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Previous Walks

posted Apr 6, 2012, 4:05 AM by Jon Armstrong   [ updated Dec 2, 2017, 4:39 AM by rob hadley ]
Below is a write up of some of the previous walks.  They are a personal write-up (by the website owner or otherwise the author initials are indicated at the end) and do not necessarily reflect the club as a whole.

Those members willing to do a walk report can find a template they could use in our Resources section.

29/11/17 - Ramblers enjoy easy walk around Goostrey.

 No stiles, no hills – that was the promise made as 7 members of Congleton Ramblers set off on a 4 mile walk around Goostrey last Wednesday!  No promise of “no mud” was made as that is almost impossible in the current wet conditions.

 The Village Hall car park had been full so the walkers gratefully parked at the Crown Inn.  From here they turned left to walk through the village – no mud here on the pavements – passing the local café where some members would later have their lunch.  On reaching the Park Homes site the group turned left to walk down the drive to Dromedary Lodge.  After crossing a couple of fields, mud free because of being planted with grass for turf, the group turned right to walk past the Turkey Farm on an initially very squelchy track and reach Hermitage Lane.  They crossed over here to continue on the track, now less muddy and a very pleasant path between trees, to emerge eventually on Goostrey Lane.

 Care  was taken as the walkers turned right and walked along Goostrey Lane as far as Boothbed Lane.  Turning left, the walkers were able to walk on the mud free pavement to reach the drive to Swanwick Hall.  Along the drive the walkers admired the frequent flower baskets attached to the fencing.

 At the Hall there is a permissive path avoiding the farmyard but, on this occasion, the group decided to take the official route through the farmyard.  Everyone remarked on how smart the Hall, outbuildings and yard now looked.  A lot of work has been done by the owner.

 Leaving the yard, the walkers crossed two fields, in this case quite slippery with mud, as the new crop of potatoes has yet to be planted.  However Mill Lane was reached without mishap.  Here the group turned right to rejoin Main Road and return to the Crown.  It had been a pleasant easy walk in cold but dry conditions

05/11/17 - On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 3 and a half mile walk in the Westlow Mere area. On a beautiful sunny day, 32 walkers set off from Rood Lane to join a footpath which was followed around the mere out to Grantswood Lane. The group then joined a woodland footpath along the North Eastern side of the mere. The sun was dappling through the golden leaves of the trees. While enjoying the beautiful setting a stop was made for refreshments. At this point it was pointed out that the group were unable to proceed to Havannah the planned route, as the main link path was barricaded off due to building work. The group continued around the mere to cut off through Daisy Bank to cross over the A34 to Hillfields. From Here the walk joined a footpath to Park Wood and walked down steps to enter the park. Here the group noticed many people enjoying this setting in the autumn sunshine. Continuing along the riverside footpath and passing the weir in high force. This is surely a source of untapped power. The walk then continued along the riverside footpath to return to the starting point.

It had been a pleasant walk in perfect weather, cool with bright sunshine.   AW.

29/10/17 Congleton Ramblers enjoy beautiful Autumn weather at Allostock

There were blue skies, sunshine and Autumn colouring to enjoy on Congleton Ramblers’ afternoon walk last Sunday.

The car park at Shakerley Mere was busy with many visitors enjoying the lovely weather but, finally, everyone got parked and 20 walkers set off on a 4 mile walk. At the start the leader explained that there had had to be a change of route as Wash Lane, Allostock, which was on the planned return route, was closed due to repairs being in progress, it appeared for a burst water main. 

The walkers set off around the Mere, enjoying the views of the lake and the water birds.  Leaving the Mere at the second car park, the group turned right to cross over the M6, busy as usual with traffic, to reach Hulme Hall Lane.  Here they turned left and followed the road round to walk at first alongside the noisy, busy motorway. The road turned into a track and, to everyone’s relief, bore away from the motorway to reach some lovely meres, the result of sand quarrying in the past.  Many fishermen were out enjoying the sunshine and the fishing as the walkers turned right to follow a delightful path through woods close to the meres. 

On emerging from the woods onto a wide track with Boundary Mere opposite, the walkers took a short break before turning left towards Allostock.  Here the route deviated from that planned because of the road closure. After a short distance the walkers turned left back through the woods to emerge near a Caravan Park and joined a wide track to pass the point where they had turned off earlier. 

From here it was a case of retracing their steps back to Shakerley Mere.  The decision was then taken to complete the circuit of the mere before returning to the cars.  Everyone had enjoyed the chance to get out in the lovely Autumn weather.


Wednesday 27th September - Lower Withington

September’s monthly Wednesday walk for Congleton Ramblers was a 4 mile walk around Lower Withington.  Eight walkers set off from the car park by the Methodist Church, at first walking along the road before turning off on a path through paddocks where horses were grazing peacefully.

This route led to a farm track to Smith’s Green, where the well kept farm houses were admired.  This track led to Catchpenny Lane.  Pausing to look at attractive Catchpenny Pool, the group followed this lane for a distance to reach the drive to Woodcroft Gardens.  Here an original cottage has been extended and turned into two attractive houses.  

The wide, grassy path here leads through a wooded area with ponds on both sides, designated a private nature reserve and presumably a haven for wildlife.  Turning right at the end, the group entered a further wooded area where a short break was taken.  Reaching farm fields again the group turned right, heading back towards Smith’s Green.  The biggest challenge was a newly ploughed field where the group had to walk with care along a ridge across the field.  Having negotiated this, it was a straightforward route to emerge on the track by Smith’s Green.

Turning left the walkers then retraced their steps to reach Lower Withington and the parked cars.  The weather had been pleasant and everyone had enjoyed a leisurely walk in the Cheshire countryside. [MB]


Sunday 27th August - Astbury, Tea and Cakes

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4 mile walk in the Astbury area. On a very warm summers day 34 walkers set off from Astbury Mere Country Park. Walking along the footpath around the mere they negotiated the steep steps, which took them up to the higher footpath. Following the footpath towards Fol Hollow and eventually joining Lamberts Lane bridleway. Walking along this track to the footbridges over the Howty Brook. Here a brief stop was made for refreshments in the summer heat. Continuing over the footbridges and over field footpaths to link with a crossing footpath. This cross field footpath was followed over fields to Astbury Village. Here the group visited the church for tea and cakes. They were rewarded with a multi-selection of cakes and tea or coffee. Many thanks to the ladies and gentleman of St. Mary's Church for providing this. The walk continued over a maize field, which seemed endless to join Padgbury Lane and the ginnel out to the A34. Crossing safely over the crossing to continue past the Mormon Church and return around the mere back to the starting point.

It had been a very pleasant walk in very hot conditions with the bonus of afternoon tea. [AW]

Wednesday 26th April - Ashley

Congleton Ramblers’ monthly Wednesday walk in April started from the village of Ashley, sandwiched between Knutsford and the M56 and an area new to most of the walkers.

Parking with permission in Ashley Church Car Park, the five walkers set off on a sunny but chilly morning on the 3½ mile easy walk.  After turning right out of the car park and walking for a short distance along the road, the group turned left into the drive leading to Ashley Hall.  The going was easy on the well made up drive.  After crossing over the M56, Ashley Hall was reached where there were signs that the BBC was filming – the group never found out for what purpose!  This area is all part of the Tatton Estate and the walkers were impressed by how well maintained and managed both the buildings and the farmland were . It was lovely to see clumps of trees and hedges everywhere between the fields.

Emerging at North Lodge, the group had another short road stretch before turning left into Ashley Mill Lane.  This led to the drive to Ryecroft Farm which was followed for about a mile.  Just before reaching the farm, the group turned left and followed the hedge line towards the M56.  A pleasant path through woods with bluebells in full bloom, marred only by the incessant roar of the M56, led to a footbridge over the motorway.  The only consolation for the walkers as they crossed over was that they were not actually driving along the M56!

The route continued parallel to the motorway for a time before it bore right away from the noise, much to the relief of the walkers.   After a few fields with good paths along the edge, the walkers emerged onto Ashley Road by Birkin Farm.  From here the road, happily with a narrow pavement all the way, soon brought the walkers back to the church car park.  Everyone agreed it had been a pleasant walk in the Cheshire countryside, perhaps spoilt slightly by the close presence of the M56. [MB]

Sunday 9th April - Grassington Coach Trip

A few times each year Congleton Ramblers travel by coach to the start of their walks. This means they can go a little further afield. On 9th April the destination was Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales. There were 3 walks of different lengths for members to choose from and Grassington provided an excellent base for the day’s walking and exploring.

8.5 mile walk from Rylstone to Grassington
A group of 16 Congleton Ramblers set off from the pretty village of Rylstone on a beautiful warm sunny morning. Passing the church and Manor House Farm the lane rose steadily until the walkers turned right towards Barden Moor. The group followed a steep track curving to the left of a plantation passing through gates until they reached Barden Moor. They turned left along the ridge and followed a rocky undulating path until they reached the cross on top of Rylstone Fell, which can be seen for miles around. Continuing on the group arrived at the obelisk on the summit of Cracoe Fell where a welcome lunch break with exceptional views was enjoyed. Taking the path north the ramblers followed a sunken steep track down the Moor until they reached a marshy area - to the dismay of some of the group who had very soggy boots. The group arrived at Cracoe village turning right along a lane and entered a caravan park passing several barns, fields and stiles before reaching Linton village.  The walkers crossed over the packhorse bridge then turned left and continued on to Linton Falls, arriving in Grassington for well earned refreshments.
[BS]

12 mile circular walk from Grassington
A lovely sunny warm day with a warm breeze gave a great start to this excellent walk. It started from Grassington Visitors Centre from where the group followed the path towards the River Wharfe, Linton Falls and its relatively new hamlet which was built on the site of an old cotton/worsted mill. The walkers then took a gently ascending course across pasture land affording excellent views over the river and the 12th century parish church of Linton. On reaching the hamlet of Thorpe the group followed a steep green track up to the edge of Barden Moor. Here a welcome break was taken before heading across the heather clad moor. It wasn't long before the group was heading along a track with the first of the landmarks in site, Cracoe Obelisk, built by the locals after WW1. On reaching it members of the medium walk could be seen relaxing with their lunch and after a quick chat the group carried on along the ridge towards Rylestone Cross and their own welcome lunch break, taken in the shelter of the rocks - and with great views. Soon reluctantly moving on, the walkers continued along Rylstone Ridge gradually descending to a track that eventually took them down to Rylstone and its church. They then followed the ancient Chapel Lane into the pretty village of Cracoe. After a short trek along the main road and a country lane the route took the ramblers across more pasture to the lovely village of Linton with its historic Alms Houses, Chapel, clapper bridge, pack horse bridge and ford and pub all set around the village green. It was now just a short walk back to Linton Falls and Grassington for some well-deserved refreshments before the journey home. 
[JF]

Sunday 2nd April Grindon Wetton and Ecton

On a sunny Sunday morning 14 members of Congleton Ramblers gathered at Grindon Church car park in the Manifold Valley area. Leaving Grindon the walkers followed an uneven pathway to Ladyside Wood. They reached the bottom of the Manifold Valley and made a scenic stop for refreshments. The group set off again across a footbridge over the dry river valley and through woods below Thor’s Cave, emerging near the outskirts of Wetton. They went north, skirting the base of the 358m high Wetton Hill before climbing to the top. With spectacular views over Manifold Valley the walkers negotiated the steep grassy descent of Wetton Hill to a minor road. They crossed a footbridge to re-join the path at the back of the 369m high Ecton Hill. The group climbed to the top of Ecton Hill to enjoy a lunch break with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The walkers descended Ecton Hill and crossed the Manifold Valley, turning left onto a footpath across fields to Warslow. The group then went past some lively free-range poultry before reaching the main road then turned left into School Lane. They descended steeply into the valley, crossed a footbridge and walked steadily uphill to a road. The walkers made their way south crossing several field-paths. Looking east they had good views of the hills they had climbed earlier in the day. The group finally reached the road that led them back Grindon Church and their cars. The day had featured excellent spring weather. The energetic and enjoyable ramble was concluded with a well-deserved visit to the pub. 


Friday 24th March to Sunday 27th March - Congleton Ramblers in Bath

On Friday 24th March 35 Congleton Ramblers headed for Bath for an interesting weekend of Cotswold walking. Some of them progressed southwards quicker than others - due to the day-long closure of the M6 just beyond Stoke-on-Trent. But everyone got there eventually! They stayed at the Limpley Stoke Hotel which is a ten-minute drive (or a short bus ride) from the city centre. The hotel was friendly and comfortable and provided an excellent base for the group walks. The weather was consistently good, with plenty of spring sunshine to show the Cotswold villages and countryside off at their best.
Friday afternoon 6 mile walk
This walk started from the hotel. Eleven walkers set off following the Kennet and Avon Canal for a mile to the Dundas Aqueduct. The aqueduct was completed in 1805 and carries the canal over the River Avon. In 1951 it became the first canal structure to be designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The group then walked along a section of the Somerset Coal Canal which is being carefully restored by the Somersetshire Coal Canal Society. The walkers made their way up into a wood, to the top of Limpley Stoke, then crossed fields to the beautiful Cotswold village of Freshford and went back along the River Avon to the hotel.
[RH]

Saturday 4 mile walk
The short walk on Saturday was a 4 mile walk from the Hotel.  A select group (3 people) set out up a steep lane to reach the A36.  After crossing this the group entered a pleasant wooded area, continuing to climb steadily uphill.  On reaching the top, the village of Monkton Combe could be seen below.  Descending steeply, with steps to help in places, the group reached the village where the Wheelwrights Arms was serving refreshments in the garden.  Who could resist?!  So a welcome break was taken before walking through the village, passing the school buildings and immaculate playing fields of Monkton Combe School.  The group arrived at the Somerset Coal Canal, busy with boats on this beautiful Spring Saturday morning.  Avoiding the many cyclists out enjoying the weather on the towpath, the walkers reached Dundas Aqueduct where the lunch break was taken.  Alarmingly, the walkers saw a small child fall in the Aqueduct but, happily, he was immediately rescued by his father.  Both now soaking wet, mother found a change of clothes for her son, while Dad was left to stand and drip! The last stage of the walk was a pleasant stroll along the very attractive Kennet and Avon Canal.  This brought the group back to Limpley Stoke and the Hotel.
[MB]

Saturday 9.7. mile 
11 walkers started from the hotel car park. With the weather forecast good for the day they made their way down Crowe Hill and took the path along the River Avon to Freshford. After a short walk through the outskirts of the town the group took the path leading to Freshford Mill by the river Frome. Walking on down a lane the group turned left on a bridleway past Dunkirk Mill Cottage and took the path through Friary Wood and a riverside meadow to Iford Manor by the River Frome. The manor has a Grade 1 Italian style garden designed by architect and designer Harold Peto who lived at the manor from 1899-1933. After a pleasant break at the manor the walkers headed south along the River Frome to Farleigh Hungerford Castle. Built in the 14th century, and added to in the 15th century, the impressive medieval ruins set in the Frome Valley are now owned by English Heritage.
After a short walk along the A366 the group took the path heading east through meadows along the river to Stowford Manor Farm then north through farmland to Westwood where lunch was taken by the Church and the 15th century Manor House with its Topiary Garden, now owned by The National Trust. After lunch the walkers headed north through meadows and woodland to Avoncliffe with its aqueduct that takes the Kennet and Avon Canal over the River Avon. From Avoncliffe it was decided to take the Avon path back to Freshford and Limpley Stoke. After a longer walk than expected a refreshing drink at the Hop Pole Inn near the hotel was taken. The walk featured rivers, valleys, Cotswold stone villages, historic churches and mansion houses.
[DMcD]                                               


Saturday 12.5 mile walk
The group followed the Kennet and Avon Canal for a mile to the Dundas Aqueduct then climbed through woodland to the tower at Brown’s Folly which was built in 1848. Brown’s Folly is a geological and biological site of special scientific interest (SSSI).  It includes the remains of quarries used for the extraction of the honey-coloured bath stone and these provide a rich variety of wildlife habitats. The walkers returned along the canal towpath, before proceeding along the banks of Midford Brook. The group then climbed a hillside back into Limpley Stoke and enjoyed welcome refreshments in the garden of the Hop Pole Inn.
[RH]

Sunday 9 mile walk 
The walk started in the historic village of Castle Combe, which is named after the castle built here in the 12th century. The walkers made their way through Parsonage Wood towards the hamlet of Long Dean, following the Macmillan Way markers. The Macmillan Ways are a series of inter-linked coast-to-coast pathways designed to be used by fund-raisers for Macmillan Cancer Support.  The wood had a great variety of deciduous trees and the snow drops and wild garlic were in bloom. The group arrived at the village of North Wraxall. They stopped for lunch in church grounds that were bathed in sunshine and saw local parishioners bringing daffodils to the Mothers’ Day service. After lunch the walkers followed small country lanes and crossed fields past roman settlements to the village of West Kington. They walked along the banks of a beautiful brook and over fields towards the village of Nettleton Green. All the Cotswold villages visited by the group were picturesque with quaint cottages and gardens – and made even prettier by the glorious sunshine! The group returned to Castle Combe to explore the village before going to one of the pubs for a well earned drink before returning to the hotel.
[PM]

Sunday 11 mile walk
This walk was 11 miles, starting from Bath’s Newbridge Park and Ride car park. The group proceeded north along 6 miles of the Cotswold Way. The Cotswold Way is just over one hundred miles in length. The starting point is in Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire and the Way ends just outside the ornate west doors of Bath Abbey. The walkers enjoyed stunning views of bath from the pleasant hillside pathway and then skirted Bath racecourse. This section of the walk featured interesting obstacles that made up a long-distance assault course - including a very tall stile! They followed a section of the Bristol and Bath Railway Path, which was busy with walkers, joggers and cyclists, to arrive in Saltford. The group took a well-earned break at the Bird in Hand pub then left the village, passing the Saltford Brass Mill which is now a scheduled ancient monument. The group then followed a section of the peaceful River Avon back to the car park.
[RH]


Sunday 19 March - Clough House/Piggford Moor 

The walk started from Clough House car park near Wildboarclough. 10 walkers braved the elements. In the end the weather was not too bad, with some showers throughout the day, so waterproofs were needed. However the ground was boggy in places so care was needed. The walkers started up the Cumberland Brook track to gain the access land via Correction Brook and Green Gutter. Whilst some then took an easier option via the Cat and Fiddle, a few descended  The Scaurs and Chest Hollow which was an interesting challenge down a hidden rocky valley. Onwards towards Shutlingsloe, where a wall provided shelter for a lunch stop. Plenty of other walkers were trekking up and down Shutlingsloe, despite the weather . The next stage took in the permissive route over Piggford Moor to Greenway Bridge, and then another permissive path, rather steep, from Greenway Bridge to Cessbank Common, at which point the walkers turned to complete the journey back to Clough House via Hammerton Knoll and Wildboarclough. A good day’s walk on access land and over unusual and hidden routes. The distance was just under 12 miles. Afterwards those who wished enjoyed refreshments at The Crag Inn. [IC}


Sunday 5th March - Timbersbrook

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers had a 3 mile walk in the Timbersbrook area. On a dank wet day 17 walkers set off from the car park and walked up the steep steps to the road. Crossing over to join the footpath, which was followed around the reservoir to eventually reach the road above. After a short walk along the road the party joined a footpath to cross a footbridge over Cheshire Brook to enter a field. From here the footpath skirted around woodland, steadily ascending to join Gosberryhole Lane. Continuing along the lane, which was very muddy due to farm traffic, they arrived at a junction of footpaths. Here a stop was made for refreshments while taking shelter under some holly bushes from the incessant rain. Continuing suitably refreshed the party walked up towards the Cloud Plantation to join a further path down through woodland. Unfortunately the path was blocked by fallen trees necessitating diversions to eventually re-join Gosberryhole Lane. This was followed down to the road and thence down to the car park.

It had been a wet and very muddy walk, but Congleton Ramblers are very resilient and never complain.   [AW]



Sunday 19th February - Congleton

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 3 mile walk in the Congleton area. On a mild winters day 23 walkers including 4 newcomers set off from West Street Car Park, walking down Vale Walk to join Priesty Fields. This footpath was followed to Lamberts Lane and turning to walk along the lane to the bridleway which goes across Astbury Golf Course. They followed this route safely across the fairways to enter woodland. Continuing along to eventually arrive at the Macclesfield Canal. They walked along the canal towpath to re-join Lamberts Lane at the cross-over bridge. Here a stop was made for refreshments. The walk then continued along Lamberts Lane to join a footpath over Gibsons Field. Continuing along eventually arriving at St. Peter's Church Cemetery. The walk went through the cemetery and passed by the church to eventually re-join Vale Walk and return to the car parking area. 
It had been a pleasant walk in favourable weather. 
[AW]

Sunday 12th February - The Western Edges (Biddulph)

Due to the forecast of heavy snow in the Buxton area, the scheduled walk was put on hold for the time being. In its place, the walk leader chose the Western Edges. This is a lapwing signed walk created by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council. Leaving the car park of the Talbot Arms, ten ramblers joined the Hurst Road before turning right to cross the park land of an impressive Victorian house. A wooded area followed before the route headed in the direction of Biddulph Park Chapel. A section of road walking took the group towards Troughstone Hill where the walkers had excellent views across to Mow Cop and the Cheshire Plain. Rather than rejoining the Hurst Road, an alternative path was chosen that traversed along a narrow valley with steep inclines down to a tributary of the River Dane.

The route continued uphill, before turning right in a southerly direction towards Biddulph Moor.  Despite the grey day there were magnificent views towards the Biddulph Valley. After several fields the group crossed New Street onto farm tracks on two occasions (to avoid walking along the road) before crossing several fields with craggy outcrops on the hillside. Reaching Park Lane the walkers entered Lodge Barn Road, heading towards Knypersley Reservoir. 
Descending the fields, the group had a good view of one of the lakes which sit in a former glacial melt water channel. Entering the Greenbank Country Park the walkers continued along the banks of the reservoir towards Biddulph.

Exiting via a stile the group climbed up spotting Mill Hayes Road to our left. The walkers chose to alter the route again by walking up to some miners cottages above Mill Hayes. After dicing with death crossing the main road, the ramblers joined the disused railway line heading due north. The path passed under a bridge that is the site of the main British east-west watershed. Water flows north from here into the River Dane and finally to the Irish Sea. The head-streams of the River Trent flow southwards and then east to the North Sea. Turning left before Gillow Heath, the path passed spoil heaps from the mines before heading steeply up to Congleton Edge. Unfortunately at the renowned view point, there was the usual evidence of take away food wrappers and beer cans littered around. By this time, the walkers were feeling very hungry. The road was exposed to a sharp easterly wind but they were able to find a sheltered place behind some banks of heather. One member of the group decided to try out his two man emergency shelter. This was apparently very warm, but he struggled to find the way out again which was very entertaining for the rest of the group. By this stage it was snowing and there was a significant wind-chill factor. Moving on rapidly, the walkers took a more sheltered route by diverting through Willocks Wood before coming out at Nick i' th' Hill. Proceeding down to Whitemore, and then across the Biddulph Brook, the walkers climbed up a steep muddy bank. Having manoeuvred around via some curious stiles, the group emerged onto Grange Road adjacent to the Talbot Arms. The ramblers had managed to escape most of the snow threatened by the weather forecast, but not the mud and they all had filthy trousers and boots, the downside of walking at this time of year.
[JT]

Saturday 4th February - Stockport to Etherow

Congleton Ramblers took a different approach and used public transport for Saturday's walk, firstly taking the train to Stockport. From Stockport Station a short walk through the town brought us to Vernon Park and the Goyt Valley Way, this is a delightful riverside walk (if a little muddy at this time of year) and gives no sign of the surrounding urban area, appearing surprisingly rural. The river side path was followed to Chadkirk. At Chadkirk some time was spent visiting the listed building of Chadkirk Chapel. A chapel has been on this site since 1347. After this break a short, steep ascent brought the group on to the Peak Forest Canal, which they followed as far as Romiley. From Romiley the uphill work began - first to Top'o'th'Hill, then on to the appropriately named Back'o'th'Hill and finally to our highest point of the day at Werneth Low. The walkers enjoyed ever better views as they climbed. They looked over to the Pennine Hills with their dusting of snow to the east , and in the opposite direction looked out beyond Cheshire to Merseyside and Wales. The last section of the walk was mostly downhill, descending to Etherow Country Park where there were plenty of wildfowl, to see on the open waters. It was then only a short distance on the level to the end of the walk at Compstall. The group boarded a bus back to Stockport. They were just time for refreshments before catching the train back to Congleton. Distance walked was about eleven miles. 
[IC]

Sunday 22 January - Chelford.

On a rather grey Sunday afternoon 19 walkers set off on a walk round Chelford. Chelford is surrounded by rural farmlands and it was expected to be a muddy walk because of the conditions.  Nevertheless the walkers set of in good spirts along Gipsy Lane.  The path was good and everyone noticed the hedge trimming that had recently been done.  The path led onto Peover Lane where there was no footpath and the leader advised everyone to take care.  The Shoppe on the corner was reached without any mishap and a right turn was made along the busy A535. The route continued up the side of St Johns Church and across the fields.  The fields were muddy but it was fine. The group passed Astle Farm and emerged onto a track.  A left turn was made over Bag Brook before the group walked up to the Macclesfield Road.  After crossing the road the ramblers proceeded a short way up Stubbly Lane where a short refreshment stop was taken.  The walk now took a westerly direction passed George’s Wood and in between sand-pit meres.  It was here that the leader thought that the path may be very muddy but everyone manged to paddle through the flooded bits. Chelford old school was skirted then the footpath went towards the railway.  The path went under the railway and along a lane into Chelford.  Passing the large silent cattle market the walkers continued to the main road and the railway station.  The start of the walk was only a short distance away where the cars had been left.    The mud had not been too deep or wide and although our boots were muddy it had been a very enjoyable afternoon. [MS]

Sunday 18th December - Alsager via Apedale

Congleton Ramblers were out again on 18 December for a walk from Alsager to Apedale and back. A distance of about eleven miles. Once again the walkers had good weather, although with recent rain, some tracks and fields were quite muddy. The group followed footpaths out to Audley via Foxley and Millend, paused to look at the site of Audley Castle - once a Norman motte and bailey structure. The walkers passed through Audley town to take a break for elevenses at Leddy's field. More footpaths led to the old railway line which the group followed to Miles Green. Then a short climb took the walkers up towards Apedale. Apedale is now a country park, well wooded with scattered ponds. It is difficult to imagine the railways, collieries and iron works that existed here up until the 1930s. It is now a pleasant location and after negotiating a maze of pathways the group climbed out of the valley up to Partridge Nest and on to the Wedgwood Monument for a lunch stop with great views. The return route was then downhill, past the old Jamage junction. Ignoring the intrusion of the noise from the A500 the walkers followed footpaths to Merelake, onto the Merelake Way and across the golf course. They finished the walk on the Alsager 19 footpath and took some post-walk refreshments in Alsager.  [IC]

Sunday 11th December - North Rode

On a rather dull afternoon 17 walkers set off on a 4 mile walk from North Rode. The walk started from close to the church and went a short way along the road before crossing a couple of fields and a small bridge over the River Dane.  The path emerged onto the busy A54 at Colley Mill where the leader asked everyone to walk in single file and look out for the traffic. Fortunately this was quite a short section and after several minutes the walkers safely crossed the road and began a more peaceful ramble.  Crossley Farm was passed then the track continued on through some fields till the canal was reached.  Here a short refreshment stop was made before the walkers continued along the canal and Bosley Locks.  The sun could be seen almost setting and the leader urged the walkers on to avoid finishing the walk in the dark. At the next bridge the group left the canal and followed Station Road towards North Rode. They then turned left and walked on to a metalled drive through a wood and past a lovely lake.  There was now only one more field to cross before getting back to the start.  The field was muddy and the walkers teased each other at the state of their boots. However muddy boots were forgotten as there was a fantastic sunset to be seen, red yellows pinks and blues, all colours of the rainbow.  Everyone had enjoyed the afternoon, the walk, the fresh air, the company and the beautiful sunset. 
[MS]

Sunday 13 November - Gawsworth to Congleton

This walk was a new venture. Rather than going by car the ramblers used the No 38 bus to travel from Congleton to the start of a linear walk from Gawsworth. The group walked back to Congleton via a 12 mile route. The 14 walkers were blessed with good weather and set off past Gawsworth Hall and the statue of Robert Peel hidden away by the side of the footpath. They crossed the fields to Fools Nook. The previous days rain meant it was slightly muddy underfoot. A delightful path winds up through the woods from Fools Nook to the back of Gawsworth Common and on this section the group stopped at 11 o'clock for two minutes remembrance. One one of the walkers gave a short reading. The walkers continued over the slopes below Croker Hill before a lunch stop in the sunshine on the banks of Bosley Reservoir. The final section was on easier ground following the canal and then picking up the Dane Valley Way at Havannah Village. The walkers followed the river Dane into Congleton, with time to spare for some refreshments in a local hostelry where they reflected on a good day out.
[MC]

Sunday 13th November - Astbury

26 ramblers set off on a 4 mile walk. Regular walkers were greeted and new walkers were welcomed to the walk. It was lovely to see lots of people keen to walk on a slightly overcast day.  The walk started from the car park in Congleton. Boots and coats were put on and after lots of chatter the group set off along West Street. The walkers turned left up Antrobus Street and then it was only a short distance to Astbury Mere. The group crossed the Newcastle Road at the crossing and walked a short way up Padgbury Lane before taking the path across the fields and along a lane.  After another left turn the group walked down to the main road close to Astbury Garden Centre.  The road was very busy and it took several minutes for the group to cross the road, and then proceed up Watery Lane for a short time.  The road was narrow and twisty and the leader asked everyone to walk in single file and keep to the side of the road.  More fields were crossed before the group came to Glebe Farm.  The route continued towards Congleton, along School Lane and Stoney Lane to Priesty Fields and back to the car park.  It had been a lovely afternoon. The weather had stayed dry and the mud had not been too wet and sticky. Everyone had enjoyed the walk.
[MS]

Sunday 30th October - Coombes Valley
 
Twenty two members of the Congleton Ramblers set off from Cheddleton Railway station for an exploration of the heavily wooded countryside of the Staffordshire Moorlands. Walking up a steep bank, they passed an ancient buttercross that had been restored by Challinor in 1990. This marks a boundary point and the place where, many years ago, goods were exchanged.  The walkers continued over fields via Fernyhill until they entered the Coombes Valley Reserve managed by the R.S.P.B.  This is an area famed for many tales about the ghostly Spiritholes Wood, and was an appropriate place to be on the day before Halloween. The autumn colours were spectacular, particularly the golden hues of the beech trees. The route then passed by Sharpcliffe Hall which features stone mullioned windows and grand chimney stacks before proceeding along a mile long drive lined with lime trees.

At Sharpcliffe Lodge, the walkers turned in a southerly direction towards Stocks Green and Ipstones. The route went through Ipstones, a lovely Staffordshire Moorland village that has some beautiful Georgian and Victorian building with well managed gardens. The walkers continued towards Foxt before veering off into Wieldon’s Wood and then up to Cloughhead.  A very friendly brown collie dog joined the walkers on their walk and followed them over several fields before being defeated by a high stile. Returning to Ipstones, a path and green lane were followed to Whitehough, another splendid stone property. This building is famed for its turret-like chimney stacks, and large gables with (now blocked) circular owl holes added to deal with the vermin in the house.

The walkers carried on through Whitehough Woods along a narrow winding path before re-entering the R.S.P.B. Reserve along a well defined path. The route goes across a very narrow bridge which some of the walkers struggled to squeeze along, before rising up a steep woodland bank. At Upper Fernyhill Farm, the group stopped to admire some deer in an enclosure and the beautifully planted grounds. At this point, the walkers rejoined the original route, only to be delayed by a group of cows slowly walking up the track into the milking parlour. Finally, the path passed via Basford Hurst Park where a collection of fourteen pigs were delighted to receive a gift of apples from one of the walkers. 

There are many spectacular vistas along the length of this walk, but unfortunately due to the low lying cloud and mist the walkers did not see them at their best. Nevertheless the walk was very atmospheric and the autumn colours delighted everyone.
[JT]


Sunday 16th October - Flint Castle is new destination for Congleton Ramblers 
                                                                    
Congleton Ramblers’ coach trip recently was to Flint, a new destination for the Group.  Three walks were on offer, one of 11 miles, one of 8 miles, both graded Moderate and a shorter walk of five mile graded Leisurely.  With 33 walkers out, it was interesting that they split exactly into three groups of 11.
 
