It may also have acted as a marker to indicate the direction of the track over what is after all a featureless landscape.

Lady Cross is a Grade II listed Structure.

After about another quarter of a mile we arrive at this old mile stone inscribed “XX”, signifying that there is another twenty miles still to travel to Rotherham.

Very soon we arrive at where the main road cuts across the track yet again.

After crossing the main road we pass the site of what was the Plough and Harrow Public House or Inn which we belive was built in 1817 and ceased trading around 1851.

This old newspaper cutting. may provide one explanation for the unusual name of Fiddlers Green.

The track then precedes parallel to the new road along Fiddlers Green and down the moor, eventually arriving at the Dog & Partridge public house where there was a Toll Bar erected at the time of the conversion into a Turnpike road.


The route as just described from Saltersbrook to here at the Dog and Partridge still remains much as it was when the road was upgraded in to Turnpike road in the early part of the 1700s.

A new section of road following a slightly different route was constructed in 1828 from Saltersbrook to the Dog and Partridge, from where the road followed the earlier route, on towards what we now know as the Flouch.

As part of the new section a second bridge was constructed slightly to the north of the Ladyshaw Bridge and the Millers Arms Inn was erected alongside the bridge at around the same time.

Moving on from the Dog & Partridge towards the Flouch nothing much remains of the old route and very little of the road upgrade of the late 1820s.

In recent years a new interchange has been constructed to the east of the old road.

The original old route and the subsequent Turnpike Road passed alongside where the old Flouch Inn was constructed; it was originally named the New Inn and functioned as a coaching inn.

The Old Flouch Inn was probably built in 1828, around the same time as the Millers Arms at Saltersbrook, as can be seen in these two photographs, the Inn has been converted into a very nice private dwelling.

The following photographs are of the Flouch Hotel which is situated on the opposite side of the junction to the Old Flouch Inn, built much later.

The next photographs show what remains of old road, which is now bypassed by the new section.

This first view is taken looking back towards Manchester, this section of the road leads to the White Cottages and then narrows into a short footpath which leads to the new section of road.

This next photograph shows an old mile stone, situated at the side of the old road, the design differs from those previously observed on the initial section over Langsett Moor, and was probably erected when the road was upgrade in 1828.

As can be seen the mile stone is inscribed Barnsley 13 miles and Manchester 23 miles.

The first of the following two photographs show the old road looking back towards the Flouch Hotel, and the second looking in the general direction of Penistone.

The road continues towards Penistone where at a sharp bend the old route bears to the right up the hill towards Hartcliff, directly opposite the entrance to Paw Hill Farm can be found this old mile stone inscribed XVI indicating a further sixteen miles to Rotherham.

After passing the summit  the route bears to the right along what is now known as Hartcliff Hill Road, on the left after about a further 600 yards or so can be seen Ring Wood surrounded by a stone wall with the road side wall in front.

Looking over the roadside wall this old milestone can be seen, indicating fifteen more miles to Rotherham.

Moving on we pass what remains of another old trade route between Grindleford and Penistone, and then a little further along we arrive at Cranberry Crossroads.

Moving on we arrive at the junction with Underbank Lane where this road sign “Salter Hill Lane” can be seen, indicating a link with this routes illustrious past.

On the opposite side of the road can be found this very unusual Way Marker.

Erected in 1734, this stoop is unique in the area as it is hexagonal, the convention was the same as for the four sided stoops, in that the traveller turned right to follow the inscribed direction.

From 1733 the overseers of the highways were directed by the West Riding Justices of the Peace to erect Guide Stoops at remote crossroads, five years later in 1738 a second order stated that miles should also be inscribed on any new Stoops.

The front face shown directs the traveller to Sheffield and Rotherham via Greenmoor, the face to the right is inscribed with Barnsley & Pontefract, the date of 1734, and Doncaster which directs the traveller towards Oxspring then Via Bower Lane to Coates Farm and then on towards Keresforth.

This point is at a junction with yet another old route from Bradfield, which we will return too later.

The route continues along the top of the ridge between Penistone and Stocksbridge towards the village of Green Moor and then drops down Well Hill towards the River Don.

Having passed through the village of Green Moor, some half mile later we reach Holly Lane on the right hand side which was the  route of the pre Turnpike Road.

Holly Lane was the route of the old road prior to the upgrade to Turnpike status crossing the River Don in the area known locally as the Tin Mill.

As can be seen from the photograph this part of the old route still retains the profile associated with a "Holloway" worn away by narrow wheeled vehicles over many years.

These photographs show the latest bridge across the river and an older wooden structure at the Tin Mill, this crossing would originally just have been a Ford as the depth of the river at this point is normally quite low.

A diversion to the bottom of Well Hill and on to where the disused Railway line crosses the road close to Wortley Station was constructed as part of the upgrade to a Turnpike Road to bypass the difficult to navigate route down Holly Lane.

Jeffereys map of 1771 shows that there was a bridge at the bottom of Well Hill to cross the river Don, but the present Forge Bridge was erected in 1782 by Thomas Ramsden.

Forge Bridge is a  grade II listed structure.

Close to Wortley Station the two routes converge then continue up Finkle Street where it crossed the road from Wortley to Grenoside and then on towards the village of Howbrook and then Rotherham.

W.E. Spencer wrote an article about this old route along with others around and outside of the district.

It was featured in the Society's Paragon Newsletter number 12 published in the Summer of 1998.

From a point West of Penistone close to Paw hill the route split with a connection heading towards Barnsley and Doncaster.

A meeting was held in March of 1784 to establish the Letting of Tolls for the Saltersbrook to Doncaster section.


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