Setting off on my own at 9.30 am from outside the campsite at Hayfield, I soon passed Booth Sheepwash. Constructed around 1900 to 1910 to replace Booth Farm’s earlier facilities that were flooded by the creation of Kinder Reservoir, the sheepwash is positioned in the shade of a 150 year old ash tree. In May the local shepherds would congregate here for several days to wash the peat out of the fleeces of their sheep, prior to being clipped by their owners a couple of weeks later.
In September they returned here to wash the sheep and lambs in a boiled up mixture of soft soap and creosote, to remove keds (wingless flies) and lice at the time the lambs were weaned away from their mothers.
The sheepwash has been used less since the 1930’s.
Beyond the sheepwash a path leads on the east side of the brook before crossing it and rising steeply up this well constructed cobbled path to the reservoir.
Across the other side of Kinder Reservoir, Kinder Scout beckons, but today was not to be one for the familiar ‘clockwise’ circuit back round to Hayfield.
Today, as on that clockwise route, I headed up William Clough, an area where ramblers confronted landowners in 1932, with their Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout, one of the leaders of which was Benny Rothman (1911-2002) who lived here in Timperley for more than 50 years. As the Information Board proclaims, their Fight to Roam has evolved into our modern-day Right to Roam, with the National Trust now guaranteeing ‘Access for All for Ever’.
I left the clockwise circuit at Ashop Head and wandered west to the summit of Mill Hill. On the way I passed the Ling (Heather), shown below – it seems to vie with Bell Heather for position on the moor, and is just coming into flower, brightening the vista for a few weeks with its purple sheen.
The path across Featherbed Moss to the Snake Pass road and beyond to Bleaklow used to be a dreadful quagmire, exacerbated by the creation and subsequent popularity of the Pennine Way long distance footpath.
These days it is a beautifully paved passage with little sign of any erosion. Beyond the A57 road is a meadow-like section through the high moorland, where the ubiquitous Heather and Tormentil are joined by numerous other species – Clovers, Ragworts, Willow-herbs, Woolly Thistles, Hawk’s Beard, Hop Trefoil, Buttercups, Dead-nettles and more. A small oasis in the peat hags of Bleaklow.
I’d met a few folk who were clearly out for the day, but a mile or so beyond the Snake Pass a smiley gent with a large rucksack lumbered into view.
I knew this to be Richard, who is en-route from John o’Groats to Land’s End in 65 daily sections. Richard is recording his progress here. It’s a good read. He suffers from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) and is walking for charity – raising funds for research into a cure for CLL, which is the most common cancer of the blood. However, unlike many other leukaemias, it is incurable. I’m told that innovative research is desperately needed to provide treatments which are more effective than the derivatives of chemical warfare agents currently in use. Donations can be made via his website.
I’d arranged to walk to Hayfield with Richard, and we headed briskly back to Mill Hill, chatting incessantly before pausing there for lunch and essential communications.
A chap wandered up with leaflets advertising a local walking group. He wondered whether Richard would be interested. “I think not” I suggested, explaining Richard’s route and the fact that he was sitting on Mill Hill, telephoning his wife in New Zealand!
There were good views here, across to Manchester and beyond to Winter Hill. A walker approached along a fine paved path to the west, with the South Pennines beyond Oldham clear on the horizon.
It was a good day for walking.
Back down at Ashop Head, Richard found this post rather photogenic. He had been concerned about spotting the route down to Hayfield….
….it would require incredibly incompetent navigation to miss this sign!
And so, we struck off down William Clough, returning past Kinder Reservoir (seen here in the distance) and various cheery folk, reaching the campsite at 2.30 pm after, for me, a 20 km stroll.
This left plenty of time to recce tomorrow morning’s route of departure for Richard, before he succumbed to the attractions of returning to Timperley for a hot bath,* and a meal at the hands of my newly married daughter.
Thank you Richard for the wine, and Kate for the meal – it’s very relaxing sometimes to have a passive role on such occasions!
* Alan, I have positioned this comma especially for you. (Phew, nearly missed a cracker there!)