Posts Tagged ‘whewells’

Cooper’s farm, Longworth Moor

Most walks are a pleasure. Others are instructive. Here we are, then, lost in the Rabbit Warren. We’ve been on the move for two hours, and the way has come to grief in a Hellish morass. I’m not familiar with this area, to the south of Turton Moor, and it turns out winter is not the best time to be bungling around, exploring it.

The ways are not well walked, so the presence of a path on the map is no guarantee of a navigable way. If there were paths, once, the moor has gobbled them up. Hence, we’re tiring, our boots have been overtopped, and now we’re trying to cross yet one more moorland brook, with nothing to go on by way of direction but a flattening of the rushes to suggest a former passage, by persons unknown.

It’s a filthy day, and we have the impression the light is going, though we’re two and half hours from sunset. But we’re also in the dark of the moon, and I always feel that’s a funny time to be about, always a depletion, or a change of energy. That latter comment is irrational, of course, and I don’t wish to corrupt you with it. But, right now, we’re in a bind, and the dark of the moon is not a good time to be abroad, emotionally, if you’re superstitious about such things.

So, anyway, we’re on, or rather we’re deep ‘in’ this bit of Longworth moor that’s marked on modern OS maps as the ‘Rabbit Warren’. I don’t know how it got its name, but, in a metaphorical sense, it’s descriptive. The paths are circumlocutory, leading only to various depths of morass, exhaustion, and frustration. Frustration, of course, leads to errors in navigation, and more morass. Even with the aid of GPS, I seem to keep diverging from, rather than converging with, the objective, which is Moorside, presumably a ruined farm.

We’ve come across from another ruin, Whewells farm. I thought I knew the way, but it’s twenty years since last I sat at Whewells, and I can’t remember how I got there, or how I came away, except it all seemed much easier than this.

We’re four miles out, another three to go. This circuit of Turton moor looked like a good option for a poor day, with mist on the tops. The track over from the Crookfield Road carpark, at Roddlesworth, was familiar and firm, it being part of the Witton Weaver’s Way. The idea was to follow it down Green Lowe Clough, then cut across to Whewell’s, Coopers, then Moorside, before linking up with another arm of the Weaver’s Way, above the Belmont reservoir, which I know to be good. But this wasteland between them might be the undoing of us.

I thought it had been a dry month, that the going underfoot would be okay, but there are torrents running from the moor, filling the ditches, raising the brooks and swelling the bogs. We’re within sight of the A666, car headlights zooming along, but the feeling of remoteness and isolation is discouraging. It’s such a quagmire, you’d never get off here in the dark.

We talked about Whewells in a previous post.

My photography let me down there, and I didn’t get a decent shot of it, which was actually the main objective of the day. The other major ruin in these parts is Coopers, plenty of that still above ground, and quite eerie in the murk. From Coopers, the path supposedly led us on to Moorside, but it was a beggar to follow, either that or I just missed the faint thread of it in a mess of rushes.

So here we are, now, in this deep cut above Owshaw Clough, and we’re past caring if our feet are wet or not. Then I spot the broken remains of a stile, up on the skyline, suggesting there at least used to be a way up there. It’s not wholly encouraging, but better than nothing, and it gets us out of this damned clough. Another hundred yards of sodden moor at last brings the ruins of Moorside into view. It looks like we’ve squeaked though to fight another day, then. The sky is scraping our heads, here, and there are flecks of snow in it. We find a spot, out of the wind, by the ruins, and sit down with the soup pot, catch our breath, and berate ourselves for a numbskull.

I remember last time on the blog, I was waxing all lyrical about the path to emptiness, and another mode of being. I closed by saying, let’s go for a walk and find it, shall we? Serves me right for being such a pompous ass. It doesn’t seem much help, all that air fairy stuff, on a bad day, with the light going, and you’re lost in an unfamiliar stretch of moor. We can speculate on metaphysical matters until the cows come home, but we’re still very much up to our necks, dealing with what arises, both the good and the bad of it. Then again, a bit of spaciousness might have helped with the navigation – less haste, clearer head, drier feet, and all that.

Anyway, fed and watered we make our move, pick up the broad, wet ribbon of the return arm of the Witton Weaver’s Way, follow it round by Catherine’s Edge, and Lower Pasture Barn farm. Then it comes to me, I’ve left the sit mat up at Moorside. Don’t worry, we’re not going back for it, but that’s the second one I’ve donated to the moors this year. It’s a good one, too. SD685173, if you fancy your chances. It’s not a spot that looks to attract many visitors, and I’m sure it’s still there.

I’ve never been happier to see the little blue car. And yes, the boots have leaked, but I’ll forgive them. That was a tough one, and, as I said at the beginning, instructive. The Rabbit Warren and Owshaw Clough certainly made a monkey out of me, but I’ll be back, in slower time, on a drier day, with lots of light. If there’s a decent route across that gap, I’ll find it. About seven miles round, some of it easy going, some of it not.

On the Witton Weaver’s Way around Turton Moor

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