Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

A hub for numerous hill country wanderings

3rd March 2012

January’s walk from the Cat and Fiddle Inn to Buxton caused me to recall other walks that started or ended at the Cat and Fiddle Inn. When I set to pondering the trip report for that hike, the idea of collecting them together as a preamble to the trip report was stymied by there being so many of them over the years and there could (and should) have been more than these.

Thus, that planned preamble has been moved here. Most of those walks that featured the Cat and Fiddle Inn at some point in their route started from there and I only recall one that finished there. Another this that strikes me is that many of their number took place before this blog existed so I reckon that it’s no harm recalling them here. As it happens, time has made the memories of some more vague so it’s best to recall them somewhere before recollections fade further. It seems that writing those trip reports helps to reinforce memories and it helps to be able to return to them later too.

Cat and Fiddle Inn, Macclesfield, Cheshire, England

Buxton to the Cat and Fiddle Inn

The first on this list is what I believe to be the only walk from Buxton that landed me at the Cat and Fiddle Inn. It was a snowy affair and Buxton was snow-covered when I got there. Coming from the south-west of Ireland, as I do, meant that the sight remained a novelty even under slate grey skies as I lingered next to the cenotaph on The Slopes in the heart of the town. My next port of call was Poole Cavern Country Park where I passed through woodland with a white coating on its floor. That there was a snow shower as I went on my added to the magic of the experience.

From there, it was a matter of stitching a few public footpaths together to get me to where I wanted to be to await my bus home. As I continued west, the snow cover grew more tenuous. It was patchy as I passed the HSE Laboratory but I seem to recall seeing a snowman by the side of the A54 as I passed that way. The A537 was encountered after that and quiet lanes got me to my stopping point for the day. Looking at the map again, it seems that I may have passed Dane Head as I plied my way though I seem to remain no images of its appearance that day though sunshine was not plentiful. The year is one I cannot name either, but why does that matter when the experiences live on regardless?

Following the River Dane to Rushton Spencer

There are some years that don’t get forgotten and 2004 was one of them for a few reasons. The summer was a washout though I did manage to pick off the best of the weather for a visit to the Western Highlands in Scotland during August before a wet autumn descended on us. Though I did manage a sunlit visit to Snowdonia in the previous month, my main memory still remains that 2004 wasn’t a great year for walking.

The weather-induced autumnal hiatus caused me to leave walking aside until early November and I was more than ready for a walk at that stage. Thanks to the weather, sodden terrain and soft going was my lot as I hiked from the Cat and Fiddle Inn to Rushton Spencer. Though it left me with very muddy boots, the conditions did nothing to dispel the sense of satisfaction gained from getting out of doors again. The dirty footwear wasn’t an impediment to catching a bus home that day either, though the current state of the public finances has meant that it no longer runs these days. Hopefully, we may see a bus connection between Macclesfield and Leek again, most likely in better times.

After a soundtrack taking me by Danebower Hollow, the Dane Valley Way was to convey me for the rest of the way. This was where I met all the mud under overcast skies with a foolish footstep leaving me with a leg sunk in mud up to the shin in a gateway, always problematic places due to animal traffic and congregation. Three Shire Heads was behind me at this stage with a return needed for photographic purposes; that had to wait until January 2012, so there’ll be more about that in time. Maybe I’ll repeat the walk in similarly sunny conditions to refresh my memory and make the most of what’s there.

Via Shutlingsloe to Macclesfield

While out on that November 2004 stroll, I spotted another footpath that caught my attention, but a few years were to follow before a hillwalking year was begun with a hike that made use of that route option. Then, I walked from the Cat and Fiddle Inn to my home in Macclesfield and took in a windswept Shutlingsloe before dropping down from there through Macclesfield Forest to start a more level route for the rest of the way. Then, ground conditions largely were favourable, apart from a section in Macclesfield Forest, and the day stayed dry, though the sun wasn’t as free of the cloud cover as might have been hoped. It did nothing to take from the fact that 2009 got its debut as a walking year at the end of that January.

To Buxton via the Goyt Valley

March often sees a whitening of the countryside at its start and one such episode of this caused me to abandon a planned trot around the Derbyshire Dales in 2006 (shortly before I started what you find here) to embark on one that skirted Shining Tor and crossed the Goyt Valley to reach Buxton by following the Midshires Way. It was the white coating that caused the change of plan since not many scenes like that which you see above were my lot until more recent years. The result was that I wasn’t going to leave this chance to go on me, and plenty of snow was trodden though there remained patches of ground that lay uncovered too. Long-time followers of these musings should be aware that I have met with more snowy conditions since then.

To Whaley Bridge via Shining Tor and Kettleshulme

Wild Moor from The Tors, Rainow, Cheshire, England

As if to pause the pre-Christmas rush in 2007, I took a day off from work and a local hike ensued. It took me from the Cat and Fiddle Inn over Shining Tor and onto Whaley Bridge via Pym Chair and Windgather Rocks. A route was found that avoided much of the B5470 to drop from Kettleshulme into my final destination for the day. The trot had taken me along frozen hillsides in glorious winter sunshine so I didn’t decry the declining light on the final stages of the walk.

To Macclesfield via Shining Tor, Lamaload Reservoir and Rainow

This was a variation of the above route that actually preceded; it might have been the overcast skies on the first time around that resulted in a partial repeat. On that Sunday, I walked from the second-highest inn in England as far as Pym Chair. Though I am making do with disjointed stored mental images, I believe that I made way from there to Thursbitch before turning in a switchback manner for Redmoor and then Lamaload and Rainow. It looks like an indirect yet intriguing course of travel and the switchback section in embedded in my mind, though I wouldn’t have associated walking by Lamaload with this day out. With that surprise in mind, I reckon that re-walking this part would be no bad idea. After all, it feels that a memory bank needs refilling and there are plenty of other options in these parts. They may keep me busy for a while yet.

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