The leader of Oldham Mountain Rescue Team has issued urgent advice to walkers about the newly-named 'Trinnacle Trail.'
Rob Tortoishell said: “There has been a lot of publicity in recent months about the newly named ‘Trinnacle Trail’, a walking route in the Dovestones area of Saddleworth that takes in ‘Greenfield Waterfall’ (in Birchen Clough) and the spectacular three pronged gritstone pillar known locally as the Trinnacle.
“Although it has always been a popular destination for those in the know, exposure on social media, along with local and national news outlets, has meant the number of people tackling the trail has surged.”
Rob warned: “While we always encourage people to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, it is important that they understand the potential risks that may be encountered; something that the various media outlets often fail to mention.
“Although the Trinnacle Trail may be advertised as one of the best walks in the UK, it must be understood there are some parts that are more than a walk: the section up Birchen Clough past Greenfield Waterfall is a scramble that often requires the use of hands and feet to make progress up the rocky steps; it is not for the faint hearted.
“As well as the challenging terrain, even on the brightest of days, the weather in the hills can change in an instant. What may be shorts and t-shirt weather down in the valley can soon become a very different prospect at higher levels on the edge of Saddleworth Moor; rain, high winds and poor visibility are frequently encountered.”
He went on: “At Oldham Mountain Rescue Team, we have seen a huge increase in the people we have had to assist in the Birchen Clough/ Raven Stones (Trinnacle) area.
“In 2021, of the 50 incidents we attended, seven were in that area, with three of those involving serious, potentially life changing injuries.
“One of the common spots is in the vicinity of Greenfield Waterfall, which is compounded by the lack of mobile phone signal in the gully. This means that it is not always possible to contact emergency services when they are required.
“It is almost a pre-requisite of visiting the Trinnacle that the hiker gets a photo of themselves on top of the pillar, but please use caution; it can be slippery when wet, and extremely exposed when windy.”
Rob issued the following useful advice if you are planning on venturing out into the hills:
• Check the route and what is involved, and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
• Take the right kit, waterproofs and spare warm clothing and wear appropriate footwear. Take a map and compass (and know how to use them), plus carry a torch.
• Check the weather.
• Fully charge your mobile phone.
• Know your location. Preferably an OS grid reference. ‘OS Locate’ is an excellent free app which will provide this. Download the app before setting off.
He added: “If you ever need to summon help, stay where you are, minimise movement of the casualty, and keep warm until assistance does arrive.
“Taking the appropriate precautions beforehand will help to ensure that you have an enjoyable and memorable outing in our beautiful surroundings.”
• The remarkable rescue of a father of three who survived an horrific fall from The Trinnacle was featured on BBC TV’s ‘Close Calls on Camera’ recently.
Imran Choudhury, 36, was training for a walk up Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of the Royal Oldham Hospital and charity, Global Relief Trust, by scaling the Trinnacle on February 23 last year.
But he blacked out and fell 200m from the three-pronged gritstone stack. An 18-strong squad from Oldham Mountain Rescue Team rushed to the scene where he was winched from the bottom of the crag to a waiting Yorkshire Air Ambulance and flown to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital intensive care unit for urgent medical treatment.
His injuries were so severe there were fears he may lose his right leg but luckily surgeons saved it.