6 Sep 23 Mow Cop Leader: John Beardmore, Length of walk: 10.5 miles, Driving Distance: 8 miles, Number walking: 8
Start from CW12 4RQ What3words ///noble.guess.boring Astbury Village Hall car park
Walk out via fields and the Macclesfield Canal to Ackers Crossing to pick up the South Cheshire Way. This takes us up to the top of Mow Cop. Long steady descent to Moss Hall on the Biddulph Way (quite a few stiles (15+) on this section but they are all well-made and in good condition). Follow the Biddulph Way to the Macclesfield Canal at Congleton and follow the canal back to Astbury Golf Club which we then cut through back to the Village Hall. Generally, very good underfoot apart from one very small boggy patch on the descent from Mow Cop Total distance – approximately 10.5 miles Total ascent – approximately 1,100ft (almost exclusively the climb up to Mow Cop):
20 Sep 23 Baslow Leader: Ruth, Length of walk: 11 miles, Driving Distance: 40 miles, Number walking: 13
Start from DE45 1RU What3words ///reform.wink.unite
The weather forecast indicated that the day would be wet, and it was a for a large part of the time. There were times when the rain stopped and times when the showers were heavier, but nobody drowned or fell over in the mud.
One of the walkers fell ill at the morning coffee stop and had to walk 3 miles back to the car with his 2 passengers. Fortunately, he soon recovered and will be walking again.
When the group reached Grindleford, the level walk along the side of the River Derwent ceased and the walkers went into full climb mode as they acended in the rain through Hay Wood to the designated lunch stop – a big rock surrounded by tuffet-sized rocks. The rain kindly ceased for lunch and then the walkers headed for Froggatt Edge. This led to Curbar Edge and Baslow Edge but it seemed like one long edge. The views might have been more interesting on a day with fewer clouds but the sun did try to shine and blue sky was visible in the distance.
Nearing Baslow, the group passed the Eagle Stone. Quite why it has that name is a mystery because it looks nothing like any wildlife item. Possibly a local objected to “The Big Lump of Rock” as a name. An age old local custom says that, before they are allowed to marry, the young men of Baslow have to prove their manliness and fitness for marriage by climbing onto the top of this huge stone. It is difficult to avoid the view that alcohol might be involved before any attempt to climb, rather than a proper risk assessment. None of the walkers made any pretence of thinking about climbing it.
The group enjoyed an afternoon coffee stop by the Wellington Monument. This was erected in 1866 by an ex-army local who felt the need for balance against the Nelson Monument on Birchen Edge. It was originally possible to stand by one monument and see the other but the growth in tree cover now prevents that. It’s a side-effect of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Seeing Chatsworth House from the heights prompted the question – why build a big mansion in the middle of this empty landscape. The culprit is Bess of Hardwick, who persuaded husband #2 Sir William Cavendish to sell his property in Suffolk and settle in her native county and build Chatsworth House.
The walk finished in a dry period as the group zig-zagged down to the car park in Baslow.