The longest walk started by Flint castle/lifeboat station on the Dee estuary.  The group of 11 marched off smartly across the saltmarsh until the path back to the shore was reached.
 Shortly after entering Croes Atti lane, a short coffee break was taken until the rain became lighter. Proceeding on upwards by Flint mountain across the fields, the walkers came across a sports ground where boys playing football were seen, to the accompaniment of shouts in Welsh of encouragement. Pressing on a somewhat tricky route led to an overgrown path at Waen y Balls and the group reached the A5119 Flint road.

The weather improved markedly from here on with much sunshine.  Going down a narrow passage by Chwylfa Farm, after descending a field and a climb up, the walkers reached the Wat’s Dyke Way through the extensive woods. Eventually a lunch break was held by a small bridge over the stream that paralleled the woods. Resuming progress, the walkers continued on until they ended at a crossroads. Going straight over, they continued along more of the Way, leaving it at Cefn Coleshill and starting their descent back to the estuary. There were many fine views of  the Wirral & Merseyside beyond, and even Winter Hill.    The panoramic estuary was spread before them.
  Gradually descending  through the fields, the walkers approached Bagillt.  Here they crossed the old A548 coast road and the dual carriage way to pass over the railway footbridge.
 From the bridge, the whole of the estuary could be seen from seawards up to Connor’s Quay and the new Queensferry bridge. Many waders and seabirds which frequent the sandbanks could be observed.
Once on the embankment, the walkers turned SE towards Flint for the approximately 2 mile walk back to the castle via Flint Point. Two ancient docks were viewed en route with placards giving their history and then the castle ramparts hove into sight.
The castle is free to visit, with information boards giving it’s history.

The 11 walkers on the middle walk were dropped off by the coach on the A5119 Flint Road  and followed the same route via Wat’s Dyke Way and the estuary back to Flint.

The 11 walkers on the short walk started their walk at Greenfield Business Park, following the Wales Coastal Path along the estuary of the River Dee back to Flint.  At first the rain came down and visibility was so bad that the Wirral coastline across the Dee could not be seen.  However after about half an hour blue skies started to appear and the weather and the visibility improved.  Milwr Outfall Tunnel, called “The Holy” by local people because water from St Winefride’s Well at Holywell flows through it, was reached, quickly followed by the remains of Bettisfield Colliery, the biggest Colliery in the area in the 19th century.

Taking a left turn here the group reached Fisherman’s Inlet, used by local fishermen for seasonal fishing for cockles and shrimps.  The sun shone and a coffee break was taken.  From here a short climb led to a hilltop viewpoint with a beacon held by an impressive metal Welsh Dragon.  After enjoying the views, the group descended to continue along the well maintained path.  This area is reclaimed from the coal workings and has been planted with a range of deciduous native trees, beginning to acquire their autumn colouring and beautiful to observe and walk through. 
After lunch  Flint Point, the location for a second coastal beacon, was reached and a final short break taken.  From here it was a short walk past the old Flint Dock to reach Flint Castle. This had been a leisurely walk with plenty of time to observe the scenery, read the various descriptive notices and spot the birds on the estuary. 
All three groups adjourned to a local hostelry for various forms of liquid refreshment before rejoining the coach for the journey home.

[GC / MD / MB]


Friday 30th September to Sunday 2nd October - Congleton Ramblers visit Northumberland

On 30th September 33 members of Congleton Ramblers went north to Wooler in Northumberland. Wooler is a small market town known as the ‘Gateway to the Cheviots’. The group stayed at the comfortable and friendly Tankersley Arms Hotel. The hotel has a long history. It was built by the first Earl of Tankersley to accommodate any guests he did not have enough room for in his home at Chillingham Castle. It provides an ideal base and was the starting point for most of the weekend’s seven organised walks, four of which were led by local guide team ‘Reaching 4 the Stars Ltd’.

 Wooler also provides weary walkers with a choice of venues for after-walk refreshments.

On Friday 30th, when most of the group had gathered at the hotel and eaten lunch they set off on a leisurely walk of 6 miles. They followed the Wooler Water towards Brewery Lane which is part of the St. Cuthbert's Way route. St Cuthbert’s Way is a long-distance footpath of about 63 miles. It links Melrose in the Scottish Borders, where St. Cuthbert started his religious life in 650AD, with the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the Northumberland Coast, his eventual resting place and his original pilgrimage shrine.  The walkers headed to Weetwood Moor and then parted from St. Cuthbert’s Way towards Fowberry Moor Farm. They followed a bridle path back to Whitsun Bank then along Brewery Lane back into Wooler. 

On Saturday 1st October there was a choice of 3 walks. The shortest was a leisurely walk of around 4 miles to Roughting Linn and Ford Moss Nature Reserve. Ford Moss has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1968 and in 2000 it became an EU Special Area of Conservation (SAC).  It features a variety of exciting flora and fauna as well as the historical remains of an abandoned mining community. Roughting Linn is a picturesque and almost hidden waterfall alongside an ancient carved rock. The rock is the largest example of prehistoric carvings in England. It is covered in carvings of cups, groups of cups, cups and rings (some with gutters) as well as keyhole designs and linked grooves.

The second Saturday walk was a moderate walk of 11 miles starting from the hotel. The group headed along Wooler High Street to Ramseys Lane then went south towards Wooler Common Ponds. The walkers strolled through woods then followed a grassy path until they reached an old railway carriage. They headed west onto Gains Law (319m) and then they followed a section of St. Cuthbert’s Way. The group walked along a sheep track towards Bells Valley then circumnavigated Watch Hill and Fredden Hill before joining the road and heading for Commonburn House. After a further 4km they arrived back at the old railway carriage. The group followed a track to Humbleton and then the road back to Wooler. The weather was good and the group enjoyed spectacular views including Cheviot (815m), Hedgehope (714m) and the North East coast.


The third walk on the Saturday was a moderate+ walk of 14.5 miles. The walk started from the hotel and the group went through Wooler towards Burnhouse Road and on to Low Humbleton. The walkers climbed Humbleton Hill (298m) and enjoyed extensive views towards Cheviot and Hedgehope Hills. They then headed back towards Wooler Common, following St. Cuthbert’s Way for a short time before heading over westward over moors towards Broadstruther, which is an old shepherds’ cottage. There were several fires burning on the moors. Farmers burn small areas at different times to produce a mosaic of young and old heather plants. This provides food, shelter and nesting areas for grouse. Sheep also like the tender shoots that grow back after a fire. The walkers then headed south/south easterly towards the picturesque Harthope Valley and followed Harthope Burn towards Casey Burn Bridge. The final part of the walk took the group back northwards towards Earlhillhead Farm and through woods to Wooler Common and Wooler.

 

On Sunday 2nd October there were again 3 walks to choose from.  The short walk was just over 3 miles and the group went to St. Cuthbert’s Cave. This is an overhanging outcrop of sandstone, supported by an isolated pillar of stone. It is reputed that monks from Lindisfarne brought St.Cuthbert’s body to rest here for a short period in 875AD following Viking raids on the island that led to the abandonment of the Saxon monastery. The monks carried St.Cuthbert’s body with them for 7 more years until it was laid to (temporary) rest in Chester-le-Street.

The second Sunday walk was a moderate walk of 11.5 miles. Starting from the hotel the group headed up Ryecroft Way past the old Primary School onto Burnhouse Road. The walkers went through a campsite to follow the road towards Humbleton and along a track that took them past a pond. They followed a stream, then crossed over it to follow a track that went up Harehope Hill and led them towards Gleadscleugh. Just before Gleadscleugh the group crossed over a small bridge and walked uphill for 4.5km until joining a section of St. Cuthbert’s Way. They headed south westerly towards Commonburn House then along a track towards Humbleton Hill, skirting the hill to reach Humbleton and re-tracing the starting section of the walk back to Wooler. During the walk the group had superb views of Cheviot, the Scottish borders and the North East Coast.

The third Sunday walk was approximately 9 miles and was a moderate+ route up to the top of Cheviot (815m). This is Northumberland’s highest point and is the last peak on the Pennine Way.  The summit of the Cheviot is very flat. It is an ancient, extinct volcano covered with an extensive peat bog up to 2m deep. The Northumberland National Park authority have laid down stone slabs on the main access footpath to prevent erosion damage to the peat and to make access to the summit safer for walkers. The starting point for the Congleton walkers was Langleeford in Harthope Valley. The walkers headed north towards Blackseat Hill (461m) then south/south-westerly to Scald Hill (549m) before ascending Cheviot. The group headed south-westerly towards Cairn Hill then south to Scotsman Knowe. The return route to Langleeford followed Harthope Burn. This provided the walkers with plenty of opportunities to practise crossing streams as the path zigzagged from one stream bank to the other.  


Sunday 2nd October - Kermincham

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 3 mile walk in the Kermincham area. On a beautiful warm Indian summers day 21 walkers set off from the parking area near to Pinfold Farm. Crossing over a stile to enter a field, which was traversed to join Cross Lane and walking to link with a cross field footpath. This footpath was followed over several fields all of which were cropped with maize. Eventually they passed by the livery stables and saw many horses in their individual paddocks. Continuing over the fields and several stiles they made a stop for refreshments nearby a small lake, which was adorned with bulrushes and other features. 

After the break the walk continued along Forty Acre Lane to link up with Cross Lane again. This was followed passing by Kermincham Hall, Brook Farm and Ashtree Farm to link with a cross field footpath, which was followed down to the bridge crossing over Swettenham Brook. Now ascending the steep footpath up to a crossing lane. The walk followed lanes crossing a footbridge by the ford and continuing along roads back to the starting point. 

It had been a pleasant walk in beautiful warm weather. They had to contend with several stiles and quite steep gradients but still very enjoyable. 
[AW]

Wednesday 21st September - Acton Bridge

Ramblers enjoy a pleasant (r)amble on good paths.
The September monthly Wednesday walk for Congleton Ramblers was a leisurely walk of about 4 miles from Acton Bridge near Northwich.  A group of 9 walkers set off from the Leigh Arms pub adjacent to the Acton Bridge swing bridge over the Weaver Navigation.  To the surprise of some the group first headed away from the water to cross the A49 and take a quiet road and track to reach the Trent and Mersey Canal.  Turning left the group walked along the canal towpath, noting the boats moored along the canal, presumably returned home after their summer travels.

After about ¾ mile the walkers turned away from the towpath to walk downhill to reach the Weaver Way close to Dutton Locks.  At this point a light drizzle started to fall so a short break was taken while waterproofs were donned.  Then, passing by the Locks the group continued on the good path for a short distance before turning right to follow the actual River Weaver.  A left turn took the group into a waterside field where they followed the grassy path under the railway viaduct to reach the Weaver Navigation again.  By this time the drizzle had stopped and the waterproofs were discarded.

From here the group completed the triangle to arrive once more at Dutton Locks.  Enjoying the easy walking on the good track, the group then continued  alongside the Weaver Navigation to pass under the swing bridge and return to the Leigh Arms.  Here most of the group enjoyed a pleasant lunch before returning home.
[MB]

Sunday 11th September - Dovedale and Bunster Hill

A circular walk from Dovedale Car Park provided sixteen Congleton Ramblers with an excellent 9 mile September walk. The warm weather and fantastic visibility added to the walkers’ enjoyment.

The group made an early enough start to provide, initially, sparsely peopled footpaths. This soon changed, with many country lovers out enjoying the late summer sunshine.

The walkers had a break in the small village of Milldale. Polly's Cottage, as always, provided welcome refreshment. An uphill walk to Alstonefield followed, then across to Stanshope and into the beautiful small and quiet valley of Halldale,then back to Dovedale.

Then came the sting in the tail!. The final ascent to Bunster Hill is short but very steep. A few of the walkers retraced their steps back along Dovedale and re-joined the main group at the car park. Most of the group persevered and reached the summit. They were rewarded with some of the finest views in the Peak District. A steep, tricky descent was a fine conclusion to an excellent day out.

[IM]


Sunday 4th September - Derwent Edge

On 4th September fifteen members of Congleton Ramblers started an 11 mile expedition to Derwent Edge from a base overlooking Ladybower Reservoir.

Having passed through the busy Fairholmes Visitor Centre the party headed for the impressive twin-towered Derwent Dam that is celebrating its centenary this year. Building of the dam started in 1902 in response to the demands of the industrial revolution and was eventually completed in 1916. Here famously during the Second World War pilots of 617 squadron practised low level flying techniques needed for operation in the “Dam Buster” raids due to its similarity to the German Dams they were targeting.

The party climbed up by the dam wall to walk along the track on the western shore of Derwent Reservoir diverging just before Howden Dam to head via the deep clough of Abbey Brook through trees towards peaceful heather clad open moorland. A heavy rain shower provided dramatic skies above the surrounding hills as the route progressed via Sheepfold Clough onto the Edge at the viewpoint of Lost Lad where a young shepherd boy who lost his life in freezing conditions on the moors many years ago.

Lunch was taken on Back Tor with members tucked in amongst the rocks to find shelter from the wind that is an almost constant feature of Derwent Edge. From here there are panoramic views to the west of Bleaklow and the eastern end of the Kinder plateau, Win Hill and the great Ridge of Mam Tor. In the distance easterly can be seen the tower blocks of the city of Sheffield.

One or two members were unable to resist the challenge of a scramble to the triangulation column perched on top of the Tor before the group continued along the broad path through the heather, gradually descending to the end of the Edge at Whinstone Lee Tor. Derwent Edge is characterised by the series of rocky Tors along its length such as the Cakes of Bread, Dovestone Tor and The Wheel Stones - also known as the Coach and Horses because of how it appears in silhouette when viewed from the east. Perhaps the most well known is the Salt Cellar that sits prominently above the site of the lost village of Derwent and is often used in publications about the Peak District.

The route from the edge descended alongside a small plantation to cross Grindle Clough and pass through a collection of ancient barns before continuing through pastureland to the reservoir path where the Group completed the circuit before heading for refreshment in Bamford.

[JD]


Sunday 28th August - Combs Moss and Black Edge

Following a journey in thick mist from Congleton, sixteen members of the Congleton Ramblers parked at the Chapel en le Frith station and began the anti clockwise walk on the high edges near Chapel en le Frith. Crossing the railway line, the walkers had a short walk rising gradually upwards to a very steep hill path. This route took them up to the remains of an Iron Age Fort at Castle Naze,  a group of crags popular with climbers. Reaching the top, the right hand side path along Combs Edge was followed. By this time, the mist had lifted, providing the walkers with panoramic views of Combs Reservoir and beyond. Continuing to the Pyegreave Brook, slow progress was made as the path is badly eroded in places and slightly vertiginous. As the walkers proceeded, they disturbed several grouse that were sheltering amongst the expanses of purple heather. The route goes past two buildings which are provided for grouse shooting parties, but there was no evidence that the “Glorious Twelfth” shooting had taken place. However, the sound of regular gun fire from the moors across the valley could be heard. 
The track continued in a south west direction overlooking the White Hall Centre and in the distance the Fernilee and Errwood Reservoirs in the Goyt Valley before turning southwards. This provided views of the Old Buxton Road, a Roman Road, and the busy Buxton A5004 road, before overlooking Buxton and Axe Edge. After Lightwood Reservoir, the path cut up Flint Clough before heading northwards along Black Edge towards the trig point. The walkers looked back over the vast grouse moor, the village Doveholes, and some extensive quarries and in the distance Kinder Scout. Then the route followed Short Edge, before returning to the Iron Age Fort and the descent back to the station.

This route is highly recommended provided that the weather is fine as it gives walkers extensive views throughout the day, and is in a very quiet part of the Peak District.

Sunday 28th August - Astbury Tea and Cakes

On August Bank Holiday Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4 mile walk in the Astbury area. This walk was the annual Astbury cake walk, calling at Astbury Church for tea and cakes. On a warm and sunny day, 35 walkers set off from Astbury Mere walking around the mere eastwards to join the steps taking them to the higher path. This was followed towards Fol Hollow to eventually join Lamberts Lane. Continuing along the lane and crossing the footbridge over Howty Brook to join a track to Astbury Golf Course. A brief stop was made for drinks before crossing the golf course, where the kind golfers guided the group safely across the fairway. Continuing along over cross field footpaths to arrive at Astbury Church. Here the group enjoyed a wonderful selection of delicious home baked cakes and tea or coffee. Many thanks to the ladies and gentleman of St. Mary's Church, who provided this wonderful service. Continuing the walk through the pretty village, the group walked through the never ending maize field to join Padgbury Lane. From here the group walked along the ginnel to the A34 and crossed safely over the pedestrian crossing to the footpath around the Mormon Church and thence around the mere back to the starting point. 

It had been a very pleasant walk in warm conditions with intermittent sunshine and a cooling breeze.
[AW]


Sunday 14th August - Southern Gritstone Edges

22 members of Congleton Ramblers set off in pleasant but cloudy weather from a car park next to the Robin Hood Inn at Baslow.

The walkers climbed steadily up through the woods below Birchen Edge before tackling a short steep climb to reach the top of the Edge. They continued along the Edge to reach the Nelson Monument.  This Nelson's Monument stands some twelve feet high on Birchen Edge overlooking Baslow. It is a stone obelisk, which was erected by John Brightman in 1810 - some 30 years before the Londoners got their 'Nelson's Column'! Just behind the column are three huge boulders. These are known as the Three Ships after the imaginative Mr Brightman carved the names VICTORY, DEFIANCE and ROYAL SOVRIN! into the rock.

The group continued northwards to the trig point and after a short distance descended across the moor to a crossroads on the A621.

After crossing the road the walkers made their way across the moor and along White Edge. After 3 miles they descended to reach the Grouse Inn on the A625.

The group continued along the path to Hay Wood before again crossing the A625 though woodland and along Froggatt Edge and Curbar Edge to reach Clodhall Lane picnic site.

From here the path took the walkers to Baslow Edge view point before they continued south to the Eagle Stone and the Wellington Monument. Eagle Stone took its name from the god Aigle who liked to throw boulders around. It was a local tradition that no local lad was considered fit to marry until he had shown his fitness and agility by climbing to the top of the stone. The Wellington Monument is an imposing ten foot high cross. It was erected in 1862 by army surgeon Colonel E.M. Wrench.

The group descended to Bar Road before turning east through the woodland of Jack Flat and over a packhorse bridge to reach the A621.

Crossing the road, the walkers climbed steadily up through the woods below Gardom’s Edge to the summit view point. From here they descended over pasture land down to the A619, emerging a short distance from the start point at the Robin Hood Inn.

The walk was packed with stunning views and the day ended with well-earned rest and refreshment in the pub.

[IF]

Sunday 7th August - North of Eyam

On a bright, windy day, fifteen Congleton Ramblers took advantage of ideal conditions with outstanding visibility to explore higher country to the north of the village of Eyam. Offerton and Abney Moors offer outstanding walking, good conditions underfoot, and Peak District views that are difficult to match. After the effort of reaching and walking on this higher ground, the walkers eventually descended on somewhat overgrown paths, to the attractive small village of Foolow. An easy stroll through fields back to Eyam rounded off a splendid, varied walk and left time for refreshments and sightseeing before our return to Congleton.

Eyam itself is well worth a visit. This attractive, well-kept village is most widely known for an outbreak of bubonic plague in1665. This sad occurrence is carefully recorded at various places in the village.

[IM]


Sunday 24th July - Holmes Chapel

On Sunday a party of the Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4.5 mile walk in the Cranage area. On a warm overcast day, 22 walkers set off from the parking area on Tremlow Lane and walked along the Hermitage Drive passing by Peartree Farm to join a footpath heading East. This footpath led walkers to a maize field, which in places was difficult negotiate. Continuing along a field footpath to walk down towards the railway viaduct. This towering structure is undergoing refurbishment with a new surface water drainage system and thousands of bricks being replaced. Continuing along the footpath alongside the River Dane, they made a stop for refreshments. Sitting by the flowing river they noticed the profusion of that foreign invader Himalayan Balsam. After refreshing their taste buds, they walked along to arrive at the Hermitage Bridge and from there continued up the Hermitage Drive to arrive back at the starting area. The walk continued along on the second leg of the walk, to join a field footpath at Heyhead Farm. This was followed into woodland, where a second stop was made for refreshments. Continuing along woodland footpaths to pass by the Hermitage turkey breeding farm they returned to the car parking area.

It had been a pleasant walk, the weather had been warm with an occasional spot of rain. The configuration of the walk was a figure eight, with two refreshment stops, ideal on a warm day.  [AW].


Sunday 12th June - Oakamoor

The Ramblers began their walk at the Lord’s Bridge, adjacent to the Red Road in the Churnett Valley. The weather provided them with drizzle and high humidity, ideal for the midges that congregate amongst the overhanging trees. The walkers crossed over two bridges, one over the River Churnett, the other the disused railway line and then continued along the disused line in the direction of Oakamoor. Passing the empty cricket ground, the walkers emerged at a picnic site. This is on the grounds of an old copper and brass works which was demolished in 1963. Several information boards provide an annotated history of the immediate area. Through the trees, the group could see the wide weir that was in full spate following the recent heavy rain. The route took the walkers across the main road and then a small track into Cotton Dell nature reserve – lush, valley-bottom woodland managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. As they proceeded up the valley, the walkers spotted a delicate wire fairy sculpture balancing on a log over the stream. Leaving the Dell, the Ramblers walked up a steep wild-flower meadow and saw another metal fairy holding onto a dandelion seed-head that was blowing in the wind. The trail continued uphill through mature mixed woodland before emerging onto a track. This provided views across the valley to Cotton College, an ex Roman Catholic school built in the nineteenth century and recently converted into a retreat. After continuing along the track, the walkers climbed upwards, walking across several fields occupied by curious cows that stopped chewing to watch the walkers. Eventually, they emerged by Rock Cottage, a building that has used a substantial rock face as one of its walls.
After several more fields, the leader led the walkers across the Whiston Golf course before passing in front of the clubhouse, a magnificent Victorian house that originally belonged to a local quarry and smelting copper mill owner. Across the road, behind some cottages there is the site of the long demolished Whiston copper smelting mill. Some of the local buildings are made from blocks of black copper slag.  The walkers continued over an area known as Mount Pleasant, before entering Harston Woods, a damp overgrown area enhanced by swathes of wild garlic and the remnants of bluebells. This led them onto a dismantled tramway which is now part of the Staffordshire Moorlands Way. The railway used to transport limestone from Cauldon Low down to Frogall Wharf and follows a straight line along some tall sandstone cliffs before emerging at Frogall Wharf. This is an area of important industrial heritage as there are the well preserved and structurally imposing brick lime stone kilns, the Cauldon Canal basin and disused railway lines, as well as several cottages which would have occupied by the workers. This area had been an important manufacture of copper products including the first transatlantic telegraph cables and the wiring for the Spitfire aircraft.
Climbing up another steep railway cutting, the walkers emerged at the other end of Whiston before heading down the bank to the Churnett Valley railway line.  This is maintained by a group of volunteers who hope that the line will eventually be reinstated along the valley to Oakamoor and Alton. However, currently the track stops just beyond Frogall Bridge. The route crossed over the railway and the River Churnett before joining the Staffordshire Way. The way continued parallel to the river over wet and muddy meadow land that had been badly churned up by cattle. Part of the path had recently fallen into the river and the walkers had to edge gingerly past this section before entering an area of farmland owned by the National Trust. We met the warden in a ditch, coated in mud as he tried to free a stream badly blocked with recent storm debris. Joining a track, the Ramblers proceeded up the dense Hawksmoor Wood and across Sutton’s Wood before descending Ousal Dale. The track continued past some sandstone outcrops and a large mill pond that had several black swans floating gracefully in the muted sunlight before emerging at the Ramblers Retreat. Finally the sun emerged and the walkers were able to enjoy refreshments before the journey home to dry out their wet boots.
[JT]

Sunday May 29th - Flash, a walk from the highest village in Great Britain

A party of 16 members of the Congleton Ramblers met outside of the Flash Primary school. The weather was perfect for walking, sunny but with a fresh breeze in the air. The village of Flash is 462metres (1,519 ft) above sea level and claims to be the highest village in the United Kingdom. This claim has been upheld by recent Ordnance Survey measurements. Flash is an isolated village which was probably developed to accommodate coal miners, agricultural labourers and their families. The area had a large number of coal pits which were first developed from 1401, and continued to be mined until the twentieth century. Formerly, Flash had a reputation for illegal activities such as cock fighting and counterfeiting, but to counter this Wesleyan Methodism was well established in Flash by the eighteenth century. The chapel built in 1784 is an imposing stone building in the centre of the village. It is now a private house.
The area near to Flash is of geographical interest due to the heads of several rivers that rise locally. The River Dane rises within the parish, the heads of the Rivers Dove and Manifold are just over the A53 adjacent to Flash, further south is the head of the River Churnet and to the north is the head of the River Goyt.
The view due south from the outskirts of Flash is outstanding and it is worth stopping to appreciate it before walking on. Our walk began by descending down a road in the direction of Ramshaw Rocks. From Flash Bottom, the ground was reasonably dry due to a recent drainage channel the farmer has dug out. Heading onto to Adder’s Green, we experienced the first mud of the walk as we struggled up the side of a stream and crawled under a fallen larch tree. The path ascended onto open moor land covered in bilberry bushes and heather. During the walk leader’s reccie of this area, she saw four deer on the horizon. This area is the Goldsitch Moss and Blackbank Valley Nature Reserve which is managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.  On the edge of the Reserve there are groups of low gritstone outcrops known as the Bald Stone. We saw two climbers balanced half way up one of the rock faces. Instead of joining them, we stopped for a break before travelling onto and across Goldsitch Moss. We had excellent views of the Hen Cloud, Ramshaw Rocks and the banks up to the Roaches. At this point, walking towards us, were three young women, including one from Spain. They were looking for Lud’s Church, and were heading in completely the wrong direction. Although they had written instructions, they did not have a map. They decided to accompany us as far as Gradbach. The route traversed on the opposite bank to Gradbach Wood. Somewhere in the woods, a bird was singing a repetitive call. A gravel road led us past various stacks of reclaimed quarried and slate tiles, stone pillars and other useful building materials. Having reached the track near to Gradbach, the three women decided to take a group photo of us before leaving with directions to Lud’s Church. We joined the road away from Gradbach, stopping to admire the nearly laid dry stone walls that line the drive way up to the old youth hostel. The building is now owned by a further education college. 
Once we approached the flood plain, the route joined the Dane Valley Way, going north eastwards towards Buxton. At this point, we were distracted by a box of flapjacks which were for sale adjacent to a farm house. A sign said they had been made by a four year old girl. The route of the DVW rises steeply up several fields before turning onto an old pack house trail. We stopped on a green bank next to the river to have our lunch before proceeding along the trail. This is badly eroded in places, with the path cut away into deep gullies. The trail joins up with two other pack horse tracks at Three Shire Head. In previous centuries, prize fighting was said to taken place near to Panniers Pool. Several families were taking advantage of the warm day by picnicking on the banks of the Dane. Our route continued along the DVW, crossing several areas of land that are always boggy. Some duck boards have been placed over the wettest stretches of ground, but we still managed to get mud coated boots. The landscape alters appreciably as the route goes through an area of disused quarries, the Danebower and Reeve-Edge Quarries. The path is surrounded by spoil heaps and the ruins of old stone buildings before opening up onto deserted moorland again.  Several lapwings tried to distract us by calling out and circling around the fields. As we traversed the hillside, we had extensive views to the south and east towards the Roaches and Morridge before dropping down to Orchard Farm and then Knotbury. Finally, we took a steep ascent up from Knotbury to Wolf Edge before arriving back in Flash. In total, we had walked thirteen miles, more than some had anticipated at the start of the day. Finally, we were glad to find that the local pub in Flash was open. Sixteen tired walkers were rewarded with cold refreshments. [JT]


Sunday May 8th - The Bluebell Walk

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4 mile walk in the Church Lawton area. On a very warm day 18 walkers set off from the parking area near to the Church. The first part of the walk was along the Trent and Mersey Canal towpath passing by several locks to arrive at Snape's aqueduct. Here they walked down the steps to join the road and pass under the aqueduct. Here the group made a brief stop to shelter from the incessant heat. Continuing along to a gate they passed through and joined the field footpath to Bratts Wood. Fortunately they now had the benefit of a cooling breeze.
The walk continued around a recently ploughed and sown field and as they passed by the wood they noticed a profusion of bluebells. Continuing over further field footpaths and passing by Ashbank Farm they crossed over a footbridge to enter Summer House Plantation. Here a stop was made for refreshments. They then walked alongside the river and noticed the many species of wild flowers, including bluebells, wood anemone, wild garlic, marsh marigold, celandines and jack-by-the-hedge. Eventually they arrived at the Mill Lane Plantation and as they walked in a circuit they saw the magnificence of the magic carpet of bluebells highlighted by the sun dappling down through the trees. They then returned along the woodland track to the car parking area.
It had been a very pleasant walk in very hot conditions. They had been privileged to see the magnificent display of pure English bluebells at their best.  [AW]

Sunday May 1st - Alstonfield Circular

At the beginning of May a group of 12 Congleton Ramblers completed a scenic and demanding 10 mile walk in the attractive village of Alstonfield.  A north westerly route, undulating and steep, took us to the top of Ecton Hill, a fine viewpoint in good weather.  The group had to be content with the absence of rain for most of what was a dull day.  The route then took the walkers south through Wetton to the Manifold Valley, including a contouring path high above this spectacular, scenic spot.  The return to Alstonfield crossed open country to Stanshope and finishing with a climb towards Alstonfield.  Harry's Bank was a short sharp sting in the tale, making refreshments on completion very welcome.  [IM}


Wednesday April 27th - Spring flowers and mud highlights of Ramblers’ walk in Peover Woods!

The weather was cold but sunny as 12 walkers set out on Congleton Ramblers’ 4 mile walk around Peover last Wednesday. Starting from Clay Lane, Over Peover the group turned right onto Grotto Lane to reach the park entrance to Peover Village Hall and Peover Hall.

The first signs of Spring flowers were seen as the group entered the beautifully well kept park.  In a grassy, lightly wooded area, there was an abundance of primroses and cowslips as well as various fascinating wooden carvings of bears, meerkats and an owl.  After this a pleasant grassed avenue surrounded by daffodils led to a lake within sight of Peover Hall.  Crossing a field there were excellent views of the Hall itself, the ancient home of the Mainwaring family from 1066 to 1919 and the base for General Patton during World War II.

Soon the group was on a track which led past the outbuildings of Peover Hall to a chrysanthemum nursery on Long Lane.  Turning here past the greenhouses, the group reached a set of steps leading into Peover Woods. Here a short coffee break was taken while enjoying the sight of several clumps of wood sorrel and a spread of bluebells.  After a warning by the leader of mud ahead and a promise of some delightful carpets of flowers, the group entered the wood.  The path along the first stretch had been cleared of rhododendrons and improved waymarking and some small bridges installed.  Nevertheless the route was significantly muddy although, with the help of some judicious detours away from the main path, the worst was avoided.  

Soon the Peover Eye, the river which forms the boundary between Goostrey and Over Peover, was reached.  Following the river, the walkers were rewarded with the colourful sight of carpets of blue bluebells, white wood anemones and yellow celandines, their reward for enduring the mud!

