|The Pennine Way|
From above Laddow Rocks, down Crowden Great Brook
I was dropped off at the Crowden-in-Longdendale Youth Hostel by my landlady from the previous nights B&B on an overcast and dull morning. From the youth hostel, I walked along a lane to cross Crowden Great Brook on a bridge and met the Pennine Way as it leaves the Longdendale valley on a stony path. The valley has a web site: Longdendale Online.
|Crowden Camp & Caravan Site||Camping||01457 866057|
|The Old House||B&B||01457 857527|
The path rises steadily to the Oakenclough Brook, contouring below Black Tor and then Rakes Rocks. Here the Pennine Way climbs a steep 100 metres up a sharp sandstone ridge to the top of the cliffs. There is an excellent view of the main face of Laddow Rocks from here. If you would rather look up at the rocks there is a faint path contouring below them that branches off just after the brook. The Pennine Way tiptoes along the crag edges to a cairn. A path heads straight ahead for Greenfield and the Dove Stone Reservoir but the Pennine Way turns right to follow the cliff edge closely before descending to join Crowden Great Brook (and the lower path). The valley opens up here and the rolling moorland ahead becomes obvious.
|The Peels Arms||Pub||01457 852719|
|White House Farm||B&B||01457 854695|
The going gets a bit wet with a number of crossings of sidestreams until the track branches away up the grassy slopes of Dun Hill at the confluence of Crowden Great Brook and Meadowgrain Clough. It then climbs up a more eroded path onto Black Hill to a height of 582 metres. The OS pillar on Soldier's Lump (Black Hill) has the reputation of being surrounded by a 200 metre wide quagmire of naked black peat. I found the going surprisingly dry and managed to get to the pillar dry-shod. Normally walkers make a wide circle around the summit to reach the path on the other side. The area around the pillar is called Soldier's Lump to commemorate the efforts of the Royal Engineers who surveyed the region in the 1800's.
Back to Crowden and Torside reservoir
Note that the old route north-west over Wessenden Head Moor to the A635 road and over the peat sponges of Featherbed, White and Broadhead Mosses to Black Moss is not recommended. The path where it exists is very boggy and the terrain is not inspiring. The only good thing about it is that it avoids the descent and climb involved in the Wessenden alternative.
I dropped slightly to the shoulder above Issue Clough (Black Dike Head) where there are good views in clearer weather. Ignore any path that drops into Issue Clough - they are traces of an old route. Note that the track goes down the left hand side of the clough - there were a couple of lads wandering around on the other side (I hope that they were not fellow Pennine Way hikers). Remember to look back up the clough to a nice waterfall. This area is the only one in England where you are likely to see mountain hares (which are common in Scotland).
The path leads sharply down the slopes to a drainage ditch and wall that heads ruler-straight to the A635 road. This is where I had lunch - not much traffic on the road and dry ground to sit on. The stone enclosure that the Pennine Way passes through is the site of the Isle of Skye Inn which was demolished in the 1950's to ensure that the waters of the nearby reservoirs could not be polluted. There is the possibility of a refreshment van in a nearby lay-by.
After lunch, I followed a faint path downhill to a dirt track giving quick walking past the 2 Wessenden reservoirs. The Pennine Way is diverted over the dam at the second reservoir where a good path contours around the hillside to a weir on an unnamed stream that contains a lofty waterfall (just opposite Wessenden Lodge which seems to no longer offer refreshments and thus the diversion). The Pennine Way continues around a ridge end to Blakely Clough which is crossed by another weir. Across the weir the path becomes thin but well-defined as it climbs up to Black Moss and its 2 reservoirs (all these reservoirs supply the cities of Manchester and Huddersfield). As the Pennine Way passes the reservoirs, it becomes wetter but not too muddy. A footbridge over the outlet from Black Moor Reservoir sends the Pennine Way along the reservoir embankment to dry and sandy paths. The weather also cleared enough for me to get good views of Redbrook Reservoir with a sprinkling of sail-boats.
An unseen achievement of the 1800's are the three massive tunnels that lie deep under the A62 road. These consist of the longest canal tunnel in Britain (about 5 kilometres long) along with two railway tunnels of similar length. The last 500 metres of the Pennine Way parallels the A62 road (which is not too obvious in it's cutting) on an old packhorse road with the reward of a refreshment van parked at the south end of the cutting. With a good cup of tea inside of me, I crossed the road and followed it around to Globe Farm Guest House and my B&B for the night.