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

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