After leaving the woods, an easy walk along the main drive to Peover Hall and a short stretch of quiet lane walking brought the walkers back to the cars.  All were pleased to have seen Peover Woods at their best with the spring flowers emerging.   
[MB]


Sunday April 24th - A Visit to Magpie Lead Mine

On a chilly but pleasant Sunday in April, a group of 16 Congleton Ramblers walked from the pretty village of Ashton-in-the-Water, on the banks of the River Wye, up to the remains of Magpie Mine.
The walkers left the village by way of the 17th Century sheepwash bridge and crossed the busy A6.  A short climb took them to a riverside path and past the remains of bobbin mills, where the original water wheels and mill race can still be seen.  After passing the slough, an adit which drained the lead mine, the path left the river and climbed through Great Shacklow Wood, high above the valley. and on to Deep Dale.  A steep climb out of Deep Dale, took the group to the top of the ridge near Sheldon, affording beautiful views back over the valley and the first rather ghostly sighting of  the lead mine.  As the path to Magpie Mine was joined, the weather
turned quite cold and showery.  A lunch break was taken in the shelter of the ruins, with time to explore and listen to a short talk about the local heritage.  A path was taken to the village of Sheldon and on to the descent path over the shoulder to the right of Little Shacklow Wood.  The views down to the river were again enjoyed, as were the Spring flowers.  Ashford was soon reached ,where a parade of Classic Cars adorned with flags and presumably celebrating St Georges Day, passed by.  There was time for refreshments in the village before the journey home.
[SJJ]

Congleton Ramblers’ Wye Valley Wanderings

On 17th March 40 members of Congleton Ramblers made their way to the Wye Valley for a 3 night stay in a country house hotel near Monmouth. In addition to the very enjoyable walking, the weekend was filled with good company, good food and the odd unit of alcohol. The weather was mainly overcast but it didn’t rain so the walkers stayed dry - always a bonus!  Thanks to the time and effort of the organiser and the walk leaders, an excellent selection of walks was offered.

Thursday 17th March - an afternoon walk including a section of the Offa’s Dyke path

The walk was an afternoon ramble of 5¼ miles. The leader pointed out that Gloucestershire is not known for the good care of its network of paths!

The route from the hotel was through part of the forest known as Allen’s Grove. The beginning was boggy due to logging. Then began what can only be described as ‘almost impenetrable jungle’ – closely planted trees with thousands of bramble stems between. What fun, as the party of 27 (those who had arrived in time for the walk) held brambles down with one foot, whilst trying to step over more brambles. 

The group crossed a stream in a cutting. Steve – the strongest man of the group – balanced on stones part-way across to help everyone. Then, at last, a stile onto a farm track! 
The track led down to Bigsweir Bridge, crossing the River Wye. The route led off to the south first, following the alternative Offa’s Dyke path and climbing over fields to Hudnalls Wood. 

The leader explained that there was a steep climb ahead to a cliff, leading to a minor road. The climb led to a series of stairs provided by the Council. Thank goodness! The group then descended, via zig-zag paths, 200 feet to the Offa’s Dyke path alongside the River Wye. From this point, the path led straight back to the bridge. A short route then brought us back to the hotel for a welcome tea after what everyone agreed had been a most memorable walk. 
[BN]

Friday 18th March - Angidy Trail to Devils Pulpit

Starting from the lower wireworks carpark, the path took the walkers through the outskirts of Tintern to the Angidy River. The group passed several sites of what remains of the metal and wire making factories that used the water to drive the waterwheels that worked the bellows and hammers during the industrial revolution.

Moving on, the walkers reached Pont Y Saeson where the King of Tewdrig fought his final battle - defeating the Saxons in the 6th century. The group then back-tracked to a path that took them to the upper forest track. The route then dropped back down via the old lime kilns to Tintern Abbey where the walkers had lunch.

After lunch, 7 of the 15 walkers decided to have a more leisurely afternoon, leaving the remaining 8 to do the steep climb to Devils Pulpit. Devils Pulpit is a limestone rock jutting out from the cliffs. Legend has it the devil preached to the monks below, tempting them to desert their holy order. After taking in the stunning views over Tintern and the Wye Valley the walkers went back to the start point and the end of the walk.
[DM]

Friday 18th March – Gray Hill

The walk commenced on a cloudy morning from Foresters Oak picnic area in Wentwood - a mixed deciduous and evergreen area just north of Llanvaches and not far from Newport. The group travelled east and finally left the cover of the woods to begin a series of undulating treks along country lanes and fields reaching the little picturesque hamlet of Mynydd-bach where lunch was taken. Heading south through Shirenewton, passing some very charming country piles, the route changed direction to the west, heading for what was  to be the long haul up to the top of Gray Hill  from which  views could be had of the Severn Estuary. This was, for the group, the highlight of the walk as the surrounding countryside and Wentwood Reservoir could be seen. With only a twenty minute walk back to the cars, thoughts of refreshments mingled with the feelings of satisfaction that another good walk was almost completed.
[MGH]

Saturday 19th March – Wye Valley and Beacon Hill

The walk started at Trellech, a small village in the Wye Valley. Passing St Anne's Virtuous Well (a healing well) the walkers passed excavations for the lost village. After a leisurely walk passing Cleddon Hall the group arrrived at Cleddon Falls where Wordsworth composed a few lines above Tintern Abbey. After a short coffee break the walkers set off along the Wye Valley walk, stopping on the way to enjoy the fantastic views along the Wye Valley and of the river below. The path continued along a forest track rising to Beacon Hill where there were views of The Malvern Hills, the Cotswolds and Clee Hills. The group stopped here for lunch then made their way back to Trellech via the Red Lion pub. The walk ended at Harold's Stones - three bronze age megaliths over 2000 years old, from which the village got its name.  A really enjoyable easy 6 mile walk.
[JF and LF]

Saturday 19th March - Wye Valley and Symond’s Yat

The walk start point is at the English Heritage site of Goodrich Castle which has a visitors’ centre, cafe and parking.  The walk route led the walkers to Kearn Bridge then the path followed the beautiful loop of the River Wye. The route remained close to the bank with lovely views along the valley.  The path took the group past Welsh Bicknor where there is a gothic-style church alongside a youth hostel. A lovely spot for a coffee break. The walkers were unable to visit Symonds Yat as the bridge over the Wye was closed for repair but they had great views of the Symonds Yat Rock from afar. The distance covered was around 8 miles and was a leisurely enjoyable pace for everyone. 
[TM]

Saturday 19th March – a short walk with two crossings of the Wye

On Saturday a group of 6 walkers enjoyed a leisurely walk of nearly 4 miles from Symonds Yat, with the added excitement of two crossings of the River Wye.  The first was on the old wooden ferry from the Saracen’s Head Inn.  This flat bottomed boat is connected to a cable across the river by a chain and operated by a ferryman who pulls the chain along the cable – an intriguing experience for the group.
Arriving safely at Symonds Yat (West) the group picked up the riverside path and followed this easy route to Biblins suspension footbridge.  Obeying the instruction for “no more than 6 people at once”, the walkers noted the slight bouncy, swinging feeling as they crossed the central part with the River Wye flowing rapidly underneath and this led to a few exclamations of uncertainty.  But the firm ground on the other side was soon reached.
From here another easy walk along the disused Ross to Monmouth railway track brought the walkers back to Symonds Yat (East).  On the way they enjoyed watching several canoeists experiencing the thrill of shooting the rapids.  The walkers themselves, after the excitement of the two river crossings, were content merely to visit a local teashop before returning to their base at Lindors Country House Hotel.
[MB]
-------------------

March 20th Adlington

The 6.5 mile walk started close to Adlington Hall.  Ten walkers set off along Brookledge Lane before turning right into a suburban road which led onto another lane.  After a short while the walkers turned left and crossed the first stile of the day before crossing a muddy field to a farm.   The walk continued across another field with lots of sheep and led up to the Middlewood Way and the Macclesfield Canal. A short break was taken at the canal before turning left along the canal towpath for a short section.  Another couple of fields were crossed before emerging onto a quiet road.  The signpost now pointed the way to Jepson Clough where the path went close behind a very attractive house and down to a brook.  The canal was reached and this time the walkers crossed over the canal and walked along the side of a static caravan park.  Turning left, the walk led along the side of a field where donkeys were grazing and onto a lane which ultimately led to Adlington Basin where lots of canal boats are moored.  The walkers did not linger here but headed right, up a minor road and across several stiles towards Pott Shrigley.  There they had a welcome lunch break.  After refreshments and a rest the next part of the walk was along the road. There were some lovely views but the walkers were happy to turn off onto a footpath again. The route now continued along the side of Styperson Pool  and to the canal then back to the Middlewood Way. More stiles and fields were crossed before the walkers returned to Brookledge Lane where they had started. It had been dry and sunny and was a great day for a walk.  [MS]

February 24th Macclesfield, Lyme Green

On a bright and sunny Wednesday morning several members of Congleton Ramblers drove to Macclesfield to start the planned 5 mile walk.  Other walkers met them there and 11 people set off along the canal tow-path.  After approximately half a mile the ramblers left the canal and had a short walk along a quiet road before going up a farm drive and crossing a stile into a muddy field.  The ground was still partially frozen from the overnight frost, so the mud was less deep and the walking easier.  After a short walk alongside a stream the walkers emerged onto a road in Sutton.  There was a short stroll through the village before the walkers came to the open countryside.  The fields were not too muddy but the going was heavy and the group crossed 3 fields before turning right at a stream. It was a very pleasant walk as the sun was shining and everyone was happy to be out walking.  A short refreshment stop was made at a small bridge before the walk continued through some trees.   There was now some road walking and this was quite a relief after the muddy conditions but the leader warned that there was more mud to come!  The road was fairly quiet with only a few cars.  When the walkers came to the canal they turned right and headed back towards Macclesfield.  However it was not a straight route back and the route led up another muddy field to a farm before continuing round to cross the moss and meeting up with the canal once again.  There was only a fairly short stretch of tow-path walking before the walkers came back to their starting point and their cars.  Everyone thanked the leader for the walk and said they had enjoyed the day.  The bright sunshine and super views had made the walk very enjoyable. [MS]


Valentines Day Walk

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 5 mile walk in the Astbury area. On a bright and sunny but cold day 22 walkers set off from West Street car park. Walking along Crescent Road and Ivy Gardens to a ginnel leading to Astbury Street. Continuing to Astbury Mere Country Park and walking around the mere and noticing the resident bird life. From here the party walked along the footpath passing the Mormon Church to join the A34. Here they utilised the pedestrian crossing to cross over the busy road to join a ginnel that led the party to Padgbury Lane. Walking along the lane to a footpath taking the party over fields and crossing a footbridge over the Dairy Brook to join Bent Lane. Walking along to join a footpath over fields to join a green lane, following the green lane to link with a further green lane. A stop was made for refreshments, sheltering beside high hedgerows from the cold wind. Continuing along field footpaths to recross over the A34 to join Watery Lane. Walking along and passing by Whitethorn Farm to join a footpath over fields which they followed back to Astbury. At Glebe Farm they noticed lots of visitors admiring the Alpacas in the field. Continuing along past the primary school they walked over fields to join Lamberts Lane to walk to the Howty Brook and crossed over the footbridge to join Priesty Fields footpath and the Vale Walk and back to the car park.

It had been a very pleasant walk on a beautiful winter's day, cold but the winter sun afforded a degree of warmth.

[AW].



January 27th 2016 Congleton Ramblers Explore New Paths Through Rudheath Woods

Last Wednesday 10 members of Congleton Ramblers met at Shakerley Mere Country Park for a 4 ½ mile walk exploring the local meres and the village of Allostock. 

A short walk on the path round Shakerley Mere brought the walkers back to the entrance, where they emerged onto the road to turn left and walk along the verge to reach Sandy Lane.  Turning left onto Sandy Lane, a rather muddy byway used by vehicles for access to the houses, the walkers reached Boundary Mere on their right before turning left over a small bridge into Rudheath Woods.

This was the big surprise of the day for some of the walkers.  In the past these paths through the woods and around the meres, themselves the result of sand extraction, had been walked, albeit unofficially.  However at one stage they were closed and the walkers had not attempted to walk them for several years.  But now they have been officially added to the Definitive Map and provide several delightful routes.

Surprise over, the walkers followed the excellent path through the woods and alongside the meres, turning right onto a wider track to pass the caravan park and reach the A50.  After a short stretch beside the A50 the walkers turned off onto Chapel Lane.  Here one of the walkers reminisced about the old school house and Wesleyan chapel where he used to go to school, very happy days as he remembered them. 

From Chapel Lane the route became a bridleway passing through Chapel House Farm and finally joined Wash Lane to reach the Allostock – Peover Road.  Turning left here, the walkers came to the second entrance to Shakerley Mere.  There was a chance to observe the water birds, mainly ducks and geese, on the mere as the walkers took the good path back to the cars after a pleasant walk with the added thrill, for some, of discovering new paths. [MB}



January 17th 2016 - Wet feet for Ramblers on Holmes Chapel walk

Overnight snow had cleared and the weather was cold and dry, but wet underfoot, as 18 members of Congleton Ramblers' set off on a 4 mile walk from Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre.

After passing the school grounds, the group followed a footpath alongside a stream, which led to Broad Lane.  The lane took them to the clay pigeon shooting club which fortunately did not have a shoot on.  After several wet meadows and awkward stiles were negotiated, a small fast running stream had to be crossed. As there was no bridge, the walkers with Wellingtons had the advantage!  Sturdy steps rose alongside the M6 motorway to reach Back Lane. The noise of the motorway soon faded as the group returned to open Countryside. A short refreshment break was taken near a partly frozen pond on Pewit Farm.  
A series of stiles were crossed and a tunnel under the railway line was taken. A footpath was then followed along the meandering River Croco and back to the Leisure Centre, the group feeling refreshed after a short brisk walk in the fresh country air.  [SJ]


December 20th 2015 - Spring-Like Weather for Lach Dennis Pre-Christmas Walk

Congleton Ramblers 6 mile pre-Christmas walk started from the Duke of Portland pub in Lach Dennis, which has recently re-opened after after a short period of closure.  
17 walkers set off in unseasonably mild and sunny weather which lasted for the duration of the walk.  They took a footpath past Snig Hall, named after the eels (snigs) which swam in the local stream.  The group crossed several fields and took a track past Hulme Hall, a moated property which has recently been rebuilt.  Its moat is being restored and kept as a feature. A short refreshment break was taken, then lanes and field paths, which have plenty of signs of the salt extraction industry of the area were followed.  
A path through Holford Moss wood, a bit muddy in places, was followed and led to a field where a lunch break was taken.  The walk continued out to Moss lane past a salt works.  Several curlews flew overhead and their distinctive call was heard.  More fields were crossed, again muddy in places, before the walkers returned to the pub for a welcome drink. [SJ]

December 2015: Ramblers enjoy a leisurely walk in the Havannah area

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a four and three quarter mile walk in the Havannah area. On a very dull overcast day sixteen walkers set off from Rood Hill, following a footpath with a steep drop to the River Dane below. This footpath was followed passing by Hulme Wallfield and Sandylane Farms to arrive at Giantswood Lane. From here the group walked along a woodland footpath overlooking Westlow Mere and eventually joined a footpath crossing over fields to the A34 Manchester Road. Walking along the road to join Moss Lane and walking past woodland which appears to be a mangrove swamp. Continuing along Havannah Lane to the bridge over the River Dane. Here a stop was made for refreshments and here they noticed the awesome power of the water coming over the weir. Continuing the walk  now followed the riverside footpath back towards Congleton. A stop was made to observe the river running at full spate. In its heyday Congleton had many water powered mills driven by the River Dane. A free and clean source of power. The walk continued along through the park and then a further riverside footpath to return to the starting point.

It had been a pleasant walk. The weather despite being dull had remained dry much better than the previous days heavy rain.  [AW]



October 2015: Ramblers enjoy leisurely Autumn walk around Goostrey

Congleton Ramblers’ monthly Wednesday walk for October was a pleasant, leisurely 4 ½ mile walk around Goostrey. Parking at Goostrey Village Hall, 7 members took the path alongside the cemetery and then crossed Main Road to pass the church and Red Lion Inn before turning left onto a wide track. The route led the group past Blackden Hall, now a Victorian style black and white building but of much older origins. Further on the group passed the drive to Toad Hall and the Old Medicine House. This house, condemned, rescued and moved, is now home to The Blackden Trust (see www.theblackdentrust.org.uk).  It is a timber-frame building, probably built in the early 16th century for an apothecary in the village of Wrinehill, seventeen miles from Blackden.

On reaching Bridge Lane the group was unable to use the usual short cut across a field as it was head high in maize and so had to take a detour on the nearby lane. Following further quiet lanes the walkers reached a Restricted Byway, known locally as Appleton’s Lane. They turned along this, enjoying the autumn colouring of the trees as they walked. After about 15 minutes they reached a pleasant dell in the trees and took a leisurely coffee break.

From here the walkers took a path through fields and woods back to Goostrey. This popular path was created and opened in 2013 and is a great asset to the local footpath network. It emerges onto Mill Lane and the walkers then took this quiet lane back to Red Lion Brook, where they turned left onto the much walked path through Goostrey’s Bongs back to the church and, from there, to the Village Hall and the cars. No stiles and an easy walk meant that the walkers were home in good time for lunch after enjoying a pleasant leisurely and sociable walk. [MB]




30th August 2015:

Castleton Circular: a challenge for the muscles! [JT]
Thirteen Ramblers set off from Castleton car park to head up the steep climb through Cave Dale following the Limestone Way. As usual, the polished wet limestone made us glad that we were walking upwards rather than slipping downhill. The air was still, making the dale very humid. Passing nearby to the old Hazard Mine, we saw a large gathering of campers in the fields adjoining Rowler Farm. The route proceeded across Windy Knoll before ascending the steep climb up the pass between Mam Tor to the east and Rushup Edge to the west. We ignored the popular route up to Mam Tor which was already busy with walkers and dogs. Instead, we strode up along Rushup Edge, walking past Lord’s Seat. We stopped to admire the purple heather which was covering the distant hills to the north and east of Edale.Turning northwards onto Chapel Gate, we followed the path as it descended towards Barber Booth. There were magnificent views to the north over the valley to Kinder. Members of the group identifiedvarious routes they had taken to climb up to the Kinder Plateau and there were several tales of navigating on Kinder in the thick mist. We descended the lengthy Chapel Gate track, dodging several people on mountain bikes that flew down the track at a terrifying speed. Finally, the track joined the road to Barber Booth and then followed the track up to the chapel. The route then crossed a bridge over the main Manchester Sheffield railway line before heading over the fields to Edale. En route we saw several rare breeds of sheep, some with Dalmatian style black spots and elaborate horns.  On reaching Edale, the walk leader heard some rebellious comments from members of the group who thought we should stop offat the local hotel for a full Sunday lunch. Given our scruffy appearance, I don’t think the hotel staff would have welcomed our business.

Crossing the main road, we walked up the track to Hardenclough Farm. The land on this section of the Edale Valley is owned by the National Trust.  The walk began to ascend up a bridleway towards Hollins Cross. There are areas of significant erosion on this bridleway which would make it difficult to ride on. At Hollins Cross, we could see down into the Castleton Valley and across to the show caves. Again we found ourselves ascending, this time along Barker Bank and then up the steep slope of Backtor Nook, before heading for the tumulus at the top of Lose Hill. This is a very popular section of the ridge and was crowded with walkers, mostly walking in the opposite direction to us. This is the end of the ridge which starts at Mam Tor and which is known as the Great Ridge. The views on the top of Lose Hill are spectacular, taking in all points of the compass from Mam Tor and Rushup Edge tothe west, Kinder Scout to the north and Castleton and Hope to the South.We descended from Lose Hill by the path to the south east, eventually heading towards Losehill Farm. During our descent, we met a fitness instructor and his dog that had lost their way back to Castleton. We invited them to join us to walk across the fields. However, the dog was very reluctant to climb the stiles and it required several of the walkers to lift him over. As we walked, we described the route we had taken to the instructor. He seemed impressed that we had walked twelve and a half miles, with 2474 feet of ascent and 2474 feet of descent, especially as the oldest member of the group is aged seventy seven. Finally, we entered the picturesque back streets of Castleton which were thronging with tourists. Joining the masses, we found some well earned refreshments. [JT]

Astbury
On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4 mile walk in the Astbury area. This walk included a stop at St. Mary's Church for tea, coffee and cakes. On a warm overcast day, 26 walkers set off from Astbury Mere walking alongside the lake to climb the steps and then more steep steps to emerge onto Banky Fields. From here they walked along Waggs Road to join a sunken footpath and then a crossfield footpath to link with the Priesty Fields footpath. Walking along the footpath to Lamberts Lane to continue along to the Macclesfield Canal. Here they walked along the canal towpath to the footbridge and turned right to pass through woodland to arrive at the golf course. Having negotiated safely crossing the course they entered more woodland and continued, crossing a footbridge over the Howty Brook. From here they walked over several fields towards Astbury Village and arrived at the Church. Here they were joined by a further 9 rambling friends. They then enjoyed tea or coffee and a wonderful choice of homemade cakes. Many thanks to the ladies and gentleman of St. Mary's Church. The walk continued through the beautiful village to join a footpath through a field of maize. Having walked through this tunnel of a path they arrived at Padgbury Lane. From here they walked through the ginnel and out to the A34. Making use of the pedestrian crossing for a safe crossing of this busy road, they continued on a footpath passing by the Mormon Church and returned around the lake to the starting point.      

It had been a pleasant walk in ideal weather conditions.  [AW].


26 August 2015: Ramblers enjoy pleasant walk in the sunshine

Despite early morning rain, Congleton Ramblers’ recent Wednesday walk attracted 11walkers, all with fingers crossed that the weather would stay fine.  In the event the suncame out and it was a perfect morning for walking.On offer was a 5 ½ mile walk around Peover Woods with the option to cut it short to 4miles.  Starting from the northern end of Goostrey at a layby adjacent to a restricted byway known locally as Appleton’s Lane, the group headed along a quiet lane known as Red Lane,  so named  because it used to be covered in red brick shale. After about ½ mile the walkers took a field path on the left, which led to Foxwood Farm.  Here the walkers stopped to admire the attractive farmhouse with its plaque in the gable end reading “This house was built by Thomas and Ann Wright 1762”.

From here further field paths led to Grotto Lane where the group turned left.  A mixture of field paths and quiet lanes, led to the entrance to Peover Hall.  This was theancient home of the Mainwaring Family from 1066 to 1919 and, in World War II, wasthe base for the American General Patten.  Keeping on the drive as it passed by Peover Hall, the group reached the decision point.  Who wanted 4 miles and who wanted 5 ½?  There were leaders for both options.  After discussion, three walkers opted for the shorter walk while the remaining 8 walkers carried on.  Those on the longer walk continued along the track, passing through a wooded area before turning left near Long Lane Farm.  Here they passed greenhouses full of colourful chrysanthemums before descending steps to reach Peover Woods.  The path through the woods proved a bit of a challenge as a large fallen rhododendron bush blocked the path at one point.  Also with the recent rain, the path was very muddy andboggy in places.  However the group was up to the challenge and the Peover Eye was soon reached and followed to a small bridge in the woods.  The alternative walk took a shorter route through the woods to this point and then followed the same route via a rough meadow and a further wood to reach Appleton’s Lane.  Half a mile along this pleasant, easy to walk track brought the walkers back to the cars after an enjoyable morning’s walking. [MB]

28 June 2015: Woodhouse Green
On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4.5 mile walk in the Woodhouse Green area. On a warm sunny day 14 walkers set off along the lane to pass by the hamlet of Woodhouse Green. This little hamlet still has a red telephone box, albeit without a telephone. Continuing along and passing by Ditchway Farm and descending down to Pecks House to cross over a stile into a field. This footpath was followed down alongside the River Dane to link with the Staffordshire Way, the Gritstone Trail and the Dane Valley Way. The party followed these trails crossing over a footbridge into Raven's Clough. This is a beautiful stand of woodland with the footpath having a very steep sided drop into the valley below. They eventually emerged from the woodland to join a lane and after a while crossed over a stile to enter a field. Walking up to a crossing path, here a stop was made for refreshments, where they enjoyed superb views of the Pennines and Manchester in the distance. Continuing up to Cloudside and taking a further stop to enjoy 360 degree views. The group then walked down along the new footpath, which brought them down to the Bridestones. From here they walked along the lane back to the car parking area.
It had been a very pleasant walk. The weather was perfect with hot sunshine and a cooling breeze. They had covered 530 ft. of ascent and decent. All enjoyed the workout. [
AW.]

24 June 2015
On Wednesday 24th June a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4.75 mile walk in the Odd Rode area. On a hot and sunny day four walkers set off from the lay-by opposite to Little Moreton Hall. The first part of the walk was along the South Cheshire Way passing by Cuttleford Farm. After negotiating sections of strong undergrowth they arrived at Chance Hall Lane. Walking along the lane and passing by Pump Farm they joined a footpath at Little Pump House. This footpath was followed over fields to eventually arrive at Holehouse Lane. Walking along the lane to join a crossfield footpath, which was followed out to the Claphatch. Walking along to Scholar Green and along the lane towards Kent Green Farm and taking the track Low Farm and the footpath up to the Macclesfield Canal. The party walked along the canal towpath passing by Ramsdell Hall. Here they noticed the wrought-iron fence alongside the towpath. This fence was built when the canal was constructed in 1827. It has been restored by the Macclesfield Canal Society and is a credit to all concerned.  The walk continued by joining the South Cheshire Way back to Little Moreton Hall and the car parking area.
It had been a pleasant walk in hot conditions enjoyed by all.[AW.]

26 April 2015:  Ramblers enjoy an excellent day out in Wensleydale

On Sunday the destination for Congleton Ramblers’ coach outing was Hawes in Wensleydale.  The forecast had gradually improved during the previous week and, in the end, the day was bright and sunny with good visibility all round.  Three walks were on offer, long, medium and short and the party divided more or less equally among the three groups.

The longer walkers were first off the coach, getting off near Ribblehead Viaduct.  They were offered a breezy, 9 mile high level moorland walk from near the Viaduct to Hawes. Conditions underfoot were excellent, and visibility was outstanding. The Lake District was clearly in view to the west, while North Yorkshire could be seen far to the east.
The walk took in sections of both the Pennine Way and the Dales Way, finally arriving at Hawes on the Pennine Way through the village of Gayle.

The medium eight mile walk, started from the village of Bainbridge and followed the river out to Semer Water, where a break was taken and the lovely weather and views were enjoyed.

The party of 15 then climbed first on lanes then on tracks climbing steeply, soon rising above Semer Water and Whether Fell with fabulous views all around, Addlebrough and Pen Hill were bathed in sunshine. After reaching the Roman Road, the party descended fairly quickly to Burtersett and onto Gayle to reach Hawes.
The short walk of 4 ½ miles started from car park by the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes. The group crossed Haylands Bridge over Gayle Beck and took the Pennine Way route to Hardraw.  Here a break was taken and most of the walkers opted for a coffee in the local coffee shop.  After this came the main climb of the day, short and sharp on a well paved and stepped path up to Simonstone Hall.  The views opened up across Wensleydale to the hills on the other side as the walkers reached the end of the climb.  

Now on the level, the walkers crossed a series of fields, many full of sheep and delightful playful lambs.  The fields were separated by traditional drystone walling with stone steps and strongly spring loaded gates set in them.  These can be difficult to get through but the walkers were helped by a younger member of the group, who was working for her Duke of Edinburgh Award – her help was much appreciated.  On reaching the hamlet of Sedbusk, the walkers headed back downhill towards Hawes and enjoyed a lunch break by the river before arriving back in Hawes. 

All three groups had time to enjoy exploring Hawes, many opting to visit the Wensleydale Creamery and take the opportunity to take home some Wensleydale cheese.  Others chose to visit the Dales Countryside Museum or find a local teashop or pub before all returned to the coach for the return to Congleton. [MB]


April 2015: Strong winds but good views on Ramblers’ Lyme Park walk

On Sunday 11 walkers met with the two leaders for a 6 ½ mile walk in the Lyme Park area.  Rain was predicted from about 2 pm so the walkers were hoping tht most of the walk would be completed before it came.
Starting from the car park near Coppice Wood on the Middlewood Way at Higher Poynton, the group walked briskly along the road in the direction of Lyme Park to reach West Parkgate.  The road walking out of the way, the group relaxed and enjoyed the track through the woods and onto open fields to reach the centre of Lyme Park.  The time was now about 12 noon so the group took a “first lunch break” at the centre, taking advantage of the picnic tables there.

The next part of the walk was up to the Cage and, happily, the strong winds starting to blow up appeared to be behind the walkers and helped to get them up the hill!  The excellent views in all directions were enjoyed by the walkers and were a particular surprise to several members who had never been to Lyme Park before.  The wind continued to blow strongly as the group headed downhill to the main entrance.  A left turn here brought the walkers to Elmerhurst Wood. Now sheltered from the wind, the walkers enjoyed the pleasant walk through the wood.  
Eventually emerging into open country again, the walkers took their “second lunch break” sitting on some handy tree trunks.  Afterwards the walkers took the steps down to Crow Wood and walked through there back to the centre, noting on the way the splendid Adventure Playground for children.  Some walkers had already brought their children or grandchildren there, others promised themselves to do so in the future.
Back at the centre, the group retraced their steps a short way before turning off onto a path on the open hillside heading for Green Farm.  There was now a feel of rain in the air but, happily, the strong winds helped to keep the rain at bay.  The walkers took what is clearly a newly routed path around Throstlenest Farm to reach a bridge over the Macclesfield Canal.

The final stretch of the walk was through a damp wooded area with well placed bridges, steps and boardwalks.  Here the walkers admired the profusion of wood anemones and celandines and noted that the wild garlic would soon be in flower.  One walker was particularly pleased to spot her first bluebell of the season on a grassy bank.  
This path emerged onto Coppice Road and, there in the car park opposite, were the waiting cars.  The worst of the rain had been avoided and everyone had had the cobwebs blown away in the winds. [MB]

14 December: Leek Landscapes [JT]
Sixteen members of the Congleton Ramblers set off from Ladderedge Country Park to complete a circular walk around the outskirts of Leek. Once safely over the busy A53, they followed a path along the side of the canal feeder channel. This takes water from Rudyard Reservoir to the Leek branch of Cauldon Canal and was constructed at the close of the eighteenth century. It was designed by the engineer John Rennie. The main purpose was to provide extra water to the busy network including the main Trent- Mersey line. We followed the feeder for over a mile, past the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve. In summer this is an ideal place to see tree creepers and woodpeckers. Today we saw a robin perched on a bush adjacent to the path. He remained there despite the presence of the walkers. Further on, we disturbed a heron and two mallard ducks. The route was extremely muddy and churned about by cattle.  

Bearing right, we crossed under a disused railway bridge before reaching the Leek Macclesfield road. The walk took us beside a chemical plant before rising out of Leek onto a high plateau. This summit provided an excellent view of the Leek and the surrounding countryside. The skyline of Leek is characterised by the mills which were used by the silk weaving and dyeing industry that flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The pure hill water of the river Churnet was considered an asset in the manufacture of the natural dyes admired by William Morris.

  We descended down towards the Abbey Green Inn and Abbey Farm.  The Cistercian Abbey of Dieulacres once stood near to this area. It was built in 1214. The stone probably came from the quarries visible on the walk. For a century or more the abbey dominated Leek’s economy and many of the farms in the area were owned by the abbey. However, before the dissolution of the monastic system in England between 1536 and 1538, the abbey had gone into financial and moral decline. In 1538, the state took away or sold off what remained including roof lead and iron work. Gradually the stone work collapsed and was used in other buildings nearby.
The walk rises up a hill amidst fine parkland trees, and through a distinctive commemorative gate and adjoining fence adorned with a lattice work of branches. At the crest of the hill we had fine views towards Tittesworth Reservoir, the Roaches, Ramshaw Rocks, Gun Hill, etc. Initially, descending towards the reservoir, we then turned towards Leek past South Hillswood Farm and then up to Horsecroft Farm. The route then took us through a housing estate before emerging on the Leek Buxton Road. Crossing into Mount Road, we proceeded along the road known locally as Knivedon Hill. There are several benches situated on the grass verges so we stopped for lunch. Several horses joined us, their heads straining over the wall in hope of an apple or two. We didn’t linger for long as the damp weather was getting into our bones!
The route continues by crossing over the Leek Ashbourne Road on the Lowe Hill Bridge before proceeding to Ballington Grange Farm, another farm with a monastic history. We then entered Ballington Wood via a squeeze gap. This must be beautiful in the spring when the Rhododendrons are flowering, but currently it is damp and muddy!

