It was time to get a little bit further north on the Pennine Bridleway.
My last foray had brought me as far as home, in Hayfield, so I would now be moving in a northerly direction away from home. Kim has also decided to join in with my slow journey along the route to Ravenstonedale, so we earmarked a couple of days over the Christmas holidays, to take us just a little further on our way.
Hayfield to Hollingworth – 9 miles
This section of the Bridleway just happens to be the bit where they haven’t managed to yet secure all the access necessary to make it safe for horses. Consequently, there is a choice of two routes you can take here – one is for mountain bikers and walkers, and one is for walkers only. The mountain bike one has some busy road sections, so we chose the walkers route.
The first few miles out of Hayfield go along paths I know well, taking us up onto Cown Edge, above Coombes Rocks.
It was particularly wild and windswept up there this day, with a bit of a cold wind dropping the temperature.
It’s an area that‘s full of history, being the supposed site of a battle between the Roman Army and local tribes, and is still believed to be frequented by ghostly warriors on moonlit nights.
Excellent views were to be had over the Manchester conurbation, as we stopped for a short lunch break.
This was Pebbles’ first foray into long distance footpath walking and at 9 miles, was also her longest walk to date. She was having great fun.
Once we left the edge, we were into new walking territory for me. We were, however, in areas I generally know very well, but just in a car. For the whole of the rest of the day, we were shadowing roads I’ve driven on for years, and yet had no idea how much green there was just off to the sides of both them and the villages and towns they passed through.
Not exactly high mountain country but nevertheless, surprisingly pleasant and interesting.
We skirted around Charlesworth and Gamesley, before dropping right down into the village of Broadbottom.
It was rather muddy in places.
We also joined the Trans Pennine Trail for a short while.
Broadbottom used to have a water powered corn mill, built in the 14th century, and an 18th century woollen mill, which changed to cotton in the 19th century.
There were also other mills over the years, including a calico printing factory and a print works. In common with many places though, there is now only one textile factory still operating.
The village is also well known for its 120 foot high and 422 foot long viaduct over the River Etherow, which carries the railway line from Glossop to Manchester.
Heading through the village for only a few hundred yards, we soon turned off to pick a way through lanes and fields, across to the A57 at Hollingworth.
We really had no idea that it was actually possible to walk between these two places without touching a road!
A second lunch was had in a suitable spot.
The weather had stayed dry for us all day and we’d had a very pleasant wander, arriving in Hollingworth only 15 minutes earlier than I’d anticipated. Not long to wait then, for Kim’s hubby to pick us up.
Hollingworth to Diggle – 10 miles
A couple of days later Kim’s hubby dropped us off again, near Arnfield Reservoir in Hollingworth. This time, we were back on the dedicated horse route.
At least one good thing about being on a bridleway, is no stiles to negotiate with the dogs!
Today, we would be skirting round the edges of Stalybridge, Mossley, Greenfield and Uppermill, before arriving in Diggle.
We had constant urban views to the left, with brooding, moorland views to the right.
There had been an awful lot of rain forecast for this day, so we set off early to try and get as much of the route done as possible, before the deluge was due to come in at around noon.
We were again shadowing a driving route I used to do regularly, when I worked at a school in Mossley for 5 years.
Passing through Carrbrook on foot, I was amazed to see beautiful old buildings I’d never spotted before. This village had also apparently been home to a bustling print works in former times.
And on the moors behind Carrbrook is Buckton Castle – a Medieval Ringwork.
The things I never knew about my local area!
Passing by Mossley, we started to lose height and eventually joined with the Tame Valley Way through the village of Greenfield.
A Roman road passes through Greenfield, making its way across the Saddleworth hills from the fort of Ardotalia in Glossop, to Castleshaw Roman Fort.
This was where we both stopped for second lunch and the rain started falling in earnest.
Remnants of the Christmas floods could also be seen on some of the roads.
It was then only a couple of miles to Diggle, our destination for the day, and by this point it was just a question of heads down and motor on, as the weather was now decidedly wet and horrible.
Historically part of the West Riding, Diggle is located at one end of the Standedge Canal Tunnel, Britain’s longest (5,500 yards), deepest (636 feet at its deepest point) and highest (643 feet above sea level) canal tunnel, built between 1794 and 1811. On the next bit of our journey, we shall be walking across the moors over the top of it.
For now though, dripping wet and with 40 minutes to wait before Geoff picked us up, we were very grateful that the Diggle Hotel allowed us in with two wringing wet dogs, to wait in the warm in front of the fire, with mugs of hot tea.