These two little peaks: Cheetham Close and Turton Heights, on an unnamed stretch of moorland above Turton and Entwistle Reservoir, had thwarted me twice previously. Cheetham Close can be a bog for the majority of the year, so with the run of good weather lately, now was time to finally nail this littler smasher.
I dropped Chris off rather early at work, around 7:25 and did consider going back home for a snooze as I didn’t want to be out on the moors too early. The weather forecast was for snow on the high grounds and scattered showers, I didn’t believe it as the preceding day was so nice (tenuous, I know). I arrived at Batridge Road Car Park at Turton and Entwistle Reservoir at around 8:40 and was all booted up by 8:45. I left the car park with map in hand – adamant that this time I was not going to do my usual ‘over-thinking’ thing and take a wrong turning, or a series of wrong turnings as has been the case recently.
Within a few minutes I was at Greens Arms Road where I crossed the road and headed for a bridal path which ultimately (after about twenty yards) led me to the stile from where I could begin my ascent of Cheetham Close from an unnamed patch of land a few hundred feet north of an area referred to on the map as ‘Three Lowes’. Over the stile I went and essentially this was where the uphill work began. It wasn’t steep and thanks to the recent good weather it wasn’t as sticky as I had feared. The terrain was very reminiscent of the lead-up to Great Hill but obviously without the same kind of gradient. Before long I’d hit my first way-point / marker for the Witton Weavers Way. I kept level headed about this as there are four “Witton Weavers” paths and none of them feature the relevant name on its markers
After a short while, along a route which changed in texture from rough moorland to practically a lawn, the summit of Cheetham Close came into view. I had not expected a huge, lofty peak akin to something that can be found in the Lakes – this is technically a Pennines’ peak, albeit of the Western variety. However at least the obvious summit rose above the surrounding land with no pretensions to subtlety. I was surprised to have to negotiate another two stiles – sheep had been left a long way back and as there were no cows I did wonder what was being enclosed. Within a few minutes I noticed that my track carried on in an North-East / South-West direction until the escarpment, apparently there is a steeper side to this micro-moor – I shall have to investigate further… The path to the summit, a purely organic as opposed to a purposely constructed one, emerged on the left – more or less opposite, another way-marker!
Even an idiot wouldn’t fail to deduce that if one were to turn left here the resultant path would lead to…the summit. Thus, I duly obliged and after five minutes worth of rambling and avoiding the stickiest patches of moorland I was within the neolithic stone circle…I can’t swear testament to the validity of this. Apparently a farmer moved all the stones a number of decades ago, in essence to me this then makes the resulting structure simply a folly, a small folly but a folly all the same. I must admit to not noticing anywhere near as many component parts of this circle as a Google image search returns, perhaps I was more concerned with the trig point! That being said, it appears that I didn’t take as many summit photos – of the summit as I usually do and the only selfie I took is now my Facebook image…
Let’s be honest, in the field of summit bagging, Cheetham Close is a dwarf, a bottom feeder and back of the pack member. However, the views and the sensation more than made up for its lack of vertical inches…I swear this summit must be riddled with Ley lines or electromagnetism fields of one kind or another as to spend a few moments there, on my own at a ridiculously early time, was sheer joy!
After a moment pondering if there would be rain and taking in the views over to what I now know is Affetside, I began my traverse over this moor and onto its northern edge – Turton Heights. For most of the way the path was lovely. However, the warning signs were there – according to the map there was no official path traversing Turton Heights. When the official path reached its end a quick jump across what could only be described as a ditch brought me onto rough terrain. And when I say rough, I mean rough. This was like walking on a long cobbled road, moreover, it was like walking barefoot on a long cobbled road. It was awful. the summit of Turton Heights eventually neared – not the most prominent thing I’ve ever seen, but I couldn’t focus on it for very long as I had to keep looking at my feet in order to not be fouled by this white-grassy covering of a hidden lunar landscape. Turton Heights is nothing short of a waste of labour! The views from what I am assuming was the highest spot – (you can only really tell when you’re not there!), were by and large the same that I could see from the much nicer path which had ended at the ditch.
Thus having broken my personal record for the least amount of time spent at the summit of a hill…I retraced my footsteps back to the ditch once more. Now I headed left / north and within a few short footsteps the reservoir popped into view again. There are a lot of paths in this environ and I wanted to be sure that I was not going to follow one which would take me miles off course. It was at this point that I felt a drop of snow…and another one!
The way ahead was very obvious…and then the path became so wide that it vanished into the landscape, this is not a rare experience for me. Fortunately enough I could see a huge gate to the right of which proudly sat one of the yellow arrows indicating a footpath. Whilst not exactly a leap of faith, I had some trepidations about following this new path, but, it did appear to be on my map and after just a few minutes gradual descent I was at a similar huge gate which when I went through brought me out onto Greens Arms Road. Result!
I did fancy the notion of an amble through some woods and fortunately Greens Arms Road offers one a plethora of choices with regards to this fanciful longing. There are scores of the buggers! After following the path through one memorial forest I found myself in front of a sign for another one – Entwistle. I was tempted to walk along the road again, enough of this fool-hardy, off-piste exploring, or…I thought ‘to hell with it, I’m going deeper into the darkness of the forest’s grasp’. I could make out the reservoir in front of me so at no point did I feel lost. It was nice to be off piste, I just had to watch my feet and cross the tiniest of all ad-hoc bridges
After spending a good five seconds contemplating it…I decided to simply climb over the stone wall which separated me and the reservoir’s perimeter path. I never ripped my coat, trousers or skin and the wall remained intact. Yet I was still disappointed when on the path I spied at least another few access points where I could have simply walked without the need to climb anything. I decided to take a few more pictures for the walk’s video… and just as I was about to take another boring shot of a gloomy forest (as the light was really starting to fade now) a dog ran into view. I took the photo anyway and his owner shouted his name. I couldn’t really tell what she said and asked her. His name was “Zylo”, how cool is that?
I followed the path as it meandered around the reservoir. There were a few joggers out but nowhere near as many as I would have expected to see if the weather had been nicer. By this time we had intermittent rain and snow and the temperature had dropped significantly. I decided to go to the Wayoh reservoir but before I had even got onto Edge Lane the rain took up in force and the lure of my nice warm and dry car and a flask of hot black coffee lured me out of this further adventure.
More like Wintry! This was a walk of two halves: The good: getting to the top of the very minor but still lovely Cheetham Close was definitely a high point (pardon the pun) and the wander through the Entwistle Reservoir Memorial Forest was a refreshing change. The bad: Turton Heights has no redeeming features. I had arrived at this conclusion on the day that Karl and I traversed the lower slopes last year and when Mark and I did the same walk as part of the Amble. Now, I’ve been to the ‘top’ and yes…Turton Heights is the Mungrisdale Common of the West Pennines and it has a horrid approach from all directions (as far as I can tell).
The walk stats do not make for impressive reading, just four and a fifth of a mile walked in about an hour and three quarters. Even worse is that there was no song of the walk today (it’s very rare that happens) – post mock exam stress I guess. I do intend to take in Cheetham Close from the other direction – avoiding Turton Golf Course, but I’ll only ever do Turton Heights as part of the Anglezarke Amble!