Saturday 13 December 2014

Christmas Update

As we move into the final weeks running up to Christmas, I'm pleased to say that my book Saddleworth Discovery Walks is now into its second print run. After only 3 months the intial print run sold out and with the number of daily orders increasing, it is now proving to be a popular Christmas Present.

When I first set out to write the book, I hoped that it would be well received in Saddleworth and surrounding areas, however, I could never have envisaged the interest and demand from further afield. Since the books publication in August, orders have been received from throughout the United Kingdom and as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Argentina. True testament that although people may move away from the area, whether short-term or longer, Saddleworth remains, for many, home and close to peoples heart.
I'd like to thank you all for purchasing a copy of Saddleworth Discovery Walks (many of you have ordered several copies), and for all the positive comments which many people have sent - Thank you.

Navigation Training Day

During the summer, I hosted a navigation training event which proved very popular. Due to an increased demand, I will be holding another training course early in the new year, which will help raise funds for Oldham Mountain Rescue Team. In order to ensure effective learning, the course will be limited to 8 people per session. If you are interested in learning or improving your map reading and navigation skills, please email your interest to . If there is more interest than the allocated number of places, I will arrange additional courses.

Christmas Belly Buster Walk

Walk off those Christmas pounds on a festive Discovery Walk, from the Cross Keys Inn.

Join us on a social 2 to 3 hour walk, to discovery the history of the ancient hamlet of Diggle and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

Meet at 10:00am for a 10:15 start. Suitable clothing and footwear required for the weather conditions. Drinks in the Cross Keys afterwards.

Once again thank you for purchasing your copy of Saddleworth Discovery Walks, which helps to raise vital funds for Oldham Mountain Rescue Team and Mahdlo Youth Zone (Oldham).

 Best wishes for Christmas and the coming new year,

 Chris Maylor

Saddleworth Discovery Walks is now available priced £14.95. This detailed guidebook contains 20 magnificent walks exploring the history, people and stunning landscape of this beautiful corner of the ancient West Riding of Yorkshire.

For further details contact Chris at:

Sunday 13 July 2014

The Benefits of Walking

Walking, especially amongst nature, provides many benefits to both physical and emotional wellbeing. It helps us to unwind and de-stress from the everyday pressures of our busy lives, whilst improving overall health and fitness. Outdoor exercise, three to five times a week, helps reduce the risk of early death and lowers the chances of contracting life threatening conditions such as premature cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. In addition, it helps promote weight loss and improved mental wellbeing.

The British Mountaineering Council recently published an article about the benefits of walking, which inspired this write-up.

Over a hundred years ago, the conservationist John Muir wrote: "Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life."

According to recent scientific studies there are many benefits experienced form walking. Some of these are:

Helps to reduce the pressures of work

Research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) studied the benefits of accessing the outdoors by recording stress levels during and after viewing nature in both virtual and real outdoor environments.

Studies showed that even viewing images of nature reduced stress levels, opposed to looking at pictures of urban environments. A further study looked into the effects of undertaking regular walks over an eight week period. The results highlighted that the blood pressure and stress levels of those who took part had significantly reduced.

A lunchtime stroll not only breaks up the working day but also helps clear the mind, reduce work induced tension and refocus the mind ready for the afternoon. It is said that an evening stroll can help relax the mind and body and lead to better sleep.

Reduces Heart Disease

The Laurence Berkeley National Laboratory in California conducting a six year study of 33,600 runners and 15,045 walkers. The results showed that both running and walking reduced the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol. However, the study highlighted that walkers who expended the same amount of energy as runners may experience greater health benefits? Therefore, long-distance walkers may experience further health benefits? The study also proved that walking is a good way to help lose weight and also has benefits for diabetes sufferers.

Improves concentration
The stresses of modern living, especially in an urban environment, takes its toll on our brains. Busy jobs, increased work-loads, constant noise and activity all contribute to brain fatigue. When the brain becomes overloaded and tired we make mistakes, become absent-minded and irritable. One way to help our brain relax is to simply go for a walk in the countryside.

