Yesterday, I embarked on a seven mile walk, from the streets of Stalybridge to the highest point in Tameside, the trig point of Hollingworth Moor. It was an overcast and windy day, the ground was dry and the air moist. I met with Roy West, well know to readers of this blog as an indomitable crusader against the corruption and excesses of the local Council and we embarked upon our seven mile walk uphill.
I have previously walked in the nearby hills of Derbyshire, Black Hill and Bleaklow Moor and found both reasonably hard going. During my walk to the summit of Bleaklow I found myself climbing a steep rock-face with several feet of ice before me, and no obvious route to the top. I faced a winterly doom on those hills, with a steep icy cliff face almost sending me to my doom and the possibility of spending a night on the snowy hilltop (with just a bag filled with books and a first aid kit to help me and my mate). Hollingworth Moor by comparison was a refreshing stroll.
We used a walk prescribed by Bill of the Walks In Tameside website, and began our walk in the streets of Stalybridge. I have only on occasion set foot in Stalybridge, it is a predominantly middle class town, but like everywhere else in the borough and beyond, the ugly face of New Charter's brand of privatised social housing was unavoidable, with estates full of new builds blocking what once must have been a lovely moorland view for the more settled residents.
As we approached the green land at the bottom of the moor, Roy told me of the fate of the small fields that were on either side of the small track we were travelling on, it is to be bulldozed by developers (New Charter again I believe) one could not ignore the parallels from the Lord of the Rings films, where the corrupt wizard Saruman, fuelled by a lust for 'progress' and favour from his dark master Sauron, scourges the once verdant land of Isengard in order to support his twisted race of Orc-men, the Uruk-Hai. Sadly, New Charter are unlikely to be besieged by Ents any time soon.
You can see in the picture above a view from early on in our walk, behind us was a small reservoir that cast a cool, watery breeze into the air and delighted me at least with a refreshing cool down from the initial walk up the hill. We followed a winding track up hill, past lovely farm cottages and a disused boating house. We encountered a couple, well into their eighties, who walk the seven mile route twice a day! With this in mind I resolved not to complain about the walk, no matter how hard it got (being a man in my early twenties and reasonably fit).
The initial walk took us past many reservoirs where Roy made his videos and I jokingly knocked on the door of a little turbine house, connected to land by a narrow bridge.
At several points in the walk I found myself, bounding with energy, running around the plains and jumping over high grass, finding the flat land near the summit to be a perfect place for a young man to run around (or more likely a dog, I often feel like I have a trace of canine spirit within me) I even foolishly ran up the last and highest part of the hill, looking undaunting as it did from below. I soon found myself tired from moving quickly while trying to find firm and even ground!
From the top I filmed Roy giving a brief talk on the surrounding sights of the trig point:
Roy as ever was a natural, operating without a script, with the cold biting on a windy hillside. How he manages to maintain his professional demeanour, is anybody's guess.
From the top we were able to see Stalybridge, but due to the cloudy sky, not much further. I am told that on a clear day you can see the peak of Snowdonia from there. As it was I took the opportunity to scan the sights from the summit, even on a cloudy day I found looking over the troubled towns of Tameside from such a height to be a refreshing change from my dull Droylsdonian existence.
Here is a picture taken from the top of trig point:
Our walk down was less interesting, and will take up less space here. The walk down was swift, passing fields full of horses in their winter coats. The most peculiar thing we passed was a series of fenced off underground vents, with a warning that audio recording devices were in effect. The sign had the logo of United Utilities, but this site was far from the reservoirs. To add intrigue to mystery as we neared the fence we heard a low roaring sound, reminiscent of a caged troll or similar. Only the cool, sanity preserving air prevented me from going on some kind of Dungeons and Dragons-like quest into the hillside.
To top the day off, at the end and before reaching the point we started from we sojourned to the Oxford Street Chippy where Fish and Chips (Roy) and Chips and Sausage (myself) were served by two lovely young wenches, a busty red head and pretty young blonde (who found my name tag of 'SerpentSlayer' a little chuckle-worthy) who made a charming little English chippy all the more charming. The chips were a rare delight, cooked the traditional English way that the omnipresent Chinese chippies just can't compete with (though I am partial to the odd portion from Alan Po Fongs in Droyslden) and the sausage was equally enjoyable.
I do encourage everyone here, who is able and willing to give Bill's 'Walks in Tameside' Website a look and to try out this bracing but not too difficult walk, right on the doorstep of Stalybridge.
I would like to thank Serpent Slayer and Mr West for going to the trouble of writing this article and supplying the accompanying photographs (apart from the Oxford Street chippy which was taken by me earlier this year) and videos. When you get the bug for the great outdoors it opens up a whole new chapter in your life. Serpent Slayer has a blog of his own which can be viewed here. Some of the content may not be to everyone's taste at first glance, but if you study the content carefully it is difficult to fault much of what he says. Tameside Citizen