Emerging onto the Leek Cheddleton Road, we crossed to walk alongside the Leek Cemetery before walking past the cattle market.  A less scenic section follows which goes along a disused railway line adjacent to an industrial estate. This looks as though it is in the process of being demolished. The vista was not enhanced by the fact it was now drizzling. Finally, the route emerges by a partially filled in canal aqueduct, also designed by John Rennie.  This used to take the canal over the Churnet River before taking it into the centre of Leek but was filled in at the advent of the railway arriving in Leek. The Churnet is dammed upstream at Tittesworth. Much of the water is taken by Severn Trent Water to supply customers in the North Midlands but a small amount is released from the dam to maintain a flow in the river. Finally, we followed the river upstream back to the car park, relieved that we were not too wet at the end of the walk.[J.T]


23rd November 2014: Hulme Walfield : Ramblers enjoy local walk in pleasant Autumn weather

On a very pleasant Autumn Sunday afternoon, 19 members of Congleton Ramblers met at the Tesco Congleton car park for a 4 mile walk around Hulme Walfield.  They started by walking uphill to the Rood Hill traffic lights before turning left onto the tarmac path, avoiding the overgrown actual right of way immediately next to the fence above Tesco’s,   As the surfaced path ended the group continued ahead on a pleasant path through woods and fields to reach a minor road above Westlow Mere.  Turning right here, the group enjoyed easy walking on the road to reach Giantswood Lane.

Here the group turned left along a grass verge, eventually to cross the road and take a path across fields to reach Brickhouse Farm, now substantially redeveloped as a large mansion.  After skirting the house on the marked path, the group walked along the drive to reach Smithy Lane.  Turning right, a stretch of lane walking led the group to a footpath off to the right through a small wood.  Here the walkers enjoyed a short coffee break in a sheltered spot before walking across fields to reach Midway House Farm.  After some discussion about the correct route of the public path, the walkers followed the permissive path around the farm to reach and cross a small stream in another wooded area.

Fieldside paths then led the walkers back to Giantswood Lane.  Crossing over, they entered the wood alongside the road and turned left.  The walking conditions in the wood were very pleasant with a soft but firm surface of fallen leaves.   Soon the end of the wood was reached and the walkers turned right downhill to follow a path skirting the edge of the Daisybank estate to rejoin the path from the traffic lights taken at the start of the walk.  The walkers then retraced their steps back to the main road and downhill to Tesco’s car park. Unfortunately it was now 4.00 pm and too late, on a Sunday, to enjoy a sociable drink in Tesco’s café!
[MB]


October 2014: Club Weekend: Malhamdale

Sunday morning saw a slight reduction in numbers for the classic Malham walk, partly due to the inclement conditions first thing and partly due to a good evening the night before!!

After organising cars to bring the group back from Malham at the end of the day 10 brave souls left the house in rather damp misty conditions. The group followed the lanes to the little hamlet of Calton where they followed the track across Calton Moor. Unfortunately due to the misty conditions the group were unable to take in all the views of the surrounding hills. However before they reached Weets Top the sun began to break through and one of the walkers pointed out the hill tops emerging from the mist causing a really magical scene with the sun shining on it. On reaching Weets Top trig point the sun was shining brightly and everyone was beginning to feel the heat, a welcome break was taken for refreshments and a few layers shed.

Resuming the walk, the group passed through Weets Gate by the Old Stone Cross and then along an enclosed track to meet the lane which they followed back down into the dale. Soon the group reached the track which followed the course of Gordale Beck up towards Gordale Scar.

Goredale Scar one of the 4 features of Malham Dale not to be missed, a dramatic limestone ravine 1 mile NE of Malham village. It was formed by melt water from the glaciers and cavern collapse during the end of the Ice Age. It contains two water falls and has overhanging cliffs of over 100 meters high.
It is a haven for walkers and climbers many of which attempt the recognised climb up the water fall to the foot path at the top.
It is however very slippy and can be dangerous, and recent rain fall meant this was not an option! Several of the group had never seen it before and thought it quite spectacular, the recent heavy rain made it more so, so they saw it at its best.
The group then retraced their steps back to the lane, greeting other walkers on the way.
Another short detour was then taken to visit Janet’s Foss just a short distance away, the group made their way carefully down the tricky limestone path to find a pretty little glen with a magical waterfall formed by Gordale Beck rushing over it. Legend has it that Janet the Queen of the Fairies lived in a cave behind the waterfall; in the past the pool was used as a sheep wash by local farmers. 

The walkers then made their way carefully back up the path to reach the lane, soon they were crossing the pack horse bridge over Gordale Beck and taking the steady incline up towards the lane which would lead to the next stage of the walk.

The mist had now cleared but looking back some could still be seen across the moors were they had walked earlier, the group were now enjoying brilliant sunshine!
Soon the group were heading up a steep lane which took them to a style and the track which would take them to Malham Tarn.

However lunch was required before reaching the tarn and a very nice out crop of lime stone pavement provided a perfect spot to eat and take in the sun. It wasn’t long before everyone was getting too comfortable and would have been quite happy to laze away the day however there was still away to go!
Backpacks back on, the group headed off in the direction of Malham Tarn, it wasn’t long before a large house could be seen in the distance, Malham Tarn House.

The estate was acquired in the 18th century by Thomas Lister, 1st Lord Ribblesdale where he built a Hunting Lodge on the site of an old farm in the 1780’s. The estate was then sold to business man James Morrison in 1852 and later inherited by his son Walter in 1857. Charles Kingsley is said to have visited Walter and been inspired by the area to write the ‘Water Babies, a Fairy Tale for a Land Baby’. Walter Morrison died in 1921 and the estate changed hands several times before being purchased by his great niece Mrs Hutton-Croft in 1928. In 1946 she gifted it to the National Trust who manage the property and lease the house to the Field Studies Council. One of the group told us he had studied there during his youth.

On reaching the tarn which had been a glacial lake and is the highest lake in the country, 377 metres above sea level and one of 8 upland alkaline lakes in Europe some of the group were trying to identify the bird life. Others suggested it would have been a good place for two of our group (who were not walking as they were walking wounded) to have come as there was car access. The walkers were retracing their steps to meet the Pennine Way when some whistling was heard from the car park area, low and be hold there they both were, how strange! A quick chat and a few photos later the walkers set off again they still had a way to go before they met their friends in Malham village for a drink. The Pennine Way was followed soon to become the Dry Valley, once were the water would have rushed along to the cove, great care had to be taken as the limestone path was rocky and slippy. 

Eventually the group reached Malham Cove the top of which is limestone pavement, the blocks are the ‘clints’ and the fissures are the ‘grikes . At the end of the Ice Age the melt water from the glacier would have thundered over the top of the cove dropping over the cliff face, it has been described as being very similar to Niagra Falls. Many of the group hadn’t seen the cove before and were quite impressed, once across the top of Malham Cove the group followed the steps down the side to reach the footpath at the bottom. Here there were great views of the extent of the crescent shaped cliff face that is Malham Cove.
The foot path along the side of Malham Beck was then followed back to Malham village and the welcome brew and pint. It had been a great walk and for most of the walk warm and sunny, perfect! [JDF]

Pen Y Ghent: 
A group of 34 members of the Congleton Ramblers spent the weekend in Malham , Yorkshire recently. After a short walk around Airton and Kirby Malham on the Friday afternoon, members of the Congleton Ramblers undertook a greater challenge on the Saturday. Haven driven over the misty moors to Settle, the party arrived at Settle station and found themselves in a 1950’s time warp. The station is beautifully preserved, with the original wrought iron and cream and blood red painted woodwork enhanced by floral displays.
We boarded the train to Horton in Ribblesdale and found ourselves packed in with standing room only. Luckily the trip lasted only 8 minutes. A large group of walkers alighted at Horton. Many were taking part in the Three Peaks challenge to climb up Pen Y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in 24 hours. The Ramblers had other plans. We were going to walk up Pen Y Ghent in a clockwise direction, before returning along part of the Ribble Way to Settle. The gradual climb up to the top the Pen Y Ghent meant that we had enough energy to look at the wide expanse of sparsely populated countryside that was emerging from the cloud immersion. The route was crowded with the charity walkers going in the opposite direction to us, and having to greet everyone started to become onerous. Reaching the summit, we were rewarded with 360 degrees views of the Yorkshire Dales. During her briefing, the walk leader had described the southerly descent from Pen Y Ghent as not suitable for the faint hearted. This had resulted in a select group of 6 persons doing this part of the walk, the rest having circuited around the bottom of the hill. Always up for a challenge, we took turns in pretending to be mountain goats as we picked our way down through steep sections of broken rocks.
Having survived the descent, we followed the route down Long Lane passing a wide expanse of moorland. The only sounds were those of sheep being herded and the occasional grouse we disturbed. At one stage, a farmer asked us to stand to one side as a mass of sheep were herded down the lane towards lower pastures for winter. The path led to Stainforth, a well maintained hamlet before crossing the railway over to the far side of the river Ribble. At this point, it started to rain heavily and then turned to hail, so everyone donned their wet weather gear before continuing. Luckily the storm was short lived and we were able to spend some time admiring the impressive Stainforth Force. Some other walkers had told us that the salmon were jumping the Falls but we didn’t see any. The walkers meandered along the side of the river, enjoying the changing colours on the deciduous trees before arriving at a large weir and mill complex. At this point the route left the river and went inland before crossing several pastures and entering the outskirts of Settle. The walk then proceeded along a landscaped river path before we turned off to follow the signs back to the railway station. We had enjoyed a varied and at times challenging route in an area that few of us knew well. And finally, the icing on the cake was a close encounter on the route back over the moors. Travelling along the single track road, we were forced to stop by a large golden haired highland bull with impressive horizontal horns. He ambled along in front of our vehicles, seemingly oblivious to our presence. Several of his colleagues showed little interest in us either. Numerous photos later, we managed to edge past him and on back to Airton. [J. T.]


24 September: Holmes Chapel’s Dane Meadow is a hit with Ramblers [MB]

Congleton Ramblers’ September Wednesday walk was a 5 mile leisurely walk around Holmes Chapel.  A group of 11 ramblers set off from the centre of Holmes Chapel to walk through quiet estate roads to reach the entrance to Dane Meadow.  Dane Meadow is an area of land to the north of Holmes Chapel within the Dane Valley. Previously this was an open area that was mainly used by those walking dogs, a few fishermen and some casual walkers but it has now been developed to make it accessible and attractive to many more people.  There are well made paths, interesting wooden carvings, an outdoor classroom, a bird feeding area with bird hide and a newly planted orchard – a lovely place for a short amble from Holmes Chapel.

Continuing along the river from Dane Meadow, the group passed the weir on the Dane, always an attractive sight, and reached the Knutsford Road near the Vicarage Hotel.  Crossing over the walkers headed away from the river and across fields, enjoying a short coffee break in the sunshine at the edge of one of the fields.

The walkers reached Twemlow Lane and turned left to pick up a path leading to a lovely grassy open area with silver birch trees at its edge.  This area was cleared by the farmer and opened up as a conservation area to encourage rare heath plants.  From here the route led along a shady track to arrive at Hermitage Lane.  The walkers crossed over and walked past the turkey farm, then turning right at what is locally known as the “footpath crossroads” (a meeting of four footpaths) to head out to Twemlow Lane again.  En route the walkers stopped to admire Hawthorne Cottage, a timber framed cottage with thatched roof and wattle and daub walls, now charmingly restored with roses growing over the doorway.

From Twemlow Lane the walkers took the clear track along a continuation of Hermitage Lane to cross over the River Dane by the old stone bridge built in 1707 by Thomas Hall and head back to the centre of Holmes Chapel.  The pleasant weather and autumn sun had made everything look at its best and had given the walkers a very enjoyable walk. [MB}

7 September: Ramblers enjoy a lovely September afternoon around Gawsworth [MB]

On a lovely sunny September afternoon 27 members and friends of Congleton Ramblers enjoyed a pleasant 5 mile walk around Gawsworth.  Parking near Gawsworth Church, the group set off through the churchyard and headed towards Gawsworth Hall.  The Hall, always an attractive sight, could be seen across the lawn.  The lawn itself was full of MG Sports Cars, an event for the Potteries and South Cheshire MG Association.  Memories of picnics on the lawn during the summer theatre season were recalled as the group walked past the Hall entrance and across fields to reach Woodhouse Lane.

After a short stretch of lane walking, a path downhill across fields led to the Macclesfield Canal.  Turning left on the towpath, the walkers enjoyed a pleasant stretch of towpath walking before turning off towards Danes Moss by the swing bridge over the canal.  There are handy picnic tables here and the group had a leisurely break before climbing up – the biggest climb of the day – to cross the railway and enter Danes Moss.  

Danes Moss is one of only a few remaining lowland peat bogs and a large section of it is now owned by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust, who are working hard to restore the peat bog.  As part of this work they have built a concessionary boardwalk to allow visitors to explore further and see the results of their work.  The group took this interesting detour, the first time most of the group had followed this path, before once more picking up the public footpath to the edge of the Reserve.

Turning right here the walkers followed field paths and a lane to reach Woodhouse Lane again.  From here a footpath across fields brought the walkers onto the road near the Hall and a short walk back to the cars.  To complete the day, some of the walkers adjourned to the Harrington Arms nearby for a sociable drink. [MB]

28 May : Ramblers fit Lower Withington walk in between two heavy downpours! [MB]

Heavy rain deterred all but four stalwart (or foolhardy?) walkers from turning up for Congleton Ramblers’ recent Wednesday walk.  Undeterred, the four set off from the centre of Lower Withington towards Smiths Green.  Happily the rain soon petered out and did not bother the walkers for the rest of the walk.  The farms at Smiths Green, always so neat and tidy, were admired by the walkers as they walked along the good track to Catchpenny Lane.

Given the potential for more heavy rain, the leader then proposed cutting out one loop of the walk and shortening it from 5 ½ miles to just under 4 miles.  This decision, which turned out to be the right one, was approved unanimously.  The group therefore continued along Catchpenny Lane and into Whitecroft Heath Road, passing the attractive Catchpenny Pool, obviously a popular place for fishermen, to reach Woodcroft Gardens.  Here the group turned left into what is now a very attractive wooded area with a number of attractive ponds and a short break was enjoyed.

Emerging from the wood, the group turned right onto a farm track to pass through Harrop Green and Shellmorehill Farm.  The gates between the fields, which used to be difficult and unwelcoming, have now been smartened up with kissing gates where appropriate and this has made the route much more pleasant to walk.  Continuing along a farm track and then across several fields, the group, still dry, reached the parked cars.  All agreed that they were glad they had come out and not been put off by the uncertain weather.  When they experienced a very heavy downpour on the way home, all also agreed that the decision to shorten the walk had been a wise one! [MB]

25 May: Rain, sun, mud, water, stiles and an ancient manor house on Ramblers’ walk [MB]

A heavy shower just before the start time did not deter 19 members of Congleton Ramblers from meeting at the Golden Pheasant Inn at Plumley for a 5 ½ mile walk on Sunday afternoon.  Two members had to be extracted from the pub where they were sampling the beer but, eventually, the group set out.

Turning left out of the pub, the group headed towards Plumley village.  A footpath opposite the Village Hall took the walkers past some attractive houses and gardens before open fields were reached.  The first two fields were a delight with a wide swath of grass cut at the edge, making walking easy.  Further fields, some with long wet grass, some difficult stiles and two crossings of the railway line brought the walkers to Sudlow Lane.  From here the group turned left into a field  to skirt Royd Wood, which from the map  appears to be part of the Tabley House Estate. Turning away from the wood, the group negotiated some lively bullocks and a very muddy section of field to arrive eventually at Plumley Moor Road, the main road through Plumley.

Here the leader offered the option of continuing or turning left to walk back along the road to reach the pub.  Negotiating several difficult stiles had slowed the group up and 8 walkers opted to return to the pub while the remaining 11 continued towards the busy A556 and Holford Farm.  Unfortunately the rain, which had held off for most of the walk then decided to start so, maybe, those who had cut it short made the right decision!

From Holford Farm the walkers turned left, passing Holford Mill and approaching the entrance to Holford Hall, a lovely moated timber house built in 1620.  Here some walkers, who had not walked in that area for quite a few years, were surprised and disappointed to find that they could no longer walk past the Hall but would have to follow a diversion approved, after a public enquiry, quite recently.   In fact it is a well planned diversion, wide and pleasant, and it is especially pleasing to find a small detour leading to a viewpoint and a plaque giving the history of the Hall.

The next part of the walk was along an easy track leading to a second entrance to the Hall.  After emerging near the entrance gate, a left turn brought the walkers back to the centre of Plumley from where it was only a short walk back to the pub and the cars.  It had been a pleasant walk in an area rarely walked by the group.  It would have been more pleasant in the sunshine! [MB]


26th March: Biddulph [AW]

On Wednesday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4.5 mile walk in the Biddulph area. On a bright sunny day 17 walkers set off from the car park at Biddulph Grange Country Park. They walked up towards Spring Wood and around the lake to enter woodland, from here they followed footpaths overlooking the stream and waterfall below. The footpath criss-crosses the steam over footbridges and is truly a mini Himalayan scene. Continuing up to join the road which was followed passing by Higher and Lower Heath Hays to enter Biddulph Park. At this point a stop was made for refreshments and the party were able to enjoy extensive views over the Cheshire Plain to Liverpool on the horizon. Continuing after the break the party followed crossfield footpaths passing by Salters Ford Farm and they then started to descend through the hamlet of Newton. From here they followed tracks passing by The Moor House and followed a lane back towards the Country Park. They entered the Park and walked along following the stream back to the car parking area.

It had been a pleasant walk in ideal weather - sunny and breezy but with a hint of hail. To round off the day 13 members enjoyed lunch at The Talbot. A very rewarding way to finish the walk.  [AW]

16th March: Dingle Bank [AW]

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 7 mile walk in the Siddington area. On an overcast day 17 walkers set off from the parking area at Redesmere. They walked along passing by Siddington Village Hall to cross over the A34 to join Nursery Lane. This footpath was followed to join a further footpath, which was followed towards Blake House Farm. From here they walked along to join Congleton Road and after a short stretch they passed through a kissing gate to join a footpath which skirts around the sand quarry. This footpath is a diversion as the original line of the footpath was swallowed up by the expanding quarry. After walking around the quarry the party joined Wisterfield Lane which was followed passing by many beautiful houses. Eventually they arrived at a signpost indicating Capesthorne  and after negotiating the stile they walked across fields to link up with tracks running alongside the quarry conveyor belt. Following the tracks through woodland they stopped for a picnic lunch. They were able to sit for a leisurely lunch with good views over the massive quarry and lake to see the distant Cloud. On the edge of the lake they noticed a huge flock of lapwings feeding on the mudflats. Presumably lapwings have always been around here as the road that used to dissect the quarry is called Lapwing Lane. continuing after the lunch stop the party walked along further tracks through the Mosses to link with Mill Lane. From here the party then walked past Capesthorne Hall and joined footpaths around Redesmere to return to the car parking area.
It had been a pleasant walk in fine weather with a cooling breeze. The going was quite good and had dried out much improved from the muddy walks of previous weeks. [AW].


5th January 2014: Wrenbury

Despite a terrible weather forecast for heavy rain from lunchtime onwards, a number of intrepid ramblers met at Wrenbury for the 12 mile walk. The walk began with a a gentle stroll along the Llangollen Canal before leaving to make our way to Quoisely with views of Quoisely Big Mere and Quoisely Little Mere (meres which are glacial in origin: The meres, fringing reed beds and surrounding damp grassland are a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and have also been designated Wetlands of International Importance, as part of the Midland Meres and Mosses Ramsar site). We then made our way towards Wirswall and then took lunch before going on towards Hollyhurst.

Up to this point the weather had remained fair but during lunch rain appeared and everyone donned full waterproofs in expectation of the heavy rain to come.  However this was the last rain we saw for the day!
 
After Hollyhurst we went to see the  Cumbermere Memorial. Cumbermere was a British military leader, diplomat and politician and was a colonel of the 1st Life Guards, Commander-in-Chief, Ireland serving with distinction under Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War.  The memorial is an obelisk which was erected in his memory on the edge of Combermere Park in 1890.

Rather than returning to Wrenbury all on the roads, given the fair weather we then added a little extension by taking the South Cheshire way back to our starting point.

The end of the walk saw a drink in the Cotton Arms to finish the adventure for the day -  for most anyway apart from for myself (Gizmo Jon) and Mad Jack as when we went to start the car to return home the battery was dead leading to a breakdown call out and an interesting journey home as we had to conserve power and not use the demister, heating or where possible even the lights!

5th January 2014: Anderton/Marbury [SJJ]

The weather forecast for the Congleton Ramblers 7 mile walk on the first Sunday of the New Year, was not good, but 21 group members decided to risk a windswept soaking, starting from Carey Park in Northwich.
 
As things turned out, the weather was kind to them and after a very pleasant morning walking round Northwich Flashes, with a brief stop at a bird hide, they continued on to Marbury Park.  The promised rain started just in time for the lunch break.  Fortunately the walkers took advantage of the covered picnic area and facilities at Marbury and enjoyed their refreshments in dry conditions.
 
Once the ramble resumed, the rain had eased and the walk to Anderton Country park along the Trent and Mersey canal was fine and enjoyable.  The Boat LIft was closed for the winter, but the group took time to admire the local attraction before continuing the walk.  The River Weaver was followed to Carden's Ferry Bridge which was used to cross Witton Brook back to Carey Park.  The group were safely back to the cars and on their way home before the rain stared again, relieved to be relatively dry. [SJJ}

1st January 2014 Congleton Edge [AW]

On New Year's Day a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers had a 6 mile walk in the Congleton Edge area. On a wet and windy day 21 walkers set off from the parking area at Ackers Crossing. They walked through the railway underpass to link up with Yew Tree Lane and walked along to join Wharf Lane and continued to join a lane towards Lime Kiln Farm. From here the party followed woodland footpaths alongside a meandering stream. A stop was made for refreshments sheltering beside a holly hedge. Continuing along the footpath and passing by Corda Well to emerge onto Mow Lane. After a short stretch of road walking they joined a lane which was followed passing by Brook House and Castle Farm to arrive at a junction of footpaths. At this point it was decided to curtail the walk as the weather was rapidly deteriorating.

 The party walked up the field footpath to join Congleton Edge Road up to Nick i' th' Hill. From here the party joined the Staffordshire Way along the ridge above Willocks Wood. They eventually re-joined Mow Lane for a short stretch to join a crossfield footpath. This footpath was very exposed and the party had difficulty staying upright. Continuing along Congleton Road and passing Cheshire Close they eventually joined the woodland footpath. This footpath afforded a little shelter and a brief stop was made for lunch on the hoof. The party then continued along down through Roe Park back to Ackers Crossing.

It had not been a pleasant walk. The party had yomped through ankle deep mud, had been buffeted by gale force winds and lashed by incessant rain. Not a brilliant start to the New Year. Fortunately there were no mishaps and all the party returned safely. That was very rewarding. Not deterred they will be turning out for the next walk!  [AW.]

29th December Rudyard

In keeping with a fairly recent tradition, the last walk of the year for the longer walkers saw a walk from Rudyard with alcoholic drinks/ tea/coffee and cakes provided by Malcolm and his wife Denise serving up a great end to the calendar year of walks.  The actual walk took place bathed in fantastic sunshine and involved a 11 mile walk taking in Tittesworth reservoir, with the sunshine lighting up the water, and in fields around Leek and Rudyard. Given the previous weather there were some muddy sections but it was not as bad as previous years (a bit of road walking was done to avoid a particularly muddy section).  

After the excesses of Christmas (some more than others) it was really nice to get some fresh air and enjoy a winter walk including fantastic views of the roaches on the skyline.   The after walk tea and cakes was a delight with different individuals who share a love of the great outdoors all coming together for a chat and drink – what Christmas should be all about.  

The culmination of the day was Malcolm’s award ceremony in which the best walk leader of the year was awarded to Jenny with myself (Gizmo Jon) getting the wooden spoon. This was despite the fact that Malcolm had not actually been on my walk!!! Oh well, there is always next year.

For some, 2013 has been a difficult time as life has thrown up some challenges and sadness for individuals who are on longer with us – However, I for one can’t think of a better place to have spent the year enjoying the beautiful countryside in our area as part of the Congleton ramblers. Let’s see what 2014 brings us....

22nd December: Church Lawton [BS]

Sixteen members set of for a 7 mile walk  in true Christmas spirit, with several of the group wearing festive hats. The walk started in Church Lawton, crossing fields and entering Bratts wood. After passing lunts farm a tarmac track was reached and a sign saying beware of Wolves crossing,  which added  amusement to the group.  After turning right past Rode Hall a short coffee break was taken and home made mince pies were handed out courtesy of the leader.

Carrying on across open fields which were flooded in places but had an abundance of winter vegetables growing. On reaching the main A34  road the group turned left passing little Moreton Hall  and left past Cuttleford Farm soon reaching the beautiful estate of Bowden Hall at Thirlewood.  Carrying on the group  arrived at the Trent and Mersey canal, in glorious winter sunshine after a mile the walkers returned to Snape's  Aqueduct finishing an enjoyable winters walk. [BS]

16 December : Congleton [AW]

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 4 mile walk in the Congleton area. On a dull overcast day 24 walkers set off from the West Street car park. They walked down Vale Walk to join a cobbled walk passing by St. Peter's Church and then continued along  through the cemetery. They then followed crossfield footpaths to Lambert's Lane. Following the lane to link up with several footpaths passing through housing estates to eventually arrive at woodlands bordering the Howty Brook. From here the party walked up to join a footpath passing directly over Astbury golf course and after a short stretch of road walking to join the towpath of the Macclesfield Canal. Continuing along the canal towpath to the canal footbridge and turning to walk through woodland to return to  the golf course. After safely negotiating the fairway they continued over field footpaths to the bridges over the Howty 
Brook at Lamberts Lane. Here a stop was made for refreshments. Continuing along Priesty fields and the Vale Walk and back to the car park.

It had been a pleasant walk. The weather had improved with blue sky appearing, but just before the finish rain appeared. [AW]

24th November: Bakewell to Matlock Bath

With  "Life and Soul of the Party" Malcolm doing the middle length walk,  the longer distance walkers were treated to a walk that was almost entirely whinge free. This was not the case of the journey though as Malcolm realised the bus was going right past his house (having journed to Congleton to pick it up) which did not go down too well at all with muttering for most of the journey!

Setting off from Bakewell we made our way over fields to Alport with its beautiful river (Bradford) and onto Bradford Dale before making our way steadily upwards to Upper Town with views of  the nice village of Birchover as well as Stanton Moor in the misty distance. From Upper Town it was on to Winster where we had a pleasant lunch stop in the Church grounds although it was rather cool.  Leaving the Church behind we joined the limestone way and reached the highest point of the day at about 339m and then onto Bonsall and then via a fairly steep descent to our final destination of Matlock Bath.

The weather was drizzly and damp for most of the walk despite a forecast for a crisp sunny day and the rain of previous days made for rather muddy paths which were slippy at times due to the mud and wet leaves.
A drink in Matlock Bath finished a nice day out.  The fresh winter air and nice walk clearly had an effect as several people fell asleep on the coach trip home - though enough of us were awake to wave to Malcolm's wife as we sailed past the house!


17th November:  Roaches Classic


17th November: A beautiful walk round Sutton [MS]

Last Sunday the 17th November Congleton Ramblers had a beautiful walk through Sutton.  The day started grey and misty but by early afternoon the gloom had cleared and it was a lovely bright day. The walk started at the retail park on Lyme Green.  From there we walked a short way along the canal before branching of towards Sutton Hall. We crossed a muddy field then skirted Rossendale Brook, which is a tributary of the River Bollin before coming to Sutton Lane Ends. Sutton (as it is commonly known) is an interesting village with lots of stone cottages.  Turning right the group walked up Symondley Road then crossed 3 muddy fields before reaching a brook.  The path continued beside the brook and through trees before it emerges at Sutton Reservoir.  From here there was a short section of road walking.  The road met up with the A523 the main Leek to Macclesfield road and great care was taken crossing this busy road.  The canal is very close to the road and we were quickly back on the tow path heading back to our starting point.
It was a lovely afternoon walk.  The mist had cleared and everyone remarked on the beautiful colours on the autumn leaves despite it being mid November. [MS]


10th November: Beeston Castle and Higher Burwardsley from Tarporley  [J.T.]

Seventeen members of the Congleton Ramblers arrived at Tarporley on a frosty and sunny morning. As we left the car park, the temperature measured 1C, so gloves and hats were donned. Leaving the High Street in Tarporley, the walkers turned onto The Close before heading across fields to reach the A49. We proceeded to dice with death as we tried to cross the busy road full of fast flowing traffic. Having successfully arrived on the other side, the route followed an overgrown green lane before joining the Sandstone Trail. From now on the navigation became much easier as the Trail is well signed. When we arrived at the Shropshire Canal, we discovered several benches to the side of a series of locks. This was a good opportunity to take the first refreshments of the day. We watched several purple trains travelling to and from Chester. At eleven o’clock, a short piece was read out prior to a two minutes silence for Remembrance Sunday. We continued under the railway via a dripping tunnel, before eventually reaching the entrance to Beeston Castle. A woodland track led the group away from the castle. After crossing some lanes and fields, the Sandstone Trail took us through the Peckforton Estate. This is a beautiful section of the walk which climbs gradually through woodland before reaching the summit. On the right hand side, there was evidence of a wild flower meadow, which had the remnants of sunflowers and the dying stalks of other unidentifiable plants.
The walk arrived at the road that leads to Higher Burwardsley but rather than taking advantage of the proximity of the Pheasant Inn and Candle Factory, we turned left and soon parted company with the Sandstone Trail. We continued through more woodland before joining a cobbled track. The track goes under a bridge which leads to Peckforton Castle and is said to be haunted by either a headless woman who is carrying her head under her arm, or a ghostly coach and horses. The route proceeded downhill to reach the road to Peckforton Castle. Although we had a section of road walking, this was made enjoyable by the presence of some interesting old properties, the windows designed in the distinctive style of the Peckforton Estate. At the gate house to the Castle, we propped up against the side of an ancient oak tree and ate our lunch, whilst admiring the long drive up to the castle. The Sunday lunch diners probably thought the sight of a party of dishevelled walkers lowered the tone of the neighbourhood! 
Fully energised, we set off around the edge of a heavy clay field, our boots laden with a thick coating of mud. This locality has been designated as an area of outstanding significance due the presence of natural historic wet lands.  The land is being managed to encourage the development of more lakes and ponds, rather than draining sections of the land for arable use. It is said this will encourage the return of an important eco system. The path continued via Willis’s Wood into a field full of curious young bullocks, an occupational hazard for all walkers. The bullocks had managed to knock down the electric fence which separated them from the woodland and a recently sown field. Our walking poles developed a new role, as they were waved in the air to discourage a mass stampede by the cattle. Having reached the road and a series of houses, we reported the breaching of the electric fence. The resident knew the farmer and said she would give him a call.
 Finally, we reached the extensive Livestock Market which had auction rooms for furniture, as well as buildings serving the purpose of auctioning animals. A large two level lorry was in the process of being filed with cows. Continuing on, we met the A49 again, albeit at a different section. We were glad to leave the busy road when we turned towards Tiverton. This is a lovely old village with some more of the classic estate houses with their distinctive windows and a row of cottages with colourful gardens. The village War Memorial had no wreaths, so a member of the group left his poppy against its side. We found ourselves walking up an ancient green road, lined with knarled hawthorn trees that would have once been a layed hedge, before crossing several fields. The walk leader decided to take a detour via the hamlet of Birch Heath to avoid having to walk across the infamous A49. This meant we were able to use a bridge over the road. This was a much safer option than running the gauntlet of trying to cross that road again. Finally the muddy walkers proceeded up Tarporley’s elegant High Street, and found a welcoming cafe whose owners didn’t appear to mind our dishevelled state. [J.T.]

3rd November: Eyam

The first walk of November challenged the phrase that there is no such thing as the wrong weather only the wrong clothing as we arrived in Eyam with car temperature gauges showing only 4 degrees and with a rainy day in prospect that definitely did not disappoint.

From Eyam we first did a 2 mile excursion to the Riley graves and back, the place where six children of Elizabeth Hancock as well as her husband were buried in eight days due to the plague, before commencing the walk proper.
During this part of the walk, those not already wearing waterproofs at the outset quickly donned them due to the showers and there was also a biting wind to add to the excitement. A few did not have waterproof overtrousers on for one reason or another (hoping it would blow over, not bringing them at all) and they would largely come to regret this.

