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Tong & Fulneck's Moravian Settlement

A little rural oasis between Leeds and Bradford, and some of the finest Georgian architecture in Yorkshire.

Distance 4 miles (6.4km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 262ft (80m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Ancient causeways, hollow ways and field paths, 12 stiles

Landscape Mostly wooded valleys

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 288 Bradford & Huddersfield

Start/finish SE 222306

Dog friendliness Can be off lead for most of walk

Parking Lay-by in Tong village, near church, or on edge of village

Public toilets None on route

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© AA Media Limited 2015. © Crown Copyright Licence number 100021153

1 From Tong village walk up Keeper Lane which, beyond a gate, becomes a sandy track. Walk steadily downhill, following a line of old causey stones, into woodland. Cross Pudsey Beck on a footbridge.

2 After the bridge you have a choice of tracks. As you approach a waymarker post, continue ahead between stone posts, signed as the Leeds Country Way. Follow the beck with a golf course on your right. Beyond a stile follow a field path to another stile, a footbridge and a meeting of paths. Don't cross the bridge, but turn sharp right instead, up a farm track. Meet a road by the Bankhouse Inn.

3 Follow the road to the right to investigate the fine Georgian buildings that make up the Fulneck Moravian settlement, on a ridge with good valley views. 50yds (46m) beyond the Fulneck Restaurant go right, down a lane that soon bends to the right. At the bottom of a large brick building look out for steps and a footpath downhill. Follow this delightful sunken path with hedgerows - and golf fairways - to either side. Come out onto the golf course, keeping half left across a fairway, to rejoin the path accompanying Pudsey Beck.

4 After three stiles you reach a ruined mill; bear right here to continue on the beckside path. You have easy walking, through fields and scrubland, punctuated by stiles. Leave the beck via a walled path, which brings you out onto a road.

5 Go right here, passing another mill, to a T-junction. Cross the road and take a waymarked footpath between gateposts into Sykes Wood. Go right, through a gate (signed 'Leeds Countryside Way'). Follow the path downhill, soon with Tong Beck. After walking about ½ mile (800m) through woodland, take a footbridge over the beck and walk across a field, bearing left to a stile. Follow a path along the edge of a field, then through woodland. Keep left, when the track forks, to a stile. Keep following the track - ignoring bridges and side-paths - till you come to a stile next to a gate and meet a broader track.

6 Go right, uphill, on a good track. When you meet a road go left to arrive back in Tong village.

West Yorkshire has some rugged moorland walks, where you can lengthen your stride and escape the crowds. Other walks - such as this one - are to be treasured for being so close to town.

The Pennine areas of Yorkshire have long been strongholds for non-conformist faiths. The harsh conditions and uncertain livelihoods produced people who were both independent of mind and receptive to radical ideas. Some travelling preachers could fill churches, with congregations overflowing into the churchyard. The Revd William Grimshaw of Haworth, for example, was one such tireless orator. He was always prepared to ride many moorland miles to preach the gospel and - if necessary - to chase drinkers out of the pubs and into church with a horse-whip. Religion was a passionate business in the 18th century and John Wesley found converts here, and imposingly austere Methodist chapels sprang up in the smallest village.

Just to the south of Pudsey is Fulneck, where another non-conformist church found a home. Pre-Reformation dissenters from the Roman Catholic Church, the Moravians, originated in Bohemia in the 15th century, and soon spread to Moravia. During the 18th century, Moravian missionaries were sent overseas to spread the word and one such group arrived in England. They were actually on their way to America, but a meeting with Benjamin Ingham, a Church of England clergyman, encouraged them to settle here.

In 1744 Ingham presented the Moravians with a 22-acre (9-ha) estate for them to use as a centre for their work in Yorkshire. At first they called the settlement Lambshill; then Fulneck, commemorating a town of that name in Moravia. It is a splendid site, high on a ridge with a fine view across Fulneck Valley. The Moravians constructed a street on the ridge, and built a collection of handsome buildings along it. Soon there was a chapel, large communal houses (for single brethren, single sisters and for widows), family houses, a shop, inn, bakery and workshops forming a close-knit, self-sufficient settlement. John Wesley visited Fulneck in 1780 and was suitably impressed by their hard work and independence.

Two schools were built (one for boys, one for girls), originally just for the children of Moravian Brethren. But they were eventually transformed into the fee-paying boarding schools that still exist today. The most famous pupil was probably Richard Oastler who, in the 19th century, campaigned against 'child slavery' in Yorkshire's textile mills.

As close as it is to Pudsey, this terrace of splendid Georgian buildings has retained its air of separateness. The exposed site has discouraged further building, so what you see today is very much as the Moravians originally envisaged. Take the time to explore this evocative place and perhaps visit the museum too, which explains the history of the Moravian Church and this unique Yorkshire outpost.

Apart from visiting the Moravian Community, this short walk also takes you through two delightful valleys: Fulneck Valley and Cockers Dale. In these wooded dells, criss-crossed by ancient packhorse tracks and hollow ways, you can feel a long way from the surrounding cities. On a ridge between these valleys is the village of Tong (the name means 'a spit of land') which has kept its traditional shape and character, and avoided being absorbed by creeping suburbia.

What to look for

Many of the footpaths in the area follow old packhorse routes: some are secluded sunken lanes, others still have their lines of causey stones (paving slabs) intact. They offer good walking, even in wet weather.

Where to eat and drink

You have a choice of pubs on this short walk. The Greyhound, in Tong, is a comfortable village inn with its own cricket pitch. The 17th-century building has beamed ceilings and a fine collection of antique toby jugs. Alternatively stop at the Bankhouse Inn, on the approach to the Moravian Settlement at Fulneck.

While you're there

Immediately over the M62 motorway you will find Oakwell Hall, dating from 1583. It is a splendid merchant clothier's house, built in the 'Halifax' style. Remarkably, the interior of the house has undergone only minor changes, and retains many of its original Elizabethan features - not least the heavy oak panelling.

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