Climb Saddleworth’s 3 Peaks | Jack Marshall’s Column

Views: Oldham like you’ve never seen it before at Saddleworth 3 Peaks

And not just any day in Oldham, where you can count on drizzle at the best of times, but a day in Oldham that will see around 100 people walk 15 miles through the countryside for charity. It was the Saddleworth Three Peaks, and so it was raining. Because of course it was.

Gathering at the Royal George, a sprawling ancient gem of a pub in the shallow valley between Mossley and Greenfield, walkers lined up for lukewarm sausages and bacon baps, smuggling bottles of isotonic drink from Aldi’s own brand in already full backpacks. We leave, doing our best to ignore the fog and the forecast, looting candy stocks instead.

Immediately, the charity walk let you know it was there: a three-mile climb up Alphin Pike in a mist so thick you could drink it. It was dry and mild thankfully, but I was still drenched in sweat by the time we hit the trigger point and things flattened out. The walk to the local landmark Indian’s Head – an iconic, steep cliff – was a blessed relief.

Then something happened that doesn’t happen in Oldham: the cloud lifted. Suddenly, the Dovestones Reservoir appeared below, a watery sun shimmering on its surface flanked by thick expanses of trees. As if being asked to show off, the moody grays of the rock face now framed the epic greens and blues of the landscape that engulfed us. It was breathtaking.

Spurred on, we descended to the reservoir where fresh supplies of blue energy drinks and 99 flakes awaited us. That’s when we realized we were only nine kilometers into a 24 km hike. Heads down, knees moving became the mantra as we scaled the second peak, Pots and Pans. At the top, we could see Wales, the skyscrapers of Manchester in the foreground.

Descending the steep hill towards Uppermill, we stopped at a local pub for endless cheese sandwiches before trudging through the village and up the final hill: Wharmton. With aching legs starting to growl, we watched the swifts dive and continue marching, falling back into Friezland and the pub once more.

We did and it felt good.

About Jerry Richter

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