Long Walks in December 2018

5 Dec 2018 Gawsworth  Walk Leader: Beryl, Length of walk: 8 miles, Driving Distance: 12 miles, Number walking: 15

Beryl was pleasantly surprised that so many walkers turned up to join her; the weather was wet and forecast promised more of the same. Sensible people were at home cataloguing their book collection or anything that can be done in a dry room. We were so keen to get to grips with the soggy conditions that everyone set off before Bill arrived to take the money. This was a mistake; we should have told him we were on the way but enthusiasm overrode logic. Bill and his flock eventually met and parked up between Gawsworth Hall and the Harrington Arms.

We immediately left the road and squelched south to North Rode. The leader assured us that there was no shelter at all on the route but Dave had other ideas. Using his renowned technical expertise he opened the porch door of North Rode church so that a few of the party could take a drink in dry conditions. The rest of us had to take what shelter we could find under dripping yew trees.

After this interval we walked down to the dam that holds back the fishing pond with the giant plug hole. There was some speculation as what would happen to someone who fell into the plug hole but the risk could be averted by inserting a turbine to generate electricity. We moved on without incident to the site of North Rode station, which in the olden days (before 1962) sat at the junction of the Churnet Valley railway and the main line to Manchester. Nothing remains to show a station was there.

We walked through a flooded low part of the road to reach the Macclesfield Canal just above the Bosley lock flight which features 12 locks in the space of 1.25 miles to lift the canal boats 118 feet. We were at the top of the flight and we walked the canal north to our lunch site at Danes Moss nature reserve.

On the way we saw some workers engaged in dredging soil from the canal bottom. As we passed they were all busy gazing into a huge machine which wasn’t working and wondering why. We wanted to ask how they managed to dredge without making a hole in the canal bottom but they were busy with their problem so we passed on. They did appear to be dumping the spoil on a nearby field. A fine example of recycling! Later we passed a barge in the centre of the canal which held a digger but nobody was with it.

Bill took some pictures of our soggy picnic before we climbed the biggest incline of the day – the footbridge over the railway. This took us into Danes Moss which had been a source of peat for fuel but is now a nature reserve containing 7 species of sphagnum moss, 11 species of dragonflies and damselflies and 19 species of butterfly. That is what has been recorded there but as we tried to avoid the remains of the narrow-gauge railway used to remove the peat and keep out of the muddiest parts of the path, we probably missed the important features.

The return trip took us into the grounds of Gawsworth Hall where we passed the statue of Robert Peel. This used to stand in Peel Park Salford but was removed to make way for an extended technical college in 1954. Christopher Richards bought the statue and displayed it (all except the missing left hand) by the footpath in 1969. Christopher is the son of the Cheshire historian Raymond Richards, who acquired Gawsworth Hall and restored it after World War II.

Apart from a few minutes while we walked the canal towpath, the rain was constant and it is to be hoped that everyone’s gear will be dried out for next week. Then we can do it all over again.

The picture of the plug hole in snow was obviously not taken on the day and its copyright is attributed as follows:

The Fish Pond overflow, North Rode Manor

cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Peter Turner – geograph.org.uk/p/3314061