Another of Britain’s unconvincing candidates for ‘Original Roman Road surface’. Blackpool Bridge and Wade’s Causeway are the others. Blackstone Edge is up in the Pennines, near the highest point of the M62 as it vaults the moors. It’s a bridleway, so is cyclable, but the stones can be slippery even in dry weather.
It’s just very inconvenient to get to, and not part of any obvious ride. Plus it really requires a full-suspension mountain bike. It’s just south of the A58 west from Halifax; a couple of kilometres east of Blackstone Edge Reservoir, a bridleway branches south-west off the main road, onto Rishworth Moor. This takes you right onto the old Roman Road surface: a rocky, cobbled, astonishingly well-preserved track between here and where the Pennine Way crosses, half a mile or so up the hill.
But is it Roman? Some historians dispute the age of the roadtop itself. Short of finding some revelatory dating device, such as graffiti saying Romanes eunt domus (‘Romans go home’), we’ll never know for sure.
But the atmosphere – and the bleak scenic sweep – isn’t in doubt. The surface sports a long, deep-worn central groove. It looks like a drainage channel, but is thought to be a braking device for the carts of old: they would stick a wooden pole down into the groove to stop the chariot hurtling out of control. The horses did not have V-brakes.
At the top of the hill, the Pennine Way crosses and the bridleway stops; the footpath right lets you wheel your bike back to the A58 and the White House pub.