The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 8 December 2014

Freeholds Top and Hail Storm Hill

We woke to find that there had been a flurry of snow overnight, followed by a dip in temperature, resulting in roads like ice-rinks. Colin tip-toed along those ice-rinks to take us up onto Todmorden Moor. It’s not the start-point I had intended for Freeholds Top, but I was feeling particularly nesh in the face of today’s biting wind, so plumped for the least-effort option.

Having waited out one snow shower, we soon found that it had another close on its tail and, as we made our way through a construction site, within five minutes of setting out, it was really coming down:


There’s a track that would have taken us almost all the way up this hill, but not wanting to play with heavy plant in the construction site, we left that track to take the Rochdale Way instead. That was a mistake. What awful underfoot conditions we met there, with no evidence that anyone ever walks that route (probably because there’s a perfectly good track running parallel, close by!). We persevered until we were way past the machinery, when it occurred to me that there was no longer any reason we couldn’t drop back down to it.

A relatively easy stroll then took us uneventfully up to the top:


Contrary to the photographic evidence I’ve given above, we did get some clear weather on our way, and we could clearly see Stoodley Pike from the top. An interesting top it is too, with its summit pool (just a few feet to my left in the pic above).

Our return route was remarkably similar to our outward one, except that we went straight through the construction site. Machines were stopped for us, but as there is no formal path closure in place, nobody could object to us being there. We arrived back at Colin, with sleet falling, having covered 3.9 miles with (wait for it … drum roll…) 300’ of ascent.

Having arrived back with our outer layers wet, I was suffering a severe reluctance, after lunch, to re-don that wet garb to tackle our final Marilyn of this trip. A bit of a pep-talk saw me right, and off we strode up towards Hail Storm Hill.


The hill didn’t live up to its name. In fact, it remained dry the whole time we were out on this one, which was a bonus, considering the nature of its top, which is a huge, sodden featureless plateau, where (apparently) there is, somewhere, one tussock which is an inch higher than the rest.

Given a top like that, it was definitely the ascent which was of the most interest, as we walked through old quarry workings…


… and admired the views, before leaving the Pennine Bridle Way to yomp in the general direction of the top.

After a bit of wandering around, I declared that the tussock on which I’m standing in the snap below was ‘the one’, and the GPS track later proved that I was in fact correct (or at least, it confirmed that we had passed over the high point):


Goodness me! That’s a map and compass in my hand.

We could have completed a circuit, which probably would have been pleasant, if it hadn’t been for the biting wind, but what we actually did was go back the way we had come, with just a couple of little variations. We had covered 3.6 miles on this outing, with a more respectable 800’ of up.

And so, that’s it for Marilyns on this trip. There’s now just one top within Region 36 with which I have unfinished business (incredibly, that’s Kinder Scout; I’ve been up there plenty of times, but I’ve never sought out the high point. I’ve declared that to be an outing for either a sub-zero day or a summer-dry-spell day, rather than for this trip). Considering that it’s approaching the middle of December, I think we’ve done rather well. Eleven hills in 6 days and we’ve had a view on all bar two, and only had rain on one (albeit we had snow on 4); only today has the wind been really noticeable.


  1. Ooh, let me know what you're doing tomorrow....unless you're going home of course!

  2. I can feel competition coming on!

    Although I have done 354 Marilyns that is largely because many of the Munros qualify, BUT I have SIX left in Area 36 compared with your one. I have only two left to do in the Lake District and would like to tidy that area up first. I reckon your Colin is the perfect tool for Marilyning.

    When you get out of the recognised hilly regions Marilyns are quite unpredictable and often spring strange surprises - I look forward to your continued campaign.

  3. You should have called round for a brew.

  4. Yes, you should have called for a brew!
    Are you collecting trig point numbers or something?
    There's an impressive cairn that marks the summit of Hail Storm Hill - it's pictured in this posting:
    Have fun!

    1. I would have called in for a brew, but in our correspondence before we went out on this trip, we'd already established that you were away in the Lakes whilst we were frolicking a stone's thrown from Manchester.

      I'm collecting photos of myself standing at trig points, rather than trig point numbers. I should probably start labelling those photos, before they all start blending into one another in my memory!