2 Jun 2021 Timbersbrook Leader: John & Doreen, Length of walk: 9.5 miles, Driving Distance: 15 miles, Number walking: 12
Timbersbrook Picnic Area was built on the site of the Silver Springs Bleaching and Dyeing Company which used the pure clean water to bleach and dye rolls of unfinished cloth, mostly from Manchester. In the 19th century a silk mill occupied the site; a map of 1777 showed a water wheel at Timbersbrook which may have powered one of the early silk mills.
Early in the 20th century the mill was converted to steam power which required a 114ft chimney. The mill closed in 1961 and Blaster Bates demolished the chimney in 1966 leaving the closed toilet block standing. Some old residents say the toilets used to be operational but historians dismiss such claims.
The first part of the walk involved the leaders shouting at unsuspecting residents as if they were related. The supply of residents soon ran out as the path went into fields and the cows were reluctant to respond.
Using the Gritstone Trail and the Biddulph Valley Way the group eventually passed Castle Inn before crossing the road for the climb up to Congleton Edge.
A coffee stop in an open area gave delightful views over the Congleton area before the walk continued south along the ridge through the wooded path which shielded the walkers from the heat of the sun.
The path came down at “Nick I’ th’ Hill”. This feature is a nick in the hill and, obviously someone of a whimsical bent thought spelling it with some letters missing would be more historical as if people from way back were all simple. The path continued up the ridge again with some unfenced precipitous drops right next to it. Nobody screamed or fell off.
When the path met the road towards Mow Cop, the leaders urged caution to avoid being struck by passing vehicles. As time went on and no vehicles passed by, some thought the world had ended without informing walking groups. However the curious lack of traffic was caused by the barriers erected to close the road for some invisible work.
There was some discussion about the correct way to pronounce “Mow Cop” but to prevent an unruly squabble, the leaders turned off toward Biddulph with the cry “It’s all downhill from here”. This didn’t stop Mike demonstrating his ability to spell various random words rhyming with “cow”. He is such a show-off.
Lunch was in a freshly mown field – thank you to the leaders. After lunch the two stalwarts who had managed to stand up from a sitting position without using hands on a walk from Oakamoor in July 2018, tried again. One soon gave up and the other managed it with some cheating.
The route went down to Biddulph and joined the Biddulph Valley Way, which was shared with a variety of walkers and cyclists. The male cyclists didn’t demonstrate a happy disposition; the impression was they were coerced into exercise and resented it.
Where the Macclesfield Canal crossed the old railway track, the group joined the towpath. This prompted Pete to suggest this presented the opportunity for some gongoozling. This is a word he remembered from an episode of “Call My Bluff”. It means standing idly watching boats pass on the canal. It might be presumed that such an expression would date from the nineteenth century, when canals were at their peak, but the word is only recorded from the end of that century or the early twentieth. It was popularised by the late L. T. C. Rolt, who used it in his book about canal life, Narrow Boat, in 1944. You would think that, during a cataclysmic world conflict, people would have more constructive things to do. [For those of you who like to check out the facts from these reports using Google, I urge you NOT to look at the definition of “gongoozling” in the Urban Dictionary website. It is most unseemly.]
The group left the Macclesfield Canal at a footbridge and, after a traditional bridge shot, went back to Timbersbrook across the fields.