Outdoor Excursions

It's amazing how things develop. After all, this blog started out as a news section for the rest of the website. With encouragement from readers, it has become a place for relating my countryside wanderings and musings about the world of outdoor activity. Walking, cycling and photography all are part of what I do out-of-doors and, hopefully, they will continue to inspire me to keep adding entries on here. Of course, there needs to be something of interest to you, dear reader, too and I hope that's the case. Thanks for coming.

Category: Cheshire


Sunday, May 24th, 2020

Looking back on last year now, it strikes me just how I never went walking the countryside as much as I might have done. However, there were preoccupations weighing on my mind. Ongoing political events were among them but a then forthcoming upheaval in my working life was a more pronounced concern. The latter continued into this year but was sorted in March though it had limited excursions in January as much as the weather did likewise in February.

Whatever tricky challenges I had imagined for 2020, they became nothing compared to a new viral disease that had sent us all into lockdown. In my case, it also brought added tension that got the better of me in April. Chats with clinicians have helped and I am moving beyond the episode now thanks to clarification of thinking as much as daily relaxation exercises.

Throughout all of this, I ventured out of doors every day for physical exercise in the locality. Some days, I have contented myself with local parks (Riverside, Victoria, South and West) but my horizons have expanded on other ones. As well as walking, I have returned to cycling too in an effort to make the current time feel less confining. While fairer weather and the time of year add encouragement, it also is amazing how a level of restriction causes you to make more use of what you have and that applies to me too.

All the while, I have been seeking our quieter places for an added sense of relaxation. Generally, I would have sought solitude anyway but social distancing is another motivation. Living in Macclesfield, I am fortunate to have nearby hill country into which I can escape. Of course, others can have similar ideas and that is why I limit travel along both the Macclesfield Canal and the Middlewood Way.

Tegg’s Nose and Croker Hill have seen encounters along with a variety of local places like Henbury, Gawsworth, Bollington, Prestbury, Rainow, Siddington, Marton, Alderley Edge, Chelford, North Rode and Bosley. The latter list sounds fairly extensive in its disorderly arrangement but it is good to have such surrounding countryside when so many are staying close to home.

Some places like Henbury can be busier that might be expected so it is taking some time to learn how to ensure social distancing is ever improving. Cutting down on touching of surfaces and bringing hand sanitiser on an outing is part of the way of things at the moment though there have been little moral boosters as well.

It might any some but the pervasive of sunny days is a blessing too and I have been making photos as I go. It is amazing what new sights you can find on a local patch. For instance, Macclesfield’s South Park offers views of Shutlingsloe and Croker Hill that add to a sunny evening stroll. There are new rights of way to find and travel as well as amenities like Bosley Reservoir. It all helps to lift a mood and can grant you a quiet relaxing cycling or stroll if you get things right with timing. Going out when others are not inspired to do the same remains a possibility as much as finding where they have not been inspired to go.

A reprise in reverse

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

In my previous post on here, I mentioned the idea of having a fallback when inspiration is scarce for one reason or another. Fatigue can cause this as much as being otherwise engaged. As I found for a few years, it also can be the cause of your repeating yourself and that theme pervades this trip report.

The walk itself followed a route that I had traced several times before. Some of these are recounted on here and one from November 2012 prefaced an episode of considerable turbulence in my life that blended with others to make up the course of several years. The difficulty with going over old ground is finding something new to say along the way. To resolve that, you need to say a little more about a hike’s place in a sequence of life events.

April 2017 was to see the start of a spring sabbatical from work and that itself was the start of a sequence that led to my taking a career break. A kind of tumult was coming my way, much like the more emotionally charged one that struck in December 2012. The situations differed but the level of raw emotion was not so dissimilar.

Looking back on things now, the problem was in letting go of things. It is easy to set up a fairly pleasant life situation to be defended but there always comes a time when relinquishing what you have and replacing it with something else is the better course. Hindsight reveals this to be a recurring theme even it is not always so obvious at the time.

All of this was very far away on that last sunny Sunday in March 2017. After a fairly grey start to the year, this was a first sign of springtime and it came with a hint of summer. It was enough to get me out and about with many others getting the same idea. The preceding day saw me wander along the Goyt Valley and going from Disley to my home in Macclesfield was the leftover option of which I made good use.

