Thursday, 13 February 2014

Castleshaw Skyline

Start/Finish: Lay-by on A62, Huddersfield Road, Delph
Grid Reference: SD 992 081.
Distance:  7 miles

The Castleshaw Valley with Millstone Edge in the background
This walk around the rim of the Castleshaw Valley was conducted last year, as the winter snow began to recede.

From the lay-by, we carefully crossed the busy A62 to the wooden stile almost opposite. Climbing the stile, we made our way south-east along the footpath which ascends Lark Hill to attain Harrop Edge. Turning north along Harrop Edge Lane, we were confronted by a cold wind blowing in from the East. It was these chilling Easterly’s that had brought in the recent bout of snow over the past weeks which, although now receding as the spring temperatures began to rise, was lying in deep drifts upon the frozen ground.

Again crossing the A62 onto Standedge Foot Lane, we passed behind the old, now long derelict, Horse & Jockey pub, before heading up a grassy track that is Whimberry Lee Lane. At stanedge, we ascended pure white, crisp snow fields to attain the trig point on Millstone Edge. Under a clear sky, there was not but a breath of wind on this rocky edge which marks the Lancashire/Yorkshire border. The views all around were magnificent and far reaching, and we marvelled at the wonderful vistas. Whilst today was glorious, this rocky edge is often battered by strong winds the year round. In bad winter weather this must have been a grim posting for the Roman soldiers stationed at the fort in the valley below, whose job it was to guard the military road from Chester to York. One of a series of Roman Forts the original stronghold covered over three acres and garrisoned around 500 infantry. At some point it was abandoned, until being re-occupied in the early 2nd century A.D. as a small out-post.
Snow fields below Millstone Edge

Following the Oldham Way, we made good progress over the firm snow. The frozen surface of which was yet to thaw under the warming sun. Looking over to the West, the Denshaw reservoirs could be seen glistening in the morning sunlight.
Picking up the Pennine Bridleway, we dropped down Moor Lane where it meets Ox Hey Lane at the old Cross Roads known as Four Lane Ends. Continuing south, we enjoyed traversing the deep snow drifts that had completely filled the sunken track that is Broad Lane. The views down into the Castleshaw Valley were a delight as we headed towards Heights.

Snow cornice overhanging a re-entrant.
Opposite the entrance to Spring Hill, we turned south-east towards Grange, and descended the sunken bridleway which is believed to have been an old packhorse road or ‘saltway’. This area of Saddleworth was part of Friarmere which in turn was part of the Roche Abbey estate.  Local historians believe that the Black Friars had a house or ‘Grange’ here which possibly lends its name to the area.
Our descent once again took us over deep snow drifts, and we eventually emerged at the ford which crosses Hull Brook. With our morning outing nearing the end, we followed Hull Mill Lane, crossed Delph Lane and walked the final few metres along Sandbed Lane to return to the lay-by on Huddersfield Road.

Snowy, the trekking snowman

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