ECR Weekend Away to Ilkley – 15th / 16th June 2019

By Melanie Davy

The Sunday long walkers on Ilkley Moor.

Every year, East Cheshire Ramblers organises one or two weekends away and in June they went to the delightful Yorkshire spa town of Ilkley. Thirty seven people took part, with the majority staying in Craiglands Hotel next to Ilkley Moor. There were 6 walks of various lengths over the weekend. On Saturday, they were 3 walks in the Bolton Abbey area. The short walk (7 miles) stayed within the Bolton Abbey estate, which is privately owned by the Duke of Devonshire. They enjoyed a leisurely walk along the river, admiring the curlews and marvelling at the sand martins racing across the river and disappearing into small holes in the riverbank. They stopped for lunch at Bolton Priory ruins, which was perfect timing to watch a wedding party coming out of the adjoining 12th century church. On their return they came across a full size toy tractor which most of them couldn’t resist having a play on.

A large toy tractor in the Bolton Abbey Estate on the short Saturday walk.

Braving the wet weather on the Saurday long walk.

The medium (9 miles) and long walkers (13 miles) set off separately through the Valley of Desolation and across Barden Fell to Simon’s Seat. While the medium walkers dropped down to the Valley of the River Wharfe and walked back along the river, the long walkers covered Howgill Lane, High Skyreholme, Parceval Hall, Trollers Gill, Harrington and Appletreewick, returning along the Dales Way past Barden Tower and The Strid back to Bolton Abbey.

The Saturday Medium walk on Simon’s Seat.

On Sunday all the walks started from the hotel and climbed up to Ilkley Moor. It was quite a humid day and having had a late cloudburst on the previous day, it was interesting to see how each rambler interpreted the weather forecast and outfits ranged from shorts and short-sleeves to full waterproof gear! In the event, the weather was wonderful.

Will it be hot or cold, dry or wet. A conflicting weather forecast for the Sunday walk meant different types of clothing to wear.

All the walks passed Ilkley Tarn, which was previously lit with a fountain and the scene of band concerts but is now a peaceful wildlife haven. They went on to White Wells, a former spa bath, which now has a small café. The bath was outdoors when built in the 18th century but is now enclosed with interesting interpretation boards on the history of Ilkley as a spa town. At this point the walks went their separate ways.
The short walkers headed east towards the famous hanging stone, known as the Cow and Calf. Legend has it that the calf was split from the cow when the legendary giant Rombald was fleeing an enemy and stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley. Ilkley Moor was originally known as Rombalds Moor, but thanks to the famous song “On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘at” it is always known as Ilkley Moor. As the short walkers continued their walk, they passed the Little Skirtful of stones and the Great Skirtful of stones: stones apparently carried by the Giant’s wife in her skirt and dropped as she was pursuing him across the moor. Yes, you guessed it, she was the enemy! Ilkley Moor is well known for its archaeology and the short walkers also passed the Twelve Apostles, a ring of Bronze Age standing stones near the meeting of 2 ancient routes. The medium and long walkers followed the millennium way to the Swastika stone with its engraving of a swastika shape. There is debate as to whether it dates from the Bronze, Neolithic or Roman ages. The medium walkers followed the Dales High Way to Addingham and then back along the River Wharfe to Ilkley. The long walkers walked along the northern edge of the moor with spectacular views extending over Silsden as they turned south and descended through the Glen to reach Sunnydale Reservoir built in the 19th century for the local area but now part of Yorkshire Water. Returning over the moor they had extensive views of Keighley, Bradford, Leeds and the intervening settlements before they reached the summit of the moor and the northern aspect returned with clear views of the Menwith Hill early warning system. They returned via the Cow and Calf Rocks.

The Sunday medium walkers on Ilkley Moor.

The short walk on Sunday at The Great Skirtful of Stones.

Social Calendar July – December 2019

East Cheshire Ramblers Social Calendar

July to December 2019

Thanks to all those involved in organising these events. Any ideas for the next programme would be warmly welcomed.

