On the morning of Sunday the 18th of May 2014, 300 Whitworth folk set off to conquer the hills surrounding the small north west village, I say small it wasn’t just a small trek, 13+ mile of Pennine moors, with varying terrain, including cobbles, farm track, gravel, stone and muddy fields. Welcome to the Whitworth Skyline walk.
Starting at Lobden Golf club I set off at around 8:05 on a bright and sunny Sunday morning with my Friend Karen and headed down toward Healey Corner past Brown house Reservoir and Healey stones. With walkers and residents of Whitworth all looking eager during the decent to the road we trundled on with smiles on our faces. Having pasted the stones came a left turn down a path of nettles toward the road. Now my legs are used to Nettle stings and I survived without incident. Once the (nettles) road was negotiated we carried on in the the only over head cover on the walk, deep into the Dell. So along the old railway track we went toward the now missing Broadley station ready to make a sharp turn back out into the sun and up to Prickshaw and beyond to Smallshaw and the start of Rooley Moor road across the moor.
With the Sun blazing (but a slight breeze, that’s how I burnt my arms) we headed off up the old road toward the quarry in the very far distance. Now this is a road I have walked before, but I seem to have forgotten how beautiful it was on both sides. To the east you have the valley of Whitworth under the shadow of Brown Wardle and Middle Hill (that’s later in the story) and to the east the triplet reservoirs of Greenbooth and Naden.
This seemed like as good as any to stop and have one of the many ham butties I had filled my bag with.
It wasnt long until we set off on the long hike up Rooley Moor. Now I found Rooley moor a very strange place, if I turned around you could see the busy little town of Rochdale but in front of us if I had been alone it could have been as if I was walking on Mars. Arid fields to the left and right no sounds except my fellow walkers and (no phone signal)
(This road seemed to last forever) We finally arrived at a small track which lead to the second checkpoint and then down toward Lee quarry. Now the quarry is no longer used for the amassing of stone but as a Mountain cycle track, with humps and bumps down the track into a area with metal artwork and pools and cliffs surrounding a burger van. I’m not sure what the bikers thought of all these people invading there Sunday afternoon scramble. I didn’t buy a burger as I had had plenty of ham buttie’s and I wanted to save my money for a pint at the end. As I had never been to this point before (I will be revisiting) I thought I was now near Market street ready for the ending leg, How wrong was I. The track seemed to go on forever, bearing left and then right past a under ground reservoir down a hill along a disused railway track, past a group of goats and eventually to the third checkpoint at the road at Brittania.
Having refreshed my self with orange juice we set off on the home straight. (this must be the easy bit I thought, I was wrong!)
We crossed the road and headed up a farm track toward a farm, this is where we got lost. so we stood at a cross road in a field until a saviour turned up to to point us in the right direction.
So on to the last lag, Middle hill and Brown Wardle. now this was muddy going, crossing fields that sheep would have found trouble with. but on we went, (this is where my feet started to hurt), but on we went to Middle hill. On our left the view over West Yorkshire was quiet special, seeing Todmorden and Studley Pike while still being in the Whitworth area makes you realise a hill can split an accent.
We seemed to hurry up as we got toward Middle Hill, and the reason was the strange orange juice they had at the checkpoints, we spent most of the walk trying to work out where such heavenly orange juice could could from, (or possibly I walked a long way, and I was thirsty)
Well after the final checkpoint was to forbidding Brown Wardle, the big question was over are around? Now I have always been someone who does what he is told. so we followed the flags and went around.
Now walking around Brown Wardle is something I do many times a month, but the sight of Lobden has never seen so good to me. As we walked upto the Golf club I had mixed emotions, the feeling of the end of a great day, but most importantly the need for a pint. All I can say is bring on next year.