Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Macclesfield Forest and Shutlingsloe

I used to have a client near Alderly Edge and for 12 years regularly drove over the Cat and Fiddle from Sheffield.  I must have done the journey more than 100 times and looked over at Shutlingsloe, on each occasion thinking I should make the detour sometime to climb it. It also features in a children's story, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, which has an edge of the seat climax involving a giant chicken with the body of a woman chasing the main characters over the summit. I hope that hasn't spoilt it for anyone.  I've also read (somewhere) that Shutlingsloe is sometimes referred to as the Matterhorn of Cheshire.  Well that seems a little hyberbolic but it is nevertheless a fine shaped hill from any aspect.

This walk was taken from a book of Derbyshire walks I've had for about 10 years.  I'm not sure if I've ever actually done any from it - I bought it mainly for the photographs (and it was cheap!)  It starts at the car park by Trentabank reservoir, on the edge of Macclesfield Forest, and bimbles its way west along forest tracks before turning south to pass through fields, generally following the Gritstone Trail and arriving after a short, steep pull, at the Hanging Gate pub, which sits balanced, precariously, high on the edge of the Cheshire plain.

The Hanging Gate

Since we were experiencing a heavy rain shower, there was little hesitation in going inside (it would have been foolhardy and irresponsible not to do so).  The snug, with its welcoming open fire, is one of the snuggest snugs I have ever seen, with space for about 6 intimately close friends. They do good chips!

Our route continued through the gate opposite the Hanging Gate and gave us the first views of Shutlingsloe, which were quite magnificent.

Shutlingsloe from the west

Shutlingsloe again - well it was just a nice view although nothing like the Matterhorn

The clouds lifted and we continued along a path in a manner, which if not aimless was somewhat erratic.  Navigating over farmland has never been a strong point.

We spurned the Crag Inn at Wildboarclough and headed up the road towards Shutlingsloe Farm and the final push to the summit. Well it was more of a puff and a grunt actually.  A push would have been most welcome. How those kids ran up there I don't know, though I guess being chased by a half crazed, chicken legged woman would focus the mind somewhat.

The views from the top are very fine.  On a clear day, you can see mountains in North Wales - or at least that's what the book says.  All we could see was a vague hint of elevation beyond the incredible flatness of the Cheshire plain.  Oh and the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, which, spookily, seemed to have been tracking us throughout the walk.

On the summit of Shutlingsloe

An eye onto the heavens - the big dish of the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank

Looking towards Macclesfield forest and the path back to the car

It was blowy up on top, so we didn't hang about for long and it started to rain again just as we neared the forest boundary.  In fact it carried on being showery and from the top of the Cat and Fiddle we followed a rainbow all the way back to Sheffield.

We chased this rainbow across Derbyshire but never did find the pot of gold.  It's an allegory on life.

Distance: 7 miles, 1600 ft ascent.


Anonymous said...

Brilliant writing! Loved it! Will have to head over and do it for myself.

Pennine Ranger said...

Thanks for your comment Helen. I think there are quiet a few good walks to be done in that derbyshire, cheshire, staffordshire area. I've had a few good mountain bike rides around there in the past.