Peak District Summits
Black Chew Head
Black Chew Head is the highest point of the great sweep of moorland which lies to the west of Black Hill.
|No. of Visits||1, 2|
Black Chew Head Gallery: Click on the photos below to enlarge.
More about Black Chew Head: To the west of Black Hill there is an extensive area of wet peaty moorland. The collection of moors making up this area invariably have 'moss' in the title including; Ashway Moss, Dovestone Moss, Blindstones Moss, Laddow Moss and, not one, but two areas going under the ubiquitous moniker of Featherbed Moss. It is perhaps strange then that the highest point of this area forsakes the title of moss and is instead known as Black Chew Head.
Black Chew Head currently has the 'distinction' of being the county top of the Oldham Unitary Authority. Slightly more impressive is the fact that Black Chew Head is also the highest point in the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester. Prior to 1974 Black Chew Head was in Cheshire and played second fiddle to Black Hill.
In truth the actual summit of Black Chew Head is a rather dull place indeed. There is a fence (marking the boundary of Greater Manchester) and a fairly poor excuse for a cairn which probably isn't even at the highest point. Other than that there is nothing to see other than a sea of heather. The views are of the long distance variety with only Black Hill and Bleaklow really showing up at all well.
Three quarters of a mile to the south west a lonely trig point sits on the moor. Were it not for the fact that it sits a metre lower than the recognised highest point it would make a much more satisfying summit. On the other hand that might just be a reflection of my love of trig points.
As its name suggests Black Chew Head is the source of Black Chew Grain. Black Chew Grain is one of a number of moorland streams that flows into Chew Reservoir. Completed in 1812 and standing at an altitude of 488m the reservoir was once the highest in England. Some references now give this accolade to Cow Green Reservoir in Teesdale which was completed in 1971. If the latter is higher it cannot be by much more than a few feet.
A mile and a half north of the reservoir and only slightly lower in altitude sits the Ashway Memorial Cross. The Ashway Cross is a memorial to James Platt, MP for Oldham, who was killed in a shooting accident during a grouse shoot in 1857. For the view alone this is one of my favourite monuments in the Pennines. Half a mile or so to the south west a much more modest memorial, in the shape of a plaque attached to the so-called Cairn on Fox Stones, marks the tragic deaths of two young climbers in the Italian Dolomites in 1972. The view from the cairn is also quite magnificent.
To my mind the most notable feature of the Black Chew Head moors are the numerous gritstone outcrops that can be found around the moorland edges, these include Ashway Rocks, Dean Rocks, Great Dove Stone Rocks, Millstone Rocks and Rakes Rocks. Just a few minutes from the summit can be found Laddow Rocks which feature some dramatic views down into the valley of Crowden Great Brook. Crossing Laddow Rocks is the Pennine Way on its way from Crowden to Black Hill. I imagine very few people going this way bother to make the short detour to Black Chew Head itself.
While I've not yet visited all the gritstone edges in this corner of the Peak District I doubt there are many finer than Great Dove Stone Rocks. Once again the views are tremendous while, as can be seen from the picture below there is a dramatic drop down to Dove Stone Reservoir.
So while Black Chew Head is an uninspiring summit in itself it is still the highest point of an area that is full of interest and one that I would still like to explore in more detail.