Archive for the ‘Peak District’ Category

Macclesfield Forest and Peak District Matterhorn   8 comments

Moving into October and the sunshine of our Skiddaw walk drifted into history as rain and grey clouds took over. A weekend in the NW staying with the Hard Man for a Saturday trip into Manchester for a footy match. A truly dreadful spell of weather had us dodging floods on the way in and a soaking on the way to the match. On the upside we found an awesome new spot for breakfast and Man City won the game. Afterwards a very convivial afternoon spent in the pub drinking beer and a curry afterwards as the rain stopped.


Forecast for Sunday was pretty good so we met up with UF for a walk around Macclesfield Forest. It was extremely busy and we only just found a spot in one of the more remote car parks. However the sun was shining so we set off in good spirits.


Macclesfield Forest is s lovely spot for an easy Sunday walk. Mixed woodland and a succession of reservoirs make for interesting views and diversions.


A view across to Teggs Nose Country Park, more of which later.


Ridgegate Reservoir.


We stopped for a cuppa and lunch by Trentabank Reservoir. The weather so far hadn’t been as sunny as promised but from here onwards the skies began to really clear and we had some fabulous views for the remainder of the day.


Onwards to the Matterhorn of the title.


Shutlingsloe is relatively diminutive in height at only 506m but its isolated position and steep summit make it a very obvious landmark.


Its has some marvellous views and is one of my favourite small hills.


Selfie – I was happy, honestly, not good at smiling in photos.


We managed to find a sheltered and sunny spot on the eastern flanks for a rest and contemplation.


The rest of the party contoured around the summit but I went back over. Its always worth a second look around from the top.


There is no marked path over Buxtors Hill back to the car but there is one. Very boggy at first (there is netting to prevent being dragged down to a peaty hell) but the views over the forest and the Cheshire Plain are immense.


This short stretch has become a real favourite of mine.


Our walk was effectively a circuit of this broad forested valley.


It was a relatively short walk and we finished earlier than planned and had eyes on a evening meal before we headed home. To fill an extra hour we drove around to Teggs Nose Country Park for another short stroll.


Its an interesting spot full of old quarry workings and machinery and with more immense views.


A look back over our route from earlier in the day, Shutlingsloe centre.

A great day out to end a fine weekend.


Bleaklow Revisted   22 comments

One of semi-regular get togethers with friends from across the country for a day walk. We managed to convince the Yorkshire contingent down from Harrogate to join us for a Peak District wander. We settled on one of our classic walks from yesteryear, Dowstone Clough onto Bleaklow returning via Doctors Gate.


Breakfast in a great cafe in Glossop set us up for the day and we met up in Old Glossop and headed for the moors.


We discovered the delights of Yellowslacks Brook and Dowstone Clough in my University years. In those pre-car days reaching Glossop involved one of the worlds longest (or so it seemed) bus rides. It used to take the best part of two hours to reach Glossop from central Manchester. The trains never seemed to run to Glossop on a Sunday (no idea why) and Saturday was normally spent curing a hangover. Heady days.


We discovered Dowstone Clough by accident back then. Seeing an interesting looking valley in the distance we decided to take a look. We went back many times over a few years but I’ve not been up here for maybe 20 years.


Its a superb valley with a couple of quite decent waterfalls and several small cascades. You can pretty much take the whole riverbed direct.


Sadly we were in the worst weather of a showery day when we were on this section, heavy rain and a chill wind had me reaching for hat and gloves.


Its still a superb stretch of walking and I urge you to seek out its charms when up this way.


As we approached the top of the stream where it emerges onto the vast plateau of Bleaklow the rain stopped and the sun came out.


What struck me was how much Bleaklow has changed. I’m not entirely sure how but they seem to have regenerated the grassland up here. What used to be vast expanses of dark, black peat were now swathed in grass and the whole area had a green rather than a black look. I always thought the peat expanses were natural and in a way I quite liked it. Seeing it now restored its completely stunning.


We stopped for a brief rest and lunch at Hern Stones as more dark and threatening clouds gathered. We thought we were in for a real soaking but it seemed to pass us by and we barely needed waterproofs.


In the intervening years they have also paved the path across the plateau making it a superb high level stroll rather than a trudge through bog and peat.


