Long Walks in December 2015

9 Dec Walk Leader: Keith Haines Little Moreton Hall Length of walk: 8.5 miles Distance to Start of Walk: 8 miles Number walking: 23

No correspondent was present to record the events on the day but two descriptive texts give a flavour of the walk.

A restful, gentle circular 8.5 miles through woods, fields and alongside canals and past a lake or two. Start from Little Moreton Hall. Lunch opposite a pub, so you might fancy a festive drink. Hardly a stile in site!

A very good walk in mainly new territory – with visits (sort of ) to 3 (ex) stately piles, and an invitation to partake of coffee in a church. Parts of it familiar – but mostly uncharted. Some interesting water features too – Macclesfield Canal, Trent & Mersey ditto, Lawton Hall Pool, Boden Hall Pool, Rode Pool.

Our regular photographer was on hand to capture the gallery of pictures shown below:

16 Dec Walk Leader: Tom & Lesley Smirk  Sandbach

Length of walk: 11 miles Distance to Start of Walk: n/a Number walking: 23

Tom scheduled his walk around the Sandbach area for December so that we would not have to travel far if the weather turned wintry. In the event we experienced one of the warmest December days on record with little wind and no rain. However the ground had soaked up large amounts of rain in the preceding weeks and the going was soft throughout the walk.

We set off from Waitrose along the new footpath through Brook Wood, where Keith Haines explained the key role played by Sandbach U3A in clearing the brush and debris to open up the path. As we left Old Mill Road to trample the mud alongside the brook to Wheelock, we collected Christine Roche who had decided to have a lie-in and not walk to Waitrose. The path took us over the mysterious Dancing Bridge under the old Salt Line railway where we heard of the Luftwaffe onslaught on Wheelock in WWII but we didn’t discover why the bridge includes a substantial structure covering the brook.

After Wheelock we were disappointed to pass Sandbach sewage works on the wrong side of the hedge so that we didn’t have a decent view of the filter beds. However we did stop for coffee by the River Wheelock just downstream of the outflow so it wasn’t all bad.

The next highlight we passed was the giant, steaming composting facility at Fields Farm on the edge of the flashes. The garden waste collected from our brown bins and household waste sites is given to farmers (with some money to encourage them) who shred it and compost it in large heaps until it turns into something that can be added to fields as a soil conditioner. Tom explained how pumping brine out of the rock salt bed deep underground had caused the collapse of the surface and the formation of the flashes as water filled the holes. The Crewe to Sandbach railway track is another casualty of the collapsing ground and has had to be repeatedly built up to keep it level.

At Clay Lane farm we passed Lakemore without seeing any of the giant catfish said to inhabit the water but as a bonus we met two llamas who came to the fence. Ralph wanted them in a pushmi-pullyu shot but they failed to pose for the camera.

As we neared Winterley a rumour spread that we were going to have lunch at Tom’s house and there was much talk of turkey and trimmings, Christmas cake and scones. Unbeknown to most of the group Lesley & Christine had nipped off and taken a short cut to Tom & Lesley’s house to warm mince pies and mulled wine which we consumed with our sandwiches as we lounged on the terrace. Much refreshed by the hospitality we set off in the wrong direction to learn about Winterley Pool – an artificial mill pool built to provide a head of water for the corn mill that used to stand here.

We got back on course for Malkin’s Bank and found it almost bereft of golfers and lost Christine Roche at the canal as she went home for an early night. After crossing the canal we made for the river of watery rubble that calls itself Stannerhouse Lane. On the way down we were encouraged by a construction vehicle with large spikes at the front which joined several more vehicles by the brook engaged in piling sections of tree trunk on a truck. The main reason for their presence seemed to be to recreate an authentic section of WWI trenches after a sustained shelling. As a result of the river of mud our leader Tom found himself racing towards the brook at high speed and narrowly avoided a soaking.

Ralph remembered that that he had taken a picture of the long walking group 10 years previously standing in front of the ex-vicarage Tall Chimneys. He wanted people to stand where they had been in the earlier picture but found that only one of the earlier party was present. (Check out the pictures old and new to see who it is.)

As the straggling group came down to the A534 Tom, a big mate of Hippocrates, wanted to maximise our health and safety by crossing at the traffic lights. Unfortunately the walkers arriving late at the road short-circuited this plan by walking through the stationary traffic and were duly told off.

The extremely mild conditions encouraged Ralph to whip out his camera at every opportunity and the results appear below: