Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Wednesday Wander

I had arranged for a walk with Joe and we were both praying for a cooler day as the walk would be a tough one anyway without scorching weather. Thankfully our prayers were listened to and our wishes granted, as the day was nowhere near as hot as the previous days and any humidity had gone.
We arrived at Dovestone Reservoir car park to find it almost empty, but with a Traffic Warden already scouting for a vehicle to slap a fine onto.

After heading off along Chew Rd and the little wooden bridge that crosses Chew Brook, we left the road and took the track route as it's a little easier to climb to the halfway point of the ascent, due to it being more stepped rather than a constant climb up a 19% monster. This track joins onto where an old narrow gauge tramway was built when the reservoir was being created in the early 1900s, so the going was pretty good here. After crossing the narrow bridge over Chew Brook we joined the main access road which, at this point, is not quite so steep as the first half, but still steep enough to limit chat and cause both of us to be breathless - and not just for the views of the narrowing valley.

Once up at the top of the valley at Chew Reservoir a rest break was needed. While enjoying jam butties and tea, we were serenaded by a mating pair of Willow Warblers and treated to a little flirtatious dance from them. I was rather surprised to see these little birds as previously I've only seen rabbits and birds of prey up here; but having looked into it once home, Willow Warblers love the territory up here: scrub land & bog is their favoured nesting site.

We now had a choice of walks - across the other side of the valley along Indian's Head, across Ashway Gap and Dish Stone Rocks or across the peat bog to Laddow Rocks with many fords to cross. Seeing as we'd had excellent weather, I chose to go to Laddow Rocks - at any other time of year this would've been a very difficult walk due to the nature of it crossing the peat bogs and having to cross several fords with no real firm footing about. As it was, the recent heat had dried out many of the cloughs and peat making the going a fair bit easier although we still got sucked in at times. The heat had also rendered Chew low on water making the peat slopes leading to the waters edge look like an oil spill had occurred!
The going across the bog was made easier by the ground being more level due to being on top of the moor and we soon made good headway. After crossing a stile with an ingenious section for hounds - a panel was slid up to let them through (don't think any sheep would be able to figure that one out), we were more into heather territory as we closed in on Laddow Rocks and the spectacular (still a little misty) view down the valley to Crowden, across the Longdendale Reservoirs and over to the peak of Bleaklow.
After the rest of our lunch atop Laddow Rocks we set off back the way we came literally to where we crossed the tramway bridge. As we approached the next bridge across the brook, we turned off through Chew Piece Plantation and over to the Tank - a huge rock used for rock climbing with varying degrees of climb. Joe decided he'd have to be king of the castle and climbed up the easy route to the top.
Once he'd scrambled back down we continued through a fir tree forest where I got smacked on the head by an unseen low lying branch. The path continued through a farm where lots of lovely young lambs were out with their mothers; the lambs being very brave and coming up to us for a look before running off again the minute we spoke to them! After scrambling back down the hillside, we had to descend down the farmers drive while having 2 large hounds bark, growl and jump up at us. The farmer, meanwhile, did absolutely sod all to get the dogs off us until we were leaving through the furthest gate. Only then did he shout at the dogs and ask us if we were ok. I wonder if he really berates living on a farm with a public footpath through it?!

Finally we were back at the car park where ice cream was devoured instantly!

Stats - view route / map location
Cooler, but still warm, misty
Miles: 7.57
Climbed: 1014ft
Max gradient: 19%
Time taken: 3:45

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