Congleton – a PNFS long walk July 2017

The canal at Congleton

The canal at Congleton

I joined the Peak and Northern Footpaths* (see comment) Society recently and offered to lead a walk. The challenge is to start the walk with train or public transport from Manchester. I try to offer something a little different so after an easy journey south to Congleton station we set off along the Macclesfield canal towpath to join the Great English Walk on the edge of the town.

Seven souls had braved the weather, it was raining as we departed, with a leader who has a history of leading wet walks. Pete was testing is gale proof Norwegian brolly while others discovered canvas boots don’t maintain dry feet. We climbed to Nick i’ th’ Hill to cross into Staffordshire leaving the well maintained paths of Cheshire East.

We paused at Biddulph church for a late coffee stop fortunately the rain had eased as there was no shelter. Pressing on I had warned there were no services on route. On our June pre-walk the visitor centre and loos at Biddulph Grange Country Park were securely closed despite a good few visitors on a hot Saturday. Today, a wet Wednesday all was open but our small band were their only potential customers.

Biddulph Grange - Himalayan Walk

Biddulph Grange – Himalayan Walk

We followed the paths taking the Himalayan Walk climbing through Spring Wood to the road. A brief encounter with the Staffordshire Moorlands Walk then we dive down to cross a stream. Back in 2010 I reported the need for a bridge crossing and was pleased by the response that one would be installed. So it was satisfying to pass over ‘my’ bridge.

'My' bridge on footpath Biddulph 77

‘My’ bridge on footpath Biddulph 77

We left the GEW as it headed south for Biddulph Moor and the source of the River Trent. Heading north, the rain continued, on and off, while we sought a possible lunch stop. Around High Bent some abandoned forty five gallon drums and a telegraph pole horse jump offered ample seating and a fine view. Even the rain held off.

Around Newtown, on the pre-walk, I’d failed to locate the correct line of the path. One was easily solved having been diverted, it’s best to check the map is up to date. The other was not so easy. A misplaced stile had encouraged the error but again changes on the ground without corresponding path changes left us floundering.

Dropping down from Long Edge with Biddulph Park to the north the first great view stops us in our tracks. To the south is the ridge ending at Mow Cop and in the distance a distinctive hill, but what? Later study of the map suggested it must have been The Wrekin nearly forty miles away. But then someone points out Beeston Castle twenty five miles to the west. The telescope at Jodrell bank has it’s back to us but is still recognisable in the flat landscape of the Cheshire Plain. The grain silo by our start point and the water tower at Congleton are straight ahead but we are heading north first.

The view from Park Head Farm

The view from Park Head Farm

 

A quick look at the Bridestones, as most had been here before then a walk along the recently claimed path which offers a direct route to The Cloud. The claimed path follows a wall which is the boundary between Cheshire and Staffordshire, the path was on the map when in Staffordshire but when on the Cheshire side it had not been recorded. That error has now been rectified thanks to the determination of PNFS members.

View from The Cloud Bosley

View from The Cloud Bosley (click on the picture to enlarge the view)

The Cloud demands a stop but a black cloud looked threatening and some in the party predicted more rain, so we departed sooner than others would have liked. It was all down hill from here and as we hit the canal towpath Pete shot off. No, not to catch a train but to refresh his inner self at the Queen’s Head.

After the pre-walk I had reported two issues. A low branch across the path in Cheshire East and a wobbly stile in Staffordshire. I was pleased to note today that both issues had been dealt with.

See the route we took on Google maps by following this link

PS. A comment by email:

It was great to read your report and I loved the view from the Cloud picture.

Yes as you confirmed it was the Wrekin you saw.  Sometimes from the Cloud you can see the Clwyd Hills and the Liverpool Cathedrals too.

Thanks Cynthia

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3 Responses to “Congleton – a PNFS long walk July 2017”

  1. Gordon Crook. Says:

    Hi Ken sorry I missed it, busy getting ready for move. I tried to LIKE it but big brother wanted a password. Why?

    Gordon

  2. David Bratt Says:

    Thanks Ken for leading the walk for PNFS.Strictly the F is Footpaths(plural) but we get a goodly number of references to us in the singular!!.Thanks also for your comprehensive and interesting walk report written in your own distinctive style. Kind regards from the President

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