Leaving Eyam once again, we made our way on a path to Stoney Middleton before going down Combs Dale and then rough side.  Water was pouring down the stream and path as well as from above (although there were also times when the rain stopped and the sun briefly came out) and by the time we reached our intended turn off to Longstone edge the group was soaked and cold. A quick stop then ensued allowing the group to have a hot drink and something to eat as well as for Gizmo Jon the opportunity to finally don his overtrousers (Talk about closing the stable door after the horse has bolted!!). After some conversation as to whether we should continue or not, the decision was made to retreat and take Black Harry Lane (avoiding perhaps the more appropriately named Moisty lane) past the vast  (and sort of impressive) Dalston limestone quarry to return back to the sancititude of Eyam - in particular, the warmth of the Miners Arms pub.  This was probably the right decision as further heavy rain showers appeared,  although for some it was a shame that we could not complete this walk as Cressbrook Dale would have been a sight in such wet weather. - and now the Congleton Ramblers hard reputation is in tatters!

Lets see what the weather brings us next week!


26th October: Goyt Valley Way

In a departure from usual Congleton ramblers custom, this walk was on a Saturday rather than Sunday to allow us to use the train and do a linear walk.  This unusual walk which began from Stockport railway station at 9:50 am with a mixture of industry and countryside which made for a really nice walk with plenty of interest.

Starting from the station with some interesting looks from the shoppers in our walking gear (and waterproofs as there was a heavy shower) we made our way to the Start of River Mersey - the confluence of the Goyt and Tame.
Following the river Tame we then went through the Brinnington Tunnel (part of the Trans Pennine Trail) crossing under the M60 and and on through Vernon park to a path along the river Goyt with views of the pear new mill which was designed as a double cotton spinning mill (though the second mill was never built) and was one of the last cotton spinning mills to be built, commencing production in July 1913 (ceased operation as a textile mill in March 1978).

Following the river we past over several footbridges (Jim Fearnley Footbridge Chadkirk footbridge) as well as past the  Stockport Hydro before reaching one of the stand out features of the walk namely the impressive Marple Aqueduct designed by Benjamin Outram and Thomas Brown and finished in 1800. It really is an amazing piece of engineering given its age.

What was also amazing was that only 3 of us decided to stop and deviate from the route slightly to take a look with the others simply rushing by - This was a shame and brought to my mind the poem of Davies "What is this life if, full of care / We have no time to stand and stare" .

Leaving the aqueduct behind we then made our way to etherow country park in Compstall for a welcome lunch stop by the pond though there was a threat of our lunch being robbed by the every hungry ducks. Following lunch we left the park and entered Keg wood before climbing up to reach Werneth low golf course and then onto the outskirts of Woodley for our final destination at 3:35 pm where we caught the bus back to Stockport.
A drink in stockport finished the day although meeting the Manchester City team on the station platform as we caught the train back to Congleton was an added highlight for some.

If this walk is anything to go by then Iain's next walk in March 2014 should be a real treat.

23rd October: Ramblers enjoy unexpected sun on Barthomley walk [MB]

The weather did not look promising for Congleton Ramblers’ monthly Wednesday walk last week.  Nevertheless 7 walkers met at Barthomley for a walk of just over 4 miles and, within a very short time, the rain had stopped and the sun broke through.  Before long waterproofs were being discarded as the temperature rose.

Starting from Barthomley Church the group headed South across fields, the leader breathing a sigh of relief every time the next stile came into view!  Although the walk had been recce’d, it is one of those walks where it is all too easy to lose track of which field you are in and, therefore, the direction in which to head.

However without mishap the wooded valley of Mill Dale was reached and a short break taken.  Here the group encountered two men with guns out on a pheasant shoot. Shots were heard later on but, thankfully, only after the group had cleared the area!  The path along Mill Dale is alongside an attractive lake through pleasant woods and was enjoyed by the walkers, most of whom had never walked that route before.  

On reaching a house in the valley, the group walked on the public footpath beside the house to climb up out of the valley and reach more fields.  Heading in the direction of Balterley, they  reached a lovely house called “Hall o’ th’ Wood” and were greeted by two peacocks – but no tail display!  The walkers spent a few minutes admiring the Hall and some very attractive houses around the courtyard, presumably conversions of outbuildings.  

From here the path led to Balterley Green, where the group turned right and walked along the lane for about ¼ mile before turning right by The Limes Farm.  From here the walkers followed a path through fields to rejoin the path taken at the start of the walk and return to Barthomley Church.  It had been a pleasant morning’s walk in unexpectedly good weather. [MB]

6th October: Alport Castles

The just under 13 mile walk started from Birchin clough car park (just off the notorious Snake Pass road) and started with a tricky path in Lady clough through woods beneath the road over steep ground with a steep drop-off on one side which we carefully made our way along back to the Snake Pass road at Doctors Gate culvert - so called due to Dr John Talbot, who was appointed vicar of Glossop in 1494 and who founded a school, and paved the Roman road over the moors. From the culvert we entered the moors joining the Pennine Way for a short while before leaving the sanctitude of a proper path to take a "route" (though some of it was more suitable for sheep!) broadly following the river Alport through the wet and strangely titled grains in the water and onto to Alport castles, which is the result of a large landslide (At over half a mile long, it is thought to be the largest landslide in the UK which has resulted in several protruding grit-stone mounds which tower over the valley)
From Alport castles the barren (but still strangely beautiful) landscape was replaced with more lush pastures and farmland as we made our way back to our starting point and a welcome drink.

This was one walk where the distance does not tell the complete storey as it was definitely a tough walk due to the underfoot conditions and terrain with most people feeling quite tried at the end.  Had the weather been worse this would have been a challenging walk indeed.

Moors are like marmite to ramblers but there will never be a better time to witness them as the weather was fantastic with bright sun, blue skies and fluffy white clouds - a far cry from the usual weather (rain, wind or snow) that usual greets us on such an exposed walk.   The recent dry weather also meant there were virtually no bogs to contend with.

This did not stop "Life and Soul of the Party" Malcolm complaining ("how far have we got to go") but 
for those stuck behind a desk for the rest of the week with a prospect of moving to a hill-less place, this was a pure life affirming delight.
 
25 September: Woodhouse Green [AW]

On Wednesday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a four and a half mile walk in the Woodhouse Green area. On a rather wet and gloomy day four walkers set off from the parking area on Dial Lane. The first part of the walk was on quiet lanes passing by Willowshaw Farm and passing through the tiny hamlet of Woodhouse Green. Continuing along a further lane passing by Ditchway Farm to eventually arrive at a squeeze stile. Passing through to walk down fields to the River Dane Valley. Walking along the valley alongside the river they eventually arrived at Ravens Clough woodland. Crossing the footbridge they entered the wood and made a stop for refreshments, sheltering under the trees from the pouring rain. This wood gave the impression of a rain forest - warm, humid, misty and wet. Continuing along the woodland path they eventually arrived at a lane which was followed to a stile on the left. Crossing over and walking up a steep gradient they made their way up towards the Cloud. On reaching Cloudside they walked along to join a track to join up with the footpath leading to The Bridestones. This footpath was followed down through woodland where they encountered a profusion of Indian Balsam, which was giving off a powerful scent. They then continued along passing by The Bridestones and returned along Dial Lane to the parking area. It had been a dank sort of walk. The weather did improve as the walk progressed. They were unable to admire the scenery as the surrounding hills were shrouded in mist. However not deterred the party are looking forward to the next walk. [AW]

22 September: Dovedale - llam [JDF]

Hoping for a good days walking 7 members of Congleton Ramblers set off for a 12 mile circular walk in Dove Dale. The weather forecast promised to stay dry which would be very welcome as the last two weeks had been fairly wet!!

The walk commenced near Ilam Hall, the walkers skirted Bunster Hill heading across pastures towards Dove Dale and the River Dove, soon they were on the track running along side the river with the stepping stones and Thorpe Cloud in sight. Once safely over the stepping stones the group passed the foot of Thorpe Cloud and followed the path on the east bank heading upstream towards Mill Dale. Members of the group noted the abundance of autumn fruits on the bushes and trees.

Soon the sun was shinning which enabled the group to enjoy the spectacular Limestone scenery of Dove Dale. The path took them up and down limestone steps and along a wooded walkway above the level of the river, passing rock formations of Tissington Spires and Reynards Cave and on to the rocky pillars of Ilam Rock  popular with rock climbers although there were none to be seen today. Pickering Tor another rock pillar and Lions Head Rock were passed and the rocky path passed Dove Holes caves were safely negotiated, it was then easy walking soon to reach Viator’s Bridge,a narrow pack horse bridge crossing the Dove into the pretty hamlet of Mill Dale.

The group took the opportunity to stop here for a short break, the mill that gave it it’s name has long since gone but it is a picturesque spot which seems to call folk to linger a while to take it in. Unfortunately the walker’s became a magnet for the local wasp population, so once refreshed the group moved on. The walk continued to follow the course of the River Dove towards Gipsy Bank.

Eventually Gipsy Bank Bridge came into sight and the sun was still shining! Here the group stopped for the photo shoot before the steep ascent up Gypsy Bank. A group of teenage girls were also preparing themselves for the climb with much hilarity. Once at the top while the walkers were catching their breath, to take in the views of course, they had a chance for a quick chat to the girls who were doing their Silver D of E award, a lovely bunch of young ladies, a real credit!!

Moving on again the group followed tracks and crossed pasture land to reach Alstonefield, here they viewed the original village well, and water pump which was used after the village reservoirs were built until the village was connected to mains water in the 1950’s. The group then made their way to the green by the George pub for lunch.

The next stage of the walk took the group through fields were they saw some very interesting sheep they all had black eye’s and noses and black knee’s, very pretty.
The walkers continued through fields eventually to take the steep decent to Dale Bottom. Here they admired the most beautifully colourful cottage garden one of the group using her skills to identify many of the flowers.

They then followed a stony track up hill towards Stanhope, it was here that they recognised a familiar face coming towards them, an old member of the group they hadn’t seen for a while, it was lovely to see him and have a quick chat. They continued  on to Stanshope and then followed undulating field paths to reach Castern  Farm and Hall. Here there were pleasant views of the Manifold Valley, the farm lane was then followed to reach River Lodge. The group then followed a leafy path into Ilam Hall Park.

The sun was still shining at the end of the walk, incredible!! The group agreed it had been a lovely walk and the weather had been perfect, needless to say it ended with a welcome cuppa and cake in the hall tea gardens. [JDF]

15 September: Higher Wheeldon

With a terrible weather forecast predicting heavy rain all day and gale force winds, I am sure some ramblers took the decision for a long lie in under the covers leaving only 5 'brave' ramblers to start the 12 mile circular walk from Hartington car park (clearly the leader "Life and Soul of the Party" Malcolm's magnetism is fading)

Although not raining, all of us took the decision to don full waterproofs - which was lucky in one regard as "The Legs" Bob had actually come out in shorts - did he not know it was Autumn!!

From our starting point we made our way to Carder Low and onto the Tissington trail at which point with the weather still looking ok "The Legs" Bob decided to forgo his waterproof jacket (thankfully for the rest of us not his trousers!)
Leaving the trail we then went to  Hurdlow town before making the short climb up Higher Wheeldon where we stopped for lunch (still no rain!) sheltering from the fairly strong wind before the summit. After the summit, we encountered the strongest winds of the day which were very strong but short lasting. We then descended to Crowdicote at which point the rain finally made its rather late appearance  for the last 45 minutes or so of the walk as we went past Pilsbury castle back to our starting point.  

A drink completed what had been a good day, I think those who took the lie in option will regret their decision when they see the photos from what was a nice walk and the fact that we only got wet for a bit of the time.  This just goes to show that you should not trust the weather forecast - and even if it had been right I am sure it would have still been a great day - far better than daytime TV (or household chores) anyway.

8 September 40th Anniversary Coach trip: Shropshire way and meal

It was great to have a completely sold out coach trip to mark the 40th anniversary of the club with a walk along the Shropshire way and a meal.

The walks comprised generally level walking talking in the shropshire countryside including green fields, small quiet villages, lots of horses, 1  ruined, medieval Augustinian monastery and the river severn.

The longer walk of over 13 miles started on the road near Clive with only 6 people in tow, where we joined the Shropshire way crossing a field and then through Corbet wood to reach the village of Grinshill before making our way onto the village of Hadnall (where the middle walk started from) and then onto Astley and Upper Astley.  It has to be said that it was nice to spy on some really beautiful houses which we could all look at and admire even if none of us could afford them. The area is clearly a mecca for horse lovers as many of the fields had fine looking horses which were playful and friendly (though Gizmo Jon chose to wait before he was the other side of the fence before saying hello back!)

Leaving upper Astley, the magnificent Caer caradoc came into view leaving Gizmo Jon to dream about going up it (although with the club weekend in Church Stretton fast approaching these dreams should be answered).  The highlight of the walk was the fantastic Haughmond Abbey (the start of the shorter walk), probably founded in the early 12th century though the precise origins of the Abbey are unclear. While only ruins remain they show clear evidence that it must have been an amazing sight when built.

From the Abbey, we then proceeded through woods to Uffington before joining the old Shrewsbury canal path at which point a slight mistake in looking for the path down to the river saw us take a too early path which was overgrown and slippy so we had to beat a quick retreat (see it is not only Gizmo Jon who makes the odd mistake!)
Finding the correct path down to the river we followed the river into shrewsbury and our final destination at which point we caught up with the middle walkers.

With the first real signs of Autumn upon us, the weather was largely kind with only a few short showers on the walk and the walk timing was perfect in that as we finished the walk and occupied the pubs/tea shops a downpour started with us safely tucked inside.

With a quick refreshment, we then made our way to the Lord Hill hotel for a nice meal and shared some good company (apart from "Life and Soul of the Party" Malcolm that is!).
All in all it was a really nice day.  Here's looking forward to some more great Autumn walks with all those beautiful colours and fantastic leaf filled paths.

25 August: Stanton Moor & Nine Ladies

The 25th August saw 6 people join the A walk including a fellow rambler (Len) from the Newcastle group for a figure of 8 walk starting from Bakewell. Leaving Bakewell, we made our way upwards through woods and then back down to the beautiful Chatsworth village of Edensor with its pretty houses and stunning village gardens. Leaving Edensor, we made our way to Chatsworth bridge with nice views of the house before gently following the river Wye and moving onwards along easy flat walking to Carlton Lees and into Rowsley.  The final section of path into Rowsley was really very muddy with Cow muck and mud combined making for a 'interesting' stretch - especially for Jay who had worn his white trousers for the occasion. Even the leader tried to blame someone else for this. It was a shame the "Queen Of Mud" June was not on the walk as I am sure she would have really enjoyed this!
Reaching Rowsley and just over 6 miles into the walk we started the steady climb up to Stanton Moor and the Nine Ladies Bronze age stone circle (the best known and most preserved of the 4 stone circles on the moor) for our lunch stop when the sun came out making for a wonderful stop. With the heather in bloom the moor was a beautiful sight and it was nice to see people out enjoying  the weather and taking in the atmosphere of this idyllic place. Surprisingly, no one in the group took up the leaders offer that no picture would be taken if anyone wanted to take their clothes off and dance around the old tree! 

After lunch, we did a loop of the moor taking in the Cork Stone at which point a familiar figure came into view as Ivor (who had previously recced the walk with Jon) had come out to the group. We then went onto the Reform Tower (built by the Thornhills of Stanton Hall to honour Charles 2nd who introduced the 1832 Reform Bill) before making our way back through wooded sections back to Rowsley with 12 miles now completed.  With much disappointment (!)  the muddy path was avoided, this time choosing to make our way steadily up (the "final sting in the tail" - which the leader had tried to keep quiet but Ivor had spoilt the surprise) reaching Bowling Green Farm and back down to the River Wye before completing the walk.

With a couple of slight errors the walk totalled 17 miles (should have been 16.2 even though it was advertised as 15!) but despite this distance all people in the group made it fairly easily and we got back in good time for a drink in Bakewell (though what the crowds made of our cow muck splattered trousers is anyone's guess) to complete a wonderful day out. I just wonder if the crowds of people in Bakewell knew what delights were just around the corner from them if they could only tear themselves away from the shops (even for a short while).

25 August: Astbury [AW]

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 5 mile walk in the Astbury area. On a beautiful summers day, warm with a cooling breeze, 33 walkers set off from the Astbury Mere car park. Walking along the lakeside footpath then climbing the steps to emerge into Banky Fields and Waggs Road. From here they walked along Stony Lane to join a crossfield footpath, which was followed out to Priesty Fields. Continuing along the footpath out to Lamberts Lane and crossing the footbridge over the Howty Brook they followed further crossfield footpaths to Astbury Golf Course. Taking care whilst crossing the fairway they eventually arrived at the Macclesfield Canal. The next part of the walk was along the canal towpath to Watery Lane. Here a stop was made for refreshments needed due to the warm weather. Continuing after the break the party walked along the lane to join a footpath crossing several fields heading directly towards Astbury Church. On arriving in Astbury village they made their way to the church for the highlight of the walk - tea and cakes. Here they were joined by 5 more Congleton Ramblers. They enjoyed delicious homemade cakes provided by the church ladies and gentleman. Continuing the walk after the enjoyable break they walked along School Lane to join crossfield footpaths back to Lamberts Lane. Walking along the lane to eventually arrive back at Astbury Mere and walking around the lakeside footpath and back to the car park.
 
It had been a pleasant walk in perfect weather conditions. Thanks to the church ladies for a very enjoyable afternoon tea. [AW]

11th August: Macclesfiled Forest/Croker Hill [SJJ]

On Sunday, a group of 12 Congleton ramblers set off in perfect weather conditions from The Ryles Arms in Sutton, on a 9 mile walk, taking in Sutton Common and Macclesfield Forest.
 
The walk began on the Gritstone Trail and the group climbed steadily up to Sutton Common.  A break was taken just before the landmark communications tower was reached and views over the Cheshire Plain toward the urban sprawl of Manchester were seen in one direction, while views of Macclesfield Forest, Teggs Nose and Shutlingsloe were enjoyed in the other.  As refreshments were taken, a Kestrel was spotted below the group, hovering above its prey.  After reaching the top of Croker Hill, the group made their way down to the A54 where they turned and continued their decent in a Northerly direction over pleasant farmland, passing horses and their young foals grazing in the lush meadows. 
 
After passing Higher Penthills Farm, the walkers began their second assent and, just past Mosslee Farm,a lunch break was taken near a small duck pond.  The walk continued to Ridgegate Reservoir and into the southern edge of Macclesfield  Forest.  After circumnavigating the reservoir, the Gritstone Trail was rejoined and followed south with views all around and clear weather to enjoy them.  The Ryles Arms was reached all too soon and a welcome cool drink was enjoyed there before the journey home.[SJJ]

11th August: Fountain Cottage Circular [AW]

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a four and a half mile walk in the Hassall area. On a warm summers day sixteen walkers set off from Fountain Cottage. The first part of the walk was across fields towards Wheelock Heath Farm, where they encountered a very large heard of dairy cows. Continuing along a byway towards Winterley, they then walked through a huge wheat field. They then linked up with the South Cheshire Way, which was followed to Malkins Bank Golf Course. From here they walked the new footpath over the golf course and out directly to Fountains Cottage.
Here the party had a wonderful surprise. Chris the walk leader assisted by Geoff had laid on a wonderful homemade afternoon tea. This was enjoyed sitting in the cottage garden by the lake.
It had been a very pleasant walk highlighted by the surprise afternoon tea. Thanks to Chris and Geoff. [AW]

4th August: Cotton

The first walk of the month saw only 3 select Congleton ramblers join Nigel for what turned out to be an adventurous and interesting almost 14 mile walk. Following in "The Legs" Bobs footsteps (of not actually going to the place on the walk title!), we did not actually go to Cotton (but we did see the church spire!) although this time there was a legitimate reason as on the reece the bridge to Cotton was closed so Nigel devised another walk.

Starting from Froghall wharf, where waterproof/windproof jackets were put on as it was breezy and the clouds looked quite threatening, we made our way along a quite muddy section to Foxt and then towards Cotton at which point a heavy shower developed leading to a conversation of should we or shouldn't we put the waterproof trousers on. All but Gadget Jon decided to put them on though it took an age for Geoff to get them on (after enlisting help from Mad Jack) at which point the rain had actually stopped!! - much to Gadget Jon's delight who was vindicated by his "its only a shower" comment (though to be fair, I was lucky as there were black skies very near us)

Suitably attired (or not as the case may be - as it was very humid) we made our way onto the beautiful village of Oakamoor for a leisurely lunch stop on some benches. From here it was onto the Ramblers Retreat and through the wooded Dimmings Dale with some nice pools. At this point the heat had to got to those wearing the waterproof trousers causing another pause to take them off. A steady climb up through some woods on a stony path followed before descending steeply down at which point the path (which was way-marked as part of the Staffordshire way) deteriorated to a wiggerley route through head high undergrowth that looked like it had not been walked in ages which made for great fun getting through it (and some comments of it being like we were in the Borneo rainforest!). After this, an ascent to Kingsley Holt followed and then a general descent back to our starting point.

A drink in the Railway Way Inn hotel completed a thoroughly enjoyable day out.  It was just a shame that more of us did not join this walk - in fact we met a large collection of Chase ramblers who were also out enjoying the walking in this nice area.

28 July: The Great Ridge [Castleton/Hope] [JDF]

The wall to wall sunshine for most of July which was virtually cracking the pavements gave way over night to torrential rain and storms. It was unlikely therefore for the 12 strong members to complete the 12ish mile walk without getting wet!! 

The group started the walk from Hope, the weather was fine and mainly sunny with a strong breeze, actually ideal for walking. The first part of the walk was the ascension of Win Hill , punctuated by short breather’s to take in the view across to The Great Ridge and Mam Torr, where we aimed to be later in the day. Of course the cement works could not be ignored!!

On reaching the summit of Win Hill which rises to 462m/1,518 ft there were fantastic views encompassing Lady Bower Reservoir, Derwent Moors and the Hope Valley. It was very windy so the walkers took shelter on the rocky pike to enjoy a welcome break. It was difficult to move off and leave the views behind but the group still had a way to go.

The group descended Win Hill following a broad ridge towards Wooler Knoll, to meet a bridleway which descends to join the Roman Road .Here there were good views across the Noe Valley to the slopes and summit of Lose Hill, the groups next challenge. Once in the valley the and the River Noe crossed the steady ascent of Lose Hill began to the great joy of one or two of the group, still onward and upward, and we’re still dry!!

Soon the group were at the top, Lose Hill rises to 476m/1,563ft. Here at the Trig point the walkers tried to identify the surrounding hills. The opportunity for a quick photo shoot was taken courtesy of another passing walker before continuing on along the footpath that was the Great Ridge. Soon there were a few drops of rain but it managed to hold off and the group were able to have a relaxing lunch break in the lea of Back Tor in the sunshine!

The group set off again heading towards Mam Tor, their third and highest peak of the day rising to 517m/1,695ft. Mam Tor is one of the highest, largest and most easily attained hill forts in the Pennines the name thought to be Celtic and mean “Mother Mountain” ,another popular name for it is “The Shivering Mountain” due to the unstable layers of shale and grit which have slipped away from its east face. This closed the Mam Tor road in 1977.

After descending Mam Tor the group crossed farm land passing Windy Knoll Cave and Quarry, thought to have been the Ice Age den of brown bear wolf and hyena. It was just about now that the promised rain fell from the skies and waterproofs were quickly donned. The  group followed a track which was flooded in several places due to the heavy rainfall of the previous night, it was at this point bikers came through which sent the walkers running to dodge the splashes. Major disasters avoided they eventually meet the Limestone Way, which in turn led them into Cave Dale.

The rain had really set in by now as the walkers entered Cave Dale a steep sided spectacular canyon, thought either to be a collapsed cave system or to have been carved out by the melt waters of an Ice Age glacier. Peveril Castle stands high above over looking the dale.  The group took great care as the limestone underfoot is very slippery and because of the heavy rain there was quite a stream. Everyone safely down, they had found it really enjoyable and not to be missed.

The rain continued to fall as the last stage of the walk continued through Castleton to meet the riverside walk along Peakshole Water which was in full force, back into Hope. The rain stopped and the sun came out before we reached Hope, everyone agreed it had been a great walk, now for those welcome refreshments, tea, cake and beer!!     [JDF]   

14th July: [Not!] Mount Famine

The advertised walk from "The Legs" Bob was 10 miles with a title of "Mount Famine" but in reality we did 12 miles and did not actually go up Mount Famine ! Better luck next time Bob!

Starting from near SparrowPit our circular walk went up RushUp lane and took in Brown Knoll. With the sustained dry weather and sunny weather on the day, the underfoot conditions were much better than is usual for this area. The previous weeks walking with buttercups were replaced in this walk by flowering cotton grass making for a nice highlight of what is usually a barren area .  From Brown Knoll we then reached the famous Edale Cross and made our way up to South Head which Bob had previously thought was Mount Famine - In fact Mount Famine was behind us (To cries of "Its behind you Bob"). From here we went to Slachall for a brief coffee (and ice cream) stop at the Chestnut Conservation Centre before returning to our starting point via RushUp lane once more.

7th July: Reef Knolls (Chrome Hill) [JT]

Ten members of the Congleton Ramblers set off from the market square in Longnor for an anti-clockwise walk to Chrome Hill via Earl Sterndale.

After a steep climb, we looked down into the village of Earl Sterndale. After descending into Earl Sterndale, we passed by the front of the Quiet Woman, a traditional inn whose pub sign depicts a headless woman in Victorian dress. Doubtless there is a story attached to this pub name, or maybe it was wishful thinking on the part of the pub landlord!
On the outskirts of Earl Sterndale, we stopped to admire a steeply terraced garden with a colourful mixed border. A flight of stairs led the walkers up through the garden and steeply up to a green lane adjacent to the Hindlow mineral quarry. This route for originally intended for wheeled transport, but now the track has deep crevices gouged into its surface, making it impossible for all but tank like vehicles. It provided a balancing act for the walkers.
The route proceeded northwards in the direction of Buxton and we found ourselves negotiating with a group of young heifers that were intent on standing in front of the stile. The route turned in a westerly direction, passing the Buxton and Hillhead Quarries. Tarmac manages these quarries and has provided an information board about the geology of limestone of which there are four types in this geographic area. There was also information about the quarry of the site which commenced in the early twentieth century and is still being worked today. The site is reminiscent of a set from a James Bond movie. Descending to the road, we came across a group of model aeroplane enthusiasts who had erected a wind sock in a field and were doing various acrobatic feats with their planes.
Soon the sounds of the stock cars could be heard as they raced around the track adjacent to Axe Edge. By standing on an old pill box, we had a bird’s eye view of the event.
By turning due south, we proceeded via Stoop Farm towards the first challenge of the day, the summit of Chrome Hill. This impressive hill resembles the back of a dinosaur. I t is said to have originated as a reef which was covered by the sea, and fossils of fish and shells have been found in the vicinity. This route is not suitable for walkers who suffer from vertigo but everyone was determined to have a go today. By now it was mid day, and the temperature was increasing dramatically. We met another group with bright red faces descending the route.  We scrambled up the limestone edges, to be rewarded with 360 degree views. Luckily, due to clear, sunny day we were able to see for miles in all directions. We ate our lunch on the summit accompanied by a man and his two sons aged ten and three years. The three year old had walked to the top of Chrome Hill with no help. Following our descent, the next challenge was Parkhouse Hill, which until recently walkers had been denied access to. However, due to changes in legislation, there is now a permissive route up the spine of this hill and a path is already clearly visible. The temperature had now reached 28 C and at this point, three of the walkers opted out, preferring to sunbathe in the meadow below.  After a tortuous zig zag ascent, and then a similar descent, the group commenced the return to Longnor, via some gentle hills. Everyone was feeling very weary by now, even though the walk was only 10 miles in distance the combination of an undulating walk in high temperatures had exhausted all of us. Once back in Longnor, the walkers rewarded themselves with tea and scones before the scenic journey back to Congleton. [JT]

Extra from website owner:

It was a difficult decision to come on the walk today due to Andy Murray being in the Wimbledon final but with a fantastic day in prospect in terms of weather and the opportunity to walk 2 of the famous hills in the peak district, a decision to go walking was definitely the right one.  There is a slightly famous management mantra that it is better to be active on the pitch than watching in the stands and I certainly agree with this - after all there was always the highlights to enjoy on return from our fantastic day out. Well Done to Andy Murray!

30th June Tideswell: a beautiful walk amongst the buttercups

With a warm and sunny day in prospect, a collection of ramblers made their way to Tideswell for an approx 13.5 mile walk. The weather had the unfortunate consequence of Bobs legs being on show (please pass the sick bag) but
t-shirts and shorts were a welcome change from the full waterproofs of the previous week.

The figure of 8 walk took in Wardlow Mires, Greak Hucklow, Bretton Clough, Follow, Cressbrook Dale including  Peters Stone (or Gibbets stone - supposedly this is where the last gibbet in the county stood, a gibbet being a gallows used to display the bodies of criminals after their execution serving as a deterrent to other would be criminals) and Litton.

The stand-out part of the walk was undoubtedly Bretton Clough, a simply stunning valley with trees and little hills making a visual treat. With all the sunshine, the buttercups in the fields also made for a wonderful scene. Despite the reasonably long distance there was plenty of time for stops to enjoy the sunshine (and for some to sample an ice cream) and this made for a great day out. A drink in bustling Tideswell (due to a show being on) completed the experience.

30th June : Ramblers enjoy 360° views from Nab Head in Bollington [MB]

On Sunday 14 members of Congleton Ramblers travelled to Bollington to enjoy a varied seven mile walk.  Setting off from the Middlewood Way Car Park, the group walked through the park by the cricket pitch before climbing steeply up steps to reach the Macclesfield Canal.   On a pleasant summer day the Canal was busy with boats as the group reached Clarence Mill and crossed the footbridge.

A stretch of road walking, passing a number of attractive old cottages, brought the group to Cockshead Hey and the main challenge of the day’s walk, to climb up to Nab Head.  The path led upwards through rough meadows to the trig point at 285 metres.  Here a welcome break was taken as the walkers enjoyed the excellent views in all directions and tried to identify a number of landmarks.  One that could not be missed was White Nancy, visited on previous Bollington walks.

From Nab Head it is necessary to retrace your steps to the road.  Here the walkers avoided a set of steep steps by taking an alternative pleasant zigzag path to complete the last big climb of the day.  A few meadows full of buttercups, clover and other wild flowers brought the walkers to Long Lane.  A more gentle climb along the lane led to Styperson Wood and Pool, from where the walkers descended to reach the canal again.  Lunch was eaten sitting on a grassy verge while watching families of ducks avoiding the many boats – and it was pleasing to see the boat skippers taking great care to avoid the ducks.  

Eventually leaving the canal the group passed Jepsonclough Farm and walked through a field full of purple orchids to reach the Middlewood Way.  Walking back along the Middlewood Way, the variety of wild flowers, including dog roses in full bloom, was a joy to see.  The efforts of the leader and one other member to look more closely at some lovely purple flowers (possibly purple loosestrife) caused great mirth as they stepped into several inches of boggy, muddy water, well hidden by the profusion of flowers growing in the water!  Back on the path, the end of the walk was soon reached and the group returned  to their cars after a varied walk in perfect conditions. [MB]

23rd June Higger Tor

On a rainy Sunday, 4 hardy (or should that be fool hardy?) ramblers meet at Hope station for our 13 mile walk.
As a result of holidays and the very poor forecast of heavy rain all day, many of our regular members were missing which was a great shame as they missed a very good walk. 

From Hope station, where we donned our full waterproofs, we took the train for a short distance to Grindleford where the walk began. From the station, in fairly light rain, we passed Totley Tunnel a 6,230-yard (3.5 mi) tunnel on the former Midland Railway Manchester-Sheffield line between Totley and Grindleford which was completed in 1893 and was the longest mainline railway tunnel within the United Kingdom that ran under land for its entire length, until the London tunnel of High Speed 1, which now holds this title. We then made our way along the scenic padley gorge, with the stream, (which used to form the boundary between Derbyshire and Yorkshire) being especially beautiful with the greater water flowing down it. From here we made our way steadily up Burbage valley and up to Higger Tor where the wind picked up considerably at times. From the Tor with nice views, albeit misty, we made our way down to the lane by the A6187. At this point "Life and Soul of the Party" Malcolm decided to seek the sanctuary of Hathersage and left the group, leaving only 3 remaining.

