6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Cheshire Life today CLICK HERE

Cheshire Walks - Congleton

15:57 12 July 2011

Path to The Cloud

Path to The Cloud

Keith Carter's latest walk takes him east of Congleton on a route through deepest Cheshire

For this months walk we stray close to the Cheshire/ Staffordshire border, starting with a stiff climb to the summit of the gritstone outcrop known as The Cloud, 1,126 feet above sea level. We are in the secretive countryside of East Cheshire, an area defined by the Macclesfield Canal and the River Dane with the Manchester/Stoke railway line bisecting it on a north/south axis. This is a region of hedged lanes, thick woodland and patchwork fields, what I would call la Cheshire profonde, deepest Cheshire.

We start from the picnic area at Timbersbrook where a car park is ideal for our purposes. Less ideal is the closed toilet block, no longer available regrettably. Take the gated exit to the car park and walk through the maintained picnic area to a flight of steps leading up to the road.

Turn left and climb the hill, soon finding an opening on the right with a signpost informing us we are on the Gritstone Trail, a 35-mile route from Disley to Kidsgrove which we follow to the summit trig point of The Cloud. What a view! An orientation plaque identifies the main landmarks while below sprawls the creeping urbanisation of Congleton.

We drove through its complex gyratory system on the way here and saw some of the fibreglass bears placed at strategic points around the town throughout this summer.

These are a reference to the traditional association Congleton has with bears dating back to a famous occasion when money collected to purchase a new Bible was diverted to acquiring a bear needed for the popular sport of bear baiting. Congleton has ever since been known as Beartown, the town that swapped a bible for a bear. How could they!

From the trig point descend in a south-easterly direction where, after a sharp stepped descent we meet a private drive to a bungalow and then a lane where we turn left. Proceed downhill and take the second footpath sign on the right, not the first and more obvious. A stile leads into pasture and we cross two further stiles before at the fourth meeting a lane. Here turn left then at the T-junction, right and walk along this quiet road to where it crosses the River Dane by a stone bridge.

Just before the bridge, take the bridleway on the left, the broad path leading to a bend in the river where we turn alongside it through a gate and over a footbridge to arrive quite unexpectedly at a canal bridge. Cross it and turn down left onto the towpath of the Macclesfield Canal, a section of the famous Cheshire Ring.

Stay on the towpath, the canal on our left, along this quiet and relaxing stretch with hardly a dog-walker or narrow boat in sight. We go under the railway line and Buxton Road before a big bend turns the direction south past the suburban housing of Buglawton of which we see hardly anything.
Fishermen appeared and my curious companion Jim made the unforgivable faux-pas of asking one of them if he had caught anything.

You never ask fishermen this. They dont like it. This one replied in a surly way that this was not likely considering that he had only just arrived and why didnt Jim go and bother somebody else? Fishermen have to work off their frustrations alone. If they had wanted conversation they wouldnt have taken up fishing.

Progress along the towpath is fast and we were soon reaching the point where we leave the canal to head back towards Timbersbrook. This comes just after we go under the railway for a second time, the path departing at a metal footbridge which we cross to the far side of the canal.

Go through a wooded area on a rampart and keep to the edge of a rough field until a track takes us to meet a lane at a metal gate. Cross straight over and head to the left of farm buildings and go through a gate, keeping ahead to where a green lane climbs over ground boggy and wet due to poor drainage to where a stile leads onto the road immediately opposite to the path we took up to The Cloud. Turn right on the road and downhill find the footpath to the right leading back through the picnic area to the car park.

This walk was seven miles in length and took us four hours including a lunch stop at the bridge over the River Dane. For some this will be too far, for others too short but for all it offers varied terrain, great views and constant stimulation from birdsong and the lush green countryside. An excellent walk.

Compass points

Area of walk: To the east of Congleton

Map: OS Explorer 268 Wilmslow, Macclesfield and Congleton

Distance: Seven miles

Time to allow: Four hours

Refreshments and toilets: None

Further research: www.discoverthegritstonetrail.co.uk

Keeping the path clear

I met the Wednesday walkers of the Mid Cheshire Footpath Society at the tidy village of Aldford south of Chester at their invitation to join them for one of the three walks they were to do that day.