Doctors Gate is a real Peak District Gem. It suddenly opens up beneath your feet as you descend from the Pennine Way.


A glorious green valley, twisting its way back to Old Glossop. Every step is just a joy. I came up here many times when I lived in Glossop for a short period in the 90’s.


We talked about many things. About Politics, Sport, Brexit and the complete lack of real world common sense that our kids seem to be proficient at.


The sun beat down on us for most of the way down and the wintery feel of the rain in Dowstone Clough turned back to summer again.


Looks can be deceiving though. The next two photos were taken at the same time looking in opposite directions.


By the time we reached the cars it was chucking it down with a vengeance and we sheltered in the Yorkshire Van for a cuppa before the long drive home. Superb day that rekindled some very happy memories from long ago.


Football Follow Up   13 comments

Every year round about this time me and TJS head up to Manchester for a football match, a few beers and a curry. This year it was against Bournemouth, decent game, City won and despite some dreary weather, and a bad cold for me we had a top day out.  We stayed over with The Hard Man to the west of the Peak District and were hoping from some decent weather and a long walk. November delivered another dismal damp day but not bad enough to deter us from a  shorter walk. With a  few hardy souls we parked up near Bosley Reservoir for a walk over a couple of the smaller hills. Sadly no new Marilyns for me although I did get a view of one from the car of Bosley Cloud.


The first mile or so along the shore of the reservoir was muddy but pleasant enough and it had actually stopped raining for now.


A few nice shots of and through the trees.


Steeply up through the wet grass and mud (and some very slippery stiles) on to Sutton Common with its massive telecom tower. Sitting right on the edge of the Cheshire Plain the views are expansive and considering the weather not at all bad. The white dot in the middle of the photo is Jodrell Bank telescope.


Still plenty of storms and showers that we seemed to miss the worst of. The top of the tower in and out of the mist.


On the top it was windy and cold and not a day to linger. Probably not the best idea to head out into the cold damp weather with a head cold but I reckon sitting cooped up inside is just as bad.


As we dropped down onto the ridge of Bosley Minn or Wincle Minn (my map shows both names on either side) there were some shafts of sunlight that gave us views to make the walk very much worthwhile more than just exercise.


We were back home at The Hard Man’s place for a late lunch and several brews of tea and cake.


A great weekend with plenty of laughs (if The Hard Man offers to show you his photo collection then I’d decline if I were you), good company and exercise with beer and curry thrown in. What’s not to like!

And with that I’m up to date on the blog for the first time in about 6 months!

A Review of 2017   18 comments

I’ve read quite a few blog post in the past few days reviewing other peoples 2017 exploits. I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d do the same. Good excuse to look back through my photos and remember what we got up to. At my age I need help remembering stuff!.

Acutely conscious of the modern trend for these awful “round robin” letters you get at Xmas (we get one of these smugograms every year) I tried to select photos that bring back a particular memory for me so its more a personal, family introspection on outdoorsy stuff, than a blow by blow account of the year. As its based on my photo collection if I didn’t photograph it, it ain’t here!


We started the year off in Tenerife and New Years Day was spent on this rather splendid beach (the earlier part of the day was in the mountains but I cocked up the photos from that part of the day!)


Returning to the British winter, a walk along the Cats Back in the Black Mountains with TBF, memorable for a cloud inversion after a very wet morning. A reminder that despite our travels we are lucky to have some stunning scenery on our doorstep


A solo day out in the Brecon Beacons, the first snowy walk near to home and pretty much the only one with significant snow during the early part of the year (made up for it at the end)


A glorious day out in the Black Mountains with TJS and a cooked breakfast on a cold Table Mountain. I like this photo though as it has Mynydd Troed in centre shot, my very first mountain climbed when I was about 10


And my usual skiing trip (only a weekend this year) to finish off the month. Snow was a bit rubbish but we had a laugh nonetheless



Another solo day on Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. I remember this day for a very mild Friday afternoon (16C) and snow in the mountains 18 hours later


A short walk with TBF on Hatterall Hill



The first weekend of the month is always spent in Scotland with friends of long standing. A new location at Bridge of Orchy and a two out of three days were magnificent winter days. The walk along this ridge high above Rannoch Moor on the first day was superb


Me and TJS also managed a cheeky backpack into the Black Mountains. Straight from work on the Friday for a one nighter in my new tent. Need to do more of these this year


2017 is the year I rediscovered cycling – mainly to help my knee and also to be less of a lazy layabout during the week. The Hardman – a VERY keen and VERY fit cyclist caught wind and insisted we meet up in the Peak for a trip along a couple of the old railway trails. A cracking sunny day and I survived cycling with the Hardman!


