Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Monday, 2 August 2010

Friday 23 July 2010 – The ‘Big Macc Ramble’

Rosebay Willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium)

Hello all, apologies for the recent hiatus.  I’ve been taking a break.  I’ll now try to catch up…

Some ten days ago I revisited this excellent mountain bike route, details of which I don’t need to bore you with, as I reported in more detail on 21 September 2009.  The route is described here.

At this time of year many of the hedgerows are lined with a garden weed that looks quite colourful in the countryside - Rosebay Willowherb, pictured above, and this very week (the last week in July) is the time to harvest the bilberries that abound in Charity Lane, the rough track that links the hamlets of Walker Barn and Macclesfield Forest.

A Favourite Place

I wasn’t equipped for the bilberry harvest – I left that to the lady with a large vehicle and a fancy Norwegian ‘bilberry collecting gadget’.  But I did pause at the summit of Charity Lane, at around SJ 967 727.  This is a ‘Favourite Place’.  It’s a high point of the ride, at 475 metres – nearly 300 metres higher than the starting point by Ridgegate Reservoir.  It follows nearly 40 minutes of fairly unrelenting ascent and is a good spot to pause with a cup of tea before tackling the sporting descent that follows.  The views aren’t fantastic, but do stretch across to Shining Tor and the High Peak (top left), and over to the second and highest high point of the ride – the Cat and Fiddle, at 515 metres (on the horizon, top right).  The track is a brilliant mountain biking surface, as shown on the lower images.

A favourite viewpoint

The groove of the track slowly deepens and the rocks get larger as it continues towards Macclesfield Forest.  Care is needed, but one of the beauties of this entire route is that dismounting is necessary just once (for a non-expert like me), near the start, to ascend some steps on the track below Tegg’s Nose. 

The track to Macclesfield Forest (a place)

Care is needed on steep gravel though, so don’t be afraid to get off, but that would deprive you of the chance of testing your skills…

On reaching the A54 road a view of Three Shires Head is soon gained.  This is the junction of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire, shown in the distance beyond the field of sheep.

View to Three Shires Head

With no punctures on this occasion, it was a fairly quick buzz around the circuit, with an exhilarating final descent.  Home in time for lunch.  [Sorry, Geoffrey, I only decided to do this after breakfast – didn’t have time to order any of your coffee!]

Here’s a reminder of the route.

The 14.5 mile route, with about 800 metres ascent, taking just over 2 hours on this occasion

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