We’ve been here many times before, though it’s a while since I did this exact walk. Previous descriptions are here.
I wasn’t intending to go out, but the sunny weather drew me to parking near the Leather’s Smithy in Langley and setting off on this familiar 12 km circuit. No map was needed.
I was not alone. The top picture shows a number of folk wending their way up the normal ascent path. Looking back, the autumn colours of Macclesfield Forest glowed under a bright November sun.
There were various folk gathered on the summit, admiring good views in all directions.
It was fairly cool on the summit, but no windproof was needed as I descended to the Crag Inn, trying to maintain 10 minutes per kilometre pace. The Crag Inn ‘serves hot food’, so it’s still going strong. I seem to recall a threatened close down and conversion to a private house being thwarted by planning permissions.
After some well marked field paths with friendly signs from the farmer, and a short section of tarmac, the path ascends to Oakenclough, from where you can look back at the side of Shutlingsloe. A small terrier came yapping after me but ran away when I tried to engage it in conversion (a familiar experience, perhaps it had human genes?).
The next picture is taken from the top of the path that leads down to the Hanging Gate pub. It’s one of my favourite places, with fine views over Greater Manchester and across to Joddrell Bank and the Cheshire plain, backed by the Clwydian Hills. I always come armed with a flask and a banana as an excuse to pause for a while here, before heading on down the often boggy path. It was dry today; the lack of rain means that trail shoes can be worn with impunity until the autumn rains eventually arrive.
The Hanging Gate would be a good place to stop, if time permitted.
Below the Hanging Gate, a grassy path leads to the Gritstone Trail.
Good signposting on the Gritstone Trail leads walkers through fields of livestock and past private residencies, with good views across to Tegg’s Nose.
Whilst the Gritstone Trail heads down to Clarke Lane, those returning to the Leather’s Smithy turn sharply right over a footbridge to go past the end of Ridgegate Reservoir.
It’s a brisk couple of hours for the 12 km circuit, with about 450 metres ascent. A lovely outing. I’ll be there again soon.