If you have any suggestions or ideas about an event please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Maggie Swindells 07729327940 /01625 829671

Thursday 4th July Walk Leader Training (full with a waiting list)
Wednesday 17th July Visit to Blackden Trust A six mile circular walk from Goostrey with 4/5 miles to Blackden Trust and 1/2 miles back. Organised by Brian Griffiths
Friday 2nd – 4th August   Long walkers weekend Kirby Stephen organised by Georgie and Peter Everson and Steve Hull (may be an optional walk on the 2nd)
Friday 2nd August Winkle History Walk led by Rodney Hughes max 20 places (currently one place left)
Thursday 15th August Final Evening Walk followed by a meal at Rosie Lee Hayfield 18.30 start from Hayfield led by Nick Wild
Wednesday 21st August Visit to Blackden Trust organised by Colin Park
Saturday 24th August Visit to Blackden Trust organised by Tony Littler
Saturday 21st – 29th September Bollington Walking Festival
Saturday 28th September Coach trip to Conway organised by Annette Hurst, Gina Thompson and Maggie Swindells
Friday 11th October History Talk by Judith Wilshaw – Brabyns Park and the Iron Bridge – Macclesfield Tennis Club
Friday 18/20th October Weekend away to Pickering organised by Ann Thompson
Saturday 23rd November ECR AGM  2pm at Macclesfield Tennis Club Please contact for more details
Tuesday 3rd December Area AGM – More details to follow
Thursday 12th December Midweek Christmas Lunch The Church House organised by Andy Davies preceded by a walk organised by David Gylee
Saturday 14th December Week End Christmas Lunch at The Windmill organised by Teresa Marshall preceded by a walk organised by Jane and Frank Gay.
Saturday 21st December Christmas walk and meal organised by Georgie and Peter Everson
Wednesday 1st January Keith’s Sherry walk organised by Melanie Davy and Lorraine Tolley

Future vents to note:

  • Andy Davies is hoping to organise a curry night in the autumn. Date and details to follow
  • 21st February 2020 at Macclesfield Tennis Club – ‘The Clink’ – the story behind the restaurant at Styal Prison


Group walk report 28th May

The group at Meccano Bridge at Prestolee Locks Staircase.

The East Cheshire Ramblers used trains for a recent linear walk between Salford Crescent and Bolton Stations for this thirteen mile ramble along the lower reaches of the Irwell Valley.
Leaving Salford Crescent we were soon in rural countryside and skirted the area which was once the site of Manchester Race Course and was first recorded as being in existence in 1647 and finally closed in 1847. To reach Ringley our route followed closely the wooded banks of the River Irwell on good paths with a stop for a picnic lunch en route. In places there were reminders of the former Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal including our crossing of the old Clifton Aqueduct which is where the canal crossed the River Irwell.
In Ringley we paused to take a look at the historic Ringley Bridge over the River Irwell. The bridge dates from 1677 and was built to replace an older wooden bridge which was swept away in floods in 1673. Nearby is an interesting clock tower which dates from1625 is now once more in working order.
Crossing the A667 we now followed the canal towpath for the next mile to the Prestolee Aqueduct. This proved to be an interesting section of the canal as it ran along the side of a steep hill side. Directly below was the community of Prestolee complete with church and mill which could have been a similar scene one hundred years ago.
We next crossed the ancient Prestolee Aqueduct which opened in 1793 and spanned the River Irwell and just above it was the Prestolee Canal Staircase. The site had been cleared of vegetation to reveal the extensive stonework. Plans are afoot to restore this flight of locks. What is unusual is the work that has been carried out and several features made out of large scale Meccano have been constructed including a seat, picnic benches and largest of all a Meccano Bridge over the canal. This unique site made a good afternoon tea stop.
The walk towards Bolton continued via Moses Gate Country Park and later over the two former railway viaducts at Darcy Lever and Burnden which have now been converted to a cycleway and walkway. This led us nicely in towards Bolton where we timed it just right for our return train journey.

The historic bridge over the River Irwell at Ringley.

This is one we made earlier! The group trying out a Meccano picnic bench at Prestolee Locks Staircase.

Group walk report 22nd May

The Bishops’ House in Sheffield.

