The easy way up Black Hill is to follow the Pennine Way from the A635 to the north, a mile and a half each way up and down. The classic way is to follow the Pennine Way from Crowden to the south. A rather perverse way is to lengthen the former route considerably by starting much further north at the Standedge car park on the A62. Be careful driving into this at the entrance is guarded by a couple of rather large potholes. The Pennine Way leads south from here stringing together a series of reservoirs: Redbrook, Black Moss, Swellands, Wessendale, Wessendale Head. It was a beautiful sunny Palm Sunday and it was very busy, loads of people, loads of dogs. Just before Wessendale Lodge I briefly deviated from the Pennine Way to loop round to the right and visit an attractive waterfall. Annoyingly, especially on so fine a day, just as I came to the A635 my camera battery died and I wasn’t carrying a phone so no pictures thereafter.
Leaving the A635 one is already 451m. up the 582m. of Black Hill so it’s not a long climb. Flagstones most of the way make it a pretty easy one. My way down was trickier, following the ROW shown on the map going NW across Wessenden Head Moor. Donkin in his Circular Walks book warns the reader that this is rough going. It is indeed rough going. The path is often decidedly vestigial. Occasional marker posts make life a little easier with the excellent visibility I enjoyed – this route would be very hard to follow in bad weather. It was boggy often very boggy and a number of groughs had to be negotiated. It was a relief finally to get back to the A635. I didn’t expect much respite as Donkin warns readers that the path back to Standedge from here over Saddleworth Moor, after a brief flagstoned section, is another uncomfortable slog over very tough, boggy, terrain. But I think the path has been improved since he wrote this warning. Today the flagstones take on almost the whole way to Black Moss Reservoir just before which there is as short and easy section without them and after the reservoir back on the Pennine Way and so easily home. I say ‘easily’ – I was quite tired by this point.