Each time I visit Macclesfield Forest I promise myself I’ll not leave it so long before I come again. It’s a lovely area, more Peak District than typical Cheshire, with the Peak’s open moorland, forested slopes and deep valleys, accessible yet remote, little-visited yet a firm favourite among walkers and cyclists. Put me down as one of those.
My last visit was to Trentabank for a walk up the benign slopes of Tegg’s Nose and it was on that visit that the name Wildboarclough caught my attention. You can’t fail to be intrigued by such an evocative name, bringing to mind another Wild Boar Fell, the one in the Yorkshire Dales, both making the elusive claim of being where the last wild boar was killed in England. As a matter of fact you can still find wild boars in this country. I have myself come face to face with one in Wales when I nearly collided with one as it ran down the middle of a lane near Aberdovey.
It was just my luck to have chosen a day of persistent rain for my walk. The forecast had said the band of rain would be moving away eastwards by noon but this never happened and the rain continued all day. Writing up walk notes in heavy rain is not a practice I would recommend. The notebook gets waterlogged, the pen won’t write and the map gets shredded. It’s on these occasions that I think about an audio recorder to speak into to describe the route for writing up later but this has never worked for me.
1 Parking at Clough House car park, our walk starts by taking the lane past the farm to a road junction where opposite a gate leads to the open fell with a signpost saying ‘Public footpath to Cat and Fiddle’. The path crosses a footbridge then begins to climb alongside Cumberland Brook, soon skirting a plantation on the right and a lonely cottage on the left.
The track is stony and rough, probably an old drover’s road for driving cattle across the moors. We remain with the brook until on reaching a gate we take a turn to the right above a waterfall then continues climbing until the gradient begins to level out. A field barn on the right is shown on the map as Sparbent and we pass it before our track joins the main Buxton road. Cross over, step across the crash barrier and go down a metal ladder installed for the likes of us. Head at ten o’clock across pasture to where a gateway and a sheepfold appear with a track heading for farm called Holt.
2 Don’t go through the gateway but rather turn right along a sunken bridleway bringing us to another gateway, then turn left and go along a wall as far as a collapsed gate where we turn right.
The River Dane appears and we follow a path along the right hand side leading to a kind of terminus with packhorse bridges, a confluence of streams and some picturesque waterfalls. This is called Panniers Pool. The map marks Three Shires Head, the place where three counties meet, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.
We had seen nobody all day when suddenly three parties arrived, groups of young people with their leaders, water dripping off their hoods. They seemed remarkably cheerful after walking in pouring rain for a couple of hours, happy to escape from the city into open country for a change.
3 Our walk continues along the right hand side of the stream, climbing gradually to a brow then meeting a lane across from a house called Cut Thorn. Cross to the right and go through a small gated opening to a rough path between walls then across open fell to a collapsed wall with a stile the other side of it.
Continue north west over rough pasture to once more meet the Buxton road and cross it to continue on the other side, the terrain becoming boggy and waterlogged but with the worst areas crossed by duckboards. Descending, we enter Leech Wood and a short length of track brings us to a lane among trees.
4 Turn right here and you come to a junction in a few hundred yards. Here you have a choice. To visit the Crag Inn in Wildboarclough, turn left and remain on the lane until you find it on the right. It’s a delightful pub with a fine patio for drinking outside in good weather and on the first Sunday in each summer month listening to jazz on the patio. If you don’t want to visit the pub, continue on the minor road and it leads back to Crag House and the car park.
There had been no let-up in the rain and so we had been denied any hope of a good view on this visit. It’s too nice an area to be spoiled by rain but I resolved to come back on a better day to enjoy the rewards Wildboarclough has to offer.
Area of walk: Wildboarclough, Macclesfield Forest
Map: OS Explorer OL24 White Peak
Distance: Four miles
Time to allow: Two hours.
Refreshments: Crag Inn, Wildboarclough.
Accessibility: Not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.
For more great walks go to cheshirelife.co.uk where you can also upload your own favourite routes.