With the cloud base lifting and the weather improving we made our way over the A6187 and under the railway bridge to reach the river Derwent, where a horse shoe shaped concrete seat by the river made the perfect place to take lunch - not before removing our waterproof tops as it had now stopped raining completely!  In fact, from lunch onwards the weather was kind and we only had a few seconds of rain for the rest of the day.

Following a restful lunch,  we made our way along the river derwent with nice views of the surrounding Hills (Win Hill and Lose Hill). Choosing to ignore the stepping stones across the river which although were all just about above the waterline still looked a bit dodgy (especially given our past performance at Bolton Abbey!) we continued along the river, which given all the recent rain was muddy and slippy in places, to cross the railway line again near Bamford  before going up a stretch of the Thornhill Trail (it was the old reservoir construction narrow gauge railway which brought raw materials up the valley) near Ladybower Reservoir.  We then made our way through green fields with quite a few stiles back to Hope station to complete the walk.   

All in all it was a great walk and certainly beats a boring day in front of the TV. Were we fool hardy for going out on such a day? - Never!  There is not really such a thing as the wrong weather (only the wrong clothing) as the great outdoors can still be a very enjoyable place on a rainy day and in fact you can see some great sites with rivers flowing freely and fewer people out also has advantages. Also, with the weather forecast being what it is - you are never sure what will actually happen and sometimes like today the weather can be much better than expected and suddenly improve when you do not expect it which makes a great bonus.

A drive to Bakewell to reunite the website owner with his trusty Tilley hat which he had stupidly left in a pub after a recce the previous week (it was slightly fortunate that the sun had not come out today as the desert hat substitute might have caused a few comments!) and a drink in the castle pub completed a very nice day out.


16th June Rudyard Lake; Buttercup abound in Staffordshire meadows [SJJ]

On a pleasant, sunny Sunday in June, 14 Congleton Ramblers set off on a 9 mile walk around Rudyard Lake and surrounding countryside. 
 
The group set off from the carpark next to Knot Inn, Rushton Spencer and after a short climb were rewarded with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside over meadows covered with golden buttercups.  The walk took in the west side of the lake, passing the yacht club and attractive summer residences.  Leaving the lake, the group crossed several more buttercup filled meadows and enjoyed views over to Congleton Edge. 
 
On reaching Horton Village a paddock was passed with a family of goats and inquisitive kids which entertained the walkers. A lunch break was taken at the church in pleasant sunshine, after which the group returned on meadow footpaths to Rudyard Lake where they visited the tea room for well earned refreshments.  The lake was busy with people enjoying water sports and family fun, the highlight being a ride on the model railway.  The path along the east side of the lake was taken to a track, bounded by a variety of wild flowers, which led back to the car park. [SJJ]

16th June: Astle Chelford [AW]

On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 5 mile walk in the Siddington area. On a fine sunny afternoon ten walkers set off from the car parking area at Redesmere. The first part of the walk was along to Siddington Village Hall, where they had the opportunity to walk up and admire the stone steps. Continuing past the hall and crossing over the busy A34 they then followed Nursery Lane to join a footpath through woodland. This footpath brought the group out to Congleton Lane and then a footpath behind the roadside hedge. These footpaths were created in conjunction with the expansion of the sand quarry. They then continued along the lane and footpaths to join a crossfield footpath passing by Brook House Farm. Here a stop was made for refreshments. Continuing after, the group walked through woodland which was quite marshy, but fortunately the footpath was passable. They then walked by Astle West and East farms to join crossfield footpaths towards Mill Wood, noticing the fields were sown with oats. Maybe there is a connection with a well known porridge oat manufacturer. They walked along Mill Lane and passed by Capesthorne Hall and past Redesmere and back to the car parking area. It had been a pleasant walk in perfect weather, warm with a cooling breeze. [AW]. 

25 May 2013: Betws y coed Recce: An eventful day with lessons for us to remember

On the 25th of May, 5 of us did a recce for the forthcoming coach trip to Betws y coed which will remain in the memory for a long time.

Recce's are always a fun day out with the extra excitement (compared with the usual normal walks) of going the wrong way (several times) and changing the plans to try to find a suitable route. Furthermore, they are the life blood of the club -without people doing this, we would not go to new places and no walks would be led so our club would be finished.  
Support is always on hand for anyone who would like to lead a future walk and would like some assistance in the recce. If you have not done one so far - now might be the time to try?

In terms of this particular recce, it was an eventful day (more than the usual recce).

In terms of the walks, the area is absolutely beautiful. The A walk was a varied walk with stunning views, waterfalls and was a great (but tough) A walk.  The B walk also sounded very good. The town of Betws y coed is really nice and there are a number of smaller walks possible so this should be a great day out for all. If we are blessed with a good sunny day (as we were on our recce) then it will be wonderful.

For some, carrying emergency equipment is seen as a wast of time rather than a requirement while today was a timely reminder of why we must always do this. If we are fortunate, this equipment will live at the bottom of our rucksacks without use but we should not rely on that.

Myself and Ivor started chatting to a couple sat on a rock on the path near Lyn Crafnant (as they had seen us trying to find a path (which is now not walked) and failing!). Suddenly, the female fainted and lost consciousness for a moment. Regaining consciousness but not looking right at all, Ivor gave her some of his water (they had none) only for her to loose consciousness again. I looked at Ivor and he looked at me - it was time to ring 999 (asking for police and then mountain rescue).
While I went off to find a signal, Ivor lay the person down (and raised their legs) and got his survival bag out (for her to sit on) and extra layers just in case. As I had a GPS, I was able to given a precise location to the operator who then (as there was one in the area)  sent for a helicopter  to come for us. The skilled paramedic who was dropped from the helicopter then did a through investigation, concluding that they did not need to be airlifted to hospital.  I would also like to give a special mention to 2 off duty nurses from Cumbria who just happened to be walking past us and came to our assistance.
This just goes to show the importance of carrying the right equipment and knowing the basic things to do.

From the Ogwen Mountain rescue website:
A 60 year old female walker collapsed with possible heat exhaustion close to the west end of Llyn Crafnant. As 22 Squadron were training close by they were tasked to respond whilst a Team vehicle also attended the incident. The winchman assessed the casualty who had recovered sufficiently for her to be driven back to her car in the Team vehicle.


22nd May 2013: Timbersbrook [AW] 

On Wednesday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a four and three quarter mile walk in the Timbersbrook Area. On a cool dry day twelve walkers set off from the Timbersbrook car park up the steps to Tunstall Road and then to Gosberryhole Lane. They walked up the lane to the junction of footpaths at The Cloud Plantation. The walk continued along the southern end of the plantation to pause for morning drinks in the shelter of the woodland. They then walked along The Bridestones footpath to negotiate the ladder stile which took the walkers out of Staffordshire into Cheshire. They continued to join the footpath diversion through woodland to The Bridestones burial chamber, continuing along Dial Lane and thence along Pine Lane to a footpath at Park Head Farm. This footpath was followed to a further footpath over Biddulph Common and out to return to Dial Lane. They then followed Maurice's memorial footpath going down the new footsteps back to Timbersbrook.
It had been an interesting walk. They had seen the new Bridestones diversion, which takes the line of the footpath away from the farm stock yard - a good safety feature. They had also seen the new steps on Maurice's memorial footpath - Congleton Ramblers had made a financial contribution towards the cost of the work. Both these features are an excellent contribution to the local footpath network.   [AW]

19th May 2013: Three Shires Head

As Congleton ramblers, we are privileged to have some stunning walks on our doorstep that are the envy of many people.  This walk was the perfect example of this where with a short journey to Trentabank car park we were able to 
experience a wonderful walk,  The warmer weather (especially for those who had been walking in hat and gloves the previous day in Lath Kill dale!) that greeted us was very much appreciated and we also were treated to some sunshine particularly in the afternoon.

The approximately 13.5 mile circular walk took us up Shuttlingsloe and then down again (with a descent that needed some care) to Wildboarclough before making our way over the moorland to Gradbach. From here we made our way for a perfect lunch stop at the Three Shires Head.
After a restful stop we followed the river Dane and past the remains of the Dane Bower Colliery (abandoned around 1922) including the Danebower Colliery Chimney (see photo) before making our way towards the Cat and fiddle pub
and then onto Macclesfield forest and back to our starting point.

Previous experience of this walk has often been in driving horizontal rain or snow so it was really nice to see it on a fine day.

A special mention should be given to a new person (Chrstine) who came out walking with the club for the first time and picked this somewhat hard A walk as their first ever walk! She did fantastically well to complete the walk and this just goes to prove that if you have a good level of fitness then you should be able to enjoy the A walks.

28 April 2013 BOLTON ABBEY-SIMON’S SEAT [ZDF]

Last Sunday a full coach of Congleton Ramblers set off for walks in Wharfedale. The longer walk of 12 miles commenced at Bolton Abbey , a 12th century priory the land being given to the Augustinian Canons in 1154 by Lady Anne de Rumilly. It went the way off all such buildings during the dissolution of monasteries and after being striped of its wealth fell into disrepair. Many of the stones were pilfered by locals to build cottages and farm buildings in the area surrounding the abbey.

The beginning of the walk entailed crossing the River Wharfe near the Abbey, there are two meathods of crossing here, The stepping stones of which it is reported there are 57 once the only way to cross the river with out getting ones feet wet, or not!! Or the foot bridge. On a previous trip whilst the group were crossing the Wharfe via the stepping stones a couple of walkers took an early dip by toppling off the stones and getting rather wet. With this in mind the leader suggested that perhaps the bridge would be the best option especially as a couple of weeks earlier the stones were well submerged under the water. However there’s always some who want to give it a go! It was noticed by those on the bridge that about half way across the river a stone was missing! The three on the stones came to a sudden stop when they realised they couldn’t get any further, it was with great hilarity from the watchers the stone hoppers made a precarious about turn to retreat to the safety of the bank. There were other onlookers ,two young men who had made exactly the same mistake were watching to see how our three got on, everyone thought it was hilarious. Guess there are only 56 stones now!

Once all 21 walkers were across the river safely and a photo taken to prove we were there the walk could commence in earnest. The route followed an undulating path through wood land along the banks of the Wharfe crossing the river again by footbridge by the Cavendish Pavilion. It was here the group entered Strid Wood, an ancient wood land of SSI being one of the largest areas of acid oak woodland in the Yorkshire Dales, renowned for the flora and fauna, particularly carpets of Bluebells in the spring?? We only saw about three coming into flower!! The Bolton Abbey Estate is owed by the Duke of Devonshire and it was in 1810 the 6th Duke open Strid Wood to the public.

The walkers also passed by the Bodger’s Camp, skilled craftsmen using traditional tools make sustainable woodland products, chairs, benches and bird tables. In the 19th and early 20th century they could be found working in the woodland, using pole lathes to turn wooden chair legs spindles and rungs for chair makers in town. The Bodger never completed a chair and gradually any uncompleted job became know as a ‘Bodged Job’ .

Moving on through the wood the group passed by The Strid, this is where the River Wharfe suddenly becomes narrow being channelled through a rocky gorge with force.It is wider than it looks and the rocks become very slipy ,it is notoriously dangerous and many lives have been lost by people trying to jump it or just slipping and falling in. It was formed by the river eroding the rock underneath forming a large water filled chasm through which the river travels with force. As there were already people down on the rocks the leader took the decision to walk the 21 strong group past but they were able to glance down to catch a glimpse of it below.

Soon they were leaving the wood and crossing the river again this time by a turreted bridge which is an aqueduct carrying water from the head of Nidder Dale to the cities of West Yorkshire. Once on the other side the group doubled back on themselves to walk back following the undulating path through the woods on the other side of the river. Good views of the river could be seen with a second chance of spying the Strid far below.
 Before leaving the woods an ideal place was found for lunch in the form of a sheltered bench over looking the river. During lunch everyone was fascinated by the bird life especially a Mandarin Duck which was quite happy to pose for photos.
Once suitably refreshed the group carried on soon to leave the woods and take the path to the Valley of Desolation,

The walkers followed the path up a steady incline into the pretty valley, not desolate at all. It takes its name form the great storm of 1826, nature has long since repaired the devastation. A series of spectacular waterfalls which were created at the end of the Ice Age were visible through the trees and delighted the group.

On leaving the valley the walkers headed through woodland in the direction of Simon’s Seat. The inclement weather that had be threatening all day finally arrived just as we reached open moorland of Barden Fell,  and so with the rain pouring down water proofs were quickly donned. The aim now was to reach Simon’s Seat, a great rocky out crop which can be seen for miles around, unfortunately with the rain had come the mist so although we had a well marked path the group were going to be denied the fantastic views. Still onward and upward steady progress was made in the blustery wet conditions and Simon’s Seat was reached however as a rock scramble was required to reach the trig point the group decided not to bother on this occasion. Barden Fell is a grouse moor but on this day there were none to be seen, sensible grouse were staying well under cover unlike silly humans!

From Simon’s Seat the walkers followed a path down the moor  towards a plantation, on the descent views of the dale below were visible, it looked quite bright, we wondered if it had been like that all afternoon. On reaching the plantation a track was taken heading down towards Howgill, the group stopped here for a welcome  tea break. Once refreshed the expedition continued soon reaching the foot path for Burnsall following “The Dales Way”, along the course of the River Wharfe.

It was now a gentle walk along the river passing the village of Appletreewick to complete the walk at the pretty village of Burnsall. Here half the group headed for the pub and a welcome pint, whilst the others were soon in the tea room for their longed for brew and cake!! Everyone agreed it had been a great walk in a fantastic area that many of the group hadn’t visited before. Shame about the weather!! [JDF]


Sunday 13th April 2013: Ambergate to Matlock; [MH]

The sun was shining and the sky was unexpectedly blue when we arrived at Matlock rail station and after mastering the technology of the ticket machine on the unmanned station we set off on the 10.38 am for a twelve minute journey to Ambergate. There were only a few of us but we did have a new face walking with us who, hopefully, will walk with the group in the future.

After completing a couple of hundred yards of road walking we went into the woods and up towards the top of The Tors. From here the views to Wirksworth were excellent and we stopped for a cuppa. We then descended to the River Derwent and passed what we identified as two very tall Redwood trees at a disused quarry called Chase Cliffe. Along the Cromford canal we encountered many Mink traps at the water’s edge and stayed on the level until we arrived at Whatstandwell  station and then shortly across a footbridge and climbed up through deer territory towards Holloway where we stopped for lunch and discussed the merits of many of the large supermarkets which inevitably led to a more politically biased discussion on national newspapers and then onto politicians both dead and alive.
We passed through Lea Bridge, the home of one of the oldest knitting factories in the country and after one of our members risked life and limb rescuing a children’s football from Lea Brook we ascended the path through the woods, not much political banter now, up to Coumbs Wood and in the clearings we had marvelous views across to the Heights of Jacob and Matlock Bath.

It wasn’t too long before we were near the base of the cable car and we started our climb up High Tor where, I understand, the views are spectacular across the valley (you wouldn’t get me anywhere near those cliff edges).We finally dropped down towards our destination with Riber Castle watching over us from the East and at this point we felt the signs of the  first precipitation of the day but we were only minutes from Matlock and the sight of the miniature railway and the bandstand in the park meant we had avoided the forecasted bad weather.
With a trip to the café and another to the nearby hostelry we eventually met up in the car park at the station where we said our farewells and pledged to meet again next week  [MH]

Sunday 7th April: Pendle Hill

Historically the club has not fared well weather wise when walking Pendle in the past but the gods (or should that be witches!) were certainly on our side today.  Spring finally sprung after months of cold weather with snow and biting easterly winds, when a dry mild day greeted the A walkers (including a rambler from Morecambe who joined us for the day) which not only awoke the bird life but also gladdened the hearts and souls of all the walkers.

A second miracle also happened in that “The Legs” Bob arrived in some very smart clean walking trousers as opposed to his usual mud ridden (even at the start of a walk) fashion-less number. We all did a double take - was that really Bob?  There are only 2 possibilities for this - either they were bought for him or it was simply a chance outcome (in the same way as the saying goes that if there were enough monkeys at typewriters then one would eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare)!

Setting off on our approx 9 mile circular walk from Barley car park we headed straight for the majestic Pendle hill choosing to go up the steep path named the “The big end” - This was a lung busting experience, especially as most were overdressed for the occasion, blowing the cobwebs off and the winter months away.  I could hear “Life and Soul of the Party” Malcolm complaining as we made our way up even though he was not actually on the walk!  Reaching the top we were greeted with reasonable albeit it a bit murky views and enjoyed a pleasant coffee stop with no cares in the world - apart from being molested by 2 very friendly dogs (can I take one home with me?). 

After walking along the top of the hill, we then made our way down to Upper Ogden reservoir and down to Newchurch-in-Pendle where we had a delightful lunch stop on the benches at St Marys church. Apparently, the Eye that is visible in St Mary’s church was put there to ward off evil spirits - which might explain why Malcolm was not on the walk today! With the warm weather including some sunshine and good friends (some who had not been seen for a while) it truly was a wonderful experience. 

Leaving our lunch stop and stripping some layers of clothing off (down to one upper layer for some!) we made our way past Spen Brook and into Roughlee before returning to our starting point after approx 4.5 hours (with approx 3.25 hours walking).  A tea and cake stop at the car park with some even electing for ice cream instead completed a great day out.

A special mention should go to our leader Jackie who not only led the walk without error but provided some nice background to the area and the history of the witches.  I hope we can return to this area of the UK in the future.

Sunday 31st March: Ring of Trees Buxton [JT]

The Ring of Trees is a route created by members of the Buxton Civic Association in 2010. They have produced a pamphlet which the walk leader used for today’s walk. Details can also be found on their website at buxtoncivicassociation.org.uk.
Buxton is surrounded by moorland and trees. Most of the woods were planted by the Duke of Devonshire in the 1820’s to conceal and restore land and vistas desecrated by industrial lime working and quarrying. From 1811 to 1848, a great number of plantations were laid out around the town, establishing the woods at Grin, Brown Edge, Burbage, Corbar, Cold Springs, Sherbrook, Gadley and Lightwood. Thousands of trees were ordered from Derbyshire nurseries. These included larch, spruce, birch, beech, rowan and chestnut.
 In the last 30 years, many of these woods have been transferred to the Buxton Civic Association (BCA) to manage, maintain and regenerate the woods. All of these woodlands are growing at over 1000ft/300m above sea level, where once there was nothing but wild moorland.
Twenty walkers met at Poole’s Cavern. This is an extensive, natural cavern which has been a show cave since the 16th century. We began by entering Grin Woods by some steep stairs covered in snow and ice. The conditions early in the morning were treacherous and the walker’s progress was slow. These woods are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) as they have many species of flora, including rare orchids. They are the largest woods cared for by the BCA. In the 16th to 19th centuries, the area was surrounded by numerous limestone quarries and pudding pie kilns. The lime was used as a fertiliser and for mortar in the surrounding towns and cities. A network of pack horse trails and railways linked the area with the canal at Whaley Bridge.
The path through the woods took us up to Solomon’s Temple, a viewing tower constructed in 1896 by Solomon Mycock. An early Bronze Age barrow was discovered on this site containing six burials. We were able to climb the Tower to see spectacular views down into Buxton and its surrounding countryside. Much of the area was marked out by drifts of snow which highlighted the landscape. From the Temple, we headed down past kilns and burnt slag heaps. For awhile we re-entered the wood. A heavy coating of snow made finding the correct path difficult and several attempts were made before the leader got us back on the right track. The route crossed a playing field to enter Sherbrook Wood. A stream goes through these woods to join the River Wye at Lover’s Leap in Ashwood Dale. There was more evidence of quarrying and lime burning tips. The route continued across Duke’s Drive and under the viaduct before going through a farm yard. There was a sign warning of the bull but luckily he was penned in his stall with some heifers. We traversed several fields, before descending to the A6 and then turned into Ashwood Dale Park. The park was laid out in 1921 and would have once been filled with people “perambulating”. There is a noticeable drop in the river level due to the site of a 13th century mill used for grinding corn in the reign of Henry 3rd. Archaeologists have found caves in this area containing the bones and teeth of sabre-toothed tigers, hyena, mastodon, horse and deer.
The walk continued for about ten minutes through housing of many periods from the 18th to the late 20th century, passing under a railway bridge and up a path coated in solid ice. The walkers clung onto the side railing before reaching St Peter’s Church. We then descended past allotments and pigeon lofts and under further bridges before crossing through Hogshaw Wood. This is home to a pair of Tawny owls. Crossing through an urban area of Victorian villas, we arrived at a modern housing estate whose landscaped grounds have several wooden sculptures. Crossing the road, we entered Corbar Woods. These are the only semi natural woods in Buxton and had popular Victorian Walks. These were probably designed by Joseph Paxton, Head Gardner and Architect to the Duke of Devonshire and responsible for designing the Crystal Palace for the 1851 Great Exhibition. The original arbours, footbridges etc have all gone. There is evidence of coppiced woods, valuable for charcoal, lime burning and smelting. After a steep ascent ploughing through snow up through the woods, we climbed to Corbar Cross. This was erected by Buxton Catholics in 1950 to celebrate the Jubilee Year. There are fine views over Buxton, and towards Solomon’s Temple. Leaving the wood, we crossed the Manchester Road, passing a golf course before entering Gadley Wood and Riversvale. After crossing stepping stones over a stream which is often orange in colour due to mineral deposits, we rejoined the track through the golf course. Large drifts of snow covered the sections of the fairways. Eventually we followed the track up a hill to the top, where a small gate leads into a garden and then onto the drive of the Beet, a stone property with landscaped gardens. Descending down the Bishops Lane, we passed Edgemoor, a large country house and estate before turning towards Pex Farm and Shay Lodge Wood. Little is known about the origins of this wood. The route continued down towards Macclesfield Old Road. In places the snow was so deep, it covered the stiles completely and the simplest way to get over the piled up snow was to sit down and slide. Finally we progressed to the Leek Road. Crossing this road, we entered the Grin Woods at the opposite end to the Cavern. We turned left, following the snowy wooded paths back to Poole’s Cavern.
 It had been a beautiful day with constant sun and little of the easterly winds, but the terrain had been very challenging in places. Today, we discovered parts of Buxton and its surrounding countryside that we had not seen before. We would recommend this walk to anyone interested in widening their knowledge of Buxton’s surroundings.
[JT]

22nd-24th March Hadrian's Wall Club Weekend
A year ago the club were experiencing a warm beautiful sunny weekend walking the coastal paths around Whitby which turned out to be the hottest and best weather of the entire year! The downside was that "The legs" Bob had his legs out the entire time!
What a difference a year makes as for the March 2013 club weekend we were served up a winter wonderland with lots of snow, ice and severe biting easterly winds. Rather than t-shirts and shorts of last year, this time thermals, gloves, hats and as many layers as possible were the order of the day just to simply try to stay warm. 

With the weather conditions effecting most of the Northern UK, we were fortunate that the M6 road to Wetherall was mainly clear enabling nearly all of us to get to the destination (with "Life and Soul of the Party" making good use of his 4x4 to get to Hazel who would otherwise have been stranded) . Sadly, a couple of people were unable to do so.

Our Friday afternoon walk of a 7.5 miles loop from our nice hotel took in the Wetherall priory gatehouse, a nice coffee stop in the animal refuge and then a very scenic section walking along the river Eden  with views of Corby castle and its waterfall before reaching the very quaint Wetheral railway station (a scene from a by gone era). 

Our Saturday walk for the A walkers turned out to be approx 10.5 miles (rather than the planned 13 miles) starting from Chapelburn and tracking Hadrian's wall. With the freezing strong easterly wind, snow and driving snow/sleet this made for a tough but very exciting walk. The walk took in the Birdoswald Roman fort, Willowford bridge, Gilsland and on above Walltown.  Due to the extreme weather and some people suffering in the cold, at approx 7 miles, we decided to deviate from our plan to finish the walk at Steel Rigg car park but instead dropped down off the hills and headed for the refuge of Milcastle Inn where we got the bus to pick us up.

The weather enabled wilderness to regain a small foothold on the area and the snowy weather made the countryside look stunningly beautiful. The strong swirling easterly winds and freezing conditions made for some interesting times none more so when anyone had the misfortune to need to stop for a back-stop - some peoples 'equipment' is not meant for such conditions!

Our Sunday walk for the A walkers was supposed to be 9 miles starting from Steel Rigg and then taking in Housesteads before leaving the wall at Sewingshields Crag and coming back to Steel Rigg. However, due to the weather (with the cold wind being incredible) we instead did a short 5 mile walk starting from Housteads and taking the higher route along the wall (and Pennine way) and then onto the Vindolanda museam including the reconstruction of a turret and gatehouse.  Wandering around the outside of the museum the cold windy weather was beyond belief and we soon sought the warm and delights of the inside section of the museum.

Overall, it really was a great experience to sample the outdoors in such conditions, making me feel alive and free from the everyday issues and it is an experience that will linger in the memory for sometime to come. I for one consider myself very fortunate to be able to experience our fantastic countryside in all its forms and it will be a sad day indeed when the opportunity to do this is no longer possible. As it is impossible to know when this time will be, it is important to take every chance to undertake this fantastic pastime.

Sunday 10 March: Lyme Green (in place of Forest Chapel)
There have been a few signs of Spring on recent walks leading some of us to think the warmer weather was just round the corner but for today's walk winter came back with a vengeance.
Arriving at Congleton for our meeting point and seeing cars coming from the Macclesfield area with large amounts of snow on, as well as tales of icy roads towards Wildboarclough, made for a quick change of plan as "The legs" Bob  stepped into the breach to provide a substitute walk - namely a 13.3 mile circular walk starting from Lyme Green.

Arriving at our starting point the weather seemed OK although there was a cool wind meaning hats, gloves and wind jackets were the norm.  We started by walking along Macclesfield canal before leaving to go through Sutton and Langley and then onto Teggs nose reservoir. At this point the white hills which made for a beautiful view were very evident and we started to walk on snow (quite deep in places) as we made our way up Teggs Nose (Originally called "Tegge's Naze", "Tegge" might have been the name of an early Norse settler or might refer to a sheep ("teg"), while "nose" probably refers to the southern promontory). The wind then became a biting gale at times which was quite difficult for some members to stand up in. After a brief indoor rest stop out of the chill at Teggs Nose country park visitor centre (with a welcome indoor toilet stop to avoid "things" freezing!) , we continued our walk (now with the snow long gone) talking in the impressive Bollington waterfall (where we stopped for lunch) before going into Bollington itself and rejoining the Macclesfield canal back to our starting point.

All in all it was a nice days walk with some great views made even better with the snowy scenes - To take a phrase from Amy MacDonald, the walk made me see life, life in a beautiful light. 

Sunday 3 March: Carsington Village
Our first walk of March took us on a near 12 mile circular walk starting from Carsington water. Englands ninth largest reservoir with a capacity of 35,412 megalitres which is not only large but also very beautiful making for a great days walk. 

According to history (well Wikipedia anyway!) Woolly Rhinos used to live in the area but now the only hairy ogre to be seen was "Life and Soul of the Party" Malcolm (especially after a late night on the tiles)!

The weather was mainly cloudy but there were some sunny moments and during the middle of the day the temperature warmed up sufficiently for most to forgo their mid layers.

After tracking along the reservoir we made our way to Middleton Top, which is the last surviving winding engine from the now defunct Cromford and High Peak Railway, and round to the closed off Middleton Mine (apparently the only underground Limestone mine in the UK). Continuing along grassy fields which were almost entirely mud free (hopefully the current dry weather is a sign of things to come) we made our ways towards the direction of the hamlet of Grangemill with views of Ible. Before actually reaching Grangemill though, we took a left turning and made our way to the village of Brassington with its nice stone houses. As we made our way back to Grassington up to this point it had been a relatively easy relaxed walk but our leader "the legs" Bob had a sting in the tail.  Rather than taking us on the easy path, he diverted the group to go up a reasonable steep ascent, much to the delight of Gadget Jon and the dismay of Malcolm, up a pitted hill (due to the lead mining of the past) The reward for the ascent was some nice views of Carsington water laid out beneath us. Of course having gone up we had to make our way back down towards our starting point.  A stop-off in the miners arms for refreshments prior to getting back to the start completed a really good day out for the 13 folks who had decided to come out on today's adventure.

Sunday 24 February: Goyt Valley
Our just over 12 mile walk began from Derbyshire bridge car park.  Leaving our meeting place in Congleton it was cool but not too bad at all - However as we approached the car park it was apparent we were entering a different world with the road down to the car park white and icy and a cold wind chill.  With some snow in the air, a few of us wondered what we might come back to at the end of the walk and if we would be able to get back out of the car park despite the weather forecast of a good day and no snow. 

Leaving the car park, we made our way up the Goyt Valley where it became even more icey and the ground and left over snow was rock hard. In part this was a god send as otherwise it would have been very muddy in places.
However, care was needed to stay upright as evidenced by one member of the party who had a nasty fall on some ice but luckily was OK. The webmaster was grateful for packing his microspikes which he quickly put on.
From the Goyt valley we made our way through some woods and up to Shining Tor.

Leaving Shining Tor at which point the icy paths largely disappeared, rather than descending to the Spanish shrine we took the higher path with some nice views before descending to the ruins of Errwood Hall for our lunch stop. The hall built in the 1830s by Samuel Grimshawe (a wealthy Manchester businessman) which was later demolished in connection with the construction of the Fernilee reservoir in 1934 made for a fantastic lunch stop out of the wind. It was positively balmy  - as evidence by one person who was having a barbecue!
Leaving the hall behind we dropped down to Errwood reservoir and crossed between Errwood and Fernlee reservoirs before making our way partway up the Bunsall incline which was opened in 1831 (though it was not until 1857 that it became one single incline) - The steep straight ascent (1:7) was part of the old High Peak Railway and trains were hauled up the incline by static steam engines feeding from small reservoirs, one in the middle and one at the top.
Leaving the incline we took a path higher up the hill before rejoining the route of the Cromford and High Peek railway
and onto the now blocked Burbage tunnel.  From here we made our way onto Burbage edge before returning to our starting point.  As we reached the car park after approx 4.5 hours walking time we were relieved to see the earlier days icey roads long gone.   This was a really enjoyable walk and it was nice to see so many people out on the walk.

Sunday 17 February: Churnet Valley & Weaver Hills
Our 12 mile circular walk to the Churnet valley and weaver hills started from the ramblers retreat at Oakamoor and took place in beautiful sunshine.  Most people visiting this area seek the thrills and spills of the theme park of Alton towers but this is a great area for walkers too with some fantastic views and is very much underrated.

Starting from the retreat we made our way through woods of Dimmingsdale going past the chained oak where legend has it that in 1821 an old woman appeared begging for a coin to the Early of Shrewsbury, which the Earl dismissed. The old woman then placed a curse and said, "For every branch on the Old Oak Tree here that falls, a member of the Earl’s family will die." The Earl dismissed this and carried on his way. That night, during a violent storm a single branch from the old oak tree broke and fell. Later that same night, a member of the Earl’s family suddenly and mysteriously died. To prevent any more deaths the Earl ordered his servants to chain every branch together to prevent other branches from falling.  The tree remains chained today.

Leaving the curse behind (hopefully!) we made our way along the back of Alton towers near Farley and onto Ramshorn and around Wardlow Quarry before making our way to Wooten cricket club for a delightful lunch time stop.
In the warm sunshine it was a glimpse of the hopefully warmer sunnier days to come and let some of us imagine the setting of watching a cricket match with a nice drink in hand. However today, we had to content ourselves with sandwiches and tea/coffee. 

From our lunch time retreat we walked into Wooten itself and onto Bamfords estate which is a very fine estate with fantastic views including the majestic Grade II Wooten lodge (see photo gallery) now owned by Bamford but briefly previously the home of Sir Oswald Mosley. Going past the JCB test track and Brookleys lake we made our way along Churnet valley into Alton and back to our starting point.

This really was a fine walk and great day out with all the ingredients that make walking in this area an absolute delight. Do those people stuck in front of the TV know what they are missing?

Sunday 10 February: Denbigh Castle/Henllan
Those reading the previous walks will recall that Malcolm and June were current joint holders of the Queen/King of mud. However, today's walk by Geoff put him well and truly to the top of the list!

With a weather forecast of rain and a grey/drizzly morning only 3 people ("The legs" Bob, Alan and the website owner) joined Geoff in Congleton - However, a 5th person (Susan) met us at the starting point to complete the group for the approx 8.5 mile walk. 
While the journey to the starting point (through some areas of fog and fairly heavy rain) left some of us wondering what we had let ourselves into, the actual day was not as bad as first thought.  While it did drizzle and remain cool for the whole day, the weather did allow for some reasonable visibility and some nice Welsh views.