By Steve Hull

East Cheshire Ramblers recently spent a day walking part of the Sheffield Round Walk. The walk does not circumnavigate the whole of the city but is a loop through parkland and countryside south and west of the city. Starting amongst the park runners in Endcliffe Park we soon came to the Shepherd Wheel further up the valley of the Porter Brook which is open to visitors and working on most Saturdays.
The walk rises gradually and becomes wilder as it ascends past Forge Dam up through Porter Clough to the edge of moorland at Ringinglow with its alpaca farm. We then went down through fields and woodland and spent some time looking round Whinfell Quarry Gardens which is being restored by volunteers to its former state as the garden of a large house which is now demolished.
Returning to the route of the round walk we walked through Eccleshall Woods past a miniature railway which was unfortunately not open to reach the one steep climb of the day up the wooded slopes above the Dore and Totley Station. This brought us to Beauchief Abbey. The exact date the Abbey was founded is uncertain but it is thought that it existed prior to 1172AD. During its heyday the Abbey housed around 12 to 15 canons and several lay brothers. Farming and iron smelting was the main occupation and like most other abbeys, it was dissolved in 1537. Today, only the western tower of the abbey is left standing.
Leaving the Abbey some country lanes were followed before passing through woods leading to Graves Park where we enjoyed tea in the café.
The final part of our route took us down the Gleadless valley to the Bishops’ House, which was just closing as we reached it. After seeing some panoramic views of Sheffield from Meersbrook Park, we caught buses back to our starting point.

Group walk report 26th April (Stroller walk)

Morning break at Birtles Church.

By Melanie Davy

This was a gentle 4 mile stroller walk with a mixture of quiet country roads, woodland paths and fields. Fourteen people set off from Alderley Edge National Trust Car Park, crossed Macclesfield Road, and headed for the fields via Bradford Lane and Finlow Hill Lane. Despite being so close to civilisation, the views from the fields give you the impression that you are miles from anywhere. At Slade Lane, we turned right along the lane edged with bluebells and red campion. At Hocker Lane we turned left and very shortly saw a huge wood full of English bluebells in full flower. We crossed a stile and walked down the hidden path next to the bluebells. It is a very extensive bluebell wood and looked stunning in the dappled light.The next field was full of inquisitive young cattle. No doubt expecting food, they rather alarmingly rushed across to greet us, but ground to a halt when they realised it wasn’t feeding time.We turned right on Birtles Lane and walked to St Catherine’s Church, Birtles, where we stopped for a break in the peaceful churchyard.
St Catherine’s is listed as one of England’s Thousand Best Churches and is a Grade II listed building.It was originally a private chapel for the Hibbert family but is now a parish church. Its unusual octagonal tower contains eight bells and the stained glass and furnishings were collected by the Hibbert family from Germany and the Netherlands and date from the late 16th and early 17th centuries. They include a pulpit dated 1686, a medieval eagle lectern and two large brass chandeliers which are copies of those in Milan Cathedral.
We re-traced our steps for a few metres and took the path to Higher Park Farm. This took us back to Hocker Lane where we turned left and walked along a quiet country lane as far as Hayman’s Farm. Taking the footpath up Finlow Hill, we turned left and returned to the car park. A very pretty walk, which would also be perfect for a summer’s evening.

Walking among the bluebells

Bob with some keen followers.

Long walkers weekend Thirsk – Group report 27/28th April

Outside the Paradise Farm Tearooms towards the end of Sunday’s walk

Thirsk in North Yorkshire was the base for two long walks by the East Cheshire Ramblers recently. Despite some unseasonable weather, the large group managed an eleven mile walk along the Cleveland Way on the Saturday. Starting with a car shuttle, twenty one walkers set off from below the large chalk figure known as the Kilburn White Horse.
The White Horse is the largest hill figure in the country measuring 318 feet in length and is 220 feet high and is said to be visible from around 45 miles away. The figure was created in 1857 by school master John Hodgson and his pupils together with several volunteers. During World War II it was covered up as it was a navigational landmark for enemy bombers.
Ascending steeply to the escarpment with limited views across the rainy Vale of York, the group first headed via the Sutton Bank Visitor Centre before heading east via the upland village of Cold Kirby to Flassen Dale where we stopped for lunch at some convenient picnic benches in the sheltered valley.
A short diversion was made during the afternoon to visit Rievaulx Abbey. The abbey was the first Cistercian monastery in the north of England and was founded in 1132. In this secluded corner of North Yorkshire the abbey prospered and in its heyday had around 140 monks and 500 lay brothers. Over time the abbey became one of the wealthiest in England and farmed over 24 square kilometres and had lead and iron mines. By the end of the 13th century the abbey’s fortunes waned due to an epidemic of sheep scab and suffered from raiding parties from Scotland. The Black Death in the mid 14th century meant that there was a labour shortage and the abbey was forced to lease much of its land. The final blow came with the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538. Our