Their aim is to walk every footpath in their area at least once every three years and I was interested to see them in action. Their work is entirely voluntary and results in obstructions cleared or reported to the County Footpaths Officer, waymarks replaced and paths kept open for everyone to enjoy.


The leader of the walk I joined was Ken Taylor, a keen cyclist but only too pleased to don his boots and guide us on a walk that headed east then looped south before heading back to Aldford.


The society has appointed four district inspectors - Paul Layfield, Mike Harris, John White and Tony Harbottle - the latter accompanying us on our walk armed with his secateurs, hammer and way marks to ensure the footpaths were properly signed and passable.


Our walk was through agricultural land including field after field of yellow rape seed, widely planted in this area. Luckily the farmers are kind enough to leave a swathe un-sown where footpaths crossed their fields. In our party was ex-farmer John Brown and his daughter Nora, the wide difference in their ages no bar to full enjoyment of the day's exertions. Like everyone in the group, they made good company and our walk was enlivened by good conversation throughout.


Membership is a modest 4 a year, good value and one must applaud their quiet yet determined devotion to the task of keeping the footpaths walked. For more information contact Joyce Harbottle, the society's membership secretary, on 01829 733465 or go to www.mcfs.org.uk.

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Out & About

Thursday, May 28, 2015
The Ainscow Hotel, Salford

Janet Reeder finds there’s lots to discover at the new Ainscow Hotel in the city centre

Read more
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
A common blue butterfly hard at work pollinating wild flowers. Picture by Vicky Nall

You’ve heard of ancient woodland, but what about ancient grassland? Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s Rachel Giles finds out more

Read more
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Spring lambs at Stockley Farm, Arley

Cheshire has a wide selection of farm parks; you can play with the animals, eat homemade ice cream and even ride a tractor.

Read more
Friday, May 22, 2015
Blue Planet Aquarium Aquatunnel

Cheshire is full of beautiful parks and walking trails, but what can you do if the weather lets you down? Here are a few ideas to keep the family entertained

Read more
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Llandudno

Llandudno is a seaside resort full of grandeur and is a part of The Countrywide Great Tour route this summer.

Read more
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Monument and Parkgate Road, Neston

Neston, a quaint market town in the Wirral, is a part of The Countrywide Great Tour route this summer.

Read more
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Macmillan Cycletta

Strictly one for the ladies, and a perfect way to spend a day with your friends exploring the British countryside on two wheels, Macmillan Cycletta is the UK’s leading women-only cycling sportive series, with a range of distances from 20km to 150km rides. Even if you haven’t ridden a bike in years, the distances are challenging but very achievable.

Read more
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
7 wonders of North Wales

Natural beauty abounds in the hillsides, coastal towns and great houses of North Wales. A trip to any one of these seven locations makes a great day out

Read more
Friday, May 15, 2015
Ffynnon Townhouse, Dolgellau

North Wales has many beautiful places to stay. Here’s a selection of some of the best bijou hotels and guest houses

Read more
Poynton

Towns across the country are following the lead of Poynton whose residents have proved it’s better to share, writes Paul Mackenzie

Read more
Friday, May 15, 2015
View from Woodhouse Hill

Howard Bradbury snaps some panoramic views as he goes up hill and down dale on a walk above Frodsham

Read more
King Street, Knutsford

It’s been declared as one of the best places to live in the UK. Rebekka O’Grady chats to residents of Knutsford to find out why this is such a great place to be

Read more
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Icehotel Sweden

7 Nights Trip to Artic Sweden. See Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) & stay at the Icehotel. Holiday includes ice fishing, dogsled, reindeer visit and showshoe trail.

Read more
Monday, May 11, 2015
Laburnum Arch at Adlington Hall

The list of gorgeous gardens in and around Cheshire does not begin and end with Arley and Tatton. Here are ten places to visit which are just blooming lovely

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP



Follow Cheshire Life's board Walks in Cheshire on Pinterest.
Cheshire's trusted business finder