South Pennine Walks
Crompton Moor & Bishop Park
Date: 27th January 2013
Distance: 8.8 miles
Ascent: 1459 feet
Time: 3 hours 55 mins
With: On my own
Start Grid Ref: SD962084
A walk around the Saddleworth hills above Denshaw including Crompton Moor and a visit to the monument on Bishop Park.
Route Summary: Grains Bar - Crompton Circuit - Crompton Moor - Crow Knowl - Rochdale Road - Denshaw - Ox Hey Lane - Low Gate Lane - Broad Lane - Heights - Tame Valley Way - Tamecroft Farm - Bishop Park - Ship Lane - Grains Bar
1. Crompton Moor and Crow Knowl
2. Some of the surviving snow drifts were almost thigh deep
3. Looking south along the Tame valley towards Bishop Park
4. The village of Denshaw huddled beneath the hills
5. The tinsel-topped trig point on Crow Knowl
6. Rochdale backed by the Scout Moor Windfarm
7. Crompton Moor from Denshaw
8. New Years Bridge Reservoir from Ox Hey Lane
9. Millstone Edge and Castleshaw Upper Reservoir
10. The fierce hail shower on Broad Lane
11. The hail shower finally passes over
12. The rather foreboding looking church in Heights
13. The River Tame
14. The monument on Bishop Park
15. The trig point on Bishop Park with the monument behind
Walk Detail: It is over two years since my last walk in the Saddleworth area of the Pennines so I thought it was high time I went back again. Whilst my previous two visits to the area were in the south-western area of Saddleworth which is part of the Peak District National Park this walk explored part of north Saddleworth, between Grains Bar and Denshaw.
Starting from the windswept hilltop settlement of Grains Bar I initially followed part of the route of the so-called 'Crompton Circuit' up on to Crompton Moor. Although much of the snow that had fallen suddenly on Friday night had thawed just as quickly there were still a few deep snow drifts, especially in some of the old sunken ways I followed. In one such drift I went into the soft wet snow up to my thighs.
Despite the snow I fairly quickly reached the unmarked top of Crompton Moor, at 398m the highest point of the walk. There were excellent views down to Denshaw and east to the main Pennine watershed. After descending a short while I made a 'there and back' detour to the neighbouring top of Crow Knowl. Crowned by numerous masts and a trig point there were sweeping views over Oldham towards Manchester and north west across Rochdale to the West Pennine Moors.
Upon reaching the A640 I followed the road east for just under a mile to enter Denshaw, the northernmost village in Saddleworth. My original plan had been to cross the dam of New Years Bridge Reservoir and follow the Oldham Way up to the junction of Ox Hey Lane, Moor Lane and Broad Lane. Unfortunately, upon reaching the dam, I discovered the path across was closed so I was diverted back in to Denshaw from where I crossed the infant River Tame before climbing Ox Hey Lane to get back on route.
Up until this point there had been some nice sunny spells but as I began to contour around the eastern side of Ox Hey Top the blustery wind blew over a really fierce hail shower. It lasted about 10 minutes and was blowing directly into my face. It was worth it though for as it passed over there was one of those magical moments when visibility went from minimal to the sun coming out quite gloriously again in a matter of seconds.
After descending from the hill top hamlet of Heights, with its rather foreboding looking church, I followed the River Tame a short way before a steep pull up past Tamecroft Farm to Bishop Park with its monument and trig point. The monument marks the gift of the surrounding land to the people of Oldham by the Bishop family in 1927. As with the earlier tops the suburban views to the west contrasted nicely with the main Pennine watershed to the east. From the monument it was then a short walk back into Grains Bar .