Mid-Summer Walk - Saturday July 5th 2014

Reporter: Christine Fildes

Leader: Helen Richardson

12 SCoM members plus 3 dogs (Meg, Freddie, & Fossie) set off from Trentabank Visitor Centre (managed by United Utilities), at 10.30am for a 10 mile walk in the Macclesfield Forest area of East Cheshire. After the previous day's deluge, the forecast was warm sunny with good visibility, so we arrived in shorts and slapped on the sun cream! We opted to park on the roadside due to the excessive parking charge!

After leaving the visitor centre, we climbed steadily in the cool shade of the forest till we were met by excellent views over the forest and reservoirs from the top of Nessit Hill. We skirted the edge the plantation and after a slight diversion to view the moorland approach to Shuttlingsloe, (The Matterhorn of Cheshire) 506m, we retraced our footsteps to catch up with the rest of our group. (At this point Helen gathered us all together and said we had gone too far)! We then continued on the forest path which descended towards Wildboarclough.

We passed the Standing Stone car park (although no standing stone could be seen). And eventually emerged on the the valley road close to where Cumberland Brook converges with Clough Brook. We walked along the road a short distance passing the Vicarage & Clough House. Then followed a pleasant footpath at the edge of woodland below Shuttlingsloe Farm, before returning to the road again and the village of Wildboarclough, (formally known as Crag), Valley of the wild stream & rocky terrain.

We took a short detour crossing Clough Brook and noted the plaque on the bridge reminding us of the most recent of the dramatic summer flash floods in the valley. In May 1989, a motorist in his car was swept away, the road was closed for 6 months due to sever flood damage.

We visited the lovely St Saviour’s Church, built by the 16th Earl of Derby to celebrate the safe return of his sons from the Boar War, the construction was carried out by the workers of the Crag estate. His country seat Crag Hall being situated further up the road.

And then we visited the Old Post Office, a Grade II listed building (built in 1793), which was an office building for Lower Crag Mill and later used as a post office, a house for the postmaster and the village hall. It has now been converted into apartments.

Note: Crag Mill which was intermittently used for the spinning and printing of textiles and calico, also a carpet mill, It was powered by the fast flowing Clough Brook. (Apparently a young James Brindley was employed to install the first machinery).

We then continued on our way and after passing The Crag Inn, (the first of the three pubs on this walk), we followed a footpath crossing fields below Piggford Moor. It was then time for lunch, so we ate our sandwiches at a good spot above Lower Nabbs Farm while enjoying the view across the valley. Helen's fruit cake was very welcome thankyou! However the peace and tranquility was interrupted when Freddie performed his vertical take-off trick and disposed of Roy Dearden’s last half cup of coffee!
Sorry Roy.....

We then set off again along the footpath rising gradually across farmland to meet the minor road leading to Greenaway Bridge. We continued on through Oakenclough, crossing the southern edge of High Moor and followed the track by Haddon Farm to emerge opposite The Hanging Gate Inn which dates from the 1660’s (the second pub en-route), it is the highest pub in Cheshire and fourth highest in England!

Phil Hayward and I stayed for a while to enjoy the breathtaking view over the Cheshire plain towards Clwydian Hills, and a shandy in the garden at the rear of the Inn, while the rest of our party completed the walk returning at approx. 4.20pm with the option to call in at Leathers Smithy (the third pub en-route), which overlooks the picturesque Ridgegate reservoir. We followed in their footsteps short time later.........along the Gritstone Trail, and then taking the forest track which lead us back to Trentabank and the Visitor Centre at approx. 4.50pm.

A lovely walk in perfect weather conditions, with excellent company, and ample opportunities for refreshments. It was well organised by Helen who managed to order good weather for us yet again!!

Thank you Helen for another great day out!