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Ski Club of Manchester Summer Stroll, 15th August 2020

Reporter: Bill Matthews

May I first thank Vanessa Miller for choosing such a fine location. Also we all apologise for tinkering with and extending the route slightly to about 7.2 miles. There were so many tempting possibilities on one of our best summer days. Vanessa and Dave must have been really sore at needing to self-isolate at home.

The start point at Turton and Entwistlereservoir car park is enormously popular on a Saturday morning with dog walkers, bikers, and groups; not all observing social distancing rules.

Quite right Vanessa, the car park ticket vending machine is very dis-functional. Some enterprising dishonest type could turn up here with a ticket book and the right kind of hat/uniform and rake in a small fortune!! The train station is also very conveniently nearby with a good train service.

Our small group of just six were assembled in good time and presented no conflict with government guide lines which 7 would have done. We set off South East on a good track steeply descending into the heavily forested vee-shaped valley which accommodates several high dams.

It was not very long before Steve's dog Jim waded through deep mud to Steve's dismay but no problem as the Wayoh reservoir just downstream was very accessible and Jim and Christine's Cockapoodles went for a swim (no, not thrown in!!) whilst we admired the view enhanced by fields of Himalayan Balsam in bloom and many common speckled orchids.

We next arrived at Chapeltown, in fact a village, described rightly as picturesque. Clearly folk here take seriously the charm of their property. I noticed a few really unique attractive structures.

Turning Westwards on Kay Street, and crossing the East Lancashire Railway Line, we came to the junction with the Witton Weavers Way which is now the name given to the 51 km circular walking route starting at Jumbles reservoir nearby and extending beyond Blackburn.

On the understanding that we were not doing all 51km, we all agreed that the very fine weather and good underfoot conditions merited a diversion from the official SCoM route taking in a part of the Witton Weavers Way to the crest of Cheetham close, a part of the Turton Heights.

The reward for this small amount of extra effort was an early extended lunch of approximately an hour and a half with some of the best views I've seen for quite some time. We could see Winter Hill and Anglezarke Reservoirs to the West, Peel Tower and Scout Moor Wind Farm far away in the East plus a hazy view of Manchester in the South East.

Turton heights, where we lunched marks the location of the remains of an early Bronze Age stone circle — which, until a vandal farmer took a large hammer to it probably competed for historic splendour with the Endleigh Street circle at Chagford, Dartmoor. Yet again, the area around our path here really warranted a much more in depth investigation for anyone with an enquiring mind because there is a wealth of history in the scattered prehistoric monuments, Weavers Cottages, Tudor Halls and a roman road close by.

Now we took a path North North East and via the B6391 arriving back with the madding crowds at the car park where temporarily we pursued the West shore of Entwistle reservoir on the second half of the figure of 8 route. Couriously, the Water Board inspection pontoon by the dam accommodates its own small flock of cormorants.

Soon we reached the head of the reservoir and sought the privacy of our own company again on a second diversion moving East on a path that seemed a little tenuous in the forest — like, no-one had ever been there for generations!! No problem however, there WAS the top stile and the sunny meadow beyond; another ideal spot for a brew break, looking down on the reservoir in solitude.

Some half a mile or so further walking brought us back to reality emerging at Edge Fold, a lane straight downhill to the front door of the Strawbury Duck pub. Most of the group decided to run the gauntlet of Covid 19 and ‘ducked’ into the Strawbury Duck outdoor service area for a well earned pint.

I, shielding, looked around in vain for an ice cream van, Brew-tique, or Sandwich bar and soon instead, took an early train.

All the uncertainties of COVID planning were worthwhile and we thank Vanessa, Steve and David Shepherd for their 'coordinating'.

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