Long Walks in December 2023

6 Dec 2023 Hayfield and Kinder  Leader: Keith, Length of walk: 6 miles, Driving Distance: 33 miles, Number walking: 15

Start from Hayfield Car Park. SK22 2ES

Click here to see a map of the walk.

As part of the recent exercise to set up a WhatsApp group, the group nearly acquired a new member – Bruce. Sadly, Bruce was ejected but he decided to join the walks on an unofficial basis. He has promised to turn up from time to time and he is hoping to appear in the pictures taken on the walks. Look out for him.

The sky was free of clouds and the bright sunshine contrasted with the extreme cold of the air. Some drivers parked their vehicle in the Hayfield bus station car park and the cheapskates opted for parking in the nearby street. As a result, it took a while to gather all the walkers together. It didn’t take long to leave the village streets behind as the group moved up the River Kinder and left the tarmac to climb up towards the Kinder massif. The walkers had to take care with the ground surface because there were slippery patches on the grass and tarmac even where there was no visible ice.

None of the walkers fell over although there was some sliding. The habit of taking care became extreme as the group negotiated a track where the entire surface was covered by a puddle. All the walkers except one tried to find dry ground on the edge of the puddle, but the one walker who was confident his boots wouldn’t leak, walked straight through the middle of the 2-inch-deep water.

The route went upwards past Coldwell Clough but, thankfully turned left before climbing to Kinder Low. After a few minutes of almost level walking the leader call time for lunch and the walkers settled on the remains of a drystone wall to eat with Kinder downfall and the reservoir to gaze on.

After lunch the walkers took great pleasure in walking downhill to the car park following the path alongside the River Kinder.

Since the route failed to provide any decent bridges for a group picture, the walkers lined up in front of the caravan selling hot drinks and snacks in the bus station car park.

20 Dec 2023 Alsager  Leader: Simon & Lynda, Length of walk: 10.5 miles, Driving Distance: 5 miles, Number walking: 23

Click here to see a map of the walk.

Nowhere in the walk description did the word “mud” appear, but for a walk that largely went over canal towpaths and a disused railway line, there was an awful lot of it.

The cars were parked on the car park of the Wilbraham Arms on the understanding that the survivors of the walk would celebrate in the pub.

The route followed the road back to Sandbach for a while until it deviated into someone’s block paved driveway and then into a field, which might have been a neglected back garden. The route was aiming for the Trent and Mersey canal at Thurlwood but took in a very boggy area on the way.

The walkers marched along the canal towpath with the promise of festive treats to encourage them and they duly arrived at the Church Lawton locks – the location of the coffee stop. When the group set off aiming for the Harecastle Tunnel, Bill and Ruth went back to the car park. On his first outing for many months, Bill had done enough and avoided anything too ambitious.

At the Harecastle Tunnel, Pete told the story of getting stuck in the tunnel. The 18-year old Pete and a group of his peers hired a couple of narrow boats for an alcohol-wracked holiday on the water. After emerging from a pub near the tunnel entrance, they decided that it was a good time to go through. The time from dawn to noon was set aside for boats going south and from 2pm was the time for boats to north into Cheshire. They arrived at 12:30 and assumed that nobody would think of coming north as they were going south. The discovered their error in the middle of the tunnel and decided to compound the mistake by trying to pass. After jamming two boats together they had to make strenuous efforts to separate the two craft. When they finally became unstuck, they persuaded the other boat to reverse out because Pete’s party had two boats. It was a salutary tale of the dangers of giving alcohol to young men.

The route back joined the Macclesfield Canal at the junction with the Trent and Mersey and stayed on the towpath until Hall Green when it hit tarmac again. This lasted until it passed the Bleeding Wolf pub and the mud began again. The route went through Summer House Plantation where the mud was surrounded by trees.

Lunch was arranged for Lawton Churchyard and the mud stopped when that came into view. The rest of the festive treats were issued to the grateful walkers, who then rejoined the Trent and Mersey canal. At Snape’s Aqueduct, they left the canal and set off for Alsager. Before reaching the town centre the route turned down a track and followed the route of the Salt Line railway, which used to connect Sandbach to Stoke on Trent. On this section the group passed an enclosure entirely free of grass where a herd of hairy pigs came over to see if the walkers’ mud was as good as theirs. The disused line comes out close to the Wilbraham Arms car park, where the walkers removed their muddy boots and piled into the pub as promised.

© Sandbach U3A 2024