Bollinhurst Reservoir, Disley, Cheshire, England

From my starting point at the village train station, I made for Lyme Park by way of the Gritstone Trail. Usually, I continue along the A6 before picking up another public footpath but it was too good to lose the chance of walking somewhere in midday sunshine that I only ever had seen under grey skies or in declining light. The track was largely quiet too but that was not to last.

Lyme Hall and the Cage, Disley, Cheshire. England

Though Lyme Park was a busy place, there were deer to be seen and I dallied a while before I set about leaving humanity after me as I thought. The fine day made for a rather different outcome because it took until after Sponds Hill before I truly had my own wider stretch of surrounding space. Even so, I was reconciled to the fact and enjoyed what views lay about me.

Looking east from Sponds Hill, Pott Shrigley , Cheshire, England

This was one of those days where patient sharing was in order and that acceptance also applied to pile of gravel left on the track itself. With pleasant surrounding views and the ability to continue moving, such a supposed irritation could be left after me. From an emotional standpoint, it proved ephemeral and that was just as well given what else was happening in my life and what was ahead of me.

The quieter stretch after Brink Farm allow me to set my own pace and I stopped on a broken down stone wall for some lunch. By then, skies were filling with cloud all the while but that verified the wisdom of my starting from Disley. Various added markers highlighted my growing proximity to Bollington as much as encountering more folk again.

At this stage, I was following paths and tracks that were so familiar to me, I could have got away without using a map. With well frequented stretches along both the Gritstone Trail and the Middlewood Way, the way home had a certain hint of autopilot mode about it as the walk came to its eventual end. The weekend had been good to me and more walking trips were to happen in 2017.

Travel Arrangements

Train from Macclesfield to Disley with a change at Stockport

An exceptional summer

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

The long dry spell that has dominated since April has some thinking back as far as 1976. There are some good reasons for doing so. In the Irish countryside, grass is not as plentiful and farm wells have gone dry. Over there, the extent of this has got farmers worried about keeping livestock fed and brought about water usage restrictions for everyone else. Temperatures soared to 32° C during June and roads melted, causing road closures and even bringing out gritting trucks for reasons completely at odds with their usual usage.

So far, 2018 can be said to have two seasons: winter and summer. Spring scarcely came at all and the northern hemisphere has been treated to a long hot sunny spell like few other summers. Fires have started, either naturally, through error or as a result of vandalism. The last of these defies reason yet it is said to have had a human cost in such disparate places as Greece and California. The moors around Manchester and Bolton had their blazes but these thankfully did not threaten life and limb as much.

My venturing into the world of self-employment had limited my enjoyment of the long sunny spells more than a general inclination to keep in out of the heat. Still, I got to spend a day around Edinburgh that took me by the Firth of Forth and the banks of the River Almond before venturing into the Cammo Estate and the heart of Scotland’s capital city. Any shady spots were relished because of the afternoon heat. The same applied on a day trip to Barmouth that took me strolling towards Cerrig Arthur before returning via the Panorama Walk while enjoy the views all around that part of the Mawddach estuary. The day was long and felt all the longer on a hot crowded train between Barmouth and Shrewsbury. What remains though are newly made good memories and they always outlast any recollections of ardour.

There has been a week spent in Ireland too with its usual mix of business and leisure. Evening walks took me by Springfield Castle and the village of Kilmeedy and it well bedecked in flowers everywhere you could look. Towards the end of the stay, much needed rain arrived but there was dry weather to savour before that happened. In fact, it may be that the idea of a trip for exclusively leisurely purposes can come to mind and there is a slot when it might happen.

Other than these, evening walks around Macclesfield have made pleasant use of the longer hours of daylight. No longer do I chide myself for not making good use of every sunny day that comes but using enough of them is sufficient nowadays. As long as the burdens of a working life are managed more carefully to leave enough emotional space, the energy and motivation could be enough to keep up my wandering.

The heat may have restrained things this summer but it also had me looking back through previous episodes that had me writing entries on here and that happened in both 2006 and 2007. In 2008, I even got to the subject of warm weather walking. Neither of these compares with 2018 and it even beat the benchmark summers of 1983, 1984 and 1989 that I recall from my childhood and adolescence. This has been a summer that will live long in younger minds as they mature and age. Surely, it will be the better bits that get recalled the most clearly.


Monday, June 18th, 2018

It is not often that you will see a statistical term as the heading for an entry on here but the cause is that, around twenty years ago, I took my first steps into online publishing. The exact date is lost to me but I am settling on the middle of June and that is the cause of the title. After all, this is an educated guess when accurate recollection has faded.

