Following brooks in Cheshire hill country20th October 2007
On a bus journey from Macclesfield to New Mills some time back, I made a mental note of the pleasant hill country through which the B5470 threads its way from Rainow to Kettleshulme. Even though the memory remained with me, for some reason unbeknownst to me I never managed to take a walk among the glorious surroundings until last Thursday afternoon. And that amazes me all the more when I look at the map and consider my ventures: there are many places in the vicinity where I have wandered but this gap in my explorations still remained.
The morning was taken up with the main reason for my day off from work, an unsuccessful venture that left me feeling annoyed with myself, so a walk on a fine October day seemed as good a distraction as any. It may have not been the complete cure for my annoyance that I was hoping it would have been but my head was clearer than before I popped out.
The sun was unsure of itself while I was readying myself for the outing and I was wondering whether I would be seeing the landscape in the best light. I carried onto to Bollington anyway and I’m glad that I did because the sun returned and, apart from some stutters, stayed away from clouds for the whole afternoon. I pottered up a minor road and picked up the Gritstone Trail for a while before I left it for a vehicle track taking me along the slopes above Harrop Brook. Looking back now at the route that I took, it could be said that I followed the same brook to its source on the slopes of Cook Hill and Broad Moss. A closer look at the map revealed a number of names accompanying Harrop Brook: Black Brook and Moss Brook are but two. My journey following these took me past the end of the vehicle track and onto muddier underfoot conditions as I passed through woodland and over fields, crossing the B5470 along the way.
Once across the aforementioned road, the views really opened up. I ascended the minor heights of Broad Moss and views north towards the moors of the High Peak were mine to enjoy. That wasn’t all since Taxal Edge, Pym Chair and Cat’s Tor all blocked any view of the Goyt Valley and its reservoirs. Those hills and the valley in question have been frequented by my boots on other walks so I made my way towards Charles Head and Kettleshulme. Getting to the latter proved tricky because the B5470 is a busy if narrow road devoid of footways so careful progress is a must if you are not to get knocked down. This is not an escape route to civilisation for the hill wanderer until you reach Rainow and it certainly is no road to be walking in the dark.
Kettleshulme was to be the end of my walk on a wonderful day in equally wonderful surroundings. The public footpaths followed shared a property that pervades much of the public footpath network in England and Wales: haphazard waymarking. This makes it essential to be on the ball with your map and your compass; GPS would help too. Where things got tricky, I kept it simple and, since my plan was fluid, any diversions taken were no disappointment. In fact, they added to the experience.