Saturday 21st May 2016
Leaders: Keith and Kay Butterworth
Photos: Charlie Billington
SATURDAY 21ST MAY 2016 - STOODLEY PIKE.
Early forecasts predicted that this would be a very wet, windy and misty day, but as the party gathered at Lobb Mill car park it was actually quite warm and dry which made it difficult to pick the right clothing. It did not go unnoticed that it had been five years to the day since three doughty members of the Fellwalkers had been ravaged (savaged?) by the weather on St Sunday Crag. With two present on the day, what were the portents? To add to this Keith Butterworth was proud to announce that any walk led by him (Kay claimed only to be riding shotgun) was likely to attract incidents, so the nine Fellwalkers, including new member Will Corkhill, set off with bated breath.
The first part of the walk, whilst rigorous, afforded splendid views of the Rochdale Canal and the surrounding country, and there was a preponderance of bluebells in one area of hillside. The village of Mankinholes, once on a packhorse way, also provided several interesting features, including an unusual horse trough and some extremely idiosyncratic stone seating arrangements.
Passing through Mankinholes the party started to climb Stoodley Pike and the Monument soon came into view. As it branched left up a well-stoned path the weather decided to fulfil its earlier promise and bombard the members with hail, wind and rain! There was barely time to don the waterproofs, and the Monument itself became a blessing rather than a feature, affording a lunch shelter of sorts, although acting as a chimney for the chilling wind. A rather wild and misty view awaited those who chose to climb the 39 steps in pitch darkness to access the platform.
After lunch Keith reassembled the bedraggled yet undaunted troops, and the party headed off in the tempest towards a stand of conifers (Sunderland Pasture). On reaching this the rain seemed to ease off and the light had certainly improved by the time Withens Clough Reservoir came into sight. Arriving at the dam by a series of lanes, the group circumnavigated the far side of the Reservoir, enjoying some fine views, before moving uphill past a ramshackle, obviously deserted building. This provoked a great deal of interest, inspection and discussion. It had obviously not been built on a shoestring and it was difficult to see exactly what function it might have previously fulfilled.
Moving on, the party followed more lanes and soon came across the 'Te Deum' stone, which carries the inscription 'Te Deum Laudamus', signifying that it lies on a former coffin route which served the now long-drowned settlements in Withens Clough. Heading back towards Todmorden on another stoned path, and having crossed the Pennine Way at Withens Gate, Lumbutts Mill was eventually encountered. Although much of it has gone, the tower, in which three water wheels generated 54hp from two dams, remains intact with its spiral staircase. From here it was all downhill and back to the Rochdale Canal, which looked like it had been partially drained at this point, probably to facilitate refurbishment work on another mill alongside it.
On returning to the car park the realisation set in that the temperature had risen and that the rain had ceased some time ago, so the members took 'afternoon tea' (aka leftovers) in the picnic area, having previously rejected the terms and conditions of a local café/restaurant. All agreed that despite the weather it had been a very fine walk, with lots of beauty and interest, and thanks were expressed to Keith who had led it with aplomb (expertly supervised by Kay). As ever, adventure remained a feature of one of their walks, and from a personal point of view I found mine in the escape from Burnley, not only on the way there but also on the return, having been hopelessly lost in Nelson!