Walking with; Nobody
A fantastic walking start to the year in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. I started out from Clough Hall and headed straight up Shutlingsloe, known in this part of the world as “The Cheshire Matterhorn” due to it’s distinctive triangular profile. At 506m, it’s a little smaller than it’s famous namesake but it’s a short, sharp shock at the start of a January walk and conditions underfoot were slippery. I made the top without seeing another soul and celebrated with a slice of coconut cake and some fantastic views out towards The Roaches and The Cat and Fiddle.
I continued on across the moors and into Macclesfield Forest, site of one of the ancient Royal forests and hunting reserves, though the majority of the trees are now Sitka Spruce and Japanese Larch farmed for timber by United Utilities. The path wound it’s way through the forest although there were a number of trees down across the path after the recent high winds and emerged near the Ranger station before continuing alongside Ridgegate and Bottoms reservoirs. There were a few Goosander and a pair of Tufted Ducks on the latter and a large, restless flock of Black headed Gulls.
It was a slog up to Tegg’s Nose, but the views more than compensated and after skirting the abandoned quarry works, I stopped for lunch and watched a Buzzard circle over the valley below, it was a bit early for any lamb carcasses and it eventually ended up alighting in a bare Hawthorn where it sat and watched me for a while, unimpressed with my sandwiches! I’d originally planned to continue via Hardingland, but headed back down the valley, crossing the brook on a set of stepping stones before following the road back to Ridgegate. The “Leather’s Smithy” was doing a good trade and the temptation to pop in for one of their really good game dishes was strong, but Toot Hill awaited, and the thought of having to drag an extra Venison Wellington up it’s steep slope drove me on towards St Stephen’s, a Grade 2 sandstone church, better known as the Forest Chapel and sitting in a beautiful churchyard.
The final descent back towards Wildboarclough took me through fields of pregnant sheep and a flock of pheasants before following the winding lane back towards Clough Hall and the remains of my coffee.
To view full set of photos please click on link below