We've been up Shutlingsloe many times. It wasn't only the summit that was in cloud today - you can see from the pictures below, taken near Ridgegate Reservoir, that the predicted fine weather hadn't transpired.
"Never mind", we agreed, whilst watching a cormorant trying to dry out on a post in the middle of the lake.
Looking back to the Leather's Smithy
Forest paths led inexorably uphill, with the trees clothed in mist.
Paul, Jeanette and Rufus were our only companions today, others having fallen by the way due to illness. Paul was proudly showing off his new blue boots.
So we went back down to find a sheltered spot for elevenses, just before a boggy section past Buxtors Hill.
"Look this way, Rufus."
"Look at the camera, everyone!"
The picture of the day would have been the one of Jeanette's stride into knee deep mud. But I missed it.
Eventually we crossed the road and passed the upper car park, before descending to woodland where some of the conifers have been cleared.
A steep pull up Toot Hill brought us out at the familiar chapel in the hamlet of Macclesfield Forest. This is a refreshment stop when we do the excellent 'Big Macc Ramble' bike ride.
A steep ascent along the bike route took us into lovely mixed woodland for the rest of the morning's walk.
United Utilities seem to be getting tetchy about mountain bike usage. The track you can see below - and above (our path) would seem perfectly suitable for mountain bikes, but who am I to judge? Anyway, there are plenty of tracks in this forest that mountain bikes can use - if perhaps not the most exciting ones.
Sue then spotted some lichen. What would she do if there was nothing to challenge her identification skills!
Rough speckled shield lichen
After a final few metres on the only tarmac of the morning, we adjourned happily to the Leather's Smithy, and four bowls of really tasty caramelised cauliflower with truffles soup.
Others were also enjoying the food. An executive decision was agreed upon and made. A table for up to 20 people was booked for 1:30pm on Sunday 17 December 2023 - a change after several years of going to the Crispin in Great Longstone, and a bit easier to reach for those living in the Manchester area. Book your space now! (Further details nearer the time, obviously, but I'm happy with this - we'll start walking at 10:00 and follow the route taken today. Just for a change, there will be no planned afternoon walk.)
Here's the route - 10.5km with 400 metres of ascent, taking us 3 hours including breaks.