Mid-Summer Walk, Saturday 12th June 2021
Leaders: Helen & Brian Richardson
Reporter: Bill Matthews
The meeting point at Higher Poynton needed the thorough description accorded to it by our leaders, as there are a few "look alike" locations along the canal contour of the meeting point. For those coming by boat (none in fact) the Miners Arms is by bridge 18 and by Middlewood Way (past railway track), myself on bicycle, it's bridge 13.
This juncture point of Macclesfield to Marple canal , the railway, and the road system was historically of great importance as it marked and served the edge of the Cheshire coalfield extending nearly as far as Runcorn.
It was part of the greater South Lancashire coalfield of 600 sq. miles to the northern limits of Parbold and Oldham. The miners frequenting the Miners Arms pub. would have worked on the coal outcrops of Higher Poynton. Even the Lyme family of Lyme Hall had an investment in the coal mines.
Our fit and healthy group of 12 plus dogs were in jubilant mood and keen to be walking as this was the one day sandwiched between 2 very hot and humid days having a chill Easterly breeze. However that soon changed to a shorts day and even a trainers rather than boots day on the exceptionally dry ground.
Initially, the going was an easy ascent over open pastureland then past small secluded ponds. the gradient increased somewhat up to Bakestonedale Moor. Looking back North West, the very clear outlook allowed us to spot Jodrell Bank, Inkley Power Station and The Pennines North of Manchester (Holme Moss?)
We passed above the huge abandoned and now re-vegetated Moorside Stone Quarry. The nearby small ancient industrial site of same name, alongside the Pott Shrigley to Charles Head and Kettleshulme, encompassed a Jacksons Brickworks. Both Utilised the local canal and railway. The only industry here nowadays is various entrepreneurial workshops in the same old buildings.
After a brief trot up the highway, with due consideration for any motor cyclists who like to test their skills hereabouts, we climbed onto the rather steep Andrew’s Knob — which did not appear contentious with A.W. at all.
Several trails then lead on to Harrop Wood. Initially we were on a section of the Gritstone Trail but now dropping down Gaussie Brow where the conversation turned to badgers rights. Their extensive networks of tunnels and trails are protected by law from trespass and permission is needed to intrude. Brian Richardson had experience of this during his ongoing footpaths preservation work. On one occasion footpath marker posts were removed, he believes, by badger protection activists.
A brief coffee stop by Harrop Wood allowed full appreciation of the very different wooded Southerly outlook.
From Harrop Wood we climbed to re-cross the Pott Shrigley to Kettleshulme road onto a steep section of the Gritstone trail, Northwards.This was the cue for me to push ahead in order to purchase eggs at Brink Farm,a well known pick-up point for hen duck and goose eggs. The penalty for this diversion was the need to catch up the group on a long steep climb. Soon afterwards, almost as an act of God, we stopped for lunch in idyllic sunny wind-free conditions overlooking Kettleshulme with views Eastwards to Kinder Scout and to Windgather Rocks. Contrary to her normal behaviour, Joy here gave us a quick 'flash' during lunch with some spurious excuse, causing great consternation.
Continuing along the Ridgeway skyline track from Sponds Hill, we reached the Bowstones of Robin Hood fame. The crosses are missing from the 'stones and are reputedly displayed in Lyme Hall. The Bowstones Residence has been a Radio Ham station as far back as my father’s days.
Our route now continued on the ridge sky-line section of the Gritstone Trail within the Lyme Park boundary overlooking Knightslow Wood, and thence through Lantern Wood over lots of tree roots, tricky when wet, down to the Folly which displayed a lantern within sight of Lyme Hall; today resplendent in bright sunshine. Our route from the summit had allowed a brief glimpse of my home area, Disley, and fresh Northerly views — again different.
Arrival at the lakeside, National Trust Timber Yard cafe proved a disappointment as the 3pm queues were enormous. It was no great challenge however, to complete the final 2 miles (via the Westerly trail always open when the park is officially closed) to Macclesfield Canal, and back to the Miners Arms Pub. Narrow Boats now move freely on this canal section and the Marina basin after a serious lockdown of 100's of stranded boats during the COVID peak months due to 'NO LOCK DOWN' i.e. the Coombes reservoir staff were unable to supply water for locks at Marple and Macclesfield. As it turned out, the Miners Arms Pub was well organized to serve drinks outside under a marquis on a long set of tables. Perhaps it was the excess sunshine on our heads but somehow there was total confusion between customers and staff about the drinks orders. Certainly everyone was a bit giddy with much talk of future plans. On my cycle ride back along the Middlewood Way after just one pint there was a realistic risk that I would fall off my bike or kill one of the many dogs being walked.
We all did our best to maintain social distancing but I for one, did a precautionary Covid test later (negative).
Thanks to the Richardsons, again, for a day of very varied scenery and to everyone else for their cheerful company.
IN THE ABSENCE OF OUR NOBLE SUPPLIER OF ECCLES CAKES, STEVE, I TOOK ON THE ROLL AND DISTRIBUTED FRESHLY BAKED CHOCOLATE AFGANS; THE PROMISED RECIPE BEING AS FOLLOWS:
- 200gr butter Vegan butter (best) or Margarine 0.5
- cup of sugar
- good pinch of salt
- 1.5 cups of plain flour
- 0.25 cup (rather more) of cocoa
- 1.5 to 2 cups of cornflakes
- zest of 2 Seville size oranges plus 1 tbsp juice
- No eggs, no water
- Blend but don't cream fat and sugar and salt. Sift in the flour and cocoa.
- Add Orange zest and juice.
- Stir in cornflakes.
- Make into 12 to 15 balls by hand.
- Bake on a tray or in bun cases on the middle shelf at gas mark 4 or 180 degrees for 18–0 minutes.
These will not expand much but your waste-line will!