Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Sunday 30 March 2008 - Dipping and Fishing in the Goyt Valley

The clocks changed today. So our evenings will be blessed with the chatter of the birds and the glint of the declining sun for the next six months or so. Whoopee!
This morning, however, after losing the hour that propels us into ‘summertime’, we had foolishly planned a walk to start at 10 am. And a phone message indicated we would have company, so we left in plenty of time to get to the Pym Chair rendezvous for a walk in the Goyt Valley.
But Wilmslow was closed for its annual half-marathon event, necessitating time consuming extrication from its traffic jam and a lengthy diversionary route.
Sue and Phil were puzzled but relaxed about our lateness. It’s usually the other way round, but Phil had been up early ringing today.
From a balmy morning in Timperley we had been transported to rather different conditions up at Pym Chair. The car doors were at risk of serious damage from the strong icy wind.
We soon warmed up on the good path to Windgather Rocks, a mecca for climbers but deserted this morning, as Pym Chair had been.
On down Taxal Edge, we watched lapwings fluttering wildly in the wind, before dropping down into the calm of the valley where this lone tree stood proud against the deep blue sky.

Down here, out of the wind, it was a lovely day for a stroll.

Entering the smart hamlet of Taxal, we walked down the sturdy ancient cobbles that led past the church that was positioned serenely in a bed of daffodils.

The River Goyt can be forded down here, but we chose the footbridge and then enjoyed a most scenic stroll through woods and fields beside the Goyt to Fernilee Reservoir.
Pausing to transfer tea from flasks to stomachs we watched a dipper breakfasting along the fast flowing stretch of water. Then the unmistakable blue flash of a kingfisher further brightened our day.
Some of the trees hereabouts reminded us of the moss laden ‘bush’ we had so much enjoyed in New Zealand.

After helping to reunite a youthful jogger with her mother, we walked up the bank to Errwood Reservoir. There are a number of benches along here, one of which proved an excellent lunch spot.

The path up Stake Side brought back memories of the ‘Four Inns’ walk that I did a few years ago - at 45 miles, it’s a full day out, and this path is memorable for being the last major ascent on that walk.

But today it was easy going, and after assisting some misplaced pensioners with their route back to Pym Chair (they had a map but couldn’t use it) we soon found ourselves up at Shining Tor, the highest point in Cheshire, with great views in all directions.

[Note that the Cat and Fiddle Inn just to the south of our path would be an easy (2.5 km return) diversion for anyone following this route and wanting a pub lunch.]

The path between Shining Tor and Pym Chair used to be a difficult boggy route, but a few years ago stone slabs were laid and the surrounding land has now virtually recovered from its previous devastation. We noticed that some netting had been laid, presumably to aid the recovery process.

Back at Pym Chair at 3 o clock, the car park was now full, a bright yellow radio controlled glider was being skilfully manoeuvred in the wind, a kite was flapping threateningly above our heads, and kestrels were soaring gracefully.

Apparently Pym Chair takes its name from a formation of rocks that once stood on the ridge near here. There is a choice of local legends about the man known as ‘Pym’.
Perhaps he was a non-conformist preacher whose pulpit here was away from the eyes and ears of the authorities who prohibited such events.
Or perhaps he was the highwayman who used to watch from Pym Chair and then ambush the packhorse trains passing below the rocks with their cargoes of salt from Cheshire or coal, lime or lead from Derbyshire on this route which has linked Cheshire and Derbyshire since Roman times and was used well into the 19th century.

Our route is outlined below – it was about 16 km, with 550 metres of ascent, and took us about 4 hours plus stops.

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