The walk started at Denbigh with its Castle in view which was a fortress built following the 13th-century conquest of Wales by Edward I and comprised of a nice countryside walk also taking in the small town of Groes. Looking at the route on Google Earth shows a walk through nice green fields.  However, given the amount of rain it was not too much of a surprise that we would see some mud and this walk certainly did not disappoint!  In fact there was mud nearly everywhere! - in one place in particular causing us to divert from the route and find an alternative way - at which point the website owner was described (not for the first time) as being a "wuss" as we had to get over a barbed wire fence (It was high honestly!) - This did lead "The legs" Bob to rip his trousers. The only saving grace from the mud was a small bit of road walking and amazingly a dry path at the end of the walk back to Denbigh!
It had been a quiet day and we basically had the place to ourselves with very few people seen on route (a couple of horse riders).

An end of walk drink in "The Hand" pub completed the day. Despite the weather and mud it was still really nice to get out and sample the beautiful Welsh countryside and fresh air once more - This certainly lifted the spirits of the website owner and made a welcome change from the usual work (for some!) /sleep routine.  Here's looking forward to next weeks walk!

Sunday 3 February: Last Drop Village and Jumbles Reservoir Coach Walk
The weather for the coach walk was rather drizzly and grey which was a slight shame but we still enjoyed a nice day out for our coach walk.
"The legs" Bob turned up in some rather 'fetching' green tweed trousers (a hand me down from his brother) - typical of his fashion sense in wearing something that was in fashion 40 plus years ago! Looking at the sky and the drizzle he stated that it was a shame he did not bring his shorts! - This made the website owner rather queasy which took a while to wear off.
The longer walkers did a 12 mile walk in an almost figure of 8 starting from a bus stop on the A676 before making their way to Jumbles Reservoir where we followed along the reservoir until crossing over the bridge when the adventure truly began as we made our way past Turton Tower and onto the moors.   The moors are a bit like Marmite to the walkers with some who can not get enough of them and others that hate the sight of them.  With the rain and wind, poor visability and very boggy underfoot conditions it certainly made for an interesting experience as we struggled along the route.  Leaving the moor (Hooray!) we did a small bit of road walking on the A666 before we made our way round the Turton and Entwistle reservoir (built in 1832) where we stopped briefly to watch the herons nesting in the trees (as well as the heron statue in the reservoir) and then across using a footpath through the pinewoods to the Wayoh reservoir (built in 1876 and enlarged in 1962) with views of the Armsgrove Viaduct. Leaving the reservoir we made our way through the oddly named Turton Bottoms before returning to the bridge at Jumbles Reservoir we had left earlier on in the day and this time walking the other side of the reservoir.  Rather than completing the figure of 8, we made our way to our destination of Last Drop Village, a picturesque collection of Georgian farm buildings converted into craft shops etc.  A drink and chat completed a nice day out.  Now, if I could only find someone to clean my boots...

Sunday 27 January: Bollington/Rainow
With the previous days rain and higher temperatures the blanket of snow largely disappeared for the almost 12 mile circular walk starting from Kerridge car park.  There was still some snow in places and it was also quite cold if not very cold at times despite the forecast for a fairly warm day.  This was most evident at our lunch stop at Jenkins chapel where it was positively arctic!  After last weeks walk where everyone managed to stay on their feet, this week saw a few fall over as the snow melt on top of already saturated land led to muddy and slippy conditions -  This included June "the Queen of mud"  who up to this time had always shown supreme balance without the aid of a stick in what can be described as her favourite conditions. Thankfully all had soft landings.
A walking time of almost 4.5 hours saw the group complete the almost 12 mile walk which contained a reasonable amount of ascent, much to the delight of some of the members (OK then, the website owner anyway!) - This included going up White Nancy which had been painted with the Olympic rings as well as a crown making it look more impressive than usual.

An alternative write-up [JD]:
On Sunday the rapid thaw enabled 14 Congleton Ramblers and 2 visiting Ramblers to embark on the programmed 11.5 miles walk round the parish of Rainow and head for the hills that only two days previously had been covered in deep snow. Setting out from the car park on Jackson Road Kerridge the group were looking forward to the varied scenery ahead including the wooded valleys along the River Dean and it’s tributaries, the rough pasture land grazed by sheep on the higher ground and the more distant views afforded by the long climbs.

Having reached the foot of White Nancy via Redway the route initially joined the Gritstone Trail westwards, descending to Ingersley Vale where an old packhorse bridge crosses the River Dean then continuing up hill past Ingersley Hall formerly the home of the Gaskill family. The swollen waters rushing under the small bridge confirmed that ground conditions would certainly be soggy. From here the route turned northwards along Oaken Bank towards Berristall Dale where, having crossed Harrop Brook, there was a climb ahead. Walking past the waterfowl at Berristall Hall the group noted their first class living accommodation and enviable view whilst continuing towards the wooded area at the top of the hill. Here they paused to take in a long view over the conurbation of Stockport and Manchester to the west. 

Soon the route left the Gritstone Trail to descend the steep Gausie Clough and cross a stream to enter Harrop Wood. On emerging from the wood an early threat of rain had passed so with a blue sky above a steady climb towards Charles Head continued. Over the hill the route contoured southwards above Dunge Clough with the rocky outcrops of millstone grit - Windgather Rocks and Pym Chair - on the opposite side of the valley. Dropping to the valley floor below Cats Tor the walk was now against a strong headwind from which there was no escape throughout a draughty lunch break taken at Jenkin Chapel. The Chapel was built by the farmers of Saltersford in 1733 and apparently named after the mediaeval “jankynscros” that stood at the adjacent crossroad. 

The route then turned westward and rose steeply through the forest on Cook Hill to continue across fields towards Waggonshaw Brow with persistent deep snowdrifts hugging the walls and making stiles redundant at some points.  Approaching Yearns Low, Lamaload Reservoir came into view and the grassy track then descended below the Dam. From here Rainow village was reached by crossing the fields to Dane Bent Farm then following a track along the River Dean to the bridge at the foot of Tower Hill. After a steep diagonal climb to the top of Kerridge Hill the group continued along the ridge to White Nancy, the monument originally erected by the Gaskell family of Ingersley Hall to commemorate the victory at Waterloo and now an iconic “sugar loaf” on the skyline. Here the group paused to enjoy superb views of Bollington , the Cheshire Plain and Derbyshire Hills beyond before descending through the woods and back into Kerridge for well earned refreshment.  [JD]

Wednesday 23 January: Hulme Walfield
In the current uncertain wintry weather, Congleton Ramblers were pleased only to have to drive to Tesco Congleton’s car park for the start of their monthly Wednesday walk.  From there 12 members set off on a four mile walk around Hulme Walfield.  They started  by walking uphill to the Rood Hill traffic lights before turning left to take a path leading towards Westlow Mere.  Noting that the Mere was closed to fishing because it was frozen, the walkers picked up the minor lane, which gives access to the Mere for fishermen.  Here care was needed as it is harder to walk on hard surfaces in the ice than across fields, because of the lack of grip.  

Emerging on Giantswood Lane, the group turned left along a grass verge, eventually to cross the road and take a path across fields to reach Brickhouse Farm, now substantially redeveloped as a large mansion.  After skirting the house on the marked path, the group walked along the drive to reach Smithy Lane.  Turning right, a stretch of lane walking led the group to a footpath off to the right through a small wood.  Here the walkers enjoyed a short coffee break in a sheltered spot before walking across fields to reach Midway House Farm.  After some discussion about the correct route of the public path, the walkers followed the permissive path around the farm to reach and cross a small stream in another wooded area.

Fieldside paths then led the walkers back to Giantswood Lane.  Crossing over, they entered the wood alongside the road and turned left.  The walking conditions in the wood were very pleasant with a soft but firm surface of fallen leaves.   Soon the end of the wood was reached and the walkers turned right downhill to follow a path skirting the edge of the Daisybank estate to rejoin the path from the traffic lights taken at the start of the walk.  The walkers then retraced their steps back to the main road and  downhill to Tesco’s car park.  It had been a good two hour walk in reasonable conditions – and everyone would be home in time for lunch! [MB]

Sunday 20 January: Lyme Park
The almost 9 mile walk led by Jenny (rather than Jackie due to a home boiler problem) took place in almost total snow and ice as a blanket of snow had enveloped the UK countryside,  This made for a great winters walk -  bringing wild Britain back to even a well trodden gentle route.  Those bringing their spikes/ extra traction etc made a wise decision as it was quite slippy in places although everyone managed to stay on their feet.  It was also amazing to see a few mountain bikers enjoying the snow  on the same route as us - all with their standard bike tires!  Not to mention the hardy fell runners. Rather them than me!
The circular walk started from Poynton car park, firstly joining Macclesfield canal before leaving to make our way to Lyme park for lunch. There was a biting wind at times which reduced the temperatures further and the act of taking gloves off for lunch almost led to frost bite! It was really nice to see Lyme park full of children sledging, a throwback to yesteryear and the joy of more simpler pleasures.
Leaving Lyme park house we made our way to the cage (originally a hunting lodge and was later used as a park-keeper's cottage and as a lock-up for prisoners) before looping back to the canal and back to our starting point at an early time of 1:30. A drink in the Boars head completed the outing.

Sunday 13 January: Longnor to (almost!) Sheen (and back!)
The overnight freezing temperatures had frozen the ground so the muddy conditions of previous weeks were thankfully eased and this led to a beautiful days gentle walking for our 10 mile circular walk starting from Longnor. Although cold, the weather was bright and sunny with some fine views including of the beautiful Parkhouse and Chrome hill.  After leaving Longnor, we made our way to Crowdicote before going onto Pilsbury castle (probably originally an Iron Age fortification before being used by the Normans, and indeed the name "Pilsbury Castle" forms from the Celtic "pil", the Saxon "bury" and the Norman "castle", all meaning "fortified site".In early medieval times, the site would have been located along the River Dove routeway, and would also have overlooked a key crossing point).  From here we made our way to the (really) very outskirts of Sheen - although it has to be said that some of the walking party were exasperated by the fact that we did not go to Sheen itself given the walk title - There were some quips of "I can see Blackpool tower from here so shouldn't that be in the title!". However a little artistic licence is always allowed by the leader! After this we made our way to Brund before taking the Manifold valley (following the river Manifold) - where the thaw had started leading to the odd muddy moment - back to our starting point.
An end of walk drink (in the tea shop or the Cheshire cheese pub along with some folk music) completed a very enjoyable day. 
The cold weather had probably put a few people of the walk which was a shame as with the right clothing it was a fantastic day out.

Sunday 6 January: Deep Hayes & Stanley Pool
It was a misty day that greeted the ramblers on this walk - so much so that on the car journey to our starting point (Deep Hayes) when a shadowy figure appeared out of the mist in a long coat reminiscent of a by gone era, Sue ("I don't like my photograph taken") thought we were in an old horror movie and we were about to meet our end. Luckily this was not the case though death by mud was in store !

The just over 11.5 mile circular walk took us first along Caulden canal before going to Stanley Pool and onto the outskirts of Cheddleton with a stop at the Boat Inn (the person who smashed a glass shall remain nameless!) before rejoining the Caulden canal back to our starting point.  The mist/mirk remained most of the day so it was not a good day for photographs. 

This walk was led by June ("the queen of mud") - though the crown had been stolen the week before - and she made a valiant attempt to regain it!  There was actually some almost dry areas at times but conversely there were some incredibly muddy areas so all in all I would have to give it as a score draw!
Lets see what next week brings!

JF alternative write up:
Last Sunday 18 members of Congleton Ramblers travelled the short distance to Deep Hayes Country Park near Leek for an 11 mile walk.  Starting from near the visitor centre the walk began with some easy towpath walking along the Caldon canal, the latter being built in 1778. On reaching the Hazelhurst aquaduct steps were climbed to gain the Leek arm of the canal which became operational in 1801, linking the Caldon canal to the new reservoir at Rudyard.  After passing Hazelhurst locks the group left the canal and gradually ascended through very muddy pastures to eventually gain a minor road near Cats Edge.  Normally the latter provides spectacular views on all sides, the Cheshire plain and Shropshire to the west, the Roaches and Hen Cloud to the right and the Vale of Trent lying to the south.  However, these views were not able to be seen as the morning fog had not yet lifted.
After a short coffee break the walkers continued across more muddy fields and farmyards before attaining the road which led to the village of Stanley.  Leaving the road behind, a couple of fields provided the path towards a small wood and Stanley Pool.  This was built in 1783 as a feeder for the canal system and to provide water for the mills in Stanley that were used for ceramics.  Today, the nearby Stanley Head Outdoor Centre uses Stanley Pool for canoeing and sailing.  A long footbridge over the pool was crossed before the route took the members to Pool Meadows farm from where the path lay through a narrow avenue of trees along the top of a short dyke. After descending to a footbridge in a small valley the leader decided to take an early lunch break as the nearby babbling brook provided a very picturesque setting.
Suitably refreshed the group then ascended through a narrow gully of trees and bushes emerging by a stile leading onto a farm track and subsequently a tarmac road at Tomkin.  The latter takes its name from a gruesome tale dating back to the Civil War in which a drummer-boy with the Cavaliers became separated from  the main troop and fell into the hands of the Roundheads. The boy’s name was Tom and, showing no mercy, they skinned poor Tom alive! 
A short stretch of road walking ( quite a relief from all the mud) followed to reach Knowsley Common which on a better day would have provided a superb panorama.
The route then left the road and for the next couple of miles there followed more muddy pastures, stiles and tracks before reaching the small village of Cheddleton which boasts the 12th century church of St Edward the Confessor. Almost opposite the entrance to the church a small lane was taken to eventually arrive at the busy A520 which is the main road from Leek to Stone.  After crossing this a track was taken which gradually descended towards the Caldon canal. Across the valley rolling stock belonging to the North Staffordshire Railway Company was visible.
The path eventually emerged by The Boat Inn where several members partook of light refreshment before continuing along the canal. After about half a mile the towpath passed under the A520 to Cheddleton Flint Mill which worked commercially as recently as 1963. Two large water wheels powered the process of grinding flint, the end product  called slip being transported along the canal to the Potteries where it was used in the manufacture of ceramics. Continuing on the towpath the walkers starting point was soon reached. In spite of the atrocious conditions underfoot all the group enjoyed the walk as for many of them it was though an area not previously visited.
[JF]

Tuesday 1 January: The Cloud/Bridestones
On New Years Day a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 6 mile walk in the Timbersbrook area. On a fine day 28 walkers set off from the Timbersbrook car park. The first part of the walk was along Weathercock Lane to the footpath going past Pool Bank Mill. This footpath has been diverted away from the mill but is now very satisfactory. The next part of the walk was over a very waterlogged field footpath. Continuing over further crossfield footpaths the group arrived at Brookhouse Lane. Here a stop was made for refreshments. Continuing along Brookhouse Lane the party walked out to Under Rainow Road and after a short walk along the road they joined a footpath going up the quite steep Rainow Hill. A further crossfield footpath was followed out to Dial Lane. They now crossed into Staffordshire and walked up the lane to Dial Lane Farm to a track. This track was followed up over Biddulph Park to join a lane eventually taking them back down to Dial Lane. From here they walked along to join the track to the Bridestones burial chamber. Here a stop was made for lunch. After lunch the leader pointed out the history of the Bridestones footpath, which the Congleton Ramblers have been fighting for years to get defined as an official footpath. The party then walked along the path through a tunnel and stockyard and then field footpaths to a ladder stile. This stile was crossed over into Staffordshire and thence through woodland to The Cloud summit. From here the group had extensive all round panoramic veiws. Continuing from here the group walked down through The Cloud Plantation and Gosberry Lane back to the car park.

 It had been a pleasant walk in favourable weather with a cold North wind blowing but fine. Some of the going was very heavy this being due to the incessant rain of previous weeks.  [AW].

Sunday 30th December: Rudyard
The last walk of the year saw Malcolm lead a 10 mile walk - or should that be swim - around Rudyard starting and finishing from his house.
The incredible amount of previous rain has turned the area into a mud bath with little solid ground at all (apart from a few tarmac sections) so the 2 individuals who turned up in wellies had made a very wise choice. It has to be said that this was the muddiest walk in Congleton ramblers recent history (and we have had some muddy ones before) causing Malcolm to take the crown of the king of mud from June (the Queen of mud) - though June may well re-take this next week!
It was a real struggle to know where to place your feet and there were several "over the boot" moments.
Despite the conditions underfoot, the weather remained dry and there was some sun at times making for some nice views. We finished our walk at a perfect time as the next rain belt arrived.

The day was completed by lashings of tea and jam and scones (and beer, cider and damson gin!) kindly laid on by Denise which was was a very nice end of year treat. Malcolm also awarded the (longer) walk leader of the year to "the legs" Bob. - Given he was the person who left 2 people behind on a prior walk as well as did the infamous 100 stiles walk this was questioned by the website owner - a case of sour grapes due to finishing 2nd despite never leading a walk!  

It will probably take a week to clean the boots!

Sunday 23rd December: Congleton
On Sunday a party of Congleton Ramblers enjoyed a 4 mile walk in the Congleton area. On a pleasant mild day 22 walkers set off from the West Street car park. The first part of the walk was along Vale Walk to link up with the path through Priesty fields. This footpath was followed out to Lamberts Lane. The group then walked along towards Fol Hollow before taking the crossfields footpath towards Astbury village. On arriving at School Lane they turned eastwards and walked over fields. Here they encountered very muddy conditions and in one field they had to divert as the footpath was completely flooded. They eventually arrived at Astbury golf course. Continuing over the deserted course they walked through woodland to arrive at the Macclesfield canal. Here the party stopped for refreshments. Continuing over the canal footbridge they walked along the 
 Howty valley and several ginnels to return to Lamberts Lane. From here they walked along the lane to a crossfield footpath, which was followed out to the cemetery. Here they walked past the church and then returned via Vale Walk to the car park.
   It had been a very muddy walk.They had to divert from one footpath, which was deeply flooded, over a field of potatoes. It has been impossible to harvest the crop due to the waterlogged state of the ground. However Congleton Ramblers are not detered and will return for future walks. [AW]. 

Sunday 16th December: Teggs Nose and Lamaload
Back in July, due to a combination of things but mainly due to the very bad weather forecast, no-one turned up to Ian's walk (it is a very rare event that this happens). Today was Ian's next walk on the programme and it was very nice to see a good turnout this time.  However, with slight irony Ian was unable to make it himself! - though he found an able replacement leader in the form of his friend Wynn (many thanks go to him for stepping in at the last minute). 

The almost 8.5 mile walk was a pleasant circular walk starting from Teggs Nose reservoir car park.
Given the amount of rain in previous days, the conditions were not too bad though the stones leading from the car park were a bit greasy and unsurprisingly there was some mud and the odd boggy area on the walk.
The dry weather afforded us some nice views as we made our way through a part of Macclesfield forest, on a path above Lamaload reservoir, through the outskirts of Rainow and back to our starting point.  Although this was a relatively short walk there was a reasonable amount of ascent to get the lungs pumping.
We finished the walk in good time (1:30 pm) enabling an early finish - As this was a nice walk, consideration could be given to lengthening this walk in the future.

Sunday 2nd December: Mobberley
The 9.5 mile walk started (and finished) from the outskirts of Knutsford taking in Mobberley including going past the Frozen mop pub which was a fairly apt name for this cold winters day walk as many parts of the walk were frozen - and where it was not frozen, a mop (all bit it, a huge one) might have come in handy for all the water!
 
Overall it was a nice winters walk talking in Cheshire fields and lanes - temperatures were quite low throughout but our walking soon warmed us up and it was really nice to get some fresh air on such a day. There is something nice about walking in the frozen landscape with very few people around and just the animals (sheep, cows, turkeys {enjoying there last few weeks} and the odd friendly horse) in the landscape. The freezing weather helped the underfoot conditions quite a lot in parts although it was still very muddy (especially as the ground thawed) and at times it was difficult to imagine this was actually land (with some yells of "land ahoy" when we reached certain sections). This walk is certainly one that could do with some sustained dry weather.
Our 9.5 mile walk took just over 3 hours 20 mins of walking leading us back to our cars at around 2:30.
With no walk next week due to the Christmas lunch we will now have to wait 2 weeks for the next walk - lets hope it stays dry in the meantime!

Sunday 18th November: Coach Trip Buxton/Bakewell
The longer walk of the day (almost 13 miles) was led by "the legs" Bob as a quick replacement to Nigel who did a swap with Bob and took the middle distance walk instead.  This walk could easily have been titled "The 100 stile walk" as every stile in the county seemed to have been used on the walk!  - Although the number of stiles was actually less than 100 there were many of every different type and configuration, thanks to the numerous field boundaries (presumably due to the enclosure act), and by the end of the walk (and the fact that some were quite tricky in the muddy conditions) it certainly felt like 100!

The weather for the day was cold but sunny making for a very nice day. The fact that there had been a heavy frost overnight had the benefit of freezing the boggy ground at least at the start of the walk although the bright sun soon warmed up the ground making for a quite muddy walk at times.

The walk started in Buxton with a gentle climb up to Staden and then through fields to go very slightly off route to visit the church at King Sterndale (which we did not enter due to a service being held at the time). From here a fairly steep descent into deep dale followed which was quite slippy at times and we did not linger in the dale itself choosing instead to ascend back out again to Chelmorton and further still to our highest point of the day above Taddington where we stopped for lunch. After our lunch stop in the bright sunshine, a series of undulations (including some slippy descents) but with a general downward trend led us to Taddington and onto Sheldon and then to our final destination in Bakewell. Anyone for some Bakewell tart?

When we reached our destination of Bakewell a new nickname was born for Bob namely "The Stile King" Bob  - though it is important to note the spelling as "The Style King" would never be mentioned in the same breath as "Bob"!

Overall, it was a nice winters walk, this being the last coach trip of the year and we will have to wait for February next year for the next coach trip.- Lets hope that might entice some to come out on the other weekly walks in the meantime.

Sunday 11th November: Troughstones Biddulph
While we did not venture far from home today a very nice Autumn 11 mile walk was still the result showing the delights that are on our doorstep. We started our circular walk in Biddulph Grange country park and followed the imaginatively named Himalayan walk alongside the stream. There was something mildly therapeutic in the crunch crunch sound that accompanied our footsteps this time of year due to the autumn leaves.  Leaving the park we made our way to Troughstones (an area of Biddulph with no stones in sight!) where a small shower (the only one of the day) greeted us.  After a stop for a minutes silence to mark Remembrance Sunday (and some apt words from Geoff) , we continued our way to Newtown and made our way through field and lane to join the Congleton canal passing through Congleton itself (which we had left just under 3 hours before). We manged to avoid any flying golf balls as we went through Astbury golf club and onto Congleton edge with some nice views over the Cheshire plain before returning via Poolfold to our starting point. Other than 1 short shower the rest of the day was beautiful - dry and sunny with some great views (see photo gallery).  A drink at the Talbot completed the wonderful day.

Sunday 4th November: Beeston/Peckforton
A nice cold dry day with plenty of sunshine was the order of the day for our 11 mile circular walk from Beeston castle. We followed the sandstone trail taking in the Rawhead trig point (the highest point on the trail) as well as visiting the haunted bridge on the outskirts of Peckforton .- though luckily (as the story goes you will be dead within a year) we did not see any headless lady! After a tongue in cheek comment from the web owner that such a sighting (ie the headless part not the death bit - I found out about this later! ) would be the perfect woman, we made our way towards Peckforton where we were told about (but did not visit) an elephant and castle carving in Peckforton (which date from c.1859 where each part was carved from separate single blocks of stone by a local mason called Watson, who was also employed on the construction of nearby Peckforton Castle) and onto Peckforton castle lodge hotel (which was severely damaged by fire in June 2011 during a wedding) before returning to our starting point. A drink in a very plush pub (an unusual experience for us) finished a nice day. 

Wednesday 24th October: Newbold Astbury
On Wednesday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a five and a half mile walk in the Newbold Astbury area. On a mild overcast day 15 walkers set off from West Heath, they walked through a housing estate to Padgbury Lane and continued over crossfield footpaths passing by Field House Farm. From here they followed further field footpaths to eventually link up with the Dane Valley Way. Walking along Bent Lane to join a footpath leading to Brownlow. This footpath leads to a green lane which was followed to a further green lane on the left. Here a stop was made for refreshments. Continuing along the footpath which was followed out to the A34. From here the party walked along Watery Lane to a footpath opposite to Whitethorn Farm. This footpath was followed to Astbury village. The walk continued around the church and along School Lane to a further footpath on the left. This was followed to join Lamberts Lane and eventually the circuit  around Astbury Mere. From here the party walked through a ginnel and back to the car parking area.
It had been a pleasant walk in ideal weather. The party only encountered one stile and many kissing gates. These gates are much easier and quicker to negotiate and are a boon to senior walkers.  [AW]


19-21 October : Club Weekend to Bourton on the Water
42 members of Congleton ramblers recently travelled to Bourton-on-the-water for their autumn weekend. They were based at Harrington house which is the HF house in the Cotswolds.
Friday afternoon saw the majority of the group participating on a 5 mile walk to the Slaughters, 2 villages which are quintessentially all that typefies the mellow stone of the Cotswolds and middle England. They both lie on the banks of the river Eye.
The name “slaughter” derives from the old english word “slothre, a muddy place. Lower slaughter was reached first where the walkers were able to see the red brick corn mill with its tall chimney and water wheel. This was in total contrast with the rest of the village and its traditional stone cottages. After a brief stop here the river eye was followed for about a mile to Upper Slaughter which boasts a fine manor house dating from the 15th century and a norman church.
From here the route took the members across fields and through woods before descending to the Windrush way which they then followed all the way back to Bourton-on-the-water. The walk had been a delightful beginning to the weekend’s activities.

Saturday dawned with fairly misty conditions which were to give rise to some lovely sunshine later in the day. There were two walks on offer, the first of which was a 12 mile hike to Sudeley castle near Winchcombe.  24 members participated and their starting point was at the typical Cotswold village of Guiting Power where the russet coloured houses surround the sloping village green.  After a short stretch of road walking the Windrush way was reached which the members then proceeded to follow.  After passing Hawling Lodge farm the first hill of the day was encountered as the group ascended  up a track to reachy flower-rich grasslands on the outskirts of the small village of Hawling where a short coffee break was taken. After crossing more fields and a short stretch of road walking a path was taken which gradually  descended over cole’s hill eventually providing the walker’s first view of Sudeley castle in the distance. still following the Windrush way the route lay through the valley of Beesmoor brook before a short climb brought the group to the castle where lunch was taken. This castle was built in the 15th century and among its attractions is its chapel in which lies the tomb of Catherine Parr, the 6th wife of Henry v111. It is one of the few castles left that is still in residence.
The group then continued on their walk by joining the Warden’s way. A gradual climb of about 2 miles brought the walkers to Guiting wood through which their route lay. Parts of the wood are private as they belong to the farmcote estate.  Soon after emerging from the trees the members arrived back at Guiting Power where refreshment was taken in the local hostelry and tea-shop.  This had been a very pleasant and not too demanding walk and was enjoyed by all.

The 2nd walk on offer was an 8 mile walk starting at Batsford Arboretum, a jewel in the Cotswolds that is tucked away on a south facing escarpment of the Cotswold Hills. It houses one of the largest private collections of rare trees in the country. 
From the access road the group continued on the Monarch’s Way. This long distance path closely follows the escape route taken by Charles 11 after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. The walkers followed the path across Ridge and Furrow pastureland through ribbed fields until passing through a belt of trees to join a track that rose gently uphill. They continued their ascent along a way marked path between woodland and a high stone wall. Once the lane was reached, the lifting mist afforded good views of the rolling countryside. The group took a bridleway that passed by woodland with spectacular autumn colours. They descended onto a farm track to Manor Farm and on to the pretty village of Bourton-on-the-Hill.
From here they passed through farmland along the Heart of England Way. After approximately one mile the group were surprised and delighted as the path opened up to a view of Sezincote House. Standing in lovely parkland in the Evenlode Valley this amazing house was designed in a faux–Indian style with features inspired by both Hindu and Muslim architecture. It was built of Cotswold stone to the typical plan of a large country house. Unconventially, a large, copper onion dome crowns the house, whilst at each corner of the roof are finials in the form of miniature minarets. Sezincote was the inspiration for the Brighton Pavilion.
After a lunch stop, taken by the War Memorial at Longborough, the walkers continued along the Monarch’s Way. They followed a well–trodden path across fields and over foot-bridges until reaching the market town of Moreton–in–Marsh. Here they passed the 16th Century Curfew Tower. Its bell was rung nightly until 1860 to remind people of the risk of fire at night. From the High Street the group continued through fields, guided by a succession of gates and waymarkers, until returning to the Arboretum Café for a welcome drink at the end of this lovely and interesting walk.
[D.B. and B.C.]


On Sunday nineteen walkers started off from the Dover’s Hill car park on a damp, misty morning. The publicised extensive views from the topograph were nonexistent, so we strode off downhill barely able to see more than a couple of metres in front. The wall followed through paddocks and fields to a complex junction of paths. Fortunately, the walk leader had completed the walk earlier in the year and was able to select the correct one this time, known as Buckle Lane. After a steep and prolonged ascent, we emerged onto a road and then onto a bridle path which had been severely chopped up by horse hooves. The ground in this area is made up of a particularly sticky form of clay, and we found ourselves sliding along with what felt like a ton of clay stuck to our boots. We continued along the outskirts of a deserted golf course, stopping to sample the masses of blackberries in the hedgerows.
After a brief rest, we continued under the busy A44 to Broadway. We ambled down High street of this immaculate village, feeling decidedly scruffy with our coating of mud. Broadway’s architecture and gardens are stunning, and the pace of the walk slowed down as we all stopped to stand and stare. In the centre of the village, a group of Morris Dancers were performing so we spent ten minutes watching this colourful group of dancers complete their routine.
Leaving the grandeur of Broadway, we joined the Cotswold Way, as it rose up towards Broadway Tower. This was a strenuous section of the walk that silenced even the most garrulous of the group. Half way up, we were able to stop to talk to some volunteers who were learning how to dry stone walls. They had already completed a substantial section, using the flat oat coloured stone of the area. 
At the entrance to the Tower, there was a collection of fallow deer, fenced in and not disturbed by our presence. We had our lunch by the Tower, but unfortunately the 360 degree view was reduced by the mist, and a cold northerly wind was blowing. Turning north, we continued along the Cotswold Way across the flanks of Broadway Hill to reach the A44 again. Crossing this road, we continued along a grassy drive and fields of stubble onto “The Mile Drive”.At the end of this leafy drive, and at the point where the route took us down Dyers Hill to Chipping Campden, all but five of the walkers opted out of the walk. The remainder enjoyed a walk around Chipping Campden, an old village famous for its wool trade in previous centuries.  Rejoining another section of the Cotswold Way, we walked out of the village, passing the cottage where Graham Green lived in the 1930’s.  Finally, we returned to the topograph we had visited at the beginning of the walk and were rewarded with clear views over to Birmingham, Evesham and Stowe.
[J.T]


The shorter walk on Sunday started from the front door of Harrington house where the group was based. 13 members walked past the shops,then alongside the graveyard at the eastern end of Bourton.  Many gravel pits were excavated on a north/south axis here but abandoned in the 1970s. The pits are now full of water and have become a natural feature with many types of waterfowl making their homes in the area.
The trick was to find the right path to cross between the lakes. Success was achieved and the walkers arrived at the old Rissington mill. A short climb across fields led to little Rissington church. Nearby was an abandoned airfield. The church was about 50 graves of airmen killed, dating from 16 days after the outbreak of world war 11 in September 1939 up to several killed in accidents up to 1971.
Little Rissington was left behind as a bridleway led south to the larger village of Great Rissingtonwhere the group stopped for lunch before passing along a minor road and crossing the river Windrush. The group left the road to walk north across fields, the names of the farms passed- Lower Marsh  and Marsh farm needed little explanation as the group then experienced a mile of muddy marsh which they survived before reaching an intake lane leading back to Bourton and its many tea-rooms. This had been a most enjoyable seven and a half mile walk.

