2016 WALK REPORTS
Tuesday 12th January
The 13 who joined David Burke found much damp ground after recent rains, although only one short stretch was slippy. From Hague Bar we followed the swollen Goyt, then attractive woodland on a former tip, before enjoying the airy Millenium bridge. A heron was undeterred by the rushing water, while weirs made impressive waterfalls.
The hydraulic power was going to waste,as the much-vaunted archimedian screw generator was out of action, as it also was on our last visit. Devoid of summer leaf camouflage the Torrs displayed many signs of its industrial past – a real dilemma – should its industrial relics be preserved for ever , or should the gorge be allowed to revert to a unique natural state?
The rest of the walk was more straightforward, as we passed the Llama farm, ambled by the canal, saw more signs of past industry opposite Swizzels Matlow, then descended Burymiwick and skirted the watery floodplain meadows back to our cars. David's walk had been wet underfoot but very pleasant, and we thanked him as we went separate ways, some to tasty meals at the Sportsmans Rest.
Wednesday 27th January
Wednesday 24 th February
Tuesday 30th March
Ruth and Dave took 16 to Monyash and the delights of Lathkill Dale for the first time. The cool cloud brightened nicely during the varied and eventful walk. We passed Fere Mere, the only mere of 5 still to survive, and entered a muddy lane leading to a fieldpath in pleasant limestone walled fields, with evidence of lead mining by Fern Dale. A farmhand was bringing sheep and lamb families out to grass, one by one, from One Ash Grange Farm, whigh had several items of historic interest, before we trod carefully down the steep rocky staircase to Cales Dale, well-wooded and enlivened with birdsong.
Soon we were down the dale and crossed the bridge into Lathkill Dale, quite busy for an early year walk, but always a delight with its many limestone rock features and clear stream. At times we had to tread carefully between the large stones, especially as the dale narrowed into a mini-gorge. There was a herd of unusual cattle grazing on the upper slopes, while a Little Owl was spotted near the Lathkill Head Cave.
Then it was easy walking on on damp grass and a stroll along the village street to the substantial meals we enjoyed at the Bulls Head, thanking Dave and Ruth for our walk.
Tuesday 12th April
Walter took 9 to Tintwistle for a 4 ½ mile walk which took in the Arnside and Bottoms reservoirs. Promised views were mist shrouded, and firm paths had been badly softened by overnight rain, so care was needed. But in the atmospheric nature reserve air, Carol soon identified birdsong of Willow Warbler, Chiff Chaff, and Great Tit, distant Curlew, and low flying Swallows (near Swallow Wood!). The meadows were alive with new born lambs, while later on a few daffodils and lots of flowering gorse relieved the grey day. The old centre of Tintwistle surprised several by its attractiveness, with Toll Cottage, Stocks Brow, and 17C Bulls Head guarding the war memorial patio. Lunch was taken under the larch trees by Bottoms reservoir, and the forecast rain held off till we were almost back to our cars. It had been an enjoyable walk in a newish area, and a few made for the Peel Arms of Padfield to test their beers, or to have a second lunch.
Wednesday 27th April
Due to a family funeral for the Allertons, Walter took this walk, and visited Tintwistle again but on a alternative 5 mile route. 13 joined Walter, this time mist did not shroud the views or the hills, but we did have typical April weather, and even saw lying snow, remnants from an overnight fall. The walk hadn't been fully recc'd, so there was some exciting route finding to do near the end of the walk. Although the area had been covered only a fortnight earlier, the different directions and the different weather, made this walk seem unlike the previous one.
Tuesday 10th May
Sam had 12 for his 5 mile jaunt from Woodley, which surprised us by its rural nature. The walk had a pleasant mixture of canal views, woodland paths, old farms and folds, with wide but misty panoramas. Masses of bluebells and wild garlic provided a seasonal air and brightened our day.
A slight downside was the muddy and horse-trodden stretch behind the Joshua Bradley, whilst a highlight was the exciting Woodley canal tunnel – several hidden pools underfoot in the torchlit darkness – fortunately a sturdy guard rail was a big relief! But overall, Sam could tell we well enjoyed his choice of walk.
Wednesday 25th May
David took 14 of us (and a well-behaved dog!) to Hartington for a classic 6 mile route along Beresford, Wolfscote and Biggin Dales. Even on a grey day, the scenery never failed to delight, especially with banks of wild flowers in many spots, including early purple orchids and masses of cowslips in higher Biggin Dale. Earlier a dipper was resting on a rock in the middle of the river Dove. Later the easy return along Highfield Lane gave us wide views over the limestone hills of Derbyshire and Staffordshire as we returned past the historic Hartington Hall, now a youth hostel. David was well thanked for his lovely route.
