This is not intended as a walk guide
For this issue I went a bit out of area, driving north through Glossop and on to Longdendale where I parked up at Torside under a clear blue sky that was reflected in the string of six reservoirs known as the Longdendale chain, Torside being the largest. They were constructed between 1848 and 1877 through a succession of dams and weirs along the River Etherow. Navvies working on their construction lived in a shanty town which was nicknamed New Yarmouth. The reservoirs are now owned and managed by United Utilities and are said to provide 145 million litres of water a day.
From the car park Nellie and I headed up through the Life For A Life Memorial Forest where each tree was planted to commemorate and remember a loved one.
We emerged onto the Longdendale Trail which follows the route of the former railway line between Hadfield and Woodhead. It now forms part of the Trans Pennine Trail, a long distance path linking the north and Irish seas. The trail is a wildlife corridor for birds, insects, small mammals as well as a wonderful habitat for wild flowers.
As we wandered along, my eyes were constantly drawn to the dramatic moors and tors that surrounded us, with Bleaklow to the south and Black Hill to the north.
Arriving at the weir between Woodhead and Torside reservoirs we crossed over the road bridge then headed up steps to emerge at the side of the busy A628 Woodhead Pass road which connects Greater Manchester with South Yorkshire.
A short stroll of about 50 yards past the 19th century Bleak House and we then carefully crossed over and walked up to St James Church which is sited on the old Woodhead Road. The original house of worship on this site, probably constructed of wood on a stone base, was founded by Sir Edmund Shaa who was born in nearby Mottram. In 1450 Shaa was apprenticed to a London goldsmith and later was appointed engraver to the Royal Mint at the Tower of London and Calais. In 1482 he became Lord Mayor of London.
This beautiful little church is currently being sympathetically and lovingly restored by a handful of volunteers. I was very fortunate to meet Stephen and Denis, both retired firefighters, who gave me a tour of the interior. Friends of St James Church (Woodhead and Crowden) on facebook details what has been done and how to donate.
After a lovely chat, Nellie and I headed off up the cobbled gritstone track leading to the now disused Loftend Quarry that provided stone for the church, dams and nearby Woodhead tunnel.
Before a gate we turned left on a bend to follow a level grassy path with the towering spoil heaps up to our right. We then crossed over a stile and descended a steep path to Crowdon.
Passing between the entrance to a caravan site on our left and farm on the right we headed along an old stretch of road which after half a mile or so linked up with the famous Pennine Way long distance walk from Kirk Yetholm in Scotland to Edale
Arriving back at the main road Nellie and I crossed over to walk along a most divine woodland path on a bed of soft and springy needles beneath towering pine trees. This led us to another weir, this time where water from Torside dropped down into Rhodeswood Reservoir.
Instead of continuing on the Pennine Way as it ascended to dizzy heights, Nellie and I chose a much easier route, returning to the car park along the level trail. As we went I was listening to the enjoyable buzz and hum of insects around me mingled in with the constant drone of traffic from the main road across the valley.
FOOTNOTE BY NELLIE: Mum has been on holiday without me. She told me she needed a break from walking me every day and then went on a hiking holiday with some friends! Dad has been great and took me on lots of walks and strolls, but we also spent hours and hours splodged on the sofa together watching old films and so much rugby and football that I’ve still got dots dashing about in front of my eyes. We also shared packets of biscuits and bowls of ice cream to cool us down when it was hot.
I don’t like the noisy hoover but it was quiet all week because Dad doesn’t like it either. I don’t think he knows where the duster and polish are kept but he did keep on top of the washing up.
When Mum got back I didn’t know whether to give her the cold shoulder for leaving me or to smother her in kisses and slurps. I decided to go with the kisses.
Got to go now as Mum’s got the hoover out and I need to hide. xxx