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Walk Details - 11/10/2014 Alphin and Indian's Head - rocks galore

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Ali (Ali Watson)
2634 ft. (GPS Measured)
11.2 miles (GPS Measured)
5hrs 55mins
Me, Adam and Betty
Old Mill car park in Greenfield
Moderate
Dry and sunny
Route:
Alphin, Wimberry Stones, Chew Reservoir, Great Dove Stone Rocks, iron cross memorial, Dove Stone Reservoir
Direction:
Anti-clockwise
Type of walk:
Fell walk
Tagged walkers:
Betty

Ali's Walk Summary/Comments:
For some time now I've wanted to start exploring The Peak District. Little did I think it would start here, at the northern end of the national park near Saddleworth Moor. I'd never heard of Alphin before but had been dragged over here by Adam, a bloke from work who I've been showing the many delights of Pendle Hill to recently.

This is Adam's stomping ground, and he was keen for me to visit so he could wreak revenge on me for having bored him with all the facts I have on Pendle. Now it was his turn. To be fair he did actually warn me beforehand that he was going to make most of it up as he went along. It came as little surprise then when first he told me that Watership Down had been filmed almost entirely in the area (during the cartoon years), and later that Buzz Aldrin was a regular visitor as the Indian Head rocks had been used as a training ground for the moon landing... All this and just outside of Oldham, amazing!

The climb up Alphin thankfully wasn't quite the killer that Adam had promised. Don't get me wrong, there's over 1000ft of ascent but it's reasonably gradual. The height obviously opened up some fantastic views all about... Alderman Hill and Saddleworth Moor to the north, the whole Peak District to the south, not to mention Manchester and IKEA to the west!

We took in the views for a good while before continuing. Next up were the amazing Wimberry Stones, or Indian Head to the locals. They are so called because from across the valley they look uncannily like the profile of an American Indian in full head-dress. They are basically a series of large, high outcrops jutting out from the surrounding peat. I find rock formations fascinating, and this was to be the first of many we came across today. After dawdling about long enough to explore the rocks and admire the scenery from this dramatic viewpoint, we forged on towards the wonderfully weathered Stable Stones. These are a chain of large boulders showing some fantastic deformations through countless years of exposure to the elements.

From Stable Stones we ambled around to Chew Reservoir, which was supposedly 10 minutes away according to Adam. It actually took us 32 minutes, but it won't change the fact that to Adam it is only 10 minutes away. All I can say is that pee I stopped off for en-route must've been a bloody long one....

We stopped for lunch by a rather depleted looking Chew Reservoir - not surprising with the dry period we'd been enjoying recently. As you might expect, Betty particularly enjoyed this part of the walk as she merrily soldiered her way through a hundred cocktail suasages and a pound or so of pork pies! It would've been more but Adam beat her to the rest...

Lunch done we continued and passed over more wonderful rock formations - Dish Stone Rocks I believe. En route, there were about seventeen drops of rain, so Adam donned waterproofs, bless him. As soon as he had, the rain stopped... had to laugh! Looking across the valley there is a small cave, and Adam reliably informed me that the cave is where Barack Obama comes every year for his summer holidays...

The next attractions we came across were the Great Dove Stone Rocks and Dean Rocks - more large, stunning formations for me to gawp at. We passed by them all too quickly before a short plod around to the iron cross memorial. Soaking in the views of Alderman Hill and Dove Stone Reservoir, Adam stuffed another couple of pork pies down his neck.

On the way down Betty threw in the towel, deciding that she didn't want to walk any more (to be fair we'd already covered 9 miles and she only has little legs). I tried carrying her for a bit but she weighs a metric ton, and before my arms dropped off I opted to stick her in my rucksack. Any doubts about whether she'd accept this move were quickly disspelled as she immediately settled in to enjoy the ride. I mean, why have a human and walk yourself?

Due to the huge weight I now had on my back, we opted for the flat wander around Dove Stone Reservoir rather than heading back uphill on the path below Dove Stone Rocks. Up to this point we'd only seen two other people for the whole walk. Much to Adam's dismay, we had to contend with millions of people out for an easy walk. I say dismay because it transpires he doesn't much care for other walkers - I reckon that could be expanded from walkers to people in general! Leaving the res though, we also left the crowds behind and had a quiet wander past the Sugar Cube rock and back to the car. Betty actually recovered and thankfully walked the last mile.

In summary this really is a stunning area. I admit to being massively surprised at how such wonderful countryside could exist within spitting distance of a major built up area like Greater Manchester, but it does. If the rest of The Peak District is anything like what I've seen today then I'm in for a real treat when I come back.

Area:The Peak District - Greater Manchester
Fells climbed:Alphin
POI's:Chew Reservoir - Dove Stones Reservoir
OS Outdoor Leisure:OL1
OS Landranger:109/110

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