Chew Valley Circuit – A Tough Winters Walk
The Chew Valley Circuit is one of the best walks In Saddleworth.
Yesterday, together with my friend Dave, we walked the Chew Valley Circuit in conditions that were to say the least difficult. We started at the parking area at the junction of Huddersfield Road and Manchester Road, Greenfield. We walked up to the footpath at Shadworth Lane, off Huddersfield Road. This led uphill to the lane at Moor Edge Road below Noon Sun Hill, where we turned left and eventually turned right up the steep path to Alphin Pike.
The weather on the tops of this Chew Valley circuit was bitterly cold. After a brief coffee stop at the trig point shelter, we proceeded along the south side of the Chew Valley, heading for the Chew Reservoir at the head of the valley. Although the paths where we set out from were iced over, as we climbed higher the snow became deeper. The drifts in places were 2′ deep and although the snow was frozen solid and took our weight in most places, every now and again we sank up to our thighs in it, which made progress painfully slow.
After another brief lunch stop at the frozen Chew Reservoir, we continued on the northern side of the valley passing above the old shelter at Bramley’s Cot. Next we stopped at the Cairn on Fox Stones to look at the memorial plaque to two local climbers who were killed on an expedition to the Italian Dolomites in 1972.
Dean Rocks proved to be a great viewpoint to admire the scenery over Dovestone and Yeoman Hey Reservoirs and Alderman’s Hill in the distance. Then it was south east to cross the frozen waterfall at Ashway Gap. The original plan of this Chew valley circuit was to cross Birchen Clough and return via the Greenfield Reservoir path. With the conditions underfoot and time running out, we decided to play safe and head for the memorial cross to the Oldham MP James Platt. He was killed in a shooting accident on these moors in 1857.
After a few photographs we headed downhill to Dovestone Reservoir and the path back past the sailing club and Bradbury’s Lane, then over the fields back to the car park. The distance on this Chew Valley circuit was 10.9 miles and due to the snow and ice this physically felt like a 16 mile hike. It took us nearly 7 hours including stops. We decided to reward our efforts with a couple of beers at the nearby Royal George public house and they went down very nicely.