Whether it be wandering through a beautiful city park, strolling through a secluded wood, meandering along quiet country lanes or hiking in the hills, the calming effects on the mind have been recognised for many years. Being in the countryside allows the brain to engage with our surroundings in an effortless manner, which allows it to operate in a more relaxed state. According to Jenny Roe, a lecturer at Heriot-Watt’s School of the Built Environment, "It’s called involuntary attention in psychology. It holds our attention while at the same time allowing scope for reflection".

It helps you to be more creative

Dr Sowden from the School of Psychology at the University of Surrey writes: “Walking has been shown to improve our ability to shift between modes of thought, and to improve our attention, memory and recovery from mental fatigue, all of which are important for thinking creatively”. What’s more, “walking exposes us to the constant flux of a changing environment providing us with an endless array of new and unique experiences, which combined with our past memories may, through serendipity alone, provoke new associations and give birth to new ideas”.

The freedom of walking, allows our brains to relax and switch off from the day-to-day thought processes of work, driving the car and fast living. When walking in nature we often drift off into a relaxed almost meditative state, allowing us time to reflect and ponder on thoughts and ideas that are normally filed in the brains ‘for later attention’ area. It is when we are in this most relaxed state that we are most creative. I myself can vouch for this, as it is when I am out walking that I develop new ideas for my writing and plan future book titles

Nietzsche wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Henry Thoreau also said, “Methinks the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow”.


Helps fight depression

It is recognised that walking and other forms of physical exercise can have a significant effect on reducing depression. The University of Stirling conducted a study of 341 patients to highlight the benefits of exercise on emotional wellbeing. The study indicated that brisk walking was one form of, “an effective intervention for depression". The Chief Executive for the mental health charity, MIND, says, "Exercising with others can have even greater impact, as it provides an opportunity to strengthen social networks, talk through problems with others or simply laugh and enjoy a break from family and work. So ask a friend to join you."

Some scientists and psychologists believe that physical exercise can be as effective as medication for treating depression and improving emotional wellbeing. A study of 202 men and women, conducted over a 4 month period, found that 45% of patients diagnosed with major depression showed significantly reduced levels of depression after exercising three times a week in a supervised group setting.

Increased Viatamin D

Being outdoors in the sun produces the required daily amount of Vitamin D in your body and increases serotonin levels, which in turn increases your bodies leptin levels. Regular outdoor exercise increases energy levels whilst reducing stress and tension.

Whilst people enjoy walking for a wealth of different reason, the benefits for physical and emotional wellbeing are clearly evident. No matter where you live in the UK there are areas of quiet green space lace-up through which you can stroll, relax and unwind. So, lace-up your walking boots, step out the front door and reap the benefits of walking in the great outdoors.

