Whilst not quite as spectacular in altitude or appearance as it’s Swiss namesake, Shutlingsloe or the Cheshire Matterhorn is a lovely, little hill that is definitely worth a visit. Coming in at 506 metres, it is the third highest peak in Cheshire, but to my mind it is inherently more attractive than the county top at Shining Tor and provides a far more enjoyable walk. Whilst it can be attempted from Wildboarclough, this is a very steep ascent, I much prefer the longer, less direct journey from Trentabank reservoir which has the advantage of beginning and ending outside the excellent Leather Smithy pub!
The reservoir is busy with birds as I step out of my car stretching and breathing in the country air, I can see Tufted Duck upending themselves in the middle of the water and Coots and a pair of Mute Swans are busy round the margins, Black Headed Gulls are flocked together just below the dam. I start off down the metalled road passing the Heronry where in Summer upto 22 birds nest and make my way through Macclesfield forest on broad, slightly muddy forestry paths. The forest is now a predominantly conifer plantation managed by United Utilities but it sits on the site of the Royal Forest of Macclesfield which was once a royal hunting reserve. I emerge from the forest on the edge of Piggford Moor and there, silhouetted against the skyline, is the unmistakeable shape of Shutlingsloe. The moor is a breeding ground for both Golden Plover and Red Grouse and I see plenty of the latter as I make my away across the stone flags that lead to the sloping flank of the hill. It’s a short, sharp climb up onto the summit where I am rewarded with 360 degree views out towards The Roaches, the observatory at Jodrell bank and in the direction of The Cat and Fiddle.
I drop down the other side towards Wildboarclough and follow Cumberland Brook through Danethorn Hollow before making the slow steady ascent up onto open moorland and the alluring prospect of The Cat and Fiddle Inn. After obtaining suitable refreshment I follow the rarely used path down to Torgate farm and on to a tiny hamlet beautifully known as Bottom of the Oven (named after Oven Lane). A steep, stony track dotted with splashes of wild flower colour leads me to the tiny church at Forest Chapel and after enjoying the shade of the interior it’s onwards back into the forest and down past the Ranger’s station to Trentabank reservoir and an hour of ornithological contemplation in the fading sun.
I very much hope that you enjoy reading about my walks as much as I enjoy undertaking them. If you have any questions or enquiries about either my articles or guided walking in the UK please feel free to visit my webpage at www.comewalkwithmeuk.co.uk or e-mail me at Ian@comewalkwithmeuk.co.uk . Liking my facebook page or following me on twitter @cwwmuk will help you keep up to date with all my latest walks and general outdoor news. In the meantime, enjoy the ramblings of a rambler…