Andrew’s carefully crafted amble required a 10.00am departure from Ridgegate Reservoir, by Langley. Some of us only just about got there in time.
On this occasion the ‘Famous Five’ (Sue, Jenny, Richard, Andrew, Martin) were joined by Liz and Neil, down from the Yorkshire Dales to taste some of the hillier bits of Cheshire.
Andrew led off past some forest, where the resident sparrowhawks weren’t in evidence today. He seemed relieved when the usual tea van at Trentabank was conspicuous by its absence – that would have put us behind schedule!
Once on the open moorland above the edge of the forest, we could see a trail of people on their way up Shutlingsloe, a busy place on this warm sunny Saturday.
Elevenses on the summit were followed by the gentle descent towards Wildboarclough, from which we looked back to a hovering kestrel and the hordes on Shutlingsloe's summit. Our path would now be quiet all the way to Tegg’s Nose, most people apparently preferring shorter excursions today.
A field of grazing goats provided respite from the ubiquitous sheep as we pottered on along Andrew’s carefully plotted route, which headed relentlessly north towards Torgate Farm. Near the farm we stopped for lunch in the shelter of a wall (there was a miniscule cool breeze) with Shining Tor as our backdrop.
The afternoon’s perambulations soon had us up at Macclesfield Forest, where the schedule and the size of our group precluded a rest on the well positioned bench which relates the first two lines of William Henry Davies’s poem - ‘Leisure’.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Moving on from Macclesfield Forest - the place, we headed on up Charity Lane. Some distressed mountain bikers saw us take to their preferred route, leaving the skittery pebbles for them to negotiate with care. No animosity though, there’s room for everyone here.
Through the forest and on below Five Ashes we strolled, behind schedule. A short debate as to whether a short cut should be deployed was resolved by an overwhelming desire to visit the industrial archaeology of Tegg’s Nose quarries. I’ve written about Tegg’s Nose before, notably here, so I’ll restrict today’s indulgence to just one of Sue’s photos.
Tegg’s Nose was even busier than Shutlingsloe. Perhaps not surprising, given the cafe and toilet facilities. There were lots of ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ students, clearly embarking on a summer of training to enjoy the Great Outdoors. The weather won’t always be as kind to them as it was today…
We looked down from Tegg's Nose to the Reservoirs of Langley and to Croker Hill beyond – a hazy vista through which not even nearby Jodrell Bank could be discerned.
Passing through an area of brightly flowering Gorse, we noticed that it was full of ladybirds.
Bottoms Reservoir was flat calm apart from the ripples created by a pair of amorous Great Crested Grebes. We had heard Chiffchaffs today – their arrival in the UK is a sign of spring, and blog postings from all around the country are recording their arrival. I wonder where our Swifts are just now?
Steam engines outside the Leather's Smithy distracted us briefly from a distance, or rather the raucous behaviour in the vicinity of the engines, as we completed this lovely stroll via the southern shore of Ridgegate Reservoir, before adjourning (not too far behind schedule) to tea and cake and an evening of fine dining at chez Andrew and Rosemary. Thank you both for a splendid route and an entertaining evening.
Here’s our route - 20km, 650 metres ascent, taking a leisurely 6 hours.