Ah summer weather in Britain. All week beforehand the various forecasts had shown it was going to be a very wet walk, but as Sarah and I got in the car the forecasts changed and the rain disappeared. This meant I wasn’t quite carrying the right kit; I had my heavier waterproofs but no sun protection or hat. I’m normally more cautious in my packing so this was a gentle reminder not to get complacent.
As with walk 23, this started in Bollington but this time headed south on the canal towards Macclesfield after once again climbing the seemingly vertical steps up from the road. The navigation for the first 15km was to simply follow the canal and we set off at a good pace catching up on our various plans, training and what snacks we had bought with us. Our conversation was interrupted as we walked through Macclesfield by a closed section of the towpath. Again I kicked myself for not checking with the Canal and River Trust website but it looked like people had been walking past the fencing so, feeling thoroughly rebellious we carried on. I thought our plan had been scuppered as we came across the blockage, a collapsed retaining wall just before the diversion re-joined the towpath, but we pulled on our brave-pants and scrambled round. It was naughty and we shouldn’t have done it, but I really didn’t want to leave a mere 300 meters of path I’d have to drive all the way to Macclesfield to walk. We skipped on quickly and soon our misdemeanour was forgotten.
The canal side was in full summer bloom, flocks of Canada geese were lazing on the water and the sun was warm in a brilliant blue sky. We stopped for snacks before passing a familiar narrowboat. We saw Third Time Lucky walking north along the canal in the previous walk, at the time I still didn’t know if the twice-cancelled expedition to Svalbard would be going ahead in 2022 but, just the week before, I’d had confirmation that it was on. So thank you Third Time Lucky for being a good omen! After crossing the river Dane on a high aqueduct, it was time to leave the canal and walk a very short stretch of the Dane Valley Way before climbing hard to the highest point of the walk. With the temperature creeping up an unexpectedly boggy section resulted in wet feet and very nearly soggy bottoms as well, but fast reactions and a few shrieks of laugher we leapt the worst bits and hoped our socks would dry. I suppose it was expected given I was wearing my new walking shoes and we dried out walking along the good tracks along the ridge of Minn-End-Lane.
Croker Hill has a large radio mast on the summit which on a clear day can be seen all the way west on the Sandstone Trail. I read a lot about the kindness of strangers while out on adventures, and eternal thanks goes to the guy fixing a barn roof who bought us water when we asked if we could use an outside tap. Following behind us were two women training for the Gritstone Grind later in the year who were equally grateful for a top up of their bottles. After the summit of Croker Hill, the path rolled along before dropping down to the reservoirs of Ridgegate, Bottoms and Teggsnose. The second big climb of the walk from Teggsnose reservoir to the summit of Tegg’s Nose was through woods and the delightfully named Ward’s Knob. Brightly painted historical quarry machinery lined the path as we dropped down before a final sting of steep climb back up to Kerridge Hill. Here the route left the Gritstone Trail and, following the same path as the previous walk, we walked back along the canal and to the cake that awaited us in the van.
Video of the walk HERE
The route is available on the Ordnance Survey website HERE
|Cheshire Challenge distance||30.6km|
|Paths walked||Cheshire Ring Canal Walk, Dane Valley Way & Gritstone Trail|
|OS map||Explorer 268|
|Date walked||July 2021|
|Time taken||12 hours|
|Cake||Cherry Cake (again!)|
|Dance pose||General silliness|
|Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed||442.3km (1500km total)|