Tuesday June 14
9 members set out from Rose Hill station along the Middlewood Way at 10am in very wet conditions. We took the Cown Edge Way to descend into a wooded valley and cross Torkington Brook. Out of the woods to follow Offerton signs and edge Stockport Golf Course to eventually emerge on to Offerton Road.
After walking through the Shearwater estate, where there was much evidence of flooding, we reached the busy Stockport Road, crossed Poise Brook and entered Holiday Lane. We re-crossed the brook and, after a short climb and descent, reached the River Goyt crossing via the Jim Fearnley bridge.
Turning right on to the Midshires Way we made our way to Chadkirk Chapel via Stockport Hydro and Vale Road to stop for a well-earned packed lunch. Crossing the river over the new bridge we turned left up Marple Dale to return to Rose Hill.
Total distance 5.5 miles although it seemed longer due to the slow going in parts, but everyone seemed to enjoy a walk which is literally on our own doorstep.
WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE
Merlyn led 16 (and 2 dogs) along a lovely stretch of canal from Bollington, before using field paths zig-zagging towards Swanscoe Hall. A climb up Kerridge Road, and we ascended above Swancoe Farm to reach our lunch stop on Kerridge Hill, slightly curtailed by a brief shower. Then followed a stroll on the ridge as far as “White Nancy”, with extensive views all around, before we descended by steps to the former Redway Tavern, and through pleasant streets back to the park and the Middlewood Way Visitor Centre.
As well as the attractive scenery, there had been all sorts of interest on the way, with Merlyn giving fascinating accounts of former industrial, transport, and historic features, so the group obviously enjoyed the 6 mile walk.
WALKING AWAY 2016
Sunday 26 th June to Tuesday 28 th June The venue for the Walking Away event was once again the elegant Keswick Country Park Hotel. Only moments away from the market town of Keswick the hotel stands in four acres of tended garden and walkways and enjoys views of Lattrigg, and Skiddaw. Purpose built as a railway hotel in 1865 by the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway Company.
This years Walking Away holiday began at the Coppice Station car park on the A591 about two thirds the way up Thirlmere in the Lake District. Getting to the start point involved a very scenic car journey through Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere.
The walk began in bright sunshine only to be replaced by cloud and later by light rain. Following a permissive footpath which was a little overgrown in parts our group of 28 walkers proceeded towards the slopes of Great How, a wooded hill at the head of Thirlmere for a picnic lunch. At this point and with the weather beginning to deteriorate a small group opted for a shortened and easier walk back to the car park whilst the rest continued on a path along the hillside to Stybeck Farm, Fisher Place and on to Piketoe Knott crossing Helvellyn Gill to return to the car park. An interesting if challenging walk of approximately 5.5 miles with some stony footpaths.
Once we had checked in to our hotel and after an excellent meal Walter provided the entertainment as only Walter can and we all had some fun including other guests who happened to be within earshot.
The forecast for Monday was quite good and it lived up to our expectations with lots of sunshine following on from a damp and dismal start. After a short bus journey from Keswick to Barrow Bay bus stop, close to the ancient and attractive Ashness Bridge where our walk began, our group for this longer and more challenging walk had slimmed down from the previous day from 28 to 20. From Ashness Bridge the route continued to the rocky ledge of Surprise View where normally there are splendid views of Borrowdale, Derwent Water and Keswick. Unfortunately the weather at this point decided to close in making the views much less impressive.
Continuing south roughly parallel with the lane we walked through woods on a wide stony path beside Watendlath Beck and on to the delightful hamlet of Watendlath, on the shores of Watendlath Tarn (noted as the setting for the home of Judith Paris in the novels of Sir Hugh Walpole)
After a picnic lunch at this scenic spot a small group of four opted to return to Keswick by a shorter and less challenging route. The remaining 16 walkers then continued on a stony path up Puddingstone Bank towards Rosthwaite. The rewards for this quite steep climb were the magnificent views ahead, of the white cottages of Rosthwaite, the lush green meadow in the valley below and the woods on the lower slopes of the fells. In the distance the head of Borrowdale appeared framed by majestic Lake District Peaks.
Having taken in these beautiful scenes whilst being careful on quite a steep and tricky descent, the route continued to Bowden Stone and on into Grange Village for welcome ice creams. From here the paths became much easier as we made our way back towards Derwent Water and the landing stage at Mary Mount Hotel, just in time to catch the 5.00pm ferry back to Keswick. A challenging but really enjoyable walk.
After another excellent meal in the hotel Walter announced that after 11 years of leading the Walking Group he was handing over to David Burke. The Group expressed their appreciation for all that Walter had put into leading the group and a presentation was made to him. David Burke and Jeff Mortimer also received presentations for leading the walks.
The entertainment on Monday evening for football enthusiasts was Euro 2016 Football with England v Iceland. Unfortunately England after a really dismal performance lost 2-1. For others Freda Mason organised a quiz in the lounge.
