Sat 25th Feb, 2023
Saddleworth 3 peaks fell run/fast walk
The final numbers for the meet turned out to be three people, but nevertheless, we enjoyed a great run amongst fantastic scenery and even better, the weather was kind enough to allow us to see the scenery at all times. Myself (a recently joined Associate member), Sean and Yvonne (both Prospective members) met in the Clarence Inn car park, Greenfield for a 1pm prompt departure. It was the first time that any of us had met each other, but as in the spirit of the club and its meets, the whole purpose was to meet like minded people and have an enjoyable outing in the outdoors. The run started easily enough through the streets of Greenfield village and on the flat, but after 10 minutes, we started climbing the relatively benign lower slopes of Wharmston Hill and the run turned into a walk at the gas post marker because the incline went up to about 25%. We kept up a fast walk to the summit and after a brief stop for taking in the views and pointing out some local landmarks and our route, we started the descent into Grasscroft.
More running along Well-i-hole road and past the camp-site in Greenfield, and we turned down the bridleway back towards the village center. We headed up Friezland Lane which in itself provides a nasty kick in one section before veering off to the track which leads to the start of the Alphin Pike footpath. The slow jog went quickly reverted to a walk as we made the unrelenting slog towards the summit and after about 15-20 minutes, the sight of the trig point and summit shelter came into our welcome view. We took a rest behind the shelter as the cold northerly wind direction meant the shelter itself was fully exposed to the wind, and we took the chance for a bit of food and a quick swig of a drink. It was at this point we discussed the merits of continuing along the fantastic edge all of the way to Chew Reservoir or dropping down a bit earlier to cut off a couple of kilometers and keep to the 3 hour projected time. It didn't need much discussion as the cold wind played its part, but I wanted to make sure that Yvonne and Sean got to see the Chew valley in its full glory and so we continued around the edge to the 'Chew Hurdles' before dropping all of the way down to the valley base and following Chew Brook back to the Oldham Way trail and the old tramway track.
There are currently building works on the dam between Dove Stone and Yeoman Hay reservoirs and so we were forced to head back in the direction of the main car park. However, not before detouring past some of the classic Wimberry boulders like Sloping Top and the Sugarloaf. Not that it was the weather for venturing on to the rock, but more problematic was the distinct lack of grip that fell shoes provide on gritstone. We ran around the west side of Dove Stone reservoir and approached Binn Green car park through the woods. As soon as we left the reservoir edge, this meant starting the final climb of the day and the ascent up to the top of Aldermans. We stuck to the path for most of the climb but whilst pausing for a breath, the idea of throwing in a slightly grubby and moist scramble up the front of Aldermans Rocks was thrown in. I am glad to say Sean and Yvonne were in full agreement and so other than pausing for some pictures at a halfway ledge on Great Slab Chimney, we made short work of this and reached the final summit of the day.
After admiring the views of the valley from the Pots and Pans stones, the only remaining task of the day was the descent back to the Clarence Inn in Greenfield, and a well deserved drink for our efforts over the previous 3 hours. My watch recorded just under a half marathon distance of 20.5km and about 950m of ascent. Slightly short of the promised magic 1000m, but a very fine achievement for a Saturday afternoon nonetheless. It was great to meet some new people and sneak in the briefest of rock climbs on what was otherwise a fine running day out.
A fast walk or short run around the village of Greenfield and taking in the peaks of Alphin Pike, Aldermans and Wharmston Hill. This is approximately 20km and 1000m of ascent on what is mostly good trails and paths, but there is a bit of road/ pavement as well.
Please meet in the Clarence pub car park, Greenfield at 12.45 (180 Chew Valley Rd, Greenfield, Oldham OL3 7DD), but don't park in the car park itself as it isn't that big and so it's not fair on the pub and their paying customers. That is not to say we won't be paying customers at the end of the outing, but there are roads nearby which can be parked on and St. Mary's school next door has a visitor car park which is often used as overflow parking.
There won't be an equipment check-list as per FRA attendance rules, but do make sure you dress appropriately for the time of year and conditions on the day. I will certainly be taking a pack with some layers, waterproof, hat, gloves, etc. and food/ drink, head torch, map and compass. Look forward to seeing you there.