Long Walks in January 2020

15 Jan 2020 Redesmere  Leader: Ralph, Length of walk: 8.5 miles, Driving Distance: 13 miles, Number walking: 19

Click on this link to see the route on a map.

The walk started by the side of Redesmere, where the ducks and other wildfowl on the lake expected the visitors to provide them with some treats. They were disappointed but a couple of the ducks sparked some interest because they were larger than the others and green all over. A birdwatcher seen later on the walk suggested that they resulted from mating between wild mallards and domestic ducks. None of the regular birdwatchers in the group were on hand to answer this question.

The walk crossed the grounds of Siddington Village Hall and then the A34 to find a quieter lane parallel to Snape Brook. The group was surprised to find on passing through a kissing gate that the route they had just used had been closed for safety reasons. The hazards involved were not apparent so they kept calm and carried on.

Ralph scheduled a diversion so that the group could enjoy their refreshments overlooking Dingle Bank sand quarry, where dumpers and bulldozers were building large mounds of sand. Even the resident geologist was puzzled by the activity but asserted that the sand results from glacial erosion. Those of you who thought that Cheshire used to be a giant beach resort can think again. The quarry is due to close this year so the workers might taking a last chance to build giant sandcastles.

After returning to the proper route, the group met a solitary birdwatcher out for a quiet day in the country. He was interrogated about sand quarries, flooding and big green ducks. Then the caravan moved on and left him alone again. He was next spotted at Redesmere where he tried to drive off to avoid further interrogation.

The group was indulging in the regular pastime of noseying in the windows and gardens of big houses when they spotted near Lapwing Hall a house with its Christmas tree still up in the lounge. Speculation about the reason for this ceased when a large wooden carving of a bird was spotted in the front garden.

Ralph was careful to warn of the dangers of walking on the narrow pavements alongside the A535 past Astle Park but all was well. The sight of Astle Park gave several walkers an aha* moment when they realised where they were.

Lunch was in the graveyard of Chelford Church where a shortage of platform gravestones sent the walkers to the back where there were walls and rickety benches.

The chief myth-maker stated that Patrick Thomas Moore had been buried in Chelford graveyard because of his friendship with fellow astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell. Sadly the gravestone he had found did not belong to astronomer Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, who is buried in Chichester. The graveyard does contain the grave of champion cyclist Reg Harris, who died in Macclesfield. Reg was invalided out of the army after being wounded in North Africa in 1943 but recovered to win 2 silver medals at the 1948 Olympics

Straight after lunch, the group entered a field where a sign announced a badger sett that is closely monitored. Neither the badgers, the sett nor the monitoring operation were visible near the path and the group’s very own Badger set were unsure as to whether they should be comforted or concerned by the monitoring of their activities.

The later stages of the walk passed Astle Farm and then Capesthorne Hall – visible across the lake. As the group paused for a brief refreshment stop in full view of the back of the house, they looked in vain for a cheery wave from one of the Bromley-Davenports or their staff.

Further warnings from Ralph preceded the crossing of the busy A34 but the sensible walkers all crossed without incident and walked round Redesmere to reach the car park.

*AHA an interjection expressing exultation, pleasure, surprise or contempt [3 letter Scrabble word]

22 Jan 2020 Madeley Leader: Kevin, Length of walk: 10 miles, Driving Distance: 13 miles, Number Walking: 21

Click on this link to see the route on a map.

Two factors dominated this walk – fog and mud. The conditions were horrible. The leader warned all the participants before the start that they would get wet and muddy and they insisted on coming. It must have been the attraction of the lemon drizzle cake. Martyn said he would come for the cake and then find a short cut back but he bravely carried on to the end.

It was only the joy of facing adversity in the company of like-minded individuals that kept everyone going. The leader decided that there was only one place on the route suitable for lunch but the recce team reached it at 11am, which is a bit early for lunch. However the group took so much time to reach the empty barn at Checkley Wood Farm that the group did stop there for lunch and continued the walk at noon. (Earliest lunch ever!)

A series of fields with more or less bare soil followed and the walkers were worn out by the effort of hauling their feet through the sticky mire.

At the afternoon rest stop near the Absolutely Fabulous Hat Studio, the sorry faces of the weary walkers persuaded the leader to shorten the walk by taking the direct route to Madeley along Red Lane. It was given this name because of the clay but it wasn’t part of the recce, which would have revealed the huge pond covering the path forcing the walkers to climb to the side to make progress.

As well as exhausting the walkers’ leg muscles, this walk also exhausted the available paths around the Madeley Centre. And so a tradition died. Unless there is a demand for the walk that included 52 stiles. Susie might be a supporter but…

Another feature of the walk was the extent to which the group became spaced out. This is not a new problem. If someone has a suggestion for keeping the group closer together, it would be welcomed.

Looking on the bright side in a search for a 3 letter Scrabble word that is neither “fog” nor “mud”, the walkers should think themselves lucky they didn’t experience vog*.

*VOG a form of air pollution that results when volcanic gases and particles react with oxygen and moisture [3 letter Scrabble word]

Pictures of fog and mud coming shortly