Wednesday 22nd March 2023
The River Irwell and its Tributaries
This is one of two walks which track the tributaries of the River Irwell to their source, the first of which is Holcombe Brook and the second Buckden Wood Brook. We had intended to visit John Turner’s cave, on route, but as it was a MOD training day and the red flags were flying, we had to change our plans. Twenty-one walkers left the banks of the Irwell, in Summerseat, and headed up Robin Road to the bridge over Holcombe Brook. We then followed the brook through the steep valley into the village, where we crossed the road and continued to follow the brook through Redisher Wood.
Once we were all safely over the steppingstones, we climbed up to Moorbottom Road, where we turned left and after a short distance joined a steep path on our right that took us onto the moors. As we were climbing up the hill side, we could see the brook on our left and the point at which it changes its name from Holcombe Brook to Red Brook, the name relating to the iron ore deposits found in the water. At this point we should have turned left and headed to John Turner’s cave for our coffee stop but instead we continued over the moor to Pilgrim’s Cross for a windy coffee stop.
To find the source, of the brook, we now had now to go around Bull Hill in order to avoid crossing MOD land, but by now the sun was shining making it an enjoyable detour. Once at the source it was interesting to see the piles of stone paving stones ready to be laid, by the National Trust, to create a footpath.
After spending time on the very wet moorland, we headed back around Bull Hill in the direction of Beetle Hill and the source of Buckden Wood Brook. At Moor Road the brook goes through a large pipe before taking it into Buckden Wood, where we followed it through the wood down to Helmeshore Road.
Once across the road we continued through the wood down to Strongstry and lunch, in the sunshine in the small park alongside the railway viaduct. After lunch we finally returned to the River Irwell, which we followed through Ramsbottom and back to Summerseat having covered 11 exploratory miles.