Using the magic of the Memory Map application on my PC, I plotted out a route from Dovestones car park, via public footpaths to the North-west point of a ridge leading to Alphin pike, and a sky-line walk along the rocky outcrops that half-encircle Dovestones RSPB reserve to the South & East. The software gave me a distance of 16.5Km (10.25 miles) and ascent of 669m, so I rounded it up to advertise a walk of 11 miles and 700m ascent.
With the weather almost unbelievably promising sunshine and no rain, we set off by 9:50, reaching the top of Alphin for 11:00 & the traditional. Overcast, but with sem great clear views to the horizon. After a trot over some bare patches of peat, the impressive outcrop of rock below Wimberry Moss, then traversing narrow rocky paths and some squidgy bits: lunch was declared at 12:30 by Chew Reservoir. As I was no longer looking at my feet for trip hazards, only then I noticed that clear blue skies had crept up on us. Sunbathing was such a novel experience that it took the departure of Mark for a "longer walk" (to Laddow, Black Hill & an Westward arc culminating in Alderman's Hill) to prompt us to move on.
After a stretch across some more squidgy bits, we followed the route along the top of Dovestones itself. More great outcrops of rock, and some rough ground underfoot to Dean Rocks, Ashway Stone and the memorial to a former Oldham MP, James Platt, who had been killed at that spot by the "accidental discharge of a gun" in 1857. The accidental nature of which was questioned by a passer-by who informed us that he was an unpopular landowner in the area. As we turned Eastward towards Raven Stones we felt the real strength of the wind that had been building during the day: a few gusts brought us almost to a standstill. As we descended into the shelter of a small valley, we felt the heat of the afternoon, and talk turned to the mythical existence of pubs and ice-cream vans. If the earlier route had been rough & rocky underfoot, then a rapid descent amongst a jumble of rocks by waterfalls, was enough to separate the sheep from the goats . The excitement over, all that was left was a brisk walk back along the reservoirs' edge, to the car park for a 17:00 finish.
And the actual distance walked? For those who had heard the call of the ice cream van in the heat of the afternoon and swore it must have been more than 11 miles: they were right. The magic of the GPSr that recorded the actual "track" we made, not only showed how far we had strayed from the original route, but also the actual distance: 18.7Km (11.62 miles) and ascent of 741m. Ultimately at the mercy of the fractal nature of geography, I will try to be more precise next time.
More Photos HERE
More Photos HERE