7 Dec 2022 Lamaload & Windgather Rocks Leader: Keith, Length of walk: 8 miles, Driving Distance: 22 miles, Number walking: 11
Start from What 3 Words ///geek.flip.darker
It was a cold, bright morning for the hardy few who gathered at Waitrose for this walk, led by Keith Saywell. As we approached the remote starting location, it was clear that the narrow lane had not been gritted. The road conditions were treacherous, with long icy patches on steep sections (more on this later).
Despite the recent heavy rain, the Lamaload reservoir was still low, but the walkers were cheerful as they started on their trek. Reaching the Jenkin chapel, we found it was open to visitors. Inside it was bright, with box pews, and a balcony (although it was not clear how to access that, there being no internal staircase in view).
Leaving the road we passed sheep, safely grazing on frozen grass, and wended our way down a beautiful valley towards Kettleshulme. Frost added to the hazard of crossing stiles, so it was a shame when a minor routing error added 2 more. The route seemed to be devoid of bridges, but we did gather near a very small one, consisting only of a large stone slab (see photo).
Stopping for coffee above Kettleshulme, we were rewarded for our toils with slabs of tasty parkin, provided by Marie (thank you!). The long haul up to Windgather rocks was testing for some, and our relatively slow progress, coupled with the short daylight hours, led the group to decide to curtail the cross-country aspect of the walk at Pym Chair.
However, returning to Lamaload along roads was not easy, as several spots were heavily encrusted in ice. On one bend we encountered a young driver, who had discovered that brakes, downhill bends and ice do not mix. His car was off the road, upright but somewhat bent (no photo, sorry). He was waiting patiently for a tow.
Although we did not complete the planned walk over Shining Tor, it is generally believed that the hill is still there, waiting for the group to ascend it on a warmer day, with longer hours of daylight. Keith expressed a desire to lead the same walk in reverse (NOT walking backwards!), in the spring or summer, next year.
Overall, it was a most enjoyable walk in the winter sun, with added excitement caused by the difficulty of driving away from the car park. Only 4-wheel drive cars actually managed to get up the steep hill to the main road. Others are believed to have turned back and gone the longer route (and may still be out there … somewhere).
21 Dec 2022 Sandbach South-East Circular Leader: Mike & Linda, Length of walk: 9 miles, Driving Distance: 0 miles, Number walking: 15
No car travel involved here. Commencing at the Lower Waitrose car park we head through Brook Wood to Mill Hill Lane and through fields towards Tall Chimneys. We follow the Wheelock River for a short while, more fields and heading for Lock 57. Following the canal to Malkins Bank we cross the golf course passing Bank Farm and up Jacob’s Ladder. Over the fields toward the Hassal business centre breaking back over fields towards Wheelock, Mill Hill Lane and back to the car park via Brook Wood.
Distance around 8.5 to 9 miles generally flat with an occasional small hill; mostly swing gates, the odd stile; almost certainly a tad muddy and likely some cows. No facilities en route – Waitrose at start and finish.