I make no apologies for repeating this excellent walk. We last walked it in the rain on 19 July l2019, but Graeme wasn't present then, and though he knows the area well, the last section of today's walk along the Gritstone Trail was new to him.
We've been up Shutlingsloe on numerous occasions since this blog was started in 2007, and you can find most of the reports here.
Today we assembled rather late due to a road blockage in Macclesfield and a navigation error on my part. We were thankful that the current intermittently rainy weather took a break, albeit cloudy, from precipitation for the duration of our outing, after which we returned home in a fresh shower..
We were soon on our way on the good path around Ridgegate Reservoir, with views back (above) to our rendezvous point at the Leather's Smithy, with its Tegg's Nose backdrop.
We soon left the reservoir to the cormorants who were airing their wings, and took to the ascent of Shutlingsloe where kestrels and buzzards rule the airways.
Once out of the forest we could look back and admire the purple hue of the heather, sadly not illuminated by the sun today.
The next picture (click on it for a better image) shows some of a long row of shooting butts on High Moor, with a line of vehicles on the horizon. A 'shoot' was in progress. We wondered whether it was driven birds or clay pigeons. The slopes of Shutlingsloe don't appear to be home to very many game birds. I can't find evidence of any shooting club in this vicinity, so Graeme's theory that it might be driven pheasants could be correct.
If you go through the archives, you'll probably find many pictures taken from around this point, on the lovely path that gently ascends this iconic hill.
On his previous visits, Graeme had noted a possible route to the west, through a Nature Reserve. This probably goes across the area in the photo below that is to the left of the heather, near the green pasture. The white building is Oakenclough.
As usual, we assembled for photos at the trig point. A grey squirrel frolicked nearby.
Thanks to Graeme for the next one.
There was a cool wind on top, so we sheltered just below it, amidst rocks with a view back to Tegg's Nose, for our first elevenses and cake break.
From the top, we admired the view north east, towards the Cat & Fiddle, re-opened during Lockdown, to which we must soon arrange a visit.
To the south east, the Roaches and Tittesworth Reservoir. Wonderful UK countryside.
We descended pleasantly to Wildboarclough, where we passed the once thriving Crag Inn. On the blackboard outside 'The Crag Kiosk' was announced as currently being open between 12 noon and 4 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with the patio open but car park and toilets closed. So, sustenance here for weekend walkers, if no more.
After strolling through several fields on a well marked path, we emerged onto a lane above Lower Nabbs Farm, where Graeme spotted an entry point to Piggford Moor Nature Reserve. From here you could probably take a direct cross country route over open access land to the summit of Shutlingsloe along the line suggested in the earlier photo towards Oakenclough. Obviously not at times of ground nesting birds. Buzzards mewed, and a kestrel hovered, menacingly.
Beyond Oakenclough, which is just outside the next picture to the right, we were beyond the boundary of open access land, as per a clear notice that states:
'High Moor Conservation Reserve - NO ENTRY - To protect this reserve this land has not been designated "open country" by the (legislation) so "Right to Roam" access is not permitted.'
This is the area where the shooting was taking place, so "no access for the Plebs, but we'll call it a 'Conservation Reserve' and do what we like with it." Or am I being overly cynical?
Anyway, the path we were following was delightful, so no need to worry about No Entry to an area we wouldn't want to enter anyway. We continued to the top of the hill for a second tea, coffee and cake break, before descending the walled track to cross a road by the once thriving Hanging Gate pub. It looks little different from a year ago, but there was somebody there, covered in dust, as were the items (such as mountain bikes) we could see inside.
There's a path that links the pub with the Gritstone Trail. It's in the process of being neatly paved. One day, hopefully, this place will once again thrive. I wonder what input Hydes Brewery have into all this. It's a shame that I've lost contact with Phil Hyde, who used to be responsible for their property portfolio.
From this spot, there's another fine view of the Cheshire countryside.
After joining the Gritstone Trail by a familiar '
No sledging' sign, the path passes through lovely countryside all the way back to the Leather's Smithy. Here, it looks as if someone has been practicing dry stone walling on this tiny section of wall that abuts barbed wire fencing.
Near the end of the walk, an unclear side path to the right leads through a short, deep valley, then rises until the pub comes into view, as you can see it below (far right). At that point we disturbed a herd of red deer, within which a couple of fallow deer seem to have made their home.
Here's our route - 12 km with about 400 metres ascent, taking us rather less than four hours on this occasion. The open access land is within a brown border in which Piggford Moor is shown.
I hope this report is sufficient for my readers, including Graeme's sister Maureen, and his children. Feel free to comment; it's always nice to hear from readers....
And finally, we discussed the Langley 11, on which I reported here, for anyone who may be interested.
Finally, Graeme has provided a 'must see' link to five minutes of unmissable music. Thanks Graeme, it's great.