I had some time over Twixtmas / ‘Chrimbo Limbo’ which I’d blocked off for a walk on the hills with Brodie Dog. I had a notion to walk up to Millstone Edge, which I haven’t done for a while.
Then this morning friend Jenny invited me for a walk, but I couldn’t make that (I was awaiting a delivery). But the great weather and that invite made my mind up – I’d do an afternoon walk if I could (packing the head torch in case I was still out late on).
There are lots of great walks in the Marsden Moor / Saddleworth area (close to home), some of which can be covered in an afternoon. So, lots of choices – but I elected for that walk up to and along Millstone Edge, along to the junction with the Oldham Way and back.
The edge marks the border between the National Trust area of Marsden Moor and the start of Saddleworth and ‘Old Yorkshire’.
This millstone grit escarpment ‘borderland’ is tracked by the Pennine Way, before the long distance trail swings north east-ish, across the Rochdale Road and onto Stoodley Pike (and all points north beyond that).
I love Millstone Edge, with its water and wind-carved rock formations, including the ‘Dinner Stone’. It also affords great views down to the remains of the Roman Fort of Castleshaw (probably called Rigodunum) and the two adjacent reservoirs.
And you feel nicely exposed up there.. today was just a gentle wind but I’ve been happily battered by sleet and hail in gale force winds before. You can sometimes feel like you are walking the ramparts of a Tolkienian hold.
Today was a belter of a day for a walk on high: cold but clear blue skies above with some mist over to the west, and with the late afternoon sun turning the moors a Kodak gold and green.
I diverted away from the Pennine Way and walked onto Close Moss on the return leg of the walk (via one of the newish stiles that are part of the NT stock fencing).
My goal was to find the nearby ‘Brigadoon Stone’.
It’s a natural seat / table formation that acts as a perch to give you great views north (a.k.a back down) onto Marsden, with Pule Hill to the right and Shooters Nab and West Nab beyond. A great place to drink the coffee and nosh the Christmas pork pie leftover I had brought with me.
I call it the ‘Brigadoon Stone’ because, despite being so close to the stile, it’s surprisingly hard to spot, nestled as it is at the head of a peat grough.
Sometimes it appears, sometimes it doesn’t.
The grough itself is now re-grassed, the stone used to stand out more with dark peat surrounding it but is less easy to spot now, until you’re nearly on it. And I think that sometimes it just doesn’t want to be found.
Today I was feeling particularly anthropomorphological, and assumed that the stone felt sociable and had let me spend some time using it as a perch, to survey the moors ahead of me. And beyond surrounding Close Moss, I gazed down to Marsden, then the Colne Valley beyond.
Hound had a sniff-fest around the stone and there was evidence of hare and grouse having been close. My excellent tracker skills (*cough*) noted that some of the Hare droppings were fairly fresh – unlike some other gut-fermented maltesers nearby, which were frost covered. But nothing fur or feather coated was spotted by either of us.
But I was happy just to sit awhile and soak up the scene before us, with colours that hummed in the weakening sunlight. And to sit with the ageing dog, the white noise of the wind in the dried grasses all around us, was a lovely thing to do.