Monday 2 June 2014

Uppermill by Turnpike and Towpath

Start/Finish: Saddleworth Museum car park
Grid: SD 996 055

I conducted this short walk one evening at the end of what had been a lovely spring day. Flat throughout its course and easy underfoot, the route is suitable for people of all abilities and is wheelchair accessible too.
From the car park adjacent to the Saddleworth Museum, I turned north along Uppermill’s High Street, which is part of the former Oldham - Standedge turnpike road, built in 1792.  Turnpike Trusts were established by Acts of Parliament between 1706 and the 1840’s to improve trade routes throughout the country. The name ‘turnpike’ derives from the spiked barriers that were erected across the road at some of the toll-houses.
Although many of the shops in the village had closed at the end of a busy day’s trading, the pubs, café bars and restaurants were alive with customers enjoying a pleasant evening socialising with friends. After passing through the square, and beyond Kenworthy Gardens, I searched out an old milestone which is hidden against a wall amongst some undergrowth. This historic marker has been damaged, but still bears the inscriptions of Huddersfield and Ashton. In 1767, it was made compulsory for mileposts to be positioned along the course of the turnpike roads to inform travellers of direction and distance. In addition, they helped the horse-drawn coaches to maintain their schedule and set fares. Prior to the uniformed postal rate being introduced in 1840, postal charges were often calculated using milepost markers.
Continuing on I passed the entrance to Saddleworth School, immediately beyond which, at the foot of Ryefields Drive, stands a stone building with a bricked-up doorway. In 1824 this house became the Brownhill Toll House from where the toll fees were collected from traffic coming into Uppermill from the north.
A little further on, I passed underneath the massive, grade II listed, Uppermill Viaduct. Its enormous stone arches span the width of the valley supporting the railway, along which trains travel between Manchester and Huddersfield.
Turning left, I enter the car park of Brownhill Visitor Centre. This former transport depot once housed a Countryside Visitor Centre which was staffed by countryside rangers. Now it is the Lime Kiln Café where I opted to take a short break to enjoy a cup of refreshing tea and one of their home-made cakes.
Leaving the café, I headed south along the towpath of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Built in 1794, the 20 mile long canal has 74 locks and runs between Ashton and Huddersfield. The summit of the canal is 645 feet above sea level, making it the highest navigable waterway in Britain. To the north, the Standedge Canal Tunnel cuts through the Pennines and is the longest, highest and deepest canal tunnel in Britain.
At Lime Kiln Lock, I passed underneath the unusual skewed arch of Saddleworth Viaduct. Glancing down at the heavy wooden lock gates several fish broke the surface of the still waters in search of an evening meal, whilst overhead a couple of swallows, newly arrived from their wintering grounds, caught insects on the wing.
From here on, the towpath is sandwiched between the canal and the River Tame, and as I continued the suns weakening rays struggled to break through the budding canopy of overhanging trees. Opposite King George the V playing fields, a young family crossed the stepping stones which, when the waters run low, provide dry passage across the River Tame. On the rivers western bank, nestled amongst the trees and foliage is a sculpture intended to form part of a series of art works for a planned sculpture trail.
A little further on is the picturesque Moorgate Bridge, where a beautifully maintained narrow-boat was moored. At this point the towpath ends, and I crossed the bridge to continue my walk along the opposite bank. Beyond here, are the Wade Lock Moorings, I stood a while watching several broods of ducklings frolicking in the still waters amongst the berthed canal boats.
Passing Wade Lock, I emerged onto Oldham Road. Turning right I walked away from Uppermill for a short distance, past the site of another former toll house, to take a look at the Brayshaw & Booth mile plate which stands outside No: 38.
Retracing my steps, I headed back towards the village, to the statue of Ammon Wrigley, who was a local poet, writer and historian. Opposite here once stood the Wade Lock Toll House.
Returning to the car park, I reflected on what had been an enjoyable walk and that you don’t always have to venture onto the high hills to see some wonderful sights whilst in search of Saddleworth’s history.

Sunday 25 May 2014

It was a spring day ...

It was a spring day in 2013 – was it really a year ago?

I was helping to organise the Cake Race, which is a local fell race organised by Saddleworth Runners Club – of which I am the Chairman. I was out on the moors with my son, flagging the route, when we came across a dog which had been lost or abandoned. It had clearly been out on the hills for a few days and was in a very bad state of health. Whilst trying to help the poor animal, it feared for its safety and attacked me, sinking its teeth into my hand. By the end of the day my injured hand had swollen up to the size of a small football, as a severe infection set in. The following day I couldn’t move my hand and the pain became almost unbearable. A visit to the hospital, confirmed I had five deep puncture wounds and a partially severed tendon, which resulted in my arm being immobilised. A course of strong antibiotics was prescribed along with strict instructions to take two weeks off work. I didn’t know it at the time, but that dog bite would dominate my life for the next 12 months.

For some time now I had been playing around with writing a book about fell running, but had always wanted to write a walking guidebook for the place where I was born – Saddleworth. Not being one for sitting around idle, I took advantage of my enforced sick leave and set to work with eagerness recceing suitable routes in and around Saddleworth. Armed with my Dictaphone I explored a different route every day for two weeks, discovering new people and places which I found I previously knew little about.

Eventually my hand began to heal and I was able to once again hold a pen and operate a computer. I set about typing up my notes and researching my findings. The more I learnt about our beautiful corner of the former historic West Riding of Yorkshire, the deeper I became enthralled and wanted to know more. In addition to working full time and honouring all of my other commitments, I worked nightly on the book into the early hours of the morning. For weeks at a time I would do twenty hour days in a row, foregoing quality sleep as my passion for my new project grew.

Eventually the initial writing and research was done, and it was time to start working on the final draft. What I thought would be the final draft was, after being proof read several times, actually the first of many amendments.