Back then, I was a university student unsure of what the future might hold. There was the act of writing up a thesis and having it examined before I found a way into a life of work that continuously conveyed me until last August when a much needed career break began. That ended last month with my starting out as a freelance consultant. Another adventure has begun and it brings its delights and agonies but the hope is that any added sense of autonomy, flexibility and space for managing my affairs would outweigh and any episodes of irritation. There is much to learn and that is its own motivation.

That changeover was not distracted by all the fine weather over the last few weeks. Priorities were such that a trip to Ireland in May brought more in the way of exploring than otherwise was the case. The city of Kilkenny was explored as was Castletown House near Celbridge in County Kildare. Various walks and cycles around my home in Cheshire have been complimented by episodes of website enhancement. The visible changes have been subtle but things should load faster now.

What has not been forgotten that there are trip reports outstanding and that recent round of website tinkering reminded me that I used to split some trip reports in several parts. That was opportune for those relating my Norwegian wanderings will follow that scheme. There will be one each for the 2016 and 2017 trips and there may be an introductory one too. Chances for such things this summer may be limited by the need to build up some savings again after a period of reduced earnings but time may bring its own surprises yet.

Wandering around by the Roaches

Sunday, April 15th, 2018

After the preceding post leaping forward to April 2017, this one returns to May 2016 when I walked from Leek to Macclesfield by way of the Roaches. It had been a while since I last explored these parts for there was a circular walk from Leek that took in Hen Cloud of a Sunday in a time when there was a direct Sunday bus service between Leek and Macclesfield (now, you need to travel to Stoke-on-Trent by train before travelling by bus from there). That was followed in 2009 with another Sunday stroll that took me from Leek back to Macclesfield while glimpsing the Roaches from afar. Both inspired the route of the more recent encounter because it linked the two towns of the second outing while taking in more of the hills that featured in the first. Given the lack of a direct Sunday bus service and a point to point walk not being compatible with the use of a car, it may not surprise anyone that this account tells of a Saturday walk instead.

Like its predecessor in May 2009, this hike also had a lunchtime start. With lengthening hours of daylight allowing more time of an evening, that was no issue and there also was a greater chance of seeing surrounding scenery in more flattering light too. That was just as well because the preceding sunny week had been beset with a fragile mindset. There might have been the foreboding prospect of a meeting involving senior management and work life was not going as I had liked either. Given energy, it was a useful time to go for a long walk.

Brough Park, Leek, Staffordshire, England

One thing that gave my spirits a lift was that I got more sunshine than was forecast. Clouds may have got in the way at times but there was enough sunshine to allow the making of memorable photos as I sauntered along. After getting off the bus before it went on a circuitous route around Leek, I started to encounter and enjoy my first spells of sunshine on the way to and across Brough Park on the way towards Haregate.

Tittesworth Reservoir, Upper Hulme, Staffordshire, England

From Haregate, I had planned on following a public footpath that would take me along the eastern side of Tittesworth Reservoir. A seven year absence made its presence felt by sending me along the western side instead. Faded memories and new building in the intervening period cannot have helped my route finding. There was no irritation though and I opted for a visit to the reservoir itself and a stroll all around it on a path then newly constructed by Severn Trent Water. My attire and rucksack must have looked like a case of overkill to any families who were enjoying the amenity but I was en route to other places that were more in keeping with my appearance.

Hen Cloud, Upper Hulme, Staffordshire, England

After leaving the reservoir following a call to the visitor centre for some sustenance and to address some ablution needs, there was some road walking before I found the route of the Churnet Way that I should have been using all the while. The road leading to Tittesworth Reservoir is narrow so I was happy to leave it after me because the pleasant afternoon meant that others were driving along it. Having to keep your wits about you all the time on a walk hardly is a recipe for relaxation and I had a better way of reaching Upper Hulme. After that staging post and a short stretch of a quiet lane, I was back threading on grassy ground again and with Hen Cloud in sight.

Having come around its eastern flank, I reached the saddle between Hen Cloud and the rest of the Roaches. Though it was by now late afternoon, the prospect of short up and down visit to Hen Cloud’s summit was too alluring to resist and it showed me just how popular the crags of the Roaches were with climbers for a line of parked cars could not be missed in these wilder surroundings. The ascent route was subject to diversions and the direct route that I followed involved some scrambling before I reached the top where gentler gradients and better paths prevailed. Thankfully, the way down was a gentler affair aside from having knee-testing gradients.

