Mega-Grip Walk, Run, Mountain Bike Routes

Castleshaw, Delph Circular Saddleworth

About 6 miles  Start at G.R.986079 Maps SD80/90 or 101

The Castleshaw Valley is on the Pennine fringe between Huddersfield and Oldham.

A scenic mountain bike route, run or walk  along  two moor edges leading out from Delph, linked by a tricky descent down to the Hull Brook valley. Two major ascents/descents and a few minor ones.

Description below  is as for a mountain bike route, but of course you can run or walk it.

Car Parking - good car park at the start opposite the little theatre - also off-street parking in the village itself.
Terrain - technical difficulty = 6 (on a 10-point scale) - 5% on main road /40% on lanes / 50% stony track
and 5 % could be muddy. It is all ride-able and all legal!

Delph Circular Route- about 6 miles  Start at G.R.986079 Maps SD80/90 or 101
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1. From the Car- park - turn right  through Delph village - over the humped-back bridge with the Rose & Crown on your left. in 20 meters the main road (to Denshaw) turns left by the White Lion ( heartily recommended- by plenty of personal experience). Immediately you cross another, flatter, bridge and immediately turn sharp right, off the main road up, Lodge lane (the left fork is for you - a one -way, sunken lane). Low gear now, you are now in for a major slog uphill - it's about a mile of almost unrelenting steep,winding lane, but the views get increasingly better.

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2. In about 3/4 ml the junction comes in from the left, at the Dark Lane sign, but you keep straight on to the disused church at Heights (GR982090), the steepness eases a little now. The pub here is known locally as The Heights but its real name is The Royal Oak - confused ?- you should be, or is it oxygen debt after the climb!

3. The lane goes between pub and church (good view over wall), the lane levels a little, and in quarter of a mile, changes to a rutted track (due in the main to scrambling activity). It is straight on here, but it's not straightforward as the path deteriorates and gets muddy and rutted (this is the worst terrain on the route, but is only for about 1/4 mile) - aim for the walled track. You are not climbing any more now, and the views are fine, if you can afford to take your eyes off your front wheel to look at them! Still looking north towards Millstone Edge and the Pennine Way.

4. Through the gate and down between the walls to the 'cross-roads'  at the saddle (GR989102) stop before the hill that rejoices in the delightful name of Broadhead Noddle. From here the views are NW towards the Denshaw reservoirs, and up to the mast at Windy Hill, N. up to Millstone Edge ( any dots on it may be poor souls walking the Pennine Way). Down below you to your right (or East) is your next objective - the Castleshaw dams. The rough earthworks above and between the reservoirs are the remains of a Roman Fort ( this is well worth a stop when you have descended into the valley. The fort outline can be clearly seen from here, and at the site itself are plans and sketches that help explain its origin).

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5. Now turn right (SE) through another gate down to Castleshaw. Take care this is a very tricky, stony descent - with arm-aching braking and concentration needed for 1/4 mile. Go through (rather than over!) the bottom gate, at the end of the descent, turn left and head towards the dam that is between the upper and lower waters. At the inflow of the top reservoir,  Recent excavations have uncovered sites of  iron smelting  dating from the  Middle Ages.  But you turn right across the dam, back on tarmac again now.

There are a good variety of birds here, including Canada geese, herons, tufted ducks, wagtails, grebes and even rare dippers have been spotted.

 * There is a choice to make here. This is nearly the half-way point, and you could head back from here, there is a quick  escape back (by turning right down the walled lane and following your nose back to Delph).

6. To continue the route-Turn left up Dirty Lane with the Fort (on your right). This lane now winds up the valley for 1/2 mile, then swings into a steep, sunken-lane,  the hill relents as it swings right. Now you approach the hamlet of Bleak Hey Nook (aptly named, especially in winter). Turn right at the 'T', just behind the Horse & Jockey (now shut I'm afraid!) and in 50 meters you stop for the A62. Right along the main road for 100 metros, looking for a rough, wide, walled lane forking to your left, onto Harrop Edge. Keep to the obvious, switch back lane (do not turn left or right, but you can now look across the valley to the right and trace the early part of your route), then about a mile,  you come to a house on your left . The route then descends right a very rough track (Lark Hill Lane) , ( look at it and if you do not fancy it, carry straight on to the end of Harrop Edge and turn right at the 'T' junction back to Delph, this is further, but a more gentle). 

  Click here for a good sunset shot from Harrop Edge

Tek-Stretch Pants, for Walking, Running, Mountain Biking and Climbing

There is nothing better

7. Descend with great care, for not only is it steep and stony, but it meets a main road at the bottom. Nearly back now, turn left down the A62, pass the Bell Inn, (200 metros), turn right into the village at the phone-box, back to the start and perhaps a pint at the Lion or a stop at the tea shop.
Refreshments - five pubs in Delph, plus two on-route. Nice tea-rooms in the village (open all week including Sunday)
There are numerous additions and variations to this route some marked with bridle way signs, some not.

Gerry Royle

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