Whilst my passion for writing grew, it was not all plain sailing. There were times when I became frustrated and I questioned whether or not my book would ever make it to print. When I started writing back in May 2013, I thought the whole process would be as simple as producing a word document, taking a few photos and sending the whole thing off to a printer. What little I knew about the publishing world!

Intending to self-publish my book, I now needed to learn the ins and outs of publishing. Luckily I had contact with a couple of authors who had previous experience of self-publishing. Round the world cyclists and adventurers, Alastair Humphreys and Tom Allen, both provided me with invaluable advice, which would help steer me on a positive course. As knowledge of my project grew, others came on board and offered their support. This collaboration of enthusiastic friends would make the whole process much easier and added an extra element of fun.

First on board was my friend Ray Green, of . Ray is an accomplished and locally acclaimed photographer, who has a passion for photographing Saddleworth’s rugged landscape in black and white format. His stunning photographs will soon be displayed across the pages of my book.

Using some of Ray’s brilliant photographs another friend, Lee Copplestone, designed several front cover samples to be used for initial marketing purposes. People’s interest in my book grew, and the genuine offers of help increased.

The old saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know” often rings true. Whilst I had learnt a lot about writing and self-publishing, I had no knowledge whatsoever about how to design the layout of the book and put it into a format ready for printing. However, another friend, Rob Taylor, who runs his own graphic design company,, came to the rescue. It would be Rob who, at times when I really did begin to doubt if I would ever get my book published, would offer a guiding hand and settle my doubts.

Now, a year down the line, my dream of publishing my first book is dawning. Saddleworth Discovery Walks is a detailed guidebook containing 20 magnificent walks exploring the history, people and stunning landscape of this beautiful corner of the ancient West Riding of Yorkshire. Each walk includes an illustrated sketch map of the route and a selection of stunning landscape photographs, which I hope will urge the reader to venture out onto the hills and into the valleys to discover more of Saddleworth’s rich history.

You can pre-order a personally signed copy of Saddleworth Discovery Walks, which is due for publication in July, by visiting

I hope you enjoy reading my book and that it enthuses you to step out and discover more about our beautiful corner of the former ancient West Riding of Yorkshire.

Wednesday 21 May 2014

An unexpected encounter

For some months now, I've been struggling to confirm some disputed facts about an historic location that is to feature in my forthcoming walking guide book. After consulting various sources, the information all seemed to point in the right direction. However, always being conscious of wanting to be as accurate as possible with regards to the information I write, I decided that the best way to corroborate the information was to call on the person who owns the property. In most cases I would have no qualms about knocking at a strangers door. However, it didn't look like many people visited this property, and at first glance certainly didn't look all that welcoming.

Feeling a little nervous about calling at a strangers door to ask them prying questions about their home, I cautiously rang the door bell. "Dam, it works", I thought. "Now someone may answer the door". I glanced back up the driveway and made a quick time and distance assessment. If the person who answers the door turns out not to be friendly, I could make a quick getaway to the safety of the road, whilst making my apologies as I beat a hasty retreat. Through the glass in the door I made out the profile of a man moving down the corridor. "What's that in his hand. Is it a shot gun"?, I assessed. Shotgun pellets travel at around 427 metre per second. That's far quicker than I can reach the end of the driveway! Another quick look around and this time I'm looking for escape routes that will provide me with protective cover. There's a route to my right, that looks about my best option.

The man reaches the door, and I hear the lock turning from inside. He pushes the door but it sticks. He pushes again and it flies open. I immediately look down at his hands. They're empty! "Hello, sorry to bother you", I say and I make my introduction and explain that I am writing a book and why I have called at his door". That's very interesting", he exclaims. He offers his hand as he tells me his name. We shake hands, and I immediately feel at ease. Is hand is warm and the skin soft and supple. Now I concentrate on looking at his face and recognise that his eyes are friendly. All worries of him being unwelcoming evaporate into the warm evening air, as he enthusiastically begins to tell me the history of the property. We talk at length and he readily provides me with a wealth of information that will be of use for future local discovery projects. After about 20 minutes of chatting, I thank him for his help and, after warmly shaking hands again, I leave with the promise of returning in the near future to let him know when my book has been published.

Unlike for this gentleman, as I can't call at all of my readers doors, if you're interested in knowing when my book is about to be published (around July 2014), please email me at and I will keep you updated on the publication process and when it is ready to go on the shelves.

