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Riding in the Medlock Valley

Keb Lane

Betney Brew

From Bank Top Farm the usual route into Medlock Valley is via "Betney Brew" (or the south end of Keb Lane) that was closed to motor traffic back in the 1970's. It is now overgrown and recently damaged by floodwater. Despite this damage it is still a vital bridleway into the valley for lots of riders.

Betney Brew leads down to Fennyfield Bridge - a bridge over the river Medlock. The Medlock is a tributary of the River Mersey. Just upstream from here is the site of a Newcomen atmospheric engine which pumped water from coal mines to feed the nearby canal system. This engine is now in a museum in America - Henry Ford 'rescued' it and built a footbridge over the river at the site as a 'thank you' to the area.

From the bridge "Waggon Road" (official name) leads to Park Bridge - famous for the Lees iron works that produced the rivets for the Eifel Tower and steel rollers for the cotton mills. Horse drawn wagons used this road to transport coal and iron to the Fairbottom branch canal which ended adjacent to Fennyfield Bridge.

The site of the iron works is in the background - across the river from here. It has now been restored as a recreational area - the old stables for the horses used by the works has been converted into a heritage centre.

Park Bridge iron works was built around Rocher Vale and a narrow gauge railway was used to ferry coal and iron up to Park Bridge Station to be transferred onto the rail network. This wooden bridge carried the little steam train (later replaced by a small diesel).

Here, just after the bridge the remains of the wooden sleepers can still be seen. The upper reaches of the medlock in the background once powered several water pumps which pumped out the coal mines below.

After following the tracks of the old railway onto Alt Lane and climbing up to Alt Hill, Hartshead Pike at around 900 feet above sea level may be seen in the distance.

Here where the metalled road gives way to a rocky track we are a few hundred yards from the summit.

The last haul to the top

The view from Hartshead Pike - an ancient lookout tower and beacon site - a well known and very distinctive local landmark.
It certainly keeps many riders, cyclists, walkers and joggers fit!

Here past the pike descending the track on the other side, the beacon stone is on the left of the tower.

Now, much closer to home on the tracks of the old Oldham, Ashton and Guide Bridge railway (stopping at Park Bridge) we can look across the valley to Bank Top Farm and the tower of Bardsley Church may just be seen.

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Medlock Valley
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