Back to reality!
An evening walk from Hollingworth Lake, accessed via signposts from the Milnrow exit (21) on the M62.
On a lovely evening, we joined the bikers outside the Wine Press, on the B6225 beside the lake.
Hollingworth Lake was built nearly 200 years ago to provide a water supply for the Rochdale Canal. The large, non-drinking reservoir soon became a tourist attraction, with dance halls, billiard rooms and brass bands. In the winter of 1860 nearly 2000 skaters swarmed over the ice. It retains its popularity, though mining activities in the surrounding countryside have long since ceased, leaving peace and quiet and golfers.
Today the lake was full of little boats chasing each other around a marked course, with the M62 in the background.
Our route went down Rakewood Road past the Visitor Centre (pay and display parking available), and beside the blue railings by the lake. The first left fork led us up a cobbled bridleway - the Pennine Bridleway - 'summit 4½ miles'.
Beyond the C18 hamlet the track continues with twin rows of flagstones, heavily grooved from horse-drawn coal trucks from the mines ahead.
Soon we passed Syke Farm, over 200 years old and showing it, though a recent guide book describes it as 'grand'. The once impressive facade includes a fountain, gas lamps and this public telephone box.
The area is littered with public rights of way, with footpaths for all tastes
The rough track continues upwards, beside a gritstone wall, passing recent tree plantations and the remains of old slag heaps covered with purple moor-grass.
What's with the bollards?
...I have no idea.
The other day I chanced upon a TV programme about 'William Eggleston, one of the most influential and original photographers alive today'.
It showed the famed photographer pottering about, snapping at anything, showing apparent contempt for composition.
Other 'eminent photographers' raved about his work.
I thought the programme was a hoax until I checked out this guy on the internet. I've adapted the above image to Eggleston's style:
I don't think I'll ever make it as a photographer!
Enough of that. The path passes to the left of the minor hump of Benny Hill, then zigzags past flittering goldfinches, left and right to reach a pylon.
The view to the left (north) is over the moors, with their numerous concealed reservoirs, to Todmorden and Calderdale.
Whilst to the right the pylons march over the M62, which is very close by but completely hidden and surprisingly quiet.
This is Clegg Moor, where our route turned left to follow the line of pylons, with Hollingworth Lake now far below, and the skyline of Rochdale beyond.
A surfaced lane was reached. This lane leads to Whittaker Golf Course. Our own route continued along the lane in the same direction, passing a boggy area known as Salmon Well. Then a sharp left turn led down a track and through a gate to a path beside the golf course, which was donated by a wealthy mill owner in 1905 on the understanding that it would always be used for golf.
Today, foxgloves graced the banks beside the pathway.
Even white ones, which may be unusual, or an escaped garden variety?
The path headed on by the golf course - we even found an errant golf ball - through a kissing gate then over a broad stone slab covering a watercourse ('drain') that once supplied the nearby Rochdale Canal with water pumped from the lake. Keeping straight on down to a footbridge, we continued towards woodland and a cottage where this three legged cat suggested we follow the path around to the right.
This brought us out at a lane beside Hollingworth Brook from where a left turn took us over a gritstone slab bridge and along the lower lane, passing the visitor centre before reaching familiar ground at Rakewood Road.
We had only seen a couple of cyclists all evening, but there were a number of people around the visitor centre, and many more bikers outside the Wine Press enjoying the last rays of sun reflected from the hillside across the lake.
Tall melilot (Melilotus altissima) was waving the boaters off to bed.
This was a short stroll - very suitable for a summer's evening - of about 6 km (4 miles), with roughly 200 metres (600 ft) of ascent.
You should be able to amble around it in about an hour and a half.