This week’s 10.5 mile route is a perfect introduction to longer summer walks, if, like me, over the winter you’ve been limited, by time, weather or daylight, to shorter strolls, writes Caroline Spalding.
It begins from the Visitor Centre at Hollingworth Lake [OL15 0AQ, GR SD 940 153, all day parking £5] and ascends to the expanse of the moorland towering above; a stark contrast to the urban sprawl of Manchester and Rochdale close by.
Take the obvious track leading away from the visitor centre [Weighver’s Way] and turning right at the end, crossing a small footbridge. Continue ahead, up what appears a driveway leading to the house above.
Pass behind the house to pick up a way-marker indicating the Rochdale Way. Bear left, descend across a field and another footbridge before reaching a gate entering Whittaker Wood. Pass through the gate and take the upper path ascending through the woodland.
At the top, pass between the houses to follow the Rochdale Way along Whittaker Lane with the golf club to your left.
The lane meets the Pennine Bridleway and turns left; follow this until meeting the main road. Here, take the path before the road, bearing right, passing in front of houses to continue through a gate and then follow a stone wall through fields, beginning the ascent.
Coming to almost meet the A58; take the distinct Roman Road path climbing Blackstone Edge Pasture until [finally!] reaching the Aiggin Stone where you may well want to pause to catch your breath and admire the view!
The Aiggin Stone is a mediaeval boundary stone whose name derives perhaps from the French aiguille [needle] or the Roman word agger [pile, heap, mound].
Turn right to join the Pennine Way across the thankfully flat, but beautiful moorland. You will navigate many a small boulder, passing the trig point and soon after you may spot Robin Hood’s Bed; a huge millstone grit boulder with much folklore attached to it. It is said that from here Robin Hood managed to throw a boulder 6 miles towards Rochdale where it landed at Monstone Edge and is now named Robin Hood’s Quoit.
The Pennine Way leaves the blustery heights and continues across the moorland with the Way clearly paved. Despite the faint roar of motorway traffic, you really do feel miles from civilisation.
You reach the motorway which is crossed by the footbridge and the path continues up towards the huge pylon.
It is a rather tatty patch of land with litter and debris, but follow the obvious route around the pylon; passing with the mast to your left. The track continues along the hill top and across the aptly named Windy Hill before joining a bridleway which runs alongside a stone wall.
Curving around the edge of Binns Pasture you reach a distinct junction meeting the Penning Bridleway once again. Turn left to descend towards the reservoirs and at the edge of Piethorne Reservoir, turn right along the permissive path that follows the water’s edge.
At the dam, keep on the same track [marked on the map as a cycle route, with orange dots.] This rises above the Kitcliffe and Ogden reservoirs, curves around the hillside and ascends slightly to meet Tunshill Lane.
The Pennine Bridleway indicates Hollingworth Lake is two miles from here. Follow the sign, but shortly after [just around the corner] bear left to join the Rochdale Dale for a more direct return.
The path is relatively flat, with Tunshill Hill rising to your left.
The sheep grazing alongside the brook that runs along the valley bottom seemed blissfully unaware of the imposing structure of the motorway above. You pass underneath, around the base of Castle Hill. At a path junction, enter the rugby ground to your right.
The map shows the path crossing the playing field, but you may well want to skirt around the edge; passing through a wooden gate. Turn right along the ginnel and on meeting the lane, turn left for the final stretch back to the start.
Calderdale Ramblers welcome you to join them for this walk; Sunday May 13 at 10am.