18 Nov Walk Leader: Christine Roche Congleton to Macclesfield
Length of walk: 10 miles Distance to Start of Walk: 10 miles Number walking: 22
For the first time we travelled to the start of the walk entirely on the public bus. Fortunately the number 38 service gave us a double-decker so that by the time we left Sandbach we had 22 of us on the top deck. It was like a school trip and most of us didn’t have to pay a bus fare.
We left the bus at the Plough in Eaton and set off along the Dane Valley Way to North Rode, where we made a coffee stop in the churchyard. Much refreshed we then negotiated a field that had been heavily manured by the local cows and then the rain started. Those of us who had set off not wearing overtrousers had the joy of pulling trousers over soiled boots but this is part of the great outdoor experience.
The path from the church took us to the Macclesfield Canal which we followed to our lunch stop at Danes Moss. This provided picnic tables sufficient for our group and the sun came out to cheer us on. A couple of dogs came sniffing for scraps and tried to join our resident dog-lover (Ralph) for the rest of the journey. Ralph was persuaded to leave the dogs with their owner and we joined the canal again to the decision point at Gurnet Aqueduct. The decision was to take the short walk into Macclesfield or turn away and visit the sleepy villages of Sutton and Langley and then climb a hill to reach Macclesfield Golf Course. The key imponderable was whether we would be back at Macclesfield bus station to catch a bus that would take us back to Sandbach in time to get ready for the U3A quiz. [ As it happened, Ralph’s winning team included five of the people on the walk.]
Nobody of a wimpish disposition came forward and Christine marched us off though the villages at a pace guaranteed to connect with the bus. It was fortunate that the hill we had to climb to reach the path through the golf course was easier than the looming Teggs Nose nearby. Going up Teggs Nose would have provoked a severe reaction but the route we took was acceptable even towards the end of the walk. A quick romp down from the golf club took us into Macclesfield and we reached the bus station in time to have a lovely cup of tea at the cafe or spend twenty minutes in a scrum waiting for the bus home.
In spite of the demanding schedule, Christine was able to stop and take a few pictures of our journey which you can see in the gallery below.
25 Nov Walk Leader: Mike & Linda Beck Malpas
Length of walk: 9 miles Distance to Start of Walk: 27 miles Number walking: 19
Those of us who had checked the weather forecast from the BBC had an optimistic view of the conditions we would face. We set off from Sandbach without rain but found some as we neared Malpas. The rain continued as we put on our waterproof gear amid muttering about spending the day in the pub. Doreen was spotted trying to stay behind in the toilet but everyone set off with the rain looking like a permanent fixture. After half an hour the rain eased off and we were able to emerge from our hoods.
A couple of giant felled trees provided the seating at our coffee stop near Hampton Green. Two other locations nearby have names on the same theme, Hampton Heath and Willey Moor. Curious.
We had been promised lunch in a graveyard but it took us a long time to find one. Excitement broke out every time a church tower was spotted but we kept turning away into the rural emptiness of south west Cheshire. At last we came to St Chad’s Alone in Fields near Tushingham and this was our lunch stop. More empty fields and large isolated houses provided the backdrop to our return leg to Malpas. We crossed an abandoned railway line that had been so comprehensively dismantled that no sign remained except Bradley Brook in a culvert covered by 60 feet of earth. As we entered the final descent towards Malpas laid out below its hilltop church, the rain returned but it was nowhere near heavy enough to wash off the mud that we had accumulated during our trek.
Since nobody who carried a camera was prepared to get it out to record the muddy scene, there is no pictorial record. Imagine muddy fields.