Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Monday, 19 March 2012

Wednesday 14 March 2012 – The Cloud and Gun Hill

Orientation Point on The Cloud - 1126 ft

Last Wednesday saw me heading over to Buxton for a session with my old workmate, Chris, who is now at the Health & Safety Executive’s head office.

On the way I enjoyed a stroll up The Cloud from Rushton Spencer, where a Staffordshire Way car park behind The Knot Inn provides a good base for walks in this picturesque part of Staffordshire.

The Knot Inn, and the emblem for the Staffordshire Way

The 92 mile Staffordshire Way passes through here, and the Knot is the emblem of that route.

This walking route utilises the trackbed of the North Staffordshire Railway.  The line was opened in 1849 as part of the Churnet Valley line and remained open until passenger services were withdrawn from the northern end of the Churnet valley line in 1960.  Freight services lasted until 1964 when they too were withdrawn and the track lifted.  Here it is today.

The Staffordshire Way

After about a kilometre my route joined the Gritstone Trail, and also the Dane Valley Way, all three footpaths coinciding at this point where, curiously, a signpost indicates ‘LYME PARK 18ML/30KM’.  I can’t recall seeing many distances marked in kilometres on UK footpaths – perhaps Staffordshire is leading the way.


The Cloud made its appearance out of the gloom as I strolled along the deserted path, to the fairly constant sound of pot shots at clay pigeons being taken at nearby Cloudside Shooting and Sporting Club.

The Cloud

Towards the summit of The Cloud an array of ten signs awaits those brave enough to tackle the final few metres to the summit (don’t bother if you have a hang glider or a bicycle).

Summit signs on The Cloud

There are views far and wide from up here, as can be seen from the orientation point pictured below, but you can see that ‘The Cloud’ lived up to its name today – the Cheshire plain should have been visible in this photo.  But it wasn’t…

The Cloud - summit - 343 metresThe Cloud - Orientation Point

I could just make out the outline of Mow Cop, five miles away, and whilst the low veneer of mist never really cleared, the sun did try to put in a muted appearance as I made my way around the wood to the south of The Cloud, and returned towards Rushton Spencer via a selection of well-marked field paths.

Near Cloud Side

Saint Lawrence Church has a timber framed church possibly from the 14th century existing within the walls of the late 17th century stone building. The date above the east window is 1690 and above the south doorway is 1713. I came across the church, with its weather-boarded turret, in an isolated position in fields above Rushton village. Anciently, apparently, the church was known as the Chapel in the Wilderness.

Saint Lawrence Church, RushtonStained glass window at Saint Lawrence Church

The grave of Thomas Meakin is in the churchyard. Meakin was thought to have been poisoned by his master, an apothecary, for having fallen for his master’s daughter. After exhumation, Meakin’s body was brought back to his home village of Rushton for burial but it was set apart from others by the fact that it is the only grave to face west.

Here’s the view east, looking down through weak sunshine to the village of Rushton Spencer and the end of this little excursion.

Rushton Spencer from Saint Lawrence Church

The route I took, shown below, was about 11km, with around 300 metres ascent, easily completed within 3 hours.  A good half day amble if you happen to be in the area, and hopefully you’ll choose a day when the ‘Sporting Club’ is closed, though after a while you’ll probably cease to notice the popping of the guns.

A route up The Cloud - 11km, 350 metres ascent, 3 hours

With a few minutes to spare before meeting Chris in Buxton, I nipped up Gun Hill, a fairly nondescript protuberance to the south of Danebridge.  Whilst it was pleasantly sunny, misty cloud still obscured the views.

Gun Hill, Staffordshire

It was good to keep in touch with Chris, and later to meet up with TGO Challenger Andy Howell and others at Stockport Walking Group’s weekly get together, where Andy, apparently commissioned by the tourist boards of Ireland, London, Birmingham and Rio de Janeiro, was showing a few of his photos.

What a pleasant day, even if I was a bit peckish by the time I got home!


Alan R said...

A pleasant day Martin. I suppose the pub was "Knot Open". Sorry, i couldn't resist that.
I read that Andy was doing a gig. Sounded interesting.
Nice trip East you had too.

GeoffC said...

That brings back some memories of extensive vistas from the Cloud, a viewpoint we used to include in circuits with Croker Hill and Wincle Minn.
Gun makes a good circuit with the Roaches. I remember being surprised to find a worn path continuing northwards from the top, it's not well known apart from Marilyn baggers.
Interesting info on the church.

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Alan, Geoff. I was planning a circuit from Danebridge to go up Gun Hill, but time (knot in the knot) got the better of me so I just strolled up from Isle Farm. I don't think I'd been up there before, and I agree it could be incorporated into a good, fairly long, day's walk visiting the Roaches and Lud's Church.