And we finally managed a meet up in the Berwyns with Uncle Fester after a few aborted attempts



More cycling and solo trip through the Brecon Beacons on the “Gap” route. Cycling to over 600m was a first for me and I started to feel that I almost, might, actually enjoy cycling.


Easter and a major backpacking trip with TJS to the Cairngorms. The weather was wild and windy but we had a couple of superb wild camps and TJS bagged his first Scottish 4000 footer


I even coaxed TJF out for a bike ride along the Brecon and Usk canal


May Day weekend was mostly in April. Mixed weather but we had a fine gaggle of friends on a hike around Greendale, taking in Buckbarrow and Seatallan



No finer way to celebrate a birthday than a lunchtime hike. This one was on one of my local hills, Bryn Arw with TBF


Followed by a weekend away in Cornwall. It almost felt tropical on the white sands just north of Padstow on one of our walks


Whitsun weekend was spent with our good friends in Silverdale. The Sunday was a real winner with a long but easy stroll and a fantastic pub lunch. Weather was mixed the rest of the time but great company, many laughs and a chance to relax



A different walk from the usual mountains. One of the small hills that overlook Gloucester and across to the Cotswolds. Not something I’d do every day but a nice change


One of the highlights of the year was the long-planned backpacking trip with the kids into the Howgills. Despite poor weather we gave it a go and it was a huge success. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and I’m hoping they have caught the wild camping bug



After the backpack trip I was out of action for a few weeks recuperating and resting after a minor knee op. Didn’t affect my water based fun though, a nice albeit far too long trip down the river Wye


By the end of July I was back in the hills again (the knee op has been a great success I’m pleased to say). A fine evening stroll with TBF and TJS on Ysgyryd Fawr (we even took a cheeky cold beer to drink on the top)


Another “local walk for local people” – this time Garway Hill where we reached the top, saw this nasty storm approaching and raced it back to the car. We won.


Late July brings the annual camping trip to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula. We packed in lots of walks and beach fun in a very mixed few days of weather. My abiding memory though was this game of Kubb which was huge fun with both adults and kids alike taking it far too seriously and larking about in equal measure. A happy afternoon



The big family trip of the year, a rail trip around some of Europe’s finest cities. An real change from our usual outdoor camping trips and it was real success. We all took took to the city life rather well you might say. One of my best ever holidays. A few photos that made me smile

One of the many fountains in Paris (we called this one the fountain of throttled fish)


A monster thunderstorm in Turin


My favourite seafront walk in Venice


The Colloseum in Rome – of course


Schloss Belvedere in Vienna (courtesy of an unplanned extra couple of hours from a very late train)


The thermal baths in Budapest – “like taking a bath in a wedding cake”


A stroll along the Spree river in Berlin on a sunny Sunday afternoon


And the railway bridge over the Rhine in Cologne



Back to earth with a bump. A few days after the heat and sun of Europe we were walking in the Black Mountains in driving rain and cold winds!


But there was still enough warm weather left for a round of the hills near the Talybont Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons



A walk with friends in the Roaches on the dreariest day of the year (when everywhere else was sunny – I’m not bitter)


More evidence of my new found cycling passion (probably too strong a word). A ride around the tracks of the New Forest while TJS took a look around Southampton University


And why settle for one trip to see major cities when you can do it twice. As a special treat for TJS 18th Birthday we spent a week in Barcelona. Probably my favourite city but despite all its famous sights, this little known hill and its view overlooking the city was my favourite spot



After sunshine comes the reality of winter. A couple of cold but beautiful days. One in the Black Mountains on the Sugar Loaf and Crug Mawr


And one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountain


A delayed birthday treat weekend for TBF saw us in Padstow for a couple of nice meals and walks along the Cornish coast and Dartmoor



