#44 – On the edge – Walking the Saddleworth Edges

Raven Stones Edge above Greenfield Reservoir

Let’s face it, you either like walking on gritstone moors or you don’t – I do! I started walking in my mid-teens, on the gritstone moors of the Forest of Bowland, the nearest hills to where I lived.  Perhaps the term ‘gritstone moors’ is a bit of a misnomer though, as most gritstone moors have more peat in evidence than gritstone, which makes this kind of walking an acquired taste.  I’m a Lancashire lad, but I had never walked in the Saddleworth area, so a visit seemed long overdue.

Greenfield Brook

For those of my generation, the name Saddleworth has another, more sombre connotation.  These are the moors where Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, the so-called “Moors Murderers”, buried the bodies of their child victims – the grave of Keith Bennett still remains undiscovered somewhere in these quiet hills.

Waterfall in Birchen Clough

Looking down to Birchen Clough on the way up to the Hanging Stone

We put these grim thoughts behind us as we walked by Yeoman Hey and Greenfield Reservoirs, before passing below the impressive gritstone outcrop of the Raven stones on our way to the delightful Birchen Clough.  A narrow path clings to the hillside, not far above the stream with its deep pools and cascades.  It became obvious that a stream crossing would be required, and right on cue the path led down to the waters edge

Close up view of the Hanging Stone from Birchen Clough

The Hanging Stone

From the clough, a narrow path led up to the Hanging Stone, marking the beginning of the top of the Raven Stones.  The Hanging Stone does just that, balanced above the valley below, defying gravity as it probably has for many years.  Just beyond there we arrived at the aptly named “Trinnacle”, a three headed pinnacle perched high above Greenfield Brook.  It provides a great place for a lunch stop, or just ‘mucking around’.

The Trinnacle, with the author ‘mucking around’

Going up….

….and coming down

Although these hills lie just within the Peak District, it’s the edges that are remembered, rather than the peaks.  Our route traced its way along the top of the Raven Stones Edge, followed by the Ashway Rocks, Dean Rocks and the Great Dove Stone Rocks.  On the way we passed two memorials, both quite visible from the valley bottom.  The first is an iron cross dedicated to James Platt, a local MP killed in a shooting accident in 1877.  The second memorial is a cairn perched on a small gritstone outcrop above the Great Dove Stones, commemorating Brian Toase and Tom Morton, killed in a climbing accident in the Dolomites in 1972.

The James Platt memorial cross

Memorial cairn, Great Dove Stones

Ruins of the shooting hut at Bramley’s Cot

Following the gritstone edges had two advantages.  Firstly we avoided the worst of what appeared to be a full-blown Pennine peat bog on the higher ground to our left, but the main benefit was the views across the moors and down to the valley.  We carried on past the remains of a stone shooting hut at Bramley’s Cot before ending up at Chew Reservoir, said to be the highest reservoir in England.

Good views from the Edges across the moors…..

….and down to the valley

Chew Reservoir, the highest reservoir in England

From there everything went downhill in the best sense – easy walking down Chew Road took us quickly back to Dovestone Reservoir and the start point.  It was a real T-shirt day, and being realistic probably the last day of summer.  Still, there’s all that winter walking to look forward to.

The last day of summer?

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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6 Responses to #44 – On the edge – Walking the Saddleworth Edges

  1. Pingback: #49 – Blackstone Edge, back to “True Grit”. | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

  2. This looks so nice, I have never been up there…time I rectified that… Stunning photos by the way!

    • I’ve managed to avoid walking round here for 40 years! On a good weather day it’s hard to beat.

      Thanks for the kind words about the photos – for every one that gets in the blog there must be half dozen that will never again see the light of day, but I suppose that’s the way that an amateur like me improves. Digital cameras have made life so much easier!

  3. cathehiggins says:

    Doing this walk on Saturday. Thanks for sharing.

  4. cathehiggins says:

    Reblogged this on blog it… and commented:
    I love standing on big rocks, so I going to do this walk on Saturday.

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