Furthermore, you can visit for more information.

Saturday 12 April 2014

A Short Walk Over Crompton Moor

With the arrival of spring and a few days of wonderfully sunny weather, I’d been longing for an extended walk across Saddleworth’s moors. However, in the midst of a busy writing schedule I was limited on the amount of time I could steal away from my desk. Glancing at an old map of Saddleworth, on my wall, I closed my eyes and randomly placed the tip of my finger on its faded surface. Nestled on Saddleworth's north-western flanks, Crompton Moor is a small area of moorland, popular with walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders and offers the ideal spot for a short walk over terrain which is not dissimilar to higher moorland plateaus.

Setting out from the car park at the former Brushes Clough Quarry, my son and I, along with our Labrador retriever, followed the path down into Pingot Quarry. Cascading over the edge of the man-made cliffs the 30ft waterfall glistened in the afternoon sunlight.
Following a footpath that climbs the northern rim of the quarry, we attained the open moor and headed north east to the forestry plantation at Whitesides. The cover provided by the trees and fallen logs is a boy’s paradise for playing hide and seek, and my son practiced his camouflage and concealment skills whilst I had to hunt him down.

Breaking cover from the shaded pine plantation, we reached the source of the stream known as Old Brook. Here our dog frolicked in the headwaters of the stream that is the source of the River Beal. From here several paths radiate across the moor, and heading south-east we skirted around the foot of Crow Knowl, atop of which sits two transmissions mast and a trig point. Whilst the summit trig point is often visited by walkers, today we opted for a lower line and headed for a disused mine shaft.

Mining and quarrying has taken place on Crompton Moor since around the mid 1500s, and there are several sites around offering clear evidence of this subterranean industry. In 1811, a total of eleven working pits were recorded on the moor. One such pit is the Crowl Knowl Colliery, which lies to the south-west of Crowl Knowl summit. Here an information board has been erected, which is one of a series of boards positioned along the newly formed Crompton Moor Heritage Trail and which provide a wealth of historical information about the area.

Leaving the disused mineshaft in a south-westerly direction, we passed the remains of Crow Knowl Farm before turning east and heading to the ruins of Bowling Green Farm at the head of Brushes Clough. Three main farmsteads are known to have existed on the moor since around the mid 1600’s, and here another information board tells the history of farming in the area.

Heading east, we followed the course of the Crompton Circuit, pausing for a short while as the dog took a refreshing dip in the cooling waters of Brushes Clough Reservoir. Following one of the many well-defined tracks that once linked the former farms, we headed north along the tree line before once again turning east to follow the firebreak which separates two woods.  Returning to our start point, we had enjoyed a pleasant walk over this small isolated pocket of moorland, which lies on Saddleworth’s boundary.

Starting in April, Saddleworth Discovery Walks will be leading monthly historic guided walks throughout Saddleworth. Forth coming dates will posted at

Dicovering Britain - Saddleworth on the map

The Royal Geographical Society have recently launched their new Discovering Britain project, which hopes to encourage people to explore Britain and discover the country's amazing landscape whilst learning more about nature, our history and vibrant culture.
Jenny Lunn, of the Royal Geographical Society in London, recently contacted me about the project and asked if I could help promote one of the society's north-west regional walks - Crossing Point: Discovering routeways over and under the Pennines. Jenny, who is originally from Delph, said,"The 6 mile route starts in Delph, goes up the Castleshaw Valley to Standedge then down into Diggle and along the canal finishing at the Brownhill Centre. Along the way we look at the different ways in which people have created routeways across the physical barrier of the Pennines throughout history."
Entrance to Standedge Tunnel, Diggle
The walk is self-guided with a detailed commentary available in both audio format and written format. Both can be downloaded for free from the Discovering Britain website:
Full colour versions of the walk booklet, ideal for taking out on the walk, are also on sale locally in the Tourist Information Centre at Saddleworth Museum, in the Gallery Oldham shop at Oldham Library, and at Delph Post Office.  
Part of the route shares the same course as one of the walks detailed in my new walking guidebook, which will be published soon. To promote this new RGO walk I will be holding a guided walk along the route sometime in May. For details, keep an eye out at and