About Us

The Longdendale and Glossopdale Footpath Preservation Society is forty years old. Formed in 1975 the Society first set out to improve footpaths in the former Longdendale Urban District Council area. Longdendale had been disbanded and merged into Tameside Metropolitan Borough. The network of public rights of way was in disrepair, signposts were non existent and a suite of paths between Hollingworth and Broadbottom had been bulldozed away.

A group of people from Hollingworth, Mottram and Broadbottom formed a committee and lobbied Tameside to take action. Supported by the Longdendale Amenity Society this committee arranged a series of walks and enlisted members. These walks were called Prowls, their supporters walking public rights of way Longdendale. The local authority erected some footpath signs. Other signs constructed by students at the Comprehensive School; were erected by Amenity Society members at road side locations.

The appearance at Magistrates Court of one belligerent farmer showed that the local Authority was prepared to protect the rights of the public to the use and enjoyment of Definitive Footpaths. With the erection of signs and the publication of a guide book, “Pathwise” paths in former Longdendale became better known; and were in the main passable. Some members thought the Society had done its work.

However across the river in High Peak, the condition of rights of way in Glossop, Charlesworth, Chisworth, Hadfield and Tintwistle left much to be desired. At a general meeting held at Glossop Adult Education Centre; the resolve was to extend the work of preserving footpaths into the Borough of High Peak. From that date the Society took on its present title, covering both Longdendale and Glossopdale.

The Society now with an enlarged membership expanded on two fronts. Paramount was the work of preserving rights of way. Elected officers liaised with Highway Officers in Derbyshire and Tameside, bringing obstructions to their notice and asking for surveyors to inspect problematic paths and provide a solution.

To expand, as a sociable and educational group, a program of fortnightly walks evolved. These walks continue, alternating between half day footpath discovery walks and day walks into the Peakland hills. In the early days new country parks and new trails were being created. The group covered the Sett Valley Trail, Valley Way, Cheshire Gritstone Trail, Cown Edge Way and Longdendale Trail. A more recent National Trail, the West Pennine Bridleway, has been explored on its route to and through Longdendale. Twice a year coach hire takes the group further a field. The first trip went to Malham, the most recent to Llandudno. More adventurous members have hostelled along the Pennine Way, West Highland Way and the Coast to Coast Walk. Residential long weekends continue, with trips varying from the Malverns to the North York Moors.

Then as now members, walking as individuals or as part of a group, are urged to record the numbers of footpaths they walk. This information is forwarded to a committee member who coordinates the figures and maintains a record of path usage and condition. This data helps in identifying paths in need of repair and refutes any allegations that certain paths may never be used.

Funded by the Society; special memorial signposts have been erected; at Dinting to celebrate the millennium, at Back Sitch to celebrate the life of the late Walter Agutter and in Tom Wood to celebrate the Groups thirtieth anniversary. The Society is heartened to see the recent initiatives by Derbyshire County Council in fulfilling its duty to signposts the road side termini of paths around Glossop, Hadfield, Chisworth and Charlesworth.

There have been many achievements in the past thirty years; among them was the opening, after eight years of obstruction, of path Glossop 121 at High Street West, and the reopening of Tom Wood. Here, in Tom Wood, thirty years of undergrowth choked the footpaths; stiles and bridges were non existent. A program of restoration, funded by Derbyshire County Council, culminated in the airlift of the bridges into the wood. Other overgrown paths, around Glossop, are being cleared through an initiative to use those with Community Service Orders, as a workforce to open up rights of way.

At a more sociable level the Society members have had Kenneth Oldham and Benny Rothman to lecture to them. Kenneth Oldham was the Longdendale Secondary School teacher who led parties along the infant Pennine Way in the late fifties. The late Benny Rothman is forever associated with the access movement and the Mass Trespass of 1932. At the fiftieth, sixtieth and seventieth anniversaries of the Kinder Trespass the Footpath Society members have been present at Bowden Bridge Quarry; celebrating the achievements of the access pioneers. On their longer walks the members are now enjoying new access to acres of moor land, access only ratified in September 2004.

For those with time midweek, requiring a walk at a slower pace, there are the Thursday ambles. To celebrate their Thirtieth Anniversary the Society held a weekend of events in mid July 2005.

David Frith
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