Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Saddleworth Northern 5 Trigs

On Tuesday 29th January Andy G, Howard and myself completed an Owls run around the Northern 5 Trigs.

Setting out from the Black Lad
We decided to start from the Black Lad, on Buckstones Road, instead of leaving the cars at Grains Bar. Just as we were getting ready for the off a lady came out of the pub and enquired about what we were doing. When we explained the plan for our evening's activities she declared us insane and, after taking our photo, left with a look of bewilderment on her face.

Striking out at 20:00 hrs, we followed public footpaths for the short section across the fields which would lead us to the edge of Crompton Moor. Another reason for not setting out from the traditional start point was to avoid a notoriously boggy section of footpath early on in the run. However, after the recent heavy rain and subsequent thawing of the snow the fields weren't in much better state.

We reached the first trig point of the night, on Crompton Moor, within 18 minutes. Pausing only briefly, for the obligatory trig photo, we were soon under way and heading through Ogden and Peithorn valleys on route to Blackstone Edge.

Following much of the Blackstone Boundary route now (Pennine Plod) we again made good time and soon reached the drain which makes its course past the Roman Road. Part-way along the drain we broke tracks and made a direct assault on the trig point. The last few metres of ascent being an easy scramble up the Gritstone rocks to attain the summit.

Blackstone Edge
With the second trig now in the bag we stopped a while to eat and drink, whilst admiring the display of illuminated patterns from streetlights in the towns far below and to the West. Before we set out it had been a wild wet night. However, the wind and rain had stopped just before the off and now we were feeling the effects of what had turned out to be a warm and balmy night. Gulping fluids down we realised that between us we hadn't brought enough to drink.

Still running at a good pace we soon covered the ground to Windy Hill and crossed Ripponden Road for the ascent up onto White Hill. In total contrast to Sunday mornings outing the path was free of the deep snow which had concealed freezing cold melt-water, running off the moors, and we were able to run the whole way to the trig point. The decent to the Nont-Sarahs Road was again completely runnable with only patches of snow managing to cling onto the last remnants of life in ditches and on North facing slopes.

Andy's last drops of fluids, consumed upon White Hill, must have contained some special energy giving powers for he now moved up in front and set an even quicker pace along Millstone Edge to the fourth trig point of the night.

After delving into the Liquorice Allsorts & Jelly Babies and sharing out the last drops of my drink we took a direct decent to escape the ever present wind which sweeps up from the Castleshaw Valley and batters the entire length of Millstone Edge. Passing the Roman Fort, which once guarded the Manchester to York Road, we soon reached the valley floor and followed the course of the river and the early section of the Castleshaw Canter route into Delph.

With the pubs now kicking out we had just missed the opportunity for a quick pint so pressed on through the village before taking a right up Grains Road in search of a suitable footpath which would lead us to Bishops Park. With this long thin strip of moor seeing little footfall our chosen path proved over-grown and the pace slowed as we clambered through energy sapping heather. However, Andy soon found a narrow gully, which offered an easier course, and our progress once more continued progressively forward instead of one step forward and three back, has had been the case only moments earlier.

5th and final trig point - Bishops park
With the clock ticking shy of midnight we reached our fifth and final trig point of the night at Bishops Park. Time for the final summit photo. Before we had set off we had made a bet - the wager being a round of drinks - how long it would take us to complete the round. With that in mind we didn't linger and set out across the golf course and down Buckstones Road to return from whence we came.

We arrived back at the Black Lad in 4 hours 4 minutes 30 seconds. Not a bad time for a what was a steady night-time training run.

The Northern 5 Trigs is a great route with a whole album of pleasing views on offer if run during the day. Unlike the Saddleworth 5 trigs which is a little longer with more ascent and rougher underfoot, it is easily runnable all the way.

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