Horizon 4

South Manchester LDWA           Horizon 4                 Sunday 15th August 2021

Despite a fair forecast 4 members travelled to Torside reservoir in patchy rain and after checking no others had arrived at the NT Carpark DA and BK dropped off at the path across the reservoir.  PW and SM then parked up in Tintwistle where they had ended Horizon 3 and all met up on the on the bridleway heading up to the quarry below Robinsons Moss.  Unfortunately, the rain became more persistent as we ascended through the forest and across the quarry rubble, where we donned gaiters, to the stile and onto the track towards Millstone Rocks.  Shortly after cresting the hill a faint track doubled back and was followed to Robinsons Moss which was the first “peak” of the day for the view of the centre of Manchester.  Heather was in bloom with beautiful colour and pleasant aroma.

From here a faint track headed roughly north towards a corner in the fence with a stile but by then we were in the rough with lots of Heather, Bilberry and Sphagnum patches.  A line of least resistance followed the fence and thankfully the frequent peat ditches were not too soggy.  Passing the next corner the undergrowth eased and after what felt like an eternity passing Mount Skip we reached the gate at Windgate Edge for a short break with views through the gloom.  From the next corner in the fence we headed roughly North East until the Rocks of Indian Head came into view which then became a good marker for crossing the Wilderness until we reached the permissive path leading to the cairn above the Chew Valley.

It was quite a relief to be on a path along the edge of Chew Valley, especially as we donned full waterproofs to reach the trig point and shelter at Alphin Pike.  After a welcome lunch, as the direct descent to the woodland would be wet and slippery, it was decided to take the longer descent on the track passed Greave to join the Oldham Way, before turning towards Dovestones on the intake path, through the woods and heading downhill on the access land spur to reach the Dam.  Despite the weather the crowds were out and after crossing the dam we ascended the permissive path to Binn Green CP where we were able to disrobe the waterproofs.  After crossing to the intake track and turning west we crossed the stile and ascended steeply by the wall and almost reached the crest before having to don waterpoofs again.  The final ascent to Aldermans Hill was rather damp but rewarded by views across the valley and towards the Obelisk and Pots and Pans rocks.  A wide green track led north over Sugar Loaf, Shaw Rocks and Slade Rocks towards the trig point at Broadstone Hill with intermittent views of Manchester through the gloom. The trig point was restored by Saddleworth Fell Runners in Memory of Harry Sykes who died here at a young age and the neighbouring rock is named after him on the OL1 map, it made a welcome seat for final refreshments.

Throughout this stretch the mist had not lifted from Higher Brown Knoll so the prospect of walking across soggy ground to reach the so-called Cotton Famine Road ditch followed by the slabs of the original Pennine Way for two hours in the mist was considered too much of a trudge.  A passing fell runner recommended we follow the faint track he was using SW to Running Hill Lane to reach the intake path earmarked during the reccy as a bad weather alternative.  In improving weather, the track headed across fields and several “squeeze plus stiles” to Diggle Edge to the Standedge Trail for the final ascent, without waterproofs,of the va to reach the car park, ironically with clear views all round, from where Avril (1979B) who had accompanied 3 of the reccies ferried us home.

Total distance 15.3 miles 3200ft ascent total time 7 3/4hrs

The final three stages of the Variations on the Theme of the Horizon Walk are planned for the summer 2022 with stretches to Shawforth, Egerton and Rivington Barn for a celebration.

David Allen