Monday, 23 December 2019
Friday, 19 July 2019
Thursday, 10 January 2019
After failing to take advantage of yesterday’s sunshine, I looked out to another blue sky day and couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out the text for another of Jen Darling’s ‘Pub Walks in Cheshire’ routes.
I’ve been walking this particular route for many years, starting in the 1990s when I followed some of Jen’s routes from the first edition of her book. I used them as ideas for Wednesday evening walks in those days.
Today’s morning walk started from the door of the Leather’s Smithy and headed around Ridgegate Reservoir. It has been windy, but not today – a calm frosty morning with cloud slowly building, until towards the end of the walk there were flurries of snow. It didn’t feel cold though.
If you come at a weekend, you may be lucky enough to find a kiosk selling drinks etc in the Ranger Centre car park, but today it was quiet here.
There’s a 50 metre path loop past this new sculpture, and an older one, to some picnic benches beside Trentabank Reservoir, from where the bird life in the trees and on the water can be observed at leisure. Well worth the minor diversion.
There follows a fairly steep climb through Macclesfield Forest on the path signposted to Shutlingsloe. Several people were struggling up the path, and I met others on Shutlingsloe. After that – nobody.
Here’s the view looking back to Nessit Hill after leaving the forest.
From roughly the same spot – the well constructed path climbs amiably until the final few metres to the summit
On the summit, the air was cooler and I didn’t spend too long admiring the frost adorned plaque in memory of Arthur Smith, a local rights of access campaigner. We should pause to consider that without the efforts of people like him, we may not have the present wonderful array of paths to choose from for our leisure time wanderings. On the descent, I met a couple who are walking the 190 mile Peak District Boundary Walk – by way of a series of day walks using two cars or public transport.
Here’s the summit, with the plaque on the left, and a view to the south to the hills around Leek.
The text for Jen’s third edition was fine, but since she wrote it some new metal kissing gates, such as this one on the descent to Wildboarclough, have been installed. The demographic of people out in these and other local walking areas seems to have changed to a point at which some walkers have become sufficiently infirm (and influential) to trigger the authorities to remove some of the characterful old style ladder and step stiles, replacing them with ugly new kissing gates.
The Crag Inn used to be a farm, and I remember the pub closing and efforts being made to convert it back to a private house, but for the time being it continues as a public house – a popular place in summer, but it must be difficult to make a living here.
Across the valley, Berry Bank clearly faces north!
Good paths through fields of cropped grass soon lead to the path to Oakenclough, which actually goes along a road for a while after the sign in the next picture.
As you rise up Oakenclough, Shutlingsloe comes back fully into view after having been a little shy since the descent to Wildboarclough.
By now, the Croker Hill aerials have returned to view, as have the Jodrell Bank telescopes. Today a purple-grey haze lay over Greater Manchester, whose tall buildings could just be discerned.
Meanwhile, a high point is reached at about 370 metres. It’s downhill all the way from here, initially down a lovely sunken lane to The Hanging Gate.
The Hanging Gate is currently closed. However, the ‘For Sale’ sign has gone and the website shows encouraging signs regarding a re-opening. Perhaps Jen should email Louis ([email protected]) to discover more.
Soon after dropping down from The Hanging Gate, our route joins the Gritstone Trail – following well signposted paths until just after a house called Throstles Nest. Here, we turn sharp right into a narrow valley, then ascend to re-join the path around Ridgegate Reservoir for the final few metres of this excellent walk. If you miss the turn, the Gritstone Trail takes you to the Langley road, where you turn right to get back to the Leathers Smithy.
Here’s the route – 12 km with about 400 metres ascent. It took me 2.5 hours, but most folk will savour the delights of this walk in up to 4 hours.
Saturday, 22 December 2018
It’s a tradition. The record (perhaps, it seemed like it) turnout was achieved despite a rather poor weather forecast. For once, Sue and I arrived at the Trentabank Car Park 7.30 pm rendezvous point with a few minutes to spare, only to find the place seething with people.
Luckily it wasn’t raining and pleasantries were exchanged in the dark whilst we waited for my nephew Toby, and one of Wythenshawe’s parkrun directors, Charley. Of the 18 people in attendance at least 12 were serial runners at Wythenshawe, where most would be on display in Christmas regalia on the morrow. But that’s another story.
Once we got going – well, after about 100 metres, those of us who had left our waterproofs in our cars were regretting it. As we rose gently through the forest the light drizzle slowly intensified. By the time we reached the summit nearly an hour later, there was no view and the rain was … well, just how you’d imagine it to be at the top of a high hill in the middle of winter.
My attempt to take a group photo failed abysmally (see above), but I did manage a cute picture of Toby and Sue.
Andrew, Kate and Alice also offered nice smiles, even if Andrew does appear to be resting his eyes. (No red-eye adjustment needed there, then.)
After mulled wine, tea, mince pies, brownies and a sing song on the summit, the weather got the better of us and we dashed back down in about 30 minutes.
