2017 07 20 The BBC Walk

Carpark at the start: Crowden


Torside Reservoir


Peter at the pulpit


Kissing stones


Looking down Longdendale


Towards Black Hill?




Norman crossing a stream


Crowden and journey's end (photos from Steve)


At the Crowden car park at the start it was raining, but that didn't stop a group of 6 from setting off on what could be a hectic walk. We went halfway round the Torrside Reservoir, which is one of 5 reservoirs along the Longdendale Valley. These were built in the 1850s, becoming the first chain of reservoirs to be built anywhere in Britain. Before then Manchester didn't have any access to fresh water and, as a consequence, the life expectancy there was just 21 years. When the reservoirs opened the life expectancy increased to 39 years, almost double.  
The walk went up the Pennine Way towards Bleaklow, but before reaching Bleaklow Head we diverted to the Wain Stones. These are often called the Kissing Stones, as from one angle they look like two people kissing. Even though it was still raining we could still see quite a bit of the view across the moors of Bleaklow and Kinder Scout behind.  

After Bleaklow Head we made our way over the rough hilltop to Near Black Clough. The path down the side of the Clough was long but with a lot of beautiful scenery. From the Woodhead Tunnel at the bottom we went across to the other side of the valley and followed the Northern Horse Route back towards Crowden.

We stopped at St James Chapel. This is a curious place. The earliest record that has been found dates back to the year 1487, so it has existed since sometime before then. It used to be called the Blessed Virgin Chapel, and was situated about 3/4 mile further up the valley, but nobody can explain why, or when, these changes were made. There is still a service there on alternate Sundays.
We then went up, and into, the quarry, which was used to get stones for the Reservoir Dams.

Our route then took us down to, and along, Crowden Little Brook. This track, then path, eventually disappears, but just before it does we crossed the Brook. From that point there was not any path heading in our direction, so we had to pick our way uphill over quite rough ground to get to the wreckage of 2 Meteor jet planes on Siddens Moss. These crashed on 12 April 1951. Having flown to the Liverpool area from an RAF aerodrome near York, they had to abandon the mock battle they had intended because the clouds went up to at least 30000 feet instead of the 20000 feet that had been forecast. They headed back to York flying in 2 pairs. One of the pairs got lost. In a brief gap in the clouds the lead pilot saw a city below, which he thought was Leeds, so they started to descend to be able to land at their aerodrome. However, it was not Leeds but probably Manchester, so their descent brought them too low to get over the Pennines and, still in the fog, they crashed into the hilltop. There is still quite a bit of the wreckage lying on the hillside.
The walk then took us to Crowden Great Brook where, after a tricky river crossing we got onto the Pennine Way. Instead of following this all the way down to Crowden we went on a lesser known route below Laddow Rocks (these have an interesting history but I don't want to print it here - I will only tell it verbally).

The weather had been improving as the day went on. We had started the walk in the rain, but we arrived back at Crowden in the sunshine. It turned out to be a very worthwhile day!

Peter Woodland