And last into the proper depths of winter. The first snows saw me and TJS head into the highest peaks of the Black Mountains


The day after saw the biggest dump of snow I’ve seen in my own backyard for many a year. Walks around my village in deep snow under crisp blue skies were wonderful


The start of the Xmas holidays is marked with an annual get together of my University friends and their families. Always great fun but this year we could climb the hills in snow (rather than wet rain) and play at snowballs


Finally coming full circle with a return to the Canary Islands to spend Xmas in Lanzarote and Xmas Day sunning ourselves on the beach


Well I enjoyed looking through my photos, choosing a few and reliving a great year. Hope you enjoyed it too. All the best for 2018 🙂

Roaches and Mud   12 comments

We try to arrange a group meet up for a walk around early October. This year it was a select band who gathered at the excellent Roaches Tea Rooms and Restaurants for a slap up breakfast that included my very first Staffordshire Oatcake, and very nice it was too.

A lot nicer than the weather that had let us down badly. The forecast was good but were in the grip of what my weather obsessed friend Uncle Fester called “The Cheshire Gap Effect”. In short, a bank of dreary cloud and drizzle hangs over the eastern Peak District while everywhere else was dry with some sunshine. Ho hum. Still, good company was a more than adequate replacement for sunshine and blue sky.


I used to love the walks around the Roaches when I lived near Derby. It was always a go to place when I was short for an idea (rare in the Peak as there is so much varied walking to be had). Hen Cloud was as steep as I remember. Sadly little in way of views as it was in the cloud when we got to the top. No sign of the fabled wallabies either (I think they died out in a cold winter about 20 years ago)


One thing the walk did deliver was a couple of new hills to climb as they were on private land when I lived up here but are now on access land. Firstly Ramshaw Rocks. They were extremely impressive but the weather was at its dreary worst while we were up there


Second was Gradbach Hill. Here we had the best weather of the day with some fleeting sunshine and blue sky



We stopped for a bite to eat and to enjoy the interlude before it rained again which it surely did



We paid a visit to Luds Church. Despite the fact I must have walked this area a dozen times and must have been through it, I don’t remember it. It’s a memorable spot so either I genuinely haven’t or I’m losing/have lost the plot


I was nearly lost for good in here. The mud in the photo above was about a foot deep. And I stepped in it. In trail shoes. In shorts. Nasty. In fact every inch of path we walked on the whole walk was slick with mud. Either it rained non-stop while we on holiday in Europe or there has been no sun to dry anything out. I don’t think I’ve ever walked in the UK and seen so much mud (as opposed to squelchy bog). That I slurped into deep mud was immaterial seeing as my feet were soaked anyway. I was still washing dirt off my feet several days later


Anyway, Luds Church was another highlight of a damp day




We finished our walk along the main Roaches edge.



A fine walk and we had some half decent views between the drizzle interludes

IMG_2380 IMG_2381


Hard to take decent photos on such a gloomy day but it gives the impression. Uncle Fester confirmed what we already knew, that a few minutes drive away on his way home the skies were clear and the sun was out.


Still a pretty good walk though and a long one at 11 miles. Trail shoes had to go through the washing machine to recover though 🙂



Cycling with the Hardman   20 comments

When I told people about this they were concerned for my welfare. Going cycling with the Hardman is like saying I’m off for a short stroll with John Muir. The Hardman is very serious about his cycling and despite his older years is seriously fit. He’s thin and wiry and in short everything I’m not. This is man who cycled from the coast to the highest road on Tenerife, a relentless unbroken climb of 2400m, in less than 3 hours. I’d agreed to go cycling in the Peak District with him. I sent him several “go easy on me” and “I’m really quite unfit” e-mails in the hope that I might stand a slim chance of returning directly home afterwards rather than via an oxygen tent in a lonely casualty department.

In the event he was a very considerate cycling partner, reducing his speed down to “middle aged mortal” level and allowing me and TBF to survive the experience intact 🙂

In truth the route was an easy one. North along the Tissington Trail, south on the High Peak Trail and back along the roads to the start. After an excellent breakfast at a garden centre (I had to wait for it to open, how sad is that at my age) we parked up the stunning village of Tissington ready for the off.