Most of us adjourned to the Leather Smithy, where Andrew appeared to be keeping the pub open single handedly. A pleasant time was had by all, as we dried off in front of the roaring fire.
Thanks for coming, everyone – that was a brilliant turn out on a slightly inclement evening.
For the record:
Graham, Gwynneth and Claire
Andy and Kate
Alastair, Hazel, Andrew, Kate and Alice
Me, Sue and Paul
Richard, Diana and Joe
Andrew in the pub (one wise man!)
Monday, 18 December 2017
Here we are again (well, not me, I’m taking the picture), on a lovely frosty evening after earlier snow, on the summit of Shutlingsloe.
The fine night time views to Greater Manchester and across the Cheshire plain were admired by everyone, even if light pollution meant the stars did not completely fill the sky. With the bright white reflective snow, we could see perfectly well without torches despite the lack of moonlight.
This year’s hour and a half wander from Trentabank car park was enjoyed by me, Sue, Toby, Graham, Alastair, Kate, Andrew and Alice. We returned without serious incident down the slippery slopes, and most of us adjourned to the Leathers Smithy, where Andrew (crocked knee) was tucking into his third tumbler of vodka. Or so it seemed!
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Ever since I suggested White Nancy, above Bollington, as an alternative, this jaunt seems to have become an annual tradition. Before that there were just a handful of us, but after White Nancy was rejected (though I think we did both in that year) this stroll up Shutlingsloe has been well attended.
This year the Roberts family were unable to come, so I thought numbers would be depleted. But thanks to friends of friends, grandchildren, nephews and children, not to mention a strong showing from Wythenshawe’s parkrunners, there was a record turn out of 18 people. Richard, Diana and Joe turned up with their friends, Roddy and Sharon, Graham B arrived with grandson Connor, Cary brought Clara along, parkrunners – Andy, Kate, Andy W, Paul and Jeanette – swelled our numbers, and my cousin Toby paid his annual visit to our walking group. Andrew J, who rejected the White Nancy idea all those years ago, faithfully turned up and set off before half the attendees had arrived. Thus he had a chilly wait on the misty summit.
Photographs didn’t come easily, as any flash was reflected by the mist. I’ve included a couple from Andy W, whose backlit efforts were better than my misty ones. The header image is his ‘On the Top’ effort.
Conditions were good, apart from the mist, with it being reasonably warm and calm. The rocks, which are often coated with verglas (ice or frost) at this time of year, were merely slippery.
Cake, tea, coffee and something stronger were supped on the summit before the sound of a Christmas Carol rang out over Wildboarclough.
Here’s Andy W on the summit. When he saw this image on the back of my phone he had to try to capture the ambience more realistically.
Here’s Andy’s resulting attempt, which he has entitled ‘Waiting for ET’.
After quite a while on top, we ambled back down by the direct route, covering 5.3 km with 250 metres ascent in around 1.5 hours.
Then most of us adjourned to the Leathers Smithy for refreshments – another worthy tradition…
Thanks for coming, everyone – put Friday 15 December 2017 in your diaries.
Friday, 4 November 2016
We’ve been here many times before, though it’s a while since I did this exact walk. Previous descriptions are .
I wasn’t intending to go out, but the sunny weather drew me to parking near the Leather’s Smithy in Langley and setting off on this familiar 12 km circuit. No map was needed.
I was not alone. The top picture shows a number of folk wending their way up the normal ascent path. Looking back, the autumn colours of Macclesfield Forest glowed under a bright November sun.
There were various folk gathered on the summit, admiring good views in all directions.
It was fairly cool on the summit, but no windproof was needed as I descended to the Crag Inn, trying to maintain 10 minutes per kilometre pace. The Crag Inn ‘serves hot food’, so it’s still going strong. I seem to recall a threatened close down and conversion to a private house being thwarted by planning permissions.
After some well marked field paths with friendly signs from the farmer, and a short section of tarmac, the path ascends to Oakenclough, from where you can look back at the side of Shutlingsloe. A small terrier came yapping after me but ran away when I tried to engage it in conversion (a familiar experience, perhaps it had human genes?).
The next picture is taken from the top of the path that leads down to the Hanging Gate pub. It’s one of my favourite places, with fine views over Greater Manchester and across to Joddrell Bank and the Cheshire plain, backed by the Clwydian Hills. I always come armed with a flask and a banana as an excuse to pause for a while here, before heading on down the often boggy path. It was dry today; the lack of rain means that trail shoes can be worn with impunity until the autumn rains eventually arrive.
The Hanging Gate would be a good place to stop, if time permitted.
Below the Hanging Gate, a grassy path leads to the Gritstone Trail.
Good signposting on the Gritstone Trail leads walkers through fields of livestock and past private residencies, with good views across to Tegg’s Nose.
Whilst the Gritstone Trail heads down to Clarke Lane, those returning to the Leather’s Smithy turn sharply right over a footbridge to go past the end of Ridgegate Reservoir.
It’s a brisk couple of hours for the 12 km circuit, with about 450 metres ascent. A lovely outing. I’ll be there again soon.