The forecast for the Tuesday, the last morning of the Walking Away event was not good, even so, a small determined group set off for the final short walk to Dodd Wood and Basenthwaite, which they managed to complete before the rain set in.
A very enjoyable Walking Away event which next year will in the Skipton area from 25th June to 27th June 2017.
Sam & Irene Chappell
WEDNESDAY 27th JULY
Ron and Marjorie Rennell took 13 to Curbar Gap and a five mile route along and underneath Curbar and Baslow Edges. Highlights were the wide-ranging views, close-ups of rock climbers at work, and the return through ancient woodland and heathery outcrops.
The only downside was a minor accident to one of our party who later needed a couple of stitches – the first time a visit to A and E has been required for a walker, to my knowledge. But otherwise it had been a lovely walk, thanks to Ron and Marjorie
TUESDAY 9th AUGUST
The War Memorial at Frodsham was the starting point of Walter’s walk, first taking us to the wide panorama of the Mersey valley; now scarred by a windfarm, blades silent in spite of a stiff breeze.
Initially the walk was below the thickly wooded Frodsham Edge. Carefully constructed steps took us down onto well maintained and pleasant tracks and paths. Twisted native trees gave way to a more ornamental mix, and later to the Foxhill Arboretum of the Chester diocese retreat. As we joined the Sandstone trail, the path was lined with alien Balsam and adjoined by Snidley Moor Wood. A short U-turn led to warm sunny grass walks, colourful with Ragwort, Willow Herb, and ripening Rowan berries – and a perfect lunch spot.
After lunch a short stiff climb gained an interesting viewpoint with relics of WW2 anti-aircraft gun surrounds, but our path was now above the escarpments, still wooded, then past blackberries, skirting Woodhouse Hill and its “Fort”, and along until we reached the scrambly Dunsdale Hollow. Fortunately Abraham’s Leap was dry and relatively easy, and the formerly scary Jacob’s Ladder cliff is now bypassed by strong metal steps, so we progressed confidently, later above quarries safely fenced off, until suddenly leaving the edge onto the extensive car parks of Mersey View and Forest Hills Hotel, and back to the War Memorial round the corner. Everyone seemed well pleased with our first visit to this part of Cheshire.
WEDNESDAY 24th AUGUST
Louanne and Peter took us to Errwood to climb Shining Tor, the highest point in Cheshire (formerly Holme Moss before Ted Heath rearranged county boundaries). At first it was steep climbing, then more gentle ascent, in ideal bright weather for walking, until we gained the top – and coffee stop. Much of the long ridge to Cats Tor had been paved with large flags, not quite wide enough for two abreast, and requiring watchfulness to avoid trips – but they did keep feet dry on potentially boggy ground. By now the sun was bright and hot as we made two right turns and followed the narrow trod to the shrine – and lunch. Hereabouts the grass was still damp and slippery, as two of our number found out; and erosion had made walking slightly trickier. But soon we gained the ruins of Errwood Hall, and a short path through rhododendrons to our cars after an excellent August walk, courtesy of Louanne and Peter.
WEDNESDAY 27th SEPTEMBER
Sam and Irene led a very pleasant walk in Macclesfield Forest, first skirting Nessit Hill and High Moor, then past the ruins of former farmhouse Ferriser and along to Chapel House Farm and the Forest Chapel for lunch.
We returned past the source of the River Bollin (which starts in Macclesfield, not Bollington!), and via the Visitor Centre to our cars. The weather had been good and the going firm so we all enjoyed Sam and Irene’s walk.
TUESDAY 11th OCTOBER
Jeff Mortimer took a small group southward to Wetton, not a usual direction for us. The group walked past Wetton Hill and to the long ridge of Ecton, where Jeff was able to explain many aspects of the copper mining history. A descent to the River Manifold Valley took them along the former rail route and a visitor centre at lunchtime, for handy shelter from a sudden rain shower.
A short stiff climb led to the fascinating Thor’s Cave, where one or two ventured inside. Further climbing led back to Wetton and the car, after a very interesting visit to a new area. Our thanks to Jeff for this walk.
WEDNESDAY 30th NOVEMBER
The November walk was led by Ruth and Dave, who led 22 on a pleasant circuit up to Eccles Pike from the Hanging Gate pub at Chapel, where most stayed to have a good value pensioners’ meal surrounded by a colourful mass of Christmas baubles.
WEDNESDAY 21st DECEMBER
In December, Walter took 29 on a circular tour of Hyde and Godley, starting at Hyde Chapel, Gee Cross (where Beatrix Potter’s parents married), ascending Werneth Low, then following Green Lane and a former railway line past Godley Green and finally coming up Gower Hey woods back to Gee Cross. A small tot of sherry helped us on our way as a rain shower threatened to dampen our spirits.
Afterwards, 31 squashed into the Stables Restaurant for a really excellent 3-course festive meal, rounded off by a presentation to Walter after leading the group for 11 years.