Mountain rescuers issue warning after saving lost walkers on ‘popular social media route’ in Dovestones area

The group got into difficulty after they "made an error" on the so-called 'Trinnacle Trail'.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 29th August 2023

A group of lost hikers attempting a walking route in the Dovestones area that’s been popularised by social media had to be rescued over the weekend.

This has prompted mountain rescuers to issue a warning urging walkers to be wary of the “potential risks that may be encountered” on the route, and encouraging people to do their research and ensure they’re up to the challenge before setting off.

The hikers had been attempting the so-called ‘Trinnacle Trail’, an eight-kilometre route in the Dovestones and Saddleworth area of Oldham, when they got into difficulty.

Just after 6pm this past Sunday evening (27 August), the group managed to contact Greater Manchester Police (GMP) to say they had “made an error” and were lost on the trail, before police contacted Oldham Mountain Rescue Team and a two-hour rescue mission supported by police helicopters begun.

The group were located by Phonefind technology as being in Middle Edge Moss, in between Birchen Clough and Holme Clough, and after mountain rescuers found them and established they were “ok, but cold”, some were escorted down on foot while others were flown down to the vehicles for “a more thorough check”.


They then returned to Oldham Mountain Rescue Team’s base for “a brew, biscuits, and a warm up.”

The trail – which has been popularised by social media, and has become a favourite of those wanting to take selfies with the impressive three-pronged gritstone pillar known as the ‘Trinnacle’ – has often been called one of the best walks in the UK, and as such, has seen a huge surge in walkers attempting to make their way around in recent months.


But Oldham Mountain Rescue Team is keen to warn that “some parts that are more than a walk”.

Issuing a warning following this past weekend’s rescue mission, Oldham Mountain Rescue Team wrote on Facebook: “Although the Trinnacle Trail 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.

“Whilst 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.


“It may be advertised as one of the best walks in the UK, but 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 – [with] rain, high winds, and poor visibility frequently encountered.”

The Trinnacle, where the so-called ‘Trinnacle Trail’ gets its name / Credit: Trevor Harris (via Geograph)

Oldham Mountain Rescue Team says more than 25% of its incidents are now in the Dovestones and Saddleworth area, with people “usually following some iteration of the Trinnacle Trail”, and on the worst of occasions, incidents involve “serious and / or potentially life-changing injuries”.

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The team then went on to issue advice, and urge curious walkers to take “appropriate precautions beforehand” to ensure they have an “enjoyable and memorable outing” in the beautiful surroundings.

Featured Image – Oldham Mountain Rescue Team