Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Tegg's Nose & Shutlingsloe from Macclesfield

My brother in law Tim is taking part in a national three peaks challenge in the summer which I am hoping to join him on. He has been asking for my advice on gear and asking me to take him up a few mountains in preparation. I am always more than happy to help anyone who is doing the right thing in getting fit, asking advice and getting in some mountain experience before tackling what despite elitists pulling their nose up, is actually a tough and often life changing challenge. Unfortunately I haven't been outdoors much of late due to other commitments, lame excuse I know but as one of my heroes once said "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans". I've also managed to badly injure my ankle playing football which has now put me out of action for at least six weeks. A few weeks ago though we did manage to get out together for a decent walk in the Peak District. Tim has been scouring maps of his home town Macclesfield and its surrounding hills. He came up with an intriguing twelve mile circular walk from his folks house in Macclesfield taking in the famous neighbouring Cheshire hills of Teggs Nose and Shutlingsloe.

Macclesfield from The Hollins, Cheshire

We started our walk from Tim's folk's house just a mile up hill from the centre of Macclesfield. I nipped into the local corner shop for sugary treats and isotonic drinks to help my energy levels as I wasn't feeling at all fit having put on nearly nine pounds in weight since Christmas due to very little walking this year. We crossed the Macclesfield Canal and made our way up public footpaths towards Macclesfield Golf Course on The Hollins. The right of way was well sign posted through and beyond the fields just below the golf course. From The Hollins there was a panoramic view right across the Cheshire plains to the Sandstone Ridge on the horizon with the Welsh mountains far beyond. In close proximity was the urban sprawl of Macclesfield. The Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank was facing the opposite direction. Looking north west we could make out the waters of the wide part of the Mersey Estuary near Ellesmere Port and the huge hundred metre high tower of the massive Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, the largest cathedral in the UK and the fifth largest in the world aparently.

Tim descending Birch Knoll, The Hollins 

We ascended a small hill marked on the OS map as Birch Knoll but known locally as Noah's Hill, from the top of which looking south east we got our first glimpse of Shutlingsloe poking its unmistakable pyramid shaped head over Macclesfield Forest. I thought of Shutlingsloe and Teggs Nose as being some distance from Macclesfield as it seems like it in a car, but up here with them all now in view they didn't seem quite so far apart. After a short but tricky descent from Birch Knoll we crossed a few fields to reach a wooden footbridge over the River Bollin then continued along the path to reach Langley Road.

Wooden footbridge over the River Bollin, Cheshire

We turned left up Langley Road towards Langley Village then turned left up Main Road through the surprisingly idylic Langley Village. There were roadside fields with extremely cute Lambs in Langley Village which Tim had to drag me away from. The road bends to the right after Langley then becomes Clarke Lane which skirts the southern side of Bottoms Reservoir. When we reached half way along the reservoir we turned left to walk back down its southern edge. We then walked across the dam wall on its western edge to reach a bridge over its outflow. The Bottoms Reservoir swarming with hundreds if not thousands of Swifts that were taking advantage of some kind of insect hovering above the reservoirs surface.

Field footpath to Langley Village, Cheshire

Lambs with their mother, Langley Village, Cheshire

Bottoms Reservoir, Langley, Cheshire

We crossed the bridge over the outflow of Bottoms Reservoir then crossed Hole House Lane to reach the Teggsnose Reservoir. At Teggsnose Reservoir we walked down the road crossing the dam wall on the western side to reach the car park below Teggsnose Wood. Here we then turned left and ascended the main footpath through the wood that ascends steeply up Ward's Knob. The path was fairly steep but within minutes we were on the summit area of Tegg's Nose.

Ward's Knob ascent path, Teggs Nose Country Park, Cheshire

Tegg's Nose above the Ward's Knob ascent path, Teggs Nose Country Park

I have only ever seen the Tegg's Nose summit from the main road through the valley. When seen from the road it looks like a narrow broken summit. However this is the usual misleading aspect that you get when you look at a ridge end on. In fact the summit area was surprisingly wide with plenty of area to explore giving differing distant views and lots of geological interest. The summit was extensively quarried for centuries for its Millstone Grit. I was delighted to find there are visitor information boards at points of interest detailing the hills industrial and natural history.

Shutlingsloe above Macclesfield Forest, Cheshire

There are many viewpoints from Tegg's Nose summit. From one viewpoint we could once again see the unique unmistakable pyramid shape of Shutlingsloe poking up above the Macclesfield Forest on the other side of the valley across the reservoirs.

Stone Saw, Tegg's Nose, Cheshire

We walked around the eastern edge of the summit ridge to an area where the old quarry machinery including rock crushers, cranes and saws have all being fantastically restored and painted to provide another interesting feature.

Rock Crusher, Tegg's Nose, Cheshire

We continued north along the summit ridge path and passed an area of stunning rock strata on the left. It reminded me very much of the southern side of Mam Tor with layers of Gritstone boulders intersected with layers of weaker shale.

