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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Woodhead Air Shafts

Welcome back everyone and for this particular post we would like a little help and assistance.

On 23rd January, four members of the Reopen The Woodhead Line group visited Longside Edge (CLICK ON MAP BELOW TO ENLARGE) for a leisurely stroll on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and to take some photos of the tunnel Air Shafts. The area is roughly north east of the Woodhead tunnel or if you were stood before the tunnel head itself and imagine a clockface, then you would head off over the moors above at around 2.00 o'clock, if that makes sense.

The Air Shaft adjacent to the circle on the map can be accessed from below Saltersbrook Bridge, where we pulled up in the layby and walked up an official trail. It is also accessible by getting on the same trail at Windle Edge. Exactly where you turn left for Dunford, the trail cuts across the road.

In other words, if you were coming from the Dunford road, you would go right over the A628 and continue. A couple of miles of trail later you cross the road again about a mile beneath Saltersbrook Bridge and that is roughly where the layby that we parked up in, lies. The photo below gives some perspective of the position. The stretch of road that is clearly visible is the A628 heading off to the Flouch just after the Dunford turn off.

On our way up to this air shaft we came across two concrete markers about three feet tall (see picture) and wondered what they might be. The map clearly does indicate a Pillar, indeed there are many pillars along the line of the tunnel.

However, the fact that the pillar in the photo appears to be made of concrete led us to believe it is quite a recent (ie: likely to be later than 1954) structure, which in turn made us think they were not anything to do with the tunnels, even though they were directly above them. Again for perspective, note that the reservoir in the background is Woodhead, so you are looking down through the Longdendale valley from this vantage point.

It has been suggested to me that these were the work of the Highways Agency (or their forerunners in the 1980's). Apparently it is said that they marked out the whole route with the intention of putting a motorway through the National Park and that there is another one behind the Railway Cottages in Crowden.

We cannot verify what the origin of this particular concrete post is (we also found another one a short walk later, near some spoil from tunnel workings, pictured below)

So we ask you our readers if you can shed any light on the matter for us?. It's also been suggested that the circular piece of metal on the top of the structure,shown in the photo below, is for holding a theodolite in place, which seems quite plausible as we couldn't think of any other reason for its usage.

If you have any knowledge of what to us are mysterious concrete blocks, then please enter a comment beneath this post (if it works!) or alternatively you can always:-

e-mail us

Bye for now.