If you ‘Google’ the word ‘scramble’ the first site that appears is a website about aircraft. Considering Dovestone Reservoir seems to site directly under the flight path of Manchester Airport, a scramble at Dovestone seems appropriate. After my reccy a couple of weeks ago I headed there in the early hours of the morning, straight from work. I chose Charnel Clough as my first scramble challenge there.
Charnel Clough is almost quarter of a mile long with an ascent of around 150m. By clough standards its not very large when compared to the likes of Grindsbrook or Crowden Clough. But it is quite challenging in places, with a few rock climbing techniques needed.
The Clough is approximately halfway up Chew Road, between Dovestone Reservoir and Chew Reservoir. The path breaks out up the Clough at a stone bridge that allows the road to cross the small stream flowing down Charnel Clough.
I’m not so sure about the grade 1 this scramble has been given in some guides as there is a fair bit of it where hands are needed. I’d be tempted to put it somewhere between a grade 1 and 2. But this is very dependent on how you approach the route as there are plenty of places to break out of the more challenging sections if needs be. I’ve had a few years of climbing experience in the past, so I wasn’t too concerned about the more technical sections. On the day I was there it was also quite wet with a lot of moss around. A couple of weeks before in the hot dry weather and I think it would have been a totally different experience. I would definitely put it as a step up from the likes of Grindsbrook if you tackle the whole thing.
Just to put things into perspective, I have around 50-75% of the use of my right arm due to limited range of movement from scar tissue and the removal of the joint at the head of the radius bone. So I only have a single elbow joint at the Ulna rather than two joints. And I managed it, and did the majority of the difficult moves on the scramble. The only time I stepped to one side was an area that looked excessively mossy and potentially slippery.
This is just a guide to give people an idea of the difficulty level of Charnel Clough and I cannot take responsibility for any injuries incurred if you give it a try. The choice is yours and yours alone. Only you can know your limits and when it’s time to say no and walk away. It’s better to do that than push too far and end up injured, or worse.
Below are some photographs of my scramble up Charnel Clough. But I would say that photographs can make these routes look more benign than they truly are.