Peak District Walks
Harridge Pike & Wild Bank
Date: 11th February 2012
Distance: 8.6 miles
Ascent: 1360 feet
Time: 4 hours 10 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SK202859
A circuit above the Brushes Valley in icy conditions with visits to the top of both Harridge Pike and Wild Bank.
Route Summary: Stalybridge Train Station - Huddersfield Canal - Huddersfield Road - Stalybridge Country Park - Walkerwood Reservoir - Harridge Pike - Upper Swineshaw Reservoir - Hollingworthall Moor - Wild Bank - Shutts Lane - Stocks Lane - Stalybridge Train Station
1. Wild Bank from Stalybridge train station
2. A pair of Canadian Geese on the frozen canal
3. The icy path through Stalybridge Country Park
4. Harridge Pike and Walkerwood Reservoir
5. Wild Bank and Walkerwood Reservoir
6. The Brushes Valley
7. On the top of Harridge Pike
8. The iced up path leading to Upper Swineshaw Reservoir
9. Looking down to Upper Swineshaw Reservoir
10. Upper Swineshaw Reservoir
11. Heading across Hollingworthall Moor to Wild Bank
12. The trig point on Wild Bank
Walk Detail: Standing just outside the boundaries of the Peak District National Park the twin pairing of Harridge Pike and Wild Bank flank the Brushes Valley, with its chain of four reservoirs, and are well seen from the Leeds / Manchester train line where they rise quite prominently above Stalybridge.
From the train station I'd planned to follow the tow path of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal for a good mile or so before walking through Stalybridge Country Park to Walkerwood Reservoir and then on to Harridge Pike. As it happened a combination of the slippery tow path (still covered in ice), as well as my disgust at the amount of rubbish that had been thrown on the frozen canal, meant that after a short while I left the tow path and took a more direct route to the Country Park via Huddersfield Road.
Judging by the amount of footprints in the snow Stalybridge Country Park is normally a popular place. Not on this day it wasn't though. All the footpaths had turned to ice and were quite tricky to negotiate, especially the set of steps leading up to the road along Walkerwood Reservoir dam.
The walk up from Walkerwood Reservoir to where I left the path for the final climb on to Harridge Pike was probably the best stretch of the walk, not only were the paths generally ice free but there were some good views up the Brushes valley as well as back across the reservoir to Wild Bank.
There is no path to the top of Harridge Pike and the ground was very rough underfoot, soon enough though I made it to the large cairn that is visible from the train. It was a very grey and murky day and I could barely even make out Stalybridge below. To the east and south though where the skies were brighter I was able to appreciate a wide view stretching from Black Chew Head south to include Bleaklaw, Kinder Scout, Cown Edge and South Head.
From Harridge Pike I crossed some more rough ground but the respite I'd hoped for on gaining the path was not to be as it was frozen solid and so I had to walk alongside in the heather to Upper Swineshaw Reservoir. From there it was a straightforward, but still slippery walk to the top of Wild Bank and another viewpoint that would have excelled in clear conditions. From Wild Bank I took the swiftest route to the nearest road for a quick march back to Stalybridge.
Whilst the sections of urban walking were quite forgettable the rest of the walk was mostly enjoyable despite the ice. It would certainly be worth going back on a clearer day to see what the views are like.