17 Cheddleton – Alstonefield

Cheddleton to Alstonefield 16.5 miles (26.4Km.)

Caldon canal - milepost

Caldon canal - milepost

It was a small relief to walk along the level surfaced path alongside the Caldon canal at the start of this section. I was wet and the showers continued with no sign of the promised sunny periods.

Cheddleton station

Cheddleton station

Ex LMS 8F 8624 was in steam and simmered at the far end of Cheddleton station platform waiting to carry out the first crew training runs on the newly restored Caldon Low Branch.

There are unexpected things that add enjoyment to a walk  so it helps that I have difficulty reading a guide book before the walk, although this can occasionally result in missing some things of interest along the way. Whitehough Hall would be difficult to miss as the dovecote flags up something of interest around the corner. One of the ninety plus Grade II Listed Buildings in Ipstones parish.

After the cross roads at Ipstones Edge the guide offers a choice, a hard or easier, but longer alternative. I choose the hard to see what changes have taken place since Margaret and Brian described the route in 1996. Initially things are much improved with waymarking which acknowledges a partnership between Staffordshire County Council and the Ramblers Association. There are still a few difficulties and sadly a recently erected fence appears to create another obstruction. Looking at the map of this area shows a multitude of paths which should be available for us to enjoy the countryside. It is indicative of the problems in the area that the Staffordshire Moorlands Walk uses over a mile of road where there are field paths shown on the map.

Another crossing of the railway and evidence of work to bring back steam trains very soon (November 2010). I had run together sections sixteen to twenty from the guide and decided to walk the 60 miles over three days so a stop had been arranged at Waterhouses. While the tall building and chimney of Cauldon Low cement works may not be attractive they did flag the end of my walk for that day.

Manifold Trail - Hamps Valley

Manifold Trail - Hamps Valley

At Waterfall Cross I took Cross Lane down into Waterhouses then in the morning after a good frost used field paths back to Waterfall as I’d been unable to locate, on the web, accommodation on route. Looking down on the Manifold Trail in the Hamps valley it is apparent that the road follows the gentle curves of the former Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway.

Dropping down to Rushley offers a view of Thorpe Cloud the much climbed hill at the end of Dove Dale a popular location for visitors which will remain so without a visit from The Great English Walk.

Castern Hall

Castern Hall

We take the high ground to pass another grand farmhouse at Castern Hall before arriving at Wetton where barns converted by the Chatsworth Estate must swell summer visitors but leaves the village quiet as I pass through. Alstonefield no sign of a Post Office but there is a farm shop, pub and YHA accommodation.

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Great English Walk map of section 17

Map of section 17

Great English Walk hills and dales of section 17

Section 17 - the work

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