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!

From home to Shining Tor and back

17th June 2024

During June 2020, restrictions were being slackened. One thing that peeved was the sluggishness in allowing greater usage of public transport. Not being able to drive a car meant I felt discrimination against me, while car users got more freedom than I had. Later in June, that did get sorted, and I later learned that one person ignored the restrictions and used public transport anyway. That was much further than I was willing to go, though my compliance with the restrictions was not perfect either.

From home to Shining Tor and back

Whatever what my actual plan for the day was, that is lost to me now. My hike had me making a beeline to Lamaload Reservoir, sticking to road walking until I had passed Rainow. Then, I left that for a public footpath before getting as far as Ginclough. Nevertheless, I still was in the Cheshire portion of the Peak District National Park.

My recollection of this is that much of the way from my house was people free, giving me a necessary opportunity for relaxation. Once off-road, that was not to halt. My direction may have been taking me towards Common Barn, yet I was to change from that to descend towards the waterworks at the base of Lamaload Reservoir.

From those, I needed to regain the height that I was after losing to pass the reservoir on its northern side. That got me to Hooleyhey Lane. If I intended to circumnavigate the reservoir, the draw of Shining Tor was too strong, and I began the steep ascent from the lane to get there.

After the initial slog, the gradients slackened for a while to allow admiration of the surrounding views. Cats Tor and Windgather Rocks were to draw my eyes to the north as much as the valleys to the east of these. The gradients stiffened again for the final ascent of Cheshire’s county top. After a largely unpeopled journey, I was to encounter more here.

The cause was something that I noticed throughout that summer, the presence of a car park. It was if many thought that driving out of town made for a better approach. Since this quietened the stroll between the attraction and urban surroundings, I could not complain too much.

The descent to the Cat and Fiddle Inn was not at full speed, since social distancing remained a necessity while vaccines were being tested and finalised. Like many pubs, the inn was trading as a shop at the time, and I was tempted to buy refreshments. However, there was a significant queue because of restricted numbers allowed into the premises and customer demand. Thus, I continued on my way.

A walk featuring Lamaload Reservoir was extended as I got lured as far as Shining Tor before descending to the Cat and Fiddle Inn and then continuing home, passing Wildboarclough, Shutlingsloe and Higher Sutton on the way. Predictably, more folk were encountered around Shining Tor and the Cat and Fiddle Inn (trading as a shop at the time) but there was plenty of space to wear off any grumbles about lack of social distancing. An ascent of Shutlingsloe will need to wait because it is a small honeypot in these times and might have been too much for tiring legs in any case.

From home to Shining Tor and back

From home to Shining Tor and back

From home to Shining Tor and back

From the Cat and Fiddle Inn, I set off on a bridleway leading to Danebower Hollow. Reaching the A54 did little to serve my purposes, so I instead descended through Danethorn Hollow to reach the track shadowing Cumberland Brook and taking me towards Clough House. This downhill stretch was a stern test for limbs wearied by the preceding ups and downs, particularly when a rough track was involved.

In hindsight, the car park at Clough House probably would have been best avoided for better social distancing, yet I did not delay my moving on from there. Instead, I made for a public footpath that took me by Banktop. This would have been a route possibility for Shutlingsloe, but for at least two considerations. One was the amount of space on the summit and how many people would be there. Another was my wearying state at the time and the heat of the afternoon at the time. That was to be sated on a weekday later in the summer.

It might have been better if I could a descent to Nabs Road only to go uphill again on another public footpath. Passing through large fields on the way to Lower Nabs Farm took a little concentration and reminded me of an evening going along there with the prospect of declining light being all too real. The placing of colourful bucket lids made direction finding a lot easier then, and remained in place to offer the same help during this later summer.

From home to Shining Tor and back

Once as far as Greenway Bridge, I made a different decision to that earlier encounter when I continued along the road. With ample light, I used the public footpath to and past Oakenclough instead. There was more height to be gained, which gave me more views of Shutlingsloe from a different angle before I reached the last higher point on my walk. Gradients levelled a while before I began a gentle descent towards the Hanging Gate Inn.

From home to Shining Tor and back

There may have been a short public footpath cutting off a little road walking, but it passed through the pub grounds and I thought it to be better to remain on the road instead. Tarmac tramping was no insult to my sensibilities at this stage because there were good views to enjoy. After passing Higher Sutton, Sutton was next with Gurnett afterwards. By this point, there were so many route choices for getting home that recounting which of these got used hardly matters now.

After all, this was an excursion made that good of a day with its warm sunny moments as well as cloudier wind-chilled ones. The mix caused no perturbation because there was nothing but dry weather on offer. As an out-and-back excursion from my house, it felt a little ambitious, but the only cost was fatigued limbs that a little rest allowed me to recover. The reaching of a county from one’s home only using one’s own power still strikes me as intriguing, too.

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