Long Walks in October 2023

4 Oct 23 Cheddleton to Froghall Wharf  Leader: Kevin, Length of walk: 11 miles, Driving Distance: 24 miles, Number walking: 14

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Click here to see a map of the walk.

On arrival at Cheddleton station, the leader found that there were no parking spaces, so he implemented plan B. This involved invading a quiet residential area and parking in front of the big houses there. There was more than enough space for residents and walkers. While the leader was waiting for the other cars to arrive an official of the Churnet Valley Railway came out to see why strange people were hanging round his station. On interrogation he admitted to being the Fat Controller (see Thomas the Tank Engine), but he wasn’t very fat and was bare headed. He did point out the pig that traditionally occupies the paddock across from the station had recently farrowed and the walkers gazed at her 13 recent arrivals scampering around in the mud that is also a traditional feature.

After climbing the initial hill, the leader’s memory failed and Mick had to put him on the correct path, but he recovered and handled the rest of the route perfectly.

At the junction of two paths some distance from any buildings, the group found a stone cross, which begs the question “why here?”. An internet search failed to reveal any information except that it was refurbished in 1926.

The stop for coffee was called in a woodland glade, where there would have been dappled sunshine if the sun had shaped a bit more. However, the leader issued lemon drizzle cake to the needy to celebrate his 54th wedding anniversary.

The route crossed several streams and muddy patches, but the streams failed to wash off the collected mud effectively; streams tend to have mud on both sides.

There was more disappointment on reaching the high point of the walk before walking down into Ipstones. There were no interesting views in contrast to the recce, where the mist and rain concealed the distance and hinted at the possibility that there might be something to see.

After Ipstones the route was almost all downhill to Froghall Wharf, where the picnic tables and toilets welcomed the walkers for lunch.

The return journey in the sunshine stayed on the towpath of the Caldon Canal for the entire journey back except for a pause at the Black Lion pub at Consall. Nobody came out to chase the walkers off the benches but no doubt the many cameras recorded the images of the trespassers.

The second half of the return journey was briefly enlivened by a narrow boat pulling another along the side of the canal and a steam train making the trip from Cheddleton to Froghall & Kingsley station. The walkers waved madly channelling their inner Railway Children but had little response from the passengers. They must have been old people with no energy or appetite for waving at strangers. As the walkers reached the end of the towpath, the train returned. The steam loco was still puffing out smoke, but a diesel loco headed the train. This time neither walkers nor passengers waved.

18 Oct 23 Monsal Dale. Longstone and Cressbrook Dale  Leader: Stephen, Length of walk: 9 miles, Driving Distance: 36 miles, Number walking: 17

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Click here to see a map of the walk.

The journey to Upperdale was disturbed by the closure of the road to Buxton at Bosley traffic lights. This meant a tour of largely empty countryside north of Leek and some plaintive phone calls, but everyone arrived eventually.

The group crossed the River Wye from the car park and joined the Monsal Trail, experiencing the Headstone tunnel until they left the trail at the private station bult to serve Thornbridge Hall. The centre of Great Longstone provided ample seats for a coffee stop before the group continued northwards. After passing through a dry valley, the leader prepared the group for the climb up Longstone Edge. It’s steep but everyone made it to the top in reasonable condition with plenty of pauses to admire the view.

The lunchtime stop was called by a disused lagoon, which might previously have been a quarry but has almost no presence on the internet and no signs to indicate what went on there.

A trip through abandoned lead mine workings took the walkers to Wardlow church and the road down to Wardlow Mires, where delighted in finding some old Foden trucks.

The route led into Cressbrookdale and under the infamous Peter’s Stone, where executed criminals were allegedly hung on a gibbet. It does an out of the way to do this but the neighbours elsewhere might have complained about the smell.

After a pause for drinks, the group entered the nature reserve, where the tree roots and slippery boulders underfoot posed a hazard for the walkers, but everyone emerged safely.

At the far end of the reserve, the group passed Ravensdale Cottages – a picturesque scene, where the houses have the traditional metal dustbins (suitable for filming Catherine Cookson misery memoirs). They were built for lead miners but there is no indication how far they had to walk to reach the mine.

After reaching the road, the group passed Cressbrook Mill, which has been converted to luxurious apartments for people who want to live a long way from any amenities.

© Sandbach U3A 2024