Mountain Rescue Funding

Woodhead Mountain Rescue on Black Hill January 2016
Team members of Woodhead Mountain Rescue manning the Trigger Race checkpoint at Black Hill January 2016

Looking back at the photos from 2016 I came across this one taken of fellow team mates on a very cold January Sunday at 08:00 hours at Soldiers Lump triangulation pillar on Black Hill.

The reason why we had got up at an ungodly hour on a cold, frozen, snowy day was to walk in the dark, across the moor from Holme Moss Transmitter Station and set up a transmitter station and checkpoint at Black Hill for the fell runners taking part in that years Trigger Race from Marsden to Edale.

Woodhead Mountain Rescue team members man all the checkpoints and provide safety cover, especially needed on days like this picture shows. The fell running community are great supporters of Mountain Rescue and this is one way that they raise funds for the team; donations that are badly needed.

Winter is still holding back in England, but it will arrive and with winter comes accidents and people in distress. Already this year Woodhead Mountain Rescue have rescued a lost walker in harsh winter conditions and rescued a badly injured climber in the middle of the worst storm this year.

All this takes money, not to mention the time members of any Mountain Rescue team give voluntarily, leaving jobs and family to go and help total strangers. Money is critical in a voluntary service. It buys fuel for vehicles, provides funds for premises and training, and buys specialist kit for team members. Team members also buy their own kit too and the fuel to get to a callout. Each year a team knows it has to raise enough money to remain operational, if they aren’t there, who else is going to go out and find a lost walker, rescue the injured climber. That amount can be anything from £25000 upwards. It’s a lot.

Raising the money takes various forms. Team supporters, without whose help teams would not be able to function, hold collection days at local venues, sell merchandise, provide hot food and drinks at fell race events. Pubs and shops put a collection tin on the counters for locals to drop the pennies into. Local children raise funds through village fairs, school events. Local and national businesses provide donations to buy equipment.

All donations are welcome. One of the most treasured is from the people teams are asked to go and help. Mostly individuals who send a cheque and a thank you note; those are really nice to read. Sometimes, as in a recent Mountain Bike accident, friends of the injured party do something special, like cycling the Pennine Bridleway to raise funds for the team, a really wonderful way to give something back and fantastic to receive. One person sells a special beer and has raised thousands another sells neck buffs with team logos on. Team members play Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny, Guy Fawkes in their communities at traditional events and helps raise funds. People give through websites such as Just Giving  which increases the amount donated with Gift Aid. Donations range from the thousands to a 50p coin pocket money from a child. It all helps.

To those who give, it makes a huge difference to someones life, literally. Without your donations Mountain Rescue could not do what it does. What you do is vitally important.

So thank you.

Trigpoint Walks 6

SE 0207 0696 Saddleworth 455m
SE 0207 0696 Saddleworth 455m

Wasn’t looking forward to this walk at all. Studying the map I just kept focussing on all that moorland with all those blue lines stretching across and just knew this would be a slog across a quagmire.  It wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience, but, not going felt like chickening out and I was on a roll now, a trig walk every week, so I had to keep going.

I took Monty and Ollie along, they’ve started accompanying me on the walks.  I’m getting a little more relaxed about the boys being off the lead, they do love to run about the place.  I calculated that my walk of 23 km was more like 50 for them.  Setting off walking brought up the first problem in four bods from The National Trust mooching around on White Moss looking for goodness knows what, it may have been a contact lens for all I know.  Do I let the boys off now, no sheep around and nesting time is a long way off, if I do, will I then be having a conversation with these people and how will it end. I decided to keep them on the lead until I was sure we and the fauna were safe.

The route to the first trig at Saddleworth follows two well-defined drainage ditches which made for comfortable walking.  Maybe today wasn’t going to be so bad after all. From the trig you get a fine view of Manchester, a small town that is often trying to emulate the more prosperous and cosmopolitan Yorkshire cities, but with little success. The pillar has a plaque attached to it stating that it had been rebuilt and positioned after vandals had toppled it.  This was done in the memory of a member of the Saddleworth Runners Club. I wondered if the height was still correct or indeed the position. A lone sheep watched unconcerned at Monty and Ollie as they sniffed around the base and tried to break free of their leads.  If they had this would have been a short blog, as the leads were attached to my rucksack.

I sat an pondered the view whilst eating a few Jelly Babies and drinking a cup of tea. What to eat on walks has become a project in itself of late.  I am trying to put together a snap tin that provides energy, taste, interest and self-indulgence, the last I believe sorely needed on moorland walks in winter.

Wandering off for Dovestones reservoir we passed a formidable war memorial, marked on the map as obelisk.  It really is impressive, and sad, the names of so many from the villages surrounding the area lost to mans stupidity.

Passing through Dovestones car park, full with people walking and doing goodness knows what I headed up the Chew Valley.  From the teeming throngs in the car park, with 200m I was alone, walking the long winding service road that leads to the Chew Reservoir. Superb scenery with huge cliffs, reminiscent of a miniature Troll Wall, the dark rock covered in green moss, and a couple of centuries of soot from the dark satanic mills of Lancashire. The summit is the Chew Reservoir and it is a curious place, probably because I never expected to see a large expanse of water at the top of a climb. It looks odd and out of place.

SE 0464 0116 Featherbed Moss 541m
SE 0464 0116 Featherbed Moss 541m

I did some pacing practice to identify the point on the reservoir track I needed to strike off for the trig on Featherbed Moss.  I had it just right and found the trig with no problem. The moor appears to have sunk quite a bit of the base of the trig is anything to go by, can it really have dropped that much?

Surface Bolt Laddow Rocks
Surface Bolt Laddow Rocks

On my way to Laddow Rocks and the Pennine Way I scouted for a surface bolt, identified by Dave Hewitt and blow me down there it was right where he said and that was without the use of GPS, thanks Dave.

SE 0781 0468 Holme Moss 582m
SE 0781 0468 Holme Moss 582m

The Pennine Way is quite beautiful and winds its way through rock and moorland, switching at times from a slabbed surface to moorland peat a necessary control for erosion.  I enjoyed the ascent to the final trig on Black Hill or Soldiers Lump. It is actually down as Holme Moss in the tables which is even more confusing. This trig has been rebuilt and repositioned and now has a significant list. Captain Hotine would not have approved, and neither do I.  Is this really how we treat our history, to just forget all that went before when it is expedient.

I then had a 2Km slog across moorland and peat bog, and was within sight of the car, congratulating myself on not falling into any bogs.  No sooner were the thoughts out then I landed face down in the last peat bog of the whole walk.  Lovely!