Sunday 21st October: Northwhich Woodlands walk
Congleton Ramblers 8 mile walk round Northwich Woodlands last Sunday began in mist, but by mid-day the sun had appeared and the rest of the day was very pleasant, with Autumn colours to enjoy.

The group of 7 walkers, most of whom did not know the area, set off from Carey Park and continued round Neumanns Flash where a brief refreshment break was taken, before Dairy House Meadow was crossed.  The Trent and Mersey Canal was followed to the Lion Salt Works where signs of restoration work were evident. 

As the walk continued past more flashes, many water birds, including a heron, grebes, cormorants and swans were seen.  Farmland paths towards Great Budworth were then taken and soon the Church tower appeared as the mist cleared.  The path alongside Budworth Mere, which was busy with water sports, took the party into Marbury Park  where lunch was enjoyed at the newly built covered picnic site, in pleasant sunshine. 

After lunch, the beautiful avenue of lime trees was followed. Ths was once the main entrance to Marbury Hall, which has now been demolished.  Several of these lime trees were replaced in 1980 to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Queen Mother.  The group walked through Big Wood to Marbury Lane and took the Lesleys Leap Trail to the Anderton Boat Lift. Here a refreshment break was taken with time to visit the museum which was celebratig the 10th anniversary of the Boat Lift's restoration, a venture which cost £7million. 

Finally, the River Weaver was followed to Carden's Ferry Bridge, which crosses Witton Brook. This was crossed and the walkers returned to Carey park where a path back to the cars was taken.
[SJJ]

Sunday 14th October: Conwy coach trip
It was a real treat to venture into Wales for the second weekend on the trot, this time for our coach trip going to beautiful Conwy. June led the longer walk (starting from Llanfairfechan and finishing in Conwy) from memory (as opposed to recceing) using a 2009 club weekend walk  - which was an amazing feet (especially for people like myself who could not do that even if it was only 1 week ago!). We did have a couple of minor diversions (and one instance of climbing a wall) but all in all it went to plan. It was a cloudy start but eventually the sun did come out which made for some great views and a perfect walk.

Sunday 7th October: Llanferres
A beautifully sunny day greeted the ramblers on this venture to Wales, so much so that most of us quickly went down to one top layer, something that we had not done since the hot weekend away in Whitby back in March!
It was so warm, "the legs" Bob even wished he had brought his shorts - thankfully for the rest of us he had not!

This 9.5 mile walk was a great advertisement for Wales with simply stunning scenery and rolling hills that is representative of the area and provided a great appetizer to next weeks coach trip to Conwy.
It is such a treat to visit Wales and I for one hope that we can do more here in the not too distant future.

The circular walk started from the Druid Inn, past St Berres church, making its way across fields and through woodland to join the Offas Dyke trial and a stretch of the footpath that some of use had previously enjoyed back in March 2011 at the club weekend (although we were not as fortunate with the weather last time out). Walking round the base of Moel Gyw we made our way to llanarmon-yn-lal (the end of our previous club weekend walk) and then back to our starting point via Eryrys quarry and Bryn Alyn.  
It was with a slightly heavy heart that the end came into sight as most of us would have liked this perfect day to continue for longer. With sunshine most of the day, great views (see photo gallery for a few shots) and a drink at the end this was a really nice day.

Sunday 30th September: White Peak Roller Coaster
Creatively named the "White Cost Roller Coaster" due to a number of ups and downs, I expected this to more likely turn into the log flume due to the huge amount of previous rain as well as the rain forecast for the day! 

In fact 7 walkers were treated to an almost totally dry day with only a few instances of light rain and while there was some mud (and slipping) in places the conditions were quite good considering. This did not stop most of us doning waterproofs at the first signs of rain (see photo gallery) but these were not really needed and were quickly dispensed of as the climbing started.

The 16 mile circular walk in just under 6 hours walking time (7 hours including breaks) started from Alstonefield taking in Wolfscote Dale and Mill Dale where we stopped for a pleasant mid morning break in relative warmth watching the ducks on the pond (being fed by presumably a group of D of E folk - it was nice to see them enjoying the countryside too), After our break we past through Hall Dale and Dove Dale before splitting up so that 3 went up Bunker hill and along the ridge with the rest going round to reach Llam and enjoy our lunch stop outside Llam Hall (where a sponsured dog walking event added to the scenary). Leaving the country park we ventured into Musden Woods (a new experience for some of us) onto the outskirts of Calton and into Old Soles hollow and wood to the Manifold Valley before reaching Wetton and back to our starting point of Alstonfield.

This really was a nice walk with plenty of ascent to get the heart and lungs working on a good autumnal day. A drink at a neraby pub provided a good end to a perfect day. 
 
Wednesday 26th September: Alsager - Walking in the rain!
Despite the heavy rain of the previous two days and the uncertain weather on the morning, a group of 8 enthusiastic members of Congleton Ramblers enjoyed a 5 mile walk around Hassall Green and Alsager last Wednesday.  Donning wet gear, the group set off from the Salt Line car park at Hassall Green.  After a short stretch of road walking, the group turned right onto a path towards Butchers Bank Farm.  The walkers soon realised that great caution was needed on the stiles, slippery from so much rain, but an enterprising member soon managed to open several adjacent gates to make life easier and safer for the walkers.  Great care was taken to ensure the gates were shut properly afterwards. 

A couple of short road stretches with a connecting field path soon brought the group to a path skirting a pond and crossing a track leading to Hassall Hall.  The fields here were not as waterlogged as the leader had feared and the group soon reached a stony bridleway crossing the motorway and leading to the edge of Alsager. A left turn then brought the walkers to a footpath past Wychila Kennels to reach more fields.  Here the effect of the recent rain was more apparent, although, happily, the persistent drizzle managed to stop and the sun tried to shine while the group had a short refreshment break in one of the fields.  After the break, a real “paddy field” was encountered, with the walkers taking a variety of routes to try and avoid the worst of the water with varying degrees of success!  

The walkers reached dry land on Hassall Road to turn left along the edge of the housing.  Before long they were able to turn off the road onto one of the excellent paths of the Borrow Pit.  This led past a pleasant mere to reach the Salt Line.  From here it was an easy and dry walk back to the cars.  However the rain was never far away and started again, just a few minutes too soon, as the walkers took off their muddy boots before getting into their cars for the journey home. [MB]

Sunday 16 September: Gun Hill
It was 9.20am when nine of us met in Rudyard, only twenty yards from the leader’s home.
There wasn’t even a hint of guilt on the leader’s face although he knew that everyone but him had travelled several miles from Congleton.
We had a twelve mile walk ahead of us and a weather forecast which gave us only three hours before the rains were due.
The first half mile was dogged by stiles, seven in all,but worth the effort as we were privileged to spy buzzards scanning for prey.  We soon reached the Rudyard Reservoir  canal feeder and then jigged around to end up crossing the busy A523 heading to Abbey Green.
Another half hour and it was time for elevenses at the bench near the memorial gate to Peter ,a motor enthusiast,and then continuing on the Staffordshire Moorlands Walks we headed for the small but beautiful village of Meerbrook with the Tittesworth Reservoir to the East and then, beyond, the magnificent Roaches came into view ( which never disappoint ).
From here we headed NNW towards Turners Pool which is a lovely fishing lake, bulrushes and all and, hey ho, it’s lunchtime.
After the previous gentle undulations,we now started the ascent to the point which gave the walk its title and meandered up through heather and bilberry , passing Menhir  (Middle Breton:- men = stone : hir= long ) to eventually reach the Trig Point. From here we could see a number of surrounding features including Shutlingsloe ,Jodrell Bank and the dip on the horizon was, I later learned, Bridestones.
I was a little surprised to discover that one or two members of the group had not been up here before as the views were so good that one of our party said he could see the top of the Eiffel Tower... not sure about that!
There is also a dubious story, known locally,about the farmers in the past on Lamas Day (1st August),who took their rams up to the area of the Trig point to sell. The rams were judged on their breathing and how tired they looked after the ascent .... who knows!
From here, I have got to say that the route took us through a rather boring stretch and it was only the stimulating conversation that carried us on down into and between the various farms until we reached the A523 where our destination was in sight.
The leader’s dogs gave us the usual welcome as we accepted his hospitality and we were entertained by a member of our group who can be relied upon to do back marking, a raconteur extraordinaire with a lovely sense of humour.
The day was over and we had not been wet despite the time being 3.15pm when we finished,nearly three hours later than the predicted deluge.
We said goodbye and went our separate ways in the knowledge that there was another walk on the horizon and hopefully more after that with good luck! [MGH]
 
Sunday 19 August: Congleton Ramblers celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Mass Trespass on Kinder
The 1932 Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout has been described as the most significant event in the battle for the Right to Roam on Britain’s mountains and moors.
 
Ten members of Congleton Ramblers set off on the 14-mile trail that was created to commemorate the 75 anniversary of the trespass. The trail begins at the Heritage Centre in New Mills by descending into the Torrs Gorge, an area rich in architectural history. At the confluence of two rivers and a weir, the power of the water has been harnessed by a hydro-electric system that uses an Archimedes screw to generate electricity. We crossed the spectacular Millennium Walkway, a £525,000 walkway opened in 2000. A plaque commemorates Stan Brewster, the Derbyshire County Council Engineer who was killed in the London bombings of July 2005. The walk continues along the River Goyt until it reaches the Torrs Riveside Park, the site of a former gas works. The adjacent woodland area is now a local nature reserve.
 
We continued along the flood plain of the River Goyt, which is now the county and regional boundary with Cheshire and the North West on the opposite bank. The route then climbed up to Hague Bar towards Shaw Marsh and the New Mills golf course. We passed the oak and birch woodland of the Broadhurst Nature Reserve which is managed by the Derbyshire Woodland Trust. As we travelled due north, we had views across the valley towards Lantern Pike and Kinder Scout to the east. This marshy area is renowned for ground nesting birds including lapwing, curlew and snipe. We heard a curlew, but the continuous gunfire echoing from a wood in the east tempered our enjoyment of the area. We turned right onto the road at the Children’s Inn, no longer a public house but a residential facility for Brownies and Guides. This narrow road used to be the main road between Manchester and Derby, and was frequented by Dick Turpin and other highwaymen.
 
Passing the New Mill Inn on our right, we stopped to admire the large mill wheel, sadly no longer working, before beginning the climb towards Lantern Pike (1,224ft). The topograph on the summit commemorates the access campaigner; Edwin Royce. We ate a rapid lunch, foreshortened by a torrential rain storm. Despite the rain, we had impressive views to the moorlands around Kinder. The storm cleared rapidly, but left a slippery descent to Clough Mill, which has been converted to flats and Little Hayfield, a picturesque hamlet. Little Hayfield was a favourite Easter camp in the early 30’s for the British Workers’ Sports Federation that was responsible for introducing many young people to the pleasures of the Peak District.
 
Crossing the Glossop Road, we entered the woodland of the Park Hall Estate. Double- decker buses used to bring passengers from Manchester to the now closed and abandoned open-air swimming pool. They must have been much tougher in those days! The path then ascended up through bright purple and scented heather, passing by the white shooters’ lodge of the Devonshire Estate. Soon we were looking down to the Kinder Reservoir, whilst traversing the White Brow. This was the route taken by the 1932 trespassers after rallying in the Bowden Bridge Quarry. Leaving the reservoir behind, we headed to the ford at the start of the William Clough path. It was around here that the trespassers came face to face with the Duke of Devonshire’s gamekeepers. There was a small scuffle but they were able to continue to the plateau where the met a group of Sheffield-based trespassers. Both groups then retraced their steps.
 
We descended to the reservoir, and then onto the Bowden Bridge car park where there is a plaque erected in 1982 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kinder Trespass. On the day of the Trespass, a key instigator of the trespass, Benny Rothman rallied the hundreds of ramblers with an impassioned speech, calling for the day to be the start of a campaign to win the right of access to the mountains.
 
Our walk continued down to Hayfield. It was here in 1932, that one third of the Derbyshire Constabulary, under the command of the Deputy Chief Constable massed. As the trespassers returned to the village, they faced the police lined across the Kinder Road. Five ramblers, including Benny Rothman were arrested and taken to the Hayfield lock up.The arrested ramblers were held overnight in New Mills, and there is a plaque on the wall that was unveiled in 1994 by Benny Rothman, then aged 82 years. On April 25th, 1932, the day after the Mass Trespass, Benny Rothman and the four others were charged with unlawful assembly and breach of the peace. They were subsequently tried at Derby Assizes, found guilty and sentenced to between two and six months. The jury consisted of two brigadier generals, three colonels, two majors, three captains, two aldermen and eleven country gentlemen.
 
It was another 17 years before the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, 1949 was created. This legislation set up the process of negotiation for the access agreements to open country and the creation of the National Parks. The Peak District was the first one to be created.
 
This was a fascinating walk, not only because we appreciated the wide range of countryside we had travelled through but because of the history that surrounds the area. As keen walkers, we are grateful that we are now able to walk in areas that were inaccessible until the actions of the mass trespassers started the move towards greater public access in the countryside.  [J.T.]

Sunday 19 August: Astbury Church
On Sunday a party of Congleton Group of the Ramblers enjoyed a 5-5 mile walk in the Astbury area. On a warm pleasant day after overnight torrential rain which left the ground quite wet, 31 walkers set off from the car park at Astbury Mere. The first part of the walk was around the Mere passing by the sailing club to join footsteps on the right. Gaining height up the steps and walking through woodland to arrive at Fol Hollow. From here the party walked along Lamberts Lane to the footbridges over Howty Brook. Having crossed over the bridges they walked over fields to eventually arrive at Astbury golf course. Having safely negotiated the golf course they arrived at the Macclesfield Canal. They walked along the towpath passing under Peel Lane and Dodd Lane to arrive at Watery Lane. This lane was followed passing by Mill House Farm to join a footpath on the right. This footpath was followed over several fields back to Astbury village. Here the party entered the church where they enjoyed  tea and delicious home made cakes. Continuing after the break they walked over fields and along Stony Lane and back to Astbury Mere. It had been a pleasant walk in perfect weather which became sunny as the day went on. They enjoyed the tea and cakes.Many thanks to the ladies and one gentleman of Astbury Church.  [AW].


Wednesday 22 August: Ramblers enjoy walk around Brereton – wet boots but no ice cream!
12 members of Congleton Ramblers enjoyed a leisurely 4 ½ mile walk around Brereton.  Starting from Brereton Green, the group walked through the estate to reach a footpath leading to School Lane.  From School Lane the group set out on another footpath leading to Brereton Church.  This proved the most challenging part of the walk because the path crosses the River Croco.  There is a perfectly adequate footbridge – however the river had flooded into the field, either because of a blockage or because it was badly overgrown with assorted pond weeds!  Trying to jump from tussock to tussock and avoid submersion above boot level, the group eventually reached the other side and climbed gently uphill towards the church.  Happily the rest of the walk was more straightforward, the sun shone and the walkers’ boots were able to dry out!

From the church the group walked along the bridleway to Brereton Country Park and headed towards the Visitor Centre and Car Park.  Here a large group of very excited children was embarking on a canoeing lesson in the sunshine – part of the legacy of the Olympics maybe?  A coffee break was taken by the side of the lake but, sadly, the refreshment van expected by the leader was missing and the option of ice creams on a warm sunny day was not available!  As the group set off around the lake after their break, the van did appear but too late!

After a pleasant walk on the good path around the lake, the group made a short detour along Bagmere Lane to take a path through a herd (flock?) of llamas back to the bridleway.  From here it was an easy walk back past Brereton Hall and Church and through the gatehouse entrance to Brereton Hall to the cars – and by now boots, socks and trousers were dry, even if still muddy! [MB]


Sunday 19 August: Hathersage to Hope
No planes but trains and automobiles today as we drove to Hope and then took the short train ride to Hathersage to begin our walk back to Hope.
After leaving the station, the 12 mile walk went through Hathersage visiting St Michael & All Angels Parish church to see the reputed burial site of Little John before making its way past Brookfield Manor and North Lees Hall (a sixteenth century tower purportedly the home of Mr Rochester as described in Jane Eyre) and up through the ferns onto Stannage Edge with nice views (the heather just coming into flower) of Ladybower Reservoir, Win Hill, Mam Tor, Lose Hill and Kinder Scout. Up to this point the weather had been hot, steamy and humid with a few spots of rain but leaving Stannage Edge as we crossed the A57 to take the track to Ladybower Reservoir the rain became heavy leading to folks donning waterproofs and a quick lunch in the rain. After approximately 1 hour of rain and having tracked round Ladybower reservoir, the shower stopped and waterproofs were removed as we went into the forest for the 'nice' ascent to Win Hill.  The climb led to most people breathing hard with quite a few red faces but the effort was rewarded by some great views at the top as well as acknowledgment of a job well done. Descending Win Hill we made our way via green fields past Aston to our destination. A drink in Hope (with a scone score of 9/10) finished a nice day.

Sunday 12 August: Tideswell Dale
After a fantastic Saturday watching the UK Olympics starring Mo Farah and Usain Bolt there is no better way to spend a Sunday than in the UK's other fantastic attribute: the glorious countryside! 
Nigel Bowers led an almost 14.5 mile walk which again showed his great skills of mixing some well trodden paths with other more obscure paths for a perfect combination. The walk started (and finished) in Dale car park taking in the delights of Litton Dale and Tansley Dale before going (a first for most of us) onto Thunderpit lane quarry and through "rough side" and then past the ancient double bank and ditch which formed the boundary of the Lordship of Ashford into Rowland.  Next up we went through Little Longstone and Great Longstone before making our way to Monsal Head. Up to this point the weather had been kind but a short shower greeted us at Monsal head and after donning waterproofs we made our way to Litton Mill and then with the shower stopping through Tideswell Dale back to the start. It was a fantastic walk and a drink from the Red Lion at Litton (with June and Malcolm put in the stocks!) finished a great day out. 

Sunday 29 July Coach Trip to Pendle
After a week of generally sunny warm weather (dare I mention the word Summer!), the coach trip to Pendle saw heavy rain showers for most of the day - leaving one person who forgot their overtrousers cursing their luck. Those people choosing to wear lightweight summer boots may also have regretted their decision. The sight of a bus load of ramblers trying to put on their waterproofs on the bus itself at the start of the walk (it was pouring down at the time) was a joy with arms and legs all over the place. The weather certainly added to the atmosphere on what was the 400th anniversary of the Pendle witch trial. 

The longer walk was just under 12 miles starting in Barrowford and finishing in Worston. Along the way we had lunch at a cabin picnic site in Barley where several of the party, amazingly given the weather, indulged in ice cream!  After lunch, we went past Lower and upper Ogden Clough reservoir before making our way steadily up Pendle Hill (at which point it chucked it down - Despite the rain there was still some nice views) and then with the weather finally turning brighter we went down to the outskirts of  Downham before making our way past (but not up) Warsaw hill to our finishing point at Worston for a welcome drink at the Calfs head. 

Despite the rain this was still a nice walk - This area is very beautiful but often neglected by walkers.

Sunday 22 July: Bamford Edge High Neb:
The 12 mile walk was enjoyed by only 9 people and began from Holins Bank car park with good views of Stanage edge, our intended destination in the afternoon, as we made our way up Bole Hill and then onto Bamford Edge. The views of ladybower reservoir from Bamford Edge were truly glorious and although this view has been experienced several times, the view always changes with weather and seasons and I for one always see it with fresh eyes - the visibility was particularly clear today and all the recent rain made for a very green vista. Crossing over cutthroat bridge, named after a 400 year old murder (the present bridge was built in 1821) we made our way onto Stanage edge where the wind was particularly strong making it a real struggle to keep your hat on, before dropping down out of the wind into the relatively calm and warm sunny lower levels returning to our starting point. It was with slight sadness that I saw the cars marking the end of our walk as the sunny weather and beautiful day with plenty of daylight left meant I yearned for more.  However, it is often better to be left wanting more and this leaves me looking forward to next weeks coach trip to Pendle. A special mention should be made of our leader Linda as it was her first led walk and she did a fine job. 

Sunday 15 July: Middleton/Wirksworth:
A dry and amazingly sometimes even sunny day greeted the party, a great relief after the weeks of rain (the wettest on record) that have shrouded the UK. Our leader was "The legs Bob"  (formerly known as "Back-marker Bob" owing to his previous great and often used back-marking skills but this title has lapsed as he is rarely to be seen at the back these days) and took us on a nice 12 mile walk taking in shining Cliff Woods and woodland near to the High peak trail.
After our first break we suddenly realised 2 of our party were missing having failed to see the others turn off a lane into the fields ! - Luckily the missing 2 had a mobile phone and after a short break to track the missing people down normal service was resumed and Bob led the rest of the walk with all people in tow. This just goes to show the importance of keeping both a person in front and a person behind in view at all times.
The walk was pleasant - the woodland walk was very nice but it was quite overgrown in places with low branches causes ducking and the odd banging of head at times.

Sunday 10 June: Royston Grange:
Early Summer returned today for the 8 people who went on the 13 mile "A" walk in the form of a dry, calm and warm day with periodic sunny spells and white fluffy cloud - a far cry from the previous weather this week.
It was a beautiful days walk starting in Biggin followed by a short 2 km section of the Tissington trail which being one of the best sections of the trail was very pretty with some nice views. After leaving the trail, we made our way to the village of Parwich, a picture postcard village shown in all its finery in the summer sunshine. After leaving Parwich, we went through fields laden with buttercups and other flowers, past Basilldon quarry and onto the Royston pump house before climbing up Minninglow great barrow. Leaving the barrow we walked via some lanes and very long grass fields returning to our starting point. 
A drink in the garden of the Waterloo Inn in the warm sunshine completed a truly outstanding day - it was just a shame that more people did not join us for this great walk.

Sunday 3 June: (Not) Three Shires walk
As an advocate of the phrase "There is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing", today's walk certainly put this to the test. The British climate being what it is (and why walking in the UK is always different) we saw a more than 15 degree change in temperature from the previous Sunday and a total change in conditions.  With this first walk in "flaming June", 8 brave people set off in cold, wet and very windy conditions from Trentabank with the intention of doing a 13 mile walk going up Shuttlingsloe and then onto Three Shires head and onto the Cat and Fiddle pub. Making our way towards Shuttlingsloe, only 4 of us decided to go up (the other 4 going round) - at which point in the howling gale, Ivor decided to unfurl his Union Jack flag and with some effort after tying it to a walking pole we managed to hoist it aloft to mark the Jubilee celebration! [I hope the Queen appreciated it!].  
After Shuttlingsloe, a change of plan was made to shorten the walk to just over 7 miles as we sought the relative shelter of Macclesfield forest, passing the Leathers Smithy Inn before then going past Ridgegate reservoir back to the car.  

All in all, a day we will not forget! It has to be said that the weather did have its plus points, as we had Shuttlingsloe to ourselves and the conditions were very atmospheric. It was also a good experience to see such places in more wilder conditions and it was still a good day out - beats staying in anytime. 

Here's wondering what weather we will get next week - maybe snow?

Sunday 27 May: Dam Dale
It was a very hot day for our approximate 13 mile walk with constant sunshine bathing the majestic white peak. Given the weather, it was amazing that we had some places to ourselves but choosing little known Dam Dale and Pete Dale to start the walk afforded the group a peaceful time. Even the more famous Monks Dale, a beautiful dale known for its wildflowers, natural woodlands and stunning rugged limestone was fairly quiet - and for once not too slippy. After a short section of the Monsal Trial we then made our way to Tideswell which was the site of the Great Courts of the Royal Forest of the Peak in the time of Edward I  with the major feature being the fantastic 14th-century church, known locally as 'The Cathedral of the Peak'. We then crossed several fields back to our starting point in Peak Forest. Some highlights of the walk were the flowers including some very nice orchids, the brown trout seen swimming in the river as well as when someone pointed out a tawny owl laying low in one of the trees.  A drink at the Devonshire arms, still in bright sunshine finished a beautiful day. 

Wednesday 23 May: Around Prestbury
On one of the best days of the year so far last Wednesday, 5 members of Congleton Ramblers enjoyed a (nearly) 6 mile walk from Prestbury.  Setting out from the car park in the centre of Prestbury, the walkers enjoyed looking at the attractive old buildings in Prestbury before crossing the road into Bridge Green.  After a short stretch on the Bollin Valley Way, to be further walked on the return, the walkers turned left under the railway bridge to cross undulating fields to reach Tytherington Golf Course.  A clearly marked path took the walkers safely across the Golf Course to emerge on the old Macclesfield to Stockport road at Tytherington.

Turning right here, the walkers soon crossed over the road and entered a delightful wooded area with a very attractive path winding its way alongside a small stream.  Sitting by the stream the first of two breaks on the walk was enjoyed by the group.

On leaving the wood the group walked through a pleasant housing estate to reach the Middlewood Way.  At this point the Middlewood Way is a tarmac-ed path leading through Tytherington towards Macclesfield but the trees with their fresh spring green leaves and the many open grassy areas made up for the hard surface.  It was good to reflect that this path could easily be enjoyed by wheelchair users and others with limited mobility. 

After crossing again the Macclesfield – Stockport road,  the group reached Riverside Park on the edge of Macclesfield and enjoyed a second refreshment break in the sunshine.  From here a sign told the walkers that they were joining the Bollin Valley Way and that it was 2 miles to Prestbury.  This proved a pleasant easy walk close to the River Bollin.  On the way the walkers passed a group of cattle, including several bulls with large forward facing horns, grazing peacefully on the grass.  They were identified by one of the walkers as English Longhorns, apparently known for their placidness.  There were many wild flowers by the path and the walkers enjoyed identifying them and discussing the various local names for them.  Were they Jack-by-the-Hedge or Garlic Mustard, Lady’s Smock or Milkmaids and so on?

Returning to the car park at the end of the walk, the walkers regretted that others had missed the opportunity of a very enjoyable walk in perfect weather.

Sunday 13 May: Coach Trip to Llangollen
About 50 members and friends of Congleton Ramblers travelled by coach to Llangollen where three walks were on offer. It was a beautiful sunny day as the coach left Congleton and fortunately remained like that for the rest of the day.

For the "A" walk, seventeen members decided to participate in this 12 mile walk which began in the village of Trevor at the Pont Cysylite canal aquaduct, the latter being the longest and highest aquaduct in Britain. It was built by Thomas Telford in 1805. Having had a look at this amazing feat of engineering the walkers then began their walk with a gradual ascent through pastureland and minor roads to reach the edge of the heathery moors on Ruabon Mouintain. A path was followed across the corner of the moor which brought the group to the derelict buildings of the “Frozen Clock” There are two explanations for this name – it used to get so cold that the clock workings frequently froze  or alternately the stopped it to obtain a longer working day from his miners!
A delightful path descended through woodland to cross a footbridge before ascending back to the edge of the moor.
A very faint path took the ramblers across the windy moorland for about 2 miles before eventually arriving at the edge of the escarpment of the Vale of Llangollen.  After a short descent the group stopped for a well-deserved lunch break on the edge of a wood at World’s End.

Feeling suitable refreshed after their moorland trek the route descended through a very picturesque wood to reach a minor road where the Offs’sDyke National trail was joined. After a slightly undulating path through a small wood the walkers began the traverse of the limestone escarpment contouring on a narrow path with a steep drop down to the valley below so extra care was taken. From this path there were magnificent views of the Vale of Llangollen and after about 2 miles a minor road was gained at Rock Farm. A short stretch of road walking followed before the ruins of Castell Dinas came into view. The whole group decided to attempt the steep climb to the summit of this ancient Iron-Age hill fort and were rewarded with a wonderful panorama of the surrounding countryside.   About half a mile’s descent brought the group back to the waiting coach in the centre of Llangollen. This had been a walk full of contrasts and was enjoyed by all. [JF]

Sunday 6 May: Dovestones
On the day that BBC started televising its Planet Earth Live, Congleton Ramblers on the full day walk were treated to sightings of plenty of our own British wildlife in the Dovestone Reservoir area.

After following the Oldham Way for a short distance, our group enjoyed a scramble up Charnel Clough to Dish Stone Moss, near Chew Reservoir.  We headed north along the edge of the mosses, passing the Ashway Cross, a memorial to industrialist and MP James Platt, who was killed by the accidental discharge of his gun whilst grouse shooting on the moss in 1857.  Platt was in favour of building mills and mechanising the traditional weaving processes, which many locals saw as a threat to their livelihoods, so there may have been more sinister circumstances to the ‘accident’.

Continuing along the path to Birchen Clough, we came across a number of fresh mountain hare tracks clearly visible in the peat.  The track down Birchen Clough has deteriorated, with much of it washed away, but this gives more welcome opportunity for scrambling!  Following Greenfield Brook down to Greenfield Reservoir, we spotted a small pond with a number of water crickets whizzing across the surface and, alongside Yeoman Hey Reservoir, we had a good sighting of an extremely vocal pair of sandpipers, which are believed to be nesting in the vicinity.  The next treat was the chance to look through the RSPB’s telescope set up at Ashway Gap and trained on the peregrine falcons’ nest in the crags above.

Returning eventually to our start point at Waterside, we enjoyed well earned refreshment at the Clarence Hotel before heading back to Congleton. [SH]

Sunday 22 April: Sheldon and Ashford in the Water
It was a damp (club language for wet!) day for the longer walk (11 miles) of the weekend which started from Monyash.  Although wet, this did not detract from the nice walk - Afterall, this is why we carry our waterproofs on all the walks.  In fact, the rain added to the occasion with rivers and streams flowing freely and the walk down deep dale with the crystal clear fast flowing stream by our side was a delight. Ashford in the water is a picturesque peak district village and made for a welcome lunch stop. After lunch we went to Magpie Mine, one of the most famous lead mines in the peak district and the buildings looked particularly atmospheric with the weather. At the end of the walk, a stop at the Bulls Head for some or the Old Smithy Tearooms for others completed a nice day.

Sunday 15 April: Meerbrook
The walk started at a relatively late time (10 am) for the long walkers allowing a lie in.
The walk started in Meerbrook, very near Titteswirth reservoir which was built in 1963 and is owned by Severn Trent Water - although its name would be apt to be owned by Ken Dodd (Titter ye not!). The walk was interesting taking in some unusual routes typical of the leader Nigel. Without too much ascent there were nice views of the roaches, Hen cloud, Gibbs Tor and Gun Hill. It was a dry day with sunny spells although there was a cool breeze at times and the great day was completed with a drink in the Lazy Trout. 

Sunday 8th April: Monsal Trail Tunnels
Up until a year ago, the ability to go through the tunnels was the reserve of the very few (eg Julia Bradbury). Now after much expense the tunnels have been opened to the general public and this was the first club walk going through them.
Ivor led a nice well thought out 14 mile walk with a variety of scenes including green field walking, dale walking (including stepping stones) trail walking including the aforementioned tunnels and finishing with a walk along the river Wye. The walk also included going to Monsal Head, one of the most iconic and beautiful views in the peak district. There was a small amount of drizzle at times but generally a dry day making for a very good day out.

Saturday 7th April: Recce Peak Forest
5 of us did a recce walk with the first aim for Mick to find Eldon hole regarded by some as "one of the severn wonders of the peak district"  with legend having it was bottomless and a goose being put down only to re-appear 4 days later in Peak cavern with blackened feathers http://ludchurchmyblog.wordpress.com/places-further-afield/eldon-hole/ 

After going up and down Eldon Hill and up again looking for this hole we eventually found it.  The hole was not that impressive for some of us leading to quips at Mick whenever we saw any other holes.
After this we went up Rush-up Edge (Perfect conditions for paragliding led to many being in the air) and then into Castleton and from Castleton up cave dale back to Peak Forest.

Due to the snow the previous Wednesday there was still some deep snow drifts in a few places - a far cry from the previous warm sunny weather. The only benefit to this was that Bob kept his legs covered up for the whole walk!
Despite the not very impressive hole, it was a nice walk.  Look out for this in a future programme.

Sunday 1st April: Much Wenlock coach trip
It is always a treat to walk in Shropshire - the rural aspect, beautiful views and nice villages make a great combination.
This walk started and ended in Much Wenlock which is a nice town for a drink after the walk - as well as a good place to spend time looking round.
The weather was glorious and sunny making for a fantastic day.
The 12 mile walk included a walk through a large apple orchard - although not yet in blossom it still made for an impressive sight.
It was a perfect day highlighting the great activity of walking - not even hearing a particular football score when returning could dampen the day for this website owner (oh well maybe just for a second 




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