Tradition dictated that Sue, Andrew and I gather at Trentabank at 7.30 on this December evening for our final evening walk of the year - the ascent of Shutlingsloe, a mere 270 metre rise to the 506 metre summit high above the Cheshire plain, the second highest point in Cheshire.
As last year, there was a nip in the air and the icy paths were frosted over, with a sprinkling of last week's unmelted snow to add to the mix. Perhaps we missed an opportunity to test our crampons, but we managed to slither our way up and down the hill without any real difficulties.
You can see from the summit photo that we were well wrapped up. As we lingered here a headlamp bobbed below us. We weren't the only people up here tonight (as is quite often the case) - a lone and uncommunicative man was making his way up in a world of his own. Whilst we were ambling along taking in the wide views under a bright moon (torches were completely superfluous), this chap was content to rush along in the comfort of his own bright pool of light, the red stub of a fag dangling by his side. We let him pass, dazzled briefly by his unnecessary floodlight, before resuming our admiration of the view to Macclesfield, and Manchester beyond that. After this most enjoyable little 5 km excursion – we were by 9 pm ensconced in front of the Leather’s Smithy's roaring fire imbibing welcome refreshment whilst reminiscing over the year's achievements.
It really doesn't seem like 12 months since we last enjoyed this outing!