post

The Source of the River Medlock

There is something invigorating about tracing the source of a River. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is the satisfaction of a bit of geographical detective work. Perhaps a more symbolic sense of returning to origins; a psychological ritual. Maybe resonances of spiritual quests. I drove up to Bishop’s Park, Strinesdale, north of Oldham. Parked in the snow on Badger Edge, and checked out the monument and trig point on the hill looking back to Oldham and Manchester. I walked down past the two football pitches marked on my A-Z map. It didn’t take long to find the rusty outlet emerging from under a footpath. The water flows immediately under some rhododendron bushes and on into a trench on its way towards Oldham, Ashton-Under-Lyne and Manchester city centre.

The source is flanked by a seemingly gated, unattractive,  private estate of houses. Yet just behind the wall containing the footpath is a circle of trees – some silver birch, some I couldn’t identify. My sense of ritual journey led me to relate to this tree circle as a sacred site. The area inside the trees is reedy and boggy. As often at such places, my mind flipped between rational skepticism and imaginative release. I decided the site was indeed a valid pilgrimage place and, as such, worthy of honour.

Looking south west from Wotherhead Hill

Looking south west from Wotherhead Hill

Monument on Wotherhead Hill

Monument on Wotherhead Hill

Monument on Wotherhead Hill

Monument on Wotherhead Hill

Monument on Wotherhead Hill

Monument on Wotherhead Hill

Looking south west from Wotherhead Hill

Looking south west from Wotherhead Hill

081212_0008 081212_0010

Medlock way

Medlock way

THE SOURCE OF THE MEDLOCK

THE SOURCE OF THE MEDLOCK

THE SOURCE OF THE MEDLOCK

THE SOURCE OF THE MEDLOCK

THE SOURCE OF THE MEDLOCK

THE SOURCE OF THE MEDLOC

081212_0027SACRED TREE CIRCLE….

081212_0030 081212_0034 081212_0035FOLLOWING THE EARLY STAGES OF THE RIVER….

081212_0039 081212_0041 081212_0043BRIDGE AT ROEBUCK LOW JUST BEFORE ROEBUCK LANE….

081212_0044 081212_0045 081212_0046 081212_0048

081212_0049From here the River and path winds down to Strine Dale and Strinesdale Reservoirs…..

081212_0053Derelict school….

081212_0054 081212_0055Exclusive privacy…..(actually the local feature is called ‘Badger Edge’ singular)…..

081212_0058The derelict school from the fields….

081212_0060 081212_0061 081212_0065 081212_0067Making scrap wire sculptures in the snow……

081212_0071 081212_0073 081212_0074 081212_0075 081212_0079 081212_0082 081212_0086 081212_0089 081212_0093

On the 21st December, the winter Solstice,  I returned and performed a brief pagan ritual: circulating the trees and placing almonds in amongst their branches.

Also on that visit, with my partner, we wandered into the woodland slightly up the hill from the source. In amongst the pine trees we discovered two small pools with water gently bubbling up. I wandered if this was to be considered the true source – the secret source?

Water bubbling up in pine woodland on the way up Harbour Hill

Water bubbling up in pine woodland on the way up Harbour Hill

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: