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 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 The line was opened in 1849 as part of the Churnet Valley line and remained open until passenger services were withdrawn from the northern end of the Churnet valley line in 1960. Freight services lasted until 1964 when they too were withdrawn and the track lifted.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.
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.
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).
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!