It was a cracker of a day. A clear blue sky is the perfect day for a visit to the White Peak. The green fields and the white stone walls seems to radiate light and warmth


The Tissington Trail is a wonderful vantage point (or stretch to be precise) to view it from on a bike as its elevated. More importantly the ascent is barely noticeable, in effect a flat ride. Perfect for us less fit types



We made easy and swift progress to Parsley Hay where the views were superb and we celebrated with a cuppa. The White Peak was my local hiking/stomping ground around 15 years ago when I lived near Derby and I used to love it. The mix of open grassy fields and deep limestone dales and gorges was always one of my favourite landscapes and its a real shame I don’t get back there often enough


Such was the quality of the day we headed up to the far end of the trail to see what it was like



This section was especially fine and the easy cycling in such wonderful surroundings was a joy. There is plan in motion to link the ends of the Tissington, Monsal and High Peak cycle ways. When complete it will be a quite superb 2 day circuit through some of the finest scenery in the UK


We headed south and back along the High Peak Trail. Another stop for a snack and a cuppa was in order but this section was exposed to the cold wind. We eventually found a really well sheltered spot just after this man-made causeway, itself really rather impressive



We left the trail at Brassington and had a rather excellent sweeping fast descent down the road. The price to pay was a short steep hill preceded by a ford (which the Hardman disappointingly refused to cycle through). Me and TBF were well chuffed to make it to the top without needing to push although a couple of stops to admire the scenery were required



The Hardman, being a more serious cycling type has a disturbing tendency to dress like a MAMIL!


A final lazy roll back down to Tissington finished a memorable ride of 30 miles. I may at some point start to enjoy cycling (don’t tell anyone)


Best way to finish off a great day and a superb weekend? A family meal at Wagamamas when we got home. Sorted!

A Day of Two Halves   8 comments

Yet another of our traditional weekends – this really is starting to make me sound old, which of course I am – is an annual weekend up a chez-Fester in Manchester for some football/beers/curry on the Saturday and walking on the Sunday. TJS joined us this time and finally after many attempts got to see Man City win a game. And a very good game against Swansea City it was too

Sunday had a forecast of grey skies clearing to some decent spells of sunshine. Uncle Fester is the local expert and suggested a walk around Macclesfield forest and up Shutlingsloe, one of my favourite hills in The Peak. We parked up at te head of Macc forest above the reservoirs and set off into the cold gloom.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

The morning was very grey with little sign of the promised sunshine. Still the walking was pleasant and it was nice to let someone else do the navigating for a change. We’d parked within a short walk of the summit but were on a route that kind of spirals around Shutlingsloe before climbing it at the end of the walk. Turned out to be inspired idea but for the first couple of hours there weren’t many photo opportunities worthy of the name.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

Still the walking was nice and the company good as we dissected many topics mostly football related and it’s always good to travel across new terrain

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

We reached the southern flanks of Shutlingsloe on a very fine traversing path and stopped near Higher Nabbs Farm for lunch. It was amazing how the temperature had changed. The day before had been mild and damp. Now it was bitingly cold. As we ate the skies suddenly began to clear and the sun came out.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

As we continued the traverse above Wildboarclough, the light just got better and better

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

Onward and upward, very upward as for all its modest height, Shutlingsloe is a steep bugger.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

There was keen and cold wind on the summit. Not a place to linger but the views were majestic.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

Less than 2000 feet high Shutlingsloe has a mountain feel and views to match that defy its diminutive size. The Cheshire Plain and the industrial spread of Greater Manchester make for fine views. Sutton Common and its transmitter made for a fine backdrop for the setting sun. Another small hill with disproportionately good views

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

It’s but a short walk back to the car and there is now a permissive path across Buxtors Hill. Boggy at first it soon becomes an extremely fine path above the forest and a really superb route. Well worth seeking out if you can survive the floating plastic matting on the really boggy bits.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

The light was fading fast and getting dark. A mist started to form in the trees and blow and waft about in a most beguiling manner.

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

macclesfield forest, shutlingsloe, wildboarclough, buxtors hill

A fantastic finish to a superb day


Shutlingsloe deserves to be better known. A superb spot and one of my favourites, climbed many times when I lived in Derbyshire. It felt good to re-acquaint myself from a new direction

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