I think not!
The walk of Monday the 21st of April, 2014 saw me back at my former home town of Bolton in order to attempt the two minor summits of Cheetham Close and Turton Heights. I had been interested in exploring this area as part of this route would involve segments of a walk which I did as my last long urban walks around Bolton in 2000 which was twelve miles. My intended route today would be roughly half that distance but mostly off-road.
I parked at the free car park at Chapeltown Road – there is an alternate car park that is paid at the opposite side of the Jumbles Country Park just off Bradshaw Road (that does get heaving) which I would later walk by but for now, why pay when it is not requested? I set off up the little path which leads on to Chapeltown Road only to discover that at the point Chapeltown Road now becomes Prospect Hill – but, Google Maps and Bing Maps are not aware of this – neither was I to be honest and I have already walked the entire length of this road on a few occasions. The searing sun did not make the relatively short stroll up the hill towards Turton Tower’s private drive any easier and I was glad to reach the shade offered by the trees that adorn this isolated venue.
Turton Tower is one of those hidden little gems that are scattered around the countryside, apparently it’s a 15/16th Century Manor House. I have previously toured the inside of the building but this was my first time of going passed the car park which was already starting to fill up. The walk along the driveway was very pleasant but a nagging doubt was beginning to grind away at me – my map reading skills sometimes just desert me…I had done quite a lot of research regarding this particular route and from my time spent on Bing Maps I was sure that my next left hand turn should be the one to take me up to the ascent of Cheetham Close. I took the next left hand turn and was confronted by a pathless pasture through lambing sheep! I gather that to disturb lambing sheep is something of a no – go and the field’s route (if traversed) looked like it would take me in the completely wrong direction. This has happened to me before – maps these days go out of date at an alarming rate and in the LDWA’s attempts to become ubiquitous by erecting all manner of paths and signage …I was no longer on course! Damn, again!
I retraced my steps, no mean task as there had only been about fifty of them and joined the main driveway path for a few yards where it expired and became a slightly more textured compressed gravel kind of affair. As luck would have it I happened to catch sight of a few walkers and some where heading towards me – the sight of other walkers instilled in me the belief that I was actually on the correct path. I asked a lovely group of four (two of each) for directions to Cheetham Close and after some moments the advice came back to take the next distinctive footpath on the right and this would lead me to the start of the ascension.
For reasons that defy logic – I then decided to take the next right hand turn … which led me across Turton Golf Coarse! On reflection now I realise that I should have reversed the directions given to me as the man from whom I had received the directions was looking at the upside down map – from his perspective. A certain sinking feeling engulfed me, more golfers appeared one by one and the path duly disappeared! The annoying thing was the fact that just ahead of me lay the ascent to Cheetham Close …surrounded by four feet high barbed wire fencing!
I kept to the far edges of the little golf coarse in order to avoid being hit in the nogin – heaven forbid I should be struck on the bonce … I might develop a sense of direction! After a confrontation with one old golfer I resolved to try to climb through the fence as he had recalled “Oh I see loads of people going up there after climbing over that fence”. In truth this may very well not have been the case, this location was hazardous, although I did manage to tackle one barbed wire fence the other sections that I needed to cross where just too high for me to get through and I appeared to have found the world’s most unstable dry stone wall so climbing over this became more a case of ‘avoiding this falling on me’. In spite of the contrary advice after consuming most of my Chicken Ceaser Wrap I turned around and made my way back the same way that I had walked to here…beaten!
However, I was determined to not waste the day and to have an enjoyable walk so when I reached the main road at Turton Tower I crossed it and headed down towards Horrobin Lodge (who would have guessed that the spell checker would okay Horrobin?). When I lived in Bolton The Jumbles Country Park had been one of my oft-frequented places and the memories of its’ layout came flooding back. The Jumbles had always been and intended visit for this walk – initially so had Turton & Entwistle and Wayoh reservoir but I was here now and it was lovely to reminisce and relive part of former walks. On a less busy day I would have called in at the tiny refreshments shop but on this day the prospect of the queue was not a favourable one.
I headed through the paid car park and down the sand and stone steps next to the enormous damn at the southern end of the reservoir. Here the Bradshaw Brook is let loose once more as it begins its’ journey towards Leverhulme Park to merge with the River Tonge. I won’t lie, the steps which take one from the damn wall up to Grange Road and ridiculously steep – and high, some of the steps are over a foot higher than the preceding one, a determined slimmer need look no further than to walk up and down this route a few times per day in order to shed pounds and develop tree-like thighs! Once at the next landmark the dreamy Grange Road – a lane so typically epitomised that it is actually the continuation of a street named “Shady Lane”. Eventually I put the short slog back to my parked car behind me – I had not been gone for many hours but the day after my shins and calf muscles certainly felt like I had done some working out!
In summing: I will return to Turton Moor again one day soon, it’s a gorgeous and relatively unfrequented area of the West Pennine Moors that seldom features on our walking forum. I’d prefer to have someone with me that would curtail my inane dead-end wanderings and I might be able to traverse these lovely yet relatively unknown little hills of Lancashire.