Doxey Pool, The Roaches, Upper Hulme, Staffordshire, England

After returning to the saddle, I made for those tops that I had been surveying from the top of Hen Cloud. Though the place is criss-crossed with different paths, I fancied sticking to the public footpath so my line was a less direct one around the eastern side of the Roaches. It meant that any encounter with climbers was delayed as I made my indistinct way uphill over ground that would be soggy if I came at another time. Doing so meant putting any qualms about route finding to one side because I can find myself fussing too much about such things at times. Soon enough, I was brought to the spine of the eminence and climbers were so well scattered as not to present any intrusion. It was becoming a quiet evening stroll and I was surprised by coming across Doxey Pool even if I would have spotted it on a map if I had planned things in more detail beforehand.

Ramshaw Rocks, Upper Hulme, Staffordshire, England

My preference is for keeping plans flexible because hill countries can be different to what you expect and I had been playing with the idea of a circular walk from Leek similar to the one I enjoyed in January 2008. The time of day and the pleasant surroundings decided me so a walk to Macclesfield was to occupy for the rest of any daylight hours. Possibilities for other excursions in the area were presented to me in the form of Ramshaw Rocks, another haven for crag climbers. It might be that a hat-trick of Leek to Macclesfield walks might be completed if I go around by these sometime. The prospect is an appealing one and could have made use of the sunny day on which I am writing these words. Sunnier and warmer weather is forecast for later in the coming week so that could have a use yet.

Trig point and weathered rocky outcrops, The Roaches, Upper Hulme, Staffordshire, England

The northern end of the Roaches is more rounded than other parts and is topped with a trig point that I reached during what was by then a sun-blessed amble. It too has its weathered rocky outcrops though and I was leave this as I lost height, first to reach a lane near Roach End and then to reach the River Dane near Gradbach after passing through Forest Wood where I had rested a while. It all seemed so calm that one could surmised that a piece of heaven had been encountered.

A short stretch of the Dane Valley Way beckoned before I passed a noisy scout troop camped near what once was a YHA hostel. It left me wondering why some felt the need to disturb the wondrous peace of such a location but I soon noted that the old hostel had been turned into an outdoor pursuits centre before a steep uphill climb presented itself after a crossing of the River Dane using a useful bridge.

Roache End as seen from near Allgreave, Cheshire, England

Ramshaw Rocks as seen from near Allgreave, Cheshire, England

One gradients levelled off, there was a lane crossing ahead of me before I started on a track that would convey me to the A54. While there was some disquiet in my mind about passing signs of a working farm, it was here that I also got some wonderful backward glances of where I had been. The added height meant that I could see as far as Roach End and Ramshaw Rocks from well within the county of Cheshire. Staffordshire may have been left for the day but it was not out of sight just yet.

That took a crossing of the A54 after which exploratory route finding was needed to ensure that I was on the right path. It was early evening by then so there was no soul to disturb with my wanderings. Others must come this way to for there was an honesty purvey such items as cartons of orange juice and I was to relish one of these after contributing the appropriate recompense. The village of Wildboarclough was my next landmark after some descent near Berry Bank Farm and getting there needed more attention to navigation.

After Wildboarclough, fields again were crossed to reach the lane leading to Greenway Bridge and the use of red and green bucket bucket lids to make out the positions of stiles was welcome given how far apart field boundaries were. Fields of suckler cows and calves were negotiated with signs declaring some leniency in the line of the path to be followed, never a bad thing given incidents where cows injure passing walkers though my farm upbringing adds extra experience that others may not possess.

At Greenway Bridge, I could have taken another path around by Oakenclough Farm but decided to stay with the road because of the time of day. That may have had the unintended effect of exposing tired legs to even stepper gradients but steady progress with a few rest stops got me to the road that was to take me down via Higher Sutton. Tarmac travel made for sore feet though but I was glad of the still easier progress as the sun was setting. Daylight stayed long enough for me to meet with street lights after Gurnet and not have to worry about its decline any more. It had been a good simple day out, something much needed after the complexities of the preceding week. The good weather continued for another day but my limbs needed recuperation so I limited myself to less strenuous enjoyment.

Travel Arrangements

Bus service 109 from Macclesfield to Leek.