Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another Day at The Edge of the World.


Having dropped Stevie off at her mate’s in Congleton, on their way to Italy, I took the opportunity of a run around Macclesfield Forest on the far west of the Peak District. The area known as ‘Staffordshire moorlands’ has a uniquely wild and remote feel. It repays the extra time to drive from our side of the Peak.


For some strange reason I parked at the Cat & Fiddle, which was bleak in the extreme, with cold & driving rain. Having just come back from holiday in Turkey I was eager to get back out in the hills, but after 10 days at 40° C, wind, rain and 9° C was a bit of a shock.


I headed south from the Cat, passing groups of DoE hikers laden with dripping packs, and dropped down past Cumberland cottage, then up over the modest but elegant top of Shutlingsloe. On the summit I met two guys who needed directions back to their car at Clough House, and were about to set off in the opposite direction. They had been following a book of ‘Peak district walks’ but had lost it somewhere along the way, and had no concept of their location at all. Having pointed them in the right direction I carried on, glad to drop down out of the worst of the wind, and a while later found their guidebook and case beside the track.


I cut through the woods to Macclesfield Forest Chapel, a hamlet with the ancient and splendidly simple Chapel, used for some scenes in ‘League of Gentlemen’. Further on through the woods then down to the reservoir at Langley and a steep climb up to Tegg’s Nose. Here there is a fascinating partly restored stone quarry, but also this rocky hilltop forms the very edge of the Peak and there are unbeatable views across the Cheshire plain: at least sometimes. Last time I visited, walking with Jill, we were above a cloud inversion, creating spectacular views over an unbroken sea of white, which felt like the very edge of the world.


This time I looked out through the driving rain to an impenetrable wall of grey. Somewhere out there was Cheshire, Jodrell bank, eventually North Wales and Snowdonia. Maybe next time, or maybe this actually is the edge of the world.


I dropped back down into the valley and climbed up to the forest edge. Turning east into the wind along Charity Lane I was getting uncomfortably cold, and had to stop to put on an extra layer and warmer hat. My hands were cold but I looked at my gloves and thought, this is July, they are staying in the bag.


Heading back through ‘Bottom of the Oven’ I climbed back up to Buxton Road following a pleasant steep sided valley.  Finally back to the car and drove somewhere more sheltered, to get changed and head back to civilization.





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