Rock strata on Tegg's Nose, Cheshire

We descended the popular path north off Tegg's Nose towards the Tegg's Nose Country Park Visitor Centre on Buxton Old Road. As we descended Tegg's Nose the views north opened up towards Manchester. In the distance I could make out buildings like the Beetham Tower that is just five minutes walk from my apartment.

Manchester City Centre from Tegg's Nose, Cheshire

We checked out the visitor centre but it was quite busy as there was some kind of fell race challenge taking place. To make the walk the circular route Tim had planned meant we now had to walk almost a kilometre along the Buxton Old Road. This wasn't great as there was no pavement, blind summits and fast cars. We survived and soon found ourselves at the junction with the A537 Buxton New Road at Walker Barn. Shortly after which we turned right down Crookedyard Road where we made a friend for life after feeding a lovely pony some lush roadside grass.

Friendly pony at Walker Barn, Cheshire

After a hundred metres or so we headed over a stile on the left and ascended the fields to reach a track running adjacent slightly higher up the hill. We followed this track to Warrilowhead Farm. The path rounded Warrilowhead Farm then crossed sloped fields. This was a lovely part of the walk with the path heading down into sheltered stream ravines that were home to Rabbits whose backsides we saw darting away.

Tim on the path beyond Warrilowhead Farm, Cheshire

The path eventually passed the front of a house at Ashtreetop and reached Hacked Way Lane. We crossed Hacked Way Lane and headed along a signed footpath into Macclesfield Forest. I find walking through pine forests magical. The fragrant smells, the soft and easy to walk on noise cancelling carpet of fallen needles, the crunch of broken off bark, twigs and branches under your feet, the distant twinkling noises of small streams and of course the beautiful giants themselves blocking out the rest of the world.

Tim entering Macclesfield Forest

The forest path was fairly wide at first. We passed what looked like an old game keepers cottage then reached a junction of paths and ascended the steep one signposted to Forest Chapel. The path came to a sudden dark entrance into a much denser part of the forest. It was quite scary looking and looked like something dark out of a Harry Potter movie.

Dark entrance into Macclesfield Forest, Cheshire

The path passed through the dark and denser section of the forest before opening out onto quite a bizarre section of the forest with trees spread out and leafless. The path heading straight through them whilst they stood defying the forty five degree angled slope of the hill they clung on to. I'm not too sure what type of trees they were but they were rather eye catching.

Tim walking through open section of Macclesfield Forest
Forest Chapel, Macclesfield Forest, Cheshire

The path came to to a track which led down to the small hamlet by the Forest Chapel. We had a look in the Forest Chapel and it was an impressive building. I am agnostic and not at all religious but I love churches, they are usually impressive and fascinating buildings. We had lunch on the seats in the porch of the chapel then headed south east then south along a minor road to reach the road junction by the Standing Stone car park.

Tim heading towards Shutingsloe, Cheshire

We crossed the road to reach the track that heads south skirting the far eastern end of Macclesfield Forest. We followed the track round the top edge of the forest until we reached the gate on the left at its highest point. We passed through the gate on to open moorland and crossed the well laid paith to reach Shutlingsloe. The path has been relaid with Pennine Way style stone slabs which have worked well keeping the path narrow and preventing erosion, as they have everywhere else I have seen them laid.

Shutlingsloe summit trig point pillar

After a short walk across the moorland and listening to my first Skylarks of the year we made it to the steep but very short ascent to the summit of Shutlingsloe.

Tim looking south from Shutlingsloe summit
Tim stood on Shutlingsloe summit
Despite wanting to admire the clear views stretching over Cheshire to the Mersey Estuary it was very windy and fairly cold on the summit so we didn't stick around for long and soon retreated back down the path.

Tim descending Shutlingsloe
When we re-entered the forest we turned left and descended the track all the way to the Trentabank visitor centre car park where Tim treated me to an Oatcake, a local delicacy. I have to say it looked tasty when the fast food caterer was cooking it on his griddle, but for some strange reason he decided to then stick it in a microwave which completely ruined it! Luckily the cup of tea he gave me was nice and washed away the taste of the disappointing Oatcake.

Cute lamb near Langley, Cheshire

From Trentabank we headed west along the road and walked past Ridgegate Reservoir then Bottoms Reservoir before retracing our steps back through Langley. Instead of heading back over the River Bollin and The Hollins we decided to stick to the road and followed it past the at Church House Inn at Sutton Lane Ends. At Gurnett we headed up to the tow path of the Macclesfield Canal and followed it back to Macclesfield. It is a scenic canal, narrow in places and banked by wild land and woodland on one side making it ideal for wildlife. The most striking landmark on the route we took was a bridge. The Macclesfield canal is famous for its Roving Bridges known locally as the Snake Bridges. This is a bridge that makes it possible for horses towing narrow boats to cross from one side of the canal to the other when the tow path changes sides. As you'll see from the photo below they are absolutely stunning. We had done twelve and half miles by the time we got back to Macclesfield and my unfit feet knew it. A fantastic walk with heaps of local interest which anyone can do from Macclesfield train station. Thanks Tim!

Roving Bridge or Snake Bridge, Macclesfield Canal

Route Map...

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