Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Monday 21 September 2009 – The ‘Big Macc Ramble’

I last did this on 24 July 2005.

I know that because I wrote all about it here.

It’s an excellent bike ride, with only one short section requiring a dismount.

So those of you interested in following the 22 km (14.5 mile) route should refer to that old route description, which remains accurate, and as the new surfaces referred to in my report on that trip have bedded in (sort of), there is now no need to dismount on the rocky descents, though if unsure you should do so, and please don’t blame me if you fall off!

The Trentabank Car Park is now pay and display, so it’s cheaper to park in the lay-by beside Ridgegate Reservoir.  I set off from here at 9.30 on a grey Monday morning, but that hadn’t lessened the smile on my face as I glanced at other road users during the hour it took me to travel the 23 miles from Timperley.  Business people, parents with children, workmen, van drivers, all striving to meet deadlines, whilst I was happy to potter along and pause by the reservoir before unloading the bike.

The variety of bird life here is actually wider than that at the lake by Interlaken which we saw ten days ago, with numerous Little Grebes and Tufted Ducks, as well as loads of Coots and a selection of other ducks and geese.

[At this point I apologise for the quality of the images on this posting, but they do go a little way towards capturing the ambience of the grey day!]


Leaving the geese to gander and the coots to squawk, the Leather’s Smithy was passed in no time at all, beyond which the hill down to Langley allows a 30+mph free wheel – perhaps the fastest section of the entire ride, and after only a couple of minutes.  At that speed my wheels seemed quite wobbly – perhaps the bike needs a service…

Tegg’s Nose Country Park provides the scenery for a while after Langley; here’s the trusty steed beside Teggsnose Reservoir – a domain of fishermen.


This is followed by a long sweaty ascent up to Walker Barn and the cycle shop that used to be a pub.  It was an excellent day for a bike ride – calm, cool and dry, despite the greyness.

Up at 475 metres, at the highest point by the edge of the forest, the Cat & Fiddle lay starkly on the horizon, just below the cloud that had already engulfed nearby Shining Tor, at 559 metres the highest point for miles.


Whilst cows dozed in the fields, a steady descent over sloppy stones led me to St Stephen’s, at Macclesfield Forest.


I always stop for a break here – a cup of tea on a bench with a plaque that asks:


There wasn’t much happening, actually!  But the views were good and the tea was refreshing.

Another steep descent leads to the Stanley Arms, near a place called ‘Bottom-of-the-Oven’.  If you are fed up with Robinsons, come here for a glass of Pedigree!


No such luck for the teetotallers!


Peak View tea rooms are passed soon after reaching the A537 after a long haul, and when open they do provide some very tasty goodies.

By the time I reached the Cat & Fiddle (back to Robinsons) it was engulfed in cloud.  A lone couple with a powerful motorbike looked forlorn in the car park.  We agreed that yesterday the place would have been full of bikers in the sunshine.  “We’ve got the wrong day” they bemoaned.  I’m sure they were happier than if going to work, though.


The new path across Danebower Hollow to the A54 road is a lovely ride.  Very few awkward stones to negotiate here, so wheel wobbling speeds can be safely attained.


The dull weather and the fact that I was on the bike inhibited the flower photos today, but Knapweed, Yarrow, Tormentil, Ragwort, Willowherbs and Ling were all hanging on, though some of their blooms could be said to be fading.

The short section along the A54 is pleasantly downhill, with views down to Three Shires Head, where the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet in the most scenic of spots.


The Big Macc Ramble turns the other way, down a rocky (cycle with care!) path beside Cumberland Brook, past a busy shepherd and two elderly walkers – the only people I saw on today’s paths - across an easy ford, and into the valley.  A left turn here would deliver me to the Crag Inn at Wildboarclough, but my lunch is elsewhere, so it’s a gentle ride up the valley for me, then a steep 100 metre ascent back to the edge of the forest, where there’s a plaque in honour of

WALTER SMITH 1872-1949

With only half an hour to go, it’s time to take advantage again of my mobile tea shop.


The forest looked more of a scene of devastation than usual.


A major artery seems to be in the course of manufacture.  A logging road, or a recreational amenity?  Perhaps both. The Macclesfield Forest website, whilst being informative, doesn’t at first sight reveal the answer.


After a final very short steep section the bridleway plunges back down to Trentabank.  This descent is great fun, but today I picked up a puncture half way down, and being so close to the finish couldn’t be bothered to repair it.

So I finished on foot at around 12.15.


Louise said...

Hey up, last time I was at The Cat and Fiddle (late 80s, early 90s p'raps) it looked just like that! You know, kind of dreich...

Phreerunner said...

I always associate 'dreich' with moisture in the air. And there was none, so it was kind of 'almost dreich' - certainly not the conditions for a snapshotter like me to attempt a 'fine art' composition!
If I'd gone a day earlier it would have been beautifully sunny, with puffy white clouds and lots of bikers.

Mark Alvarez said...

Martin, that fluorescent top must look great with your orange crocs!

Phreerunner said...

I'm sure it would, Mark, but I don't trust the crocs on the pedals (though they would be useful for ford crossings)...