Our Area

Bridge near Haddon Hall.

The river that flows down Longdendale is the Etherow. For half its length it is lost beneath the waters of five reservoirs, but at Tintwistle it re-appears at the foot of Bottoms Dam and slowly flows toward the mills at Woolley Bridge.

Flowing down from Glossop is the Brook bringing with it the waters of Shelf, Yellowslacks and Chunal, they meet with the Etherow down at Melandra.

From Melandra the main stream heads down below the Hague into Broadbottom Gorge, then out onto the farm land at Lower Stirrup and through a smaller gorge at Compstall, finally it merges with the Goyt at Marple and after it has swallowed the Tame, the Mersey is born which heads below Stockport and out to the Irish Sea.

Although the valley is split by the county boundaries of Greater Manchester and Derbyshire, geographically the area is all one, the Etherow gathering grounds.

For the boundary of our area we use the Etherow watershed, which separates the valley from the water gathering grounds of the Tame, Holme, Don, Derwent and Goyt. In fact part of our boundary is the North Sea -Irish Sea watershed that runs the length of the Pennine Hills.

The area we are going to explore begins at the roundabout where Stockport Road Hattersley runs onto the Hyde By-Pass, the M67 motorway.

From here a rough lane heads past Grange Farm onto Harrop Edge, the summit is crossed at an altitude of 997 feet and the deep pass of the Cutting strode over. Following the stream at Gallowsclough leads out onto Hollingworth Hall Moor and over the 1309 feet high summit, the Etherow-Tame watershed runs across the Pack Saddle over Lees Hill and down onto Boar Flat, at the far corner of this peat plateau lies a fence that climbs up through the rocks of Windgate Edge to stand at last upon the edge of Chew Valley. Heading east from Chew the boundary hits deep peat bogs across Wilderness and Blindstones toward the highest point in the county of Greater Manchester, 1 774 feet up on Black Chew Head, then northward runs the watershed across Howells Head, Green Hill, to Dun Hill and the Soldiers Lump at 1908 feet on Black Hill, the highest point in West Yorkshire. From Black Hill the boundary is the line of the Etherow - Holme watershed across to Holme Moss and Withes Edge, then West Yorks is left behind for a new friend South Yorkshire, which stays with the watershedacross sixteen hundred foot high Dead Edge down to Saltersbrook, the last section was draining east to the Don, but after crossing the A628 at Fidlers Green and having reached Swains Head, the Derwent watershed is met and this followed across Bleaklow.

From Bleaklow Stones to Shelf Stones the boundary runs above two thousand feet, its highest point is Wain Stones, Bleaklow Head at 2060 feet. From Shelf, Devils Dike leads to the A57 at Snake Summit and the Pennine Way followed across Mill Hill to Chunal, across the A624 and along the Monks Road to Sitch Farm, then along the plateau of Coombes to Far Slack across Ludworth Moor to Brown Low, then downhill to the Etherow at Lower Stirrup, across the bridge to Bothams Hall and up through the woods to Stockport Road, the A560, and back to the roundabout where we began.

The total distance all around the watershed is forty miles, this could be made into a marathon hill walk similar to the fifty mile Derwent watershed walk, through the area runs the Pennine Way. The Way enters at Mill Hill and leaves at Black Hill) more about its route will be said later.

Down in the valley are all kinds of political and parish boundaries and by using them we are able to look at the many footpaths by first linking them together in more manageable units.

Throughout history all the land in Longdendale to the north of the Etherow was in the county of Cheshire. This was Cheshire's Salt Corridor, along which the laden pack horses had carried salt away from the plain up through the hills and across Salters Brook into Yorkshire. All the land south of the river lay within the count" of Derbyshire.

In April 1974 there was a change of boundaries, Cheshire lost its land in Longdendale to both Greater Manchester and the High Peak of Derbyshire. Black Hill had for many years been the summit of Cheshire now it is another peat hump in Derbyshire.

Today all of what was the Longdendale Urban District Council Area is part of Tameside, a conglomeration of industrial towns in eastern Greater Manchester. Beyond Hollingworth all the valley through Tintwistle to Wood-head became part of Derbyshire, and Glossop which would have benefited through going in with Manchester had to stay in Derbyshire, it lost its Borough status and was lumped with Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and Whalley Bridge in a new area called the High Peak.

Going back again in time to when there was just Cheshire and Derbyshire on either side of the river, there were two churches one on each side of the river. The earliest of these was built upon War Hill Mottram it was dedicated to St. Michael all Angels. All of Longdendale from the broad bottom of the valley to the distant wood head came within the parish of Mottram in Longdendale. The parishioners at far away Woodhead and at Crowden had a chapel of ease built at Crowden and dedicated to St. James.

This chapel of ease built long ago in 1487 was the only church in upper Longdendale until 1837 when Christ Church Tintwistle was completed, this resulted in the formation of Tintwistle Parish that stretched from Millbrook in the west to Rawkins Brook in the east, still leaving Woodhead in Mottram parish.

The year 1894 saw two important changes in Tintwistle these were the founding of a Parish Council to embrace Woodhead and the formation of Tintwistle Rural District Council.

Longdendale Urban District Council was formed by the merger of Mottram with Hollingworth and Broadbottom. Mottram parish shrunk even more with the formation of a parish in Hollingworth in 1922 that took in the land from Claybands Brook to Millbrook.

On the Derbyshire bank of the Etherow the earliest of the churches was built in the twelfth century when the Abbot of Basingwerk, an Abbey in North Wales, was made Lord of the Manor of Glossop. Around this church spread such a wide parish, that over a dozen townships lay within its boundary and two chapels of ease were built in Mellor and Hayfield.

From the Abbot the land became the property of the Talbot family and eventually the Howard family. By the year 1866 Glossop was a thriving cotton mill town, so was its neighbour Hadfield and together they were granted a charter to become a Borough.

In drawing the new town boundary a radius of one mile was set from the Town Hall and the circumference of the circle drawn from Allmans Heath through two hundred degrees to Hobroyd. After Hobroyd the boundary heads to the Dingle at Simmondley across to the railway at Gamesley Bridge then down through Robins Wood to the Etherow. Arriving at the river the boundary runs upstream to Tintwistle, leaving the river at the bottom of New Road and following Padfield Main Road all the way up to Woodhead Road and down the latter to Allmans Heath. Outside of this line the land was given over to the parish of St. Johns Church Charlesworth. Within the boundary were many minor parishes from the churches at Whitfield, Hadfield and Dinting.

Following the Local Government Acts of 1974 all the Derbyshire bank of the Etherow plus Tintwistle Rural Council are made into the High Peak, and as related earlier Glossop ceased to be its own Borough.

From "Pathwise in Glossop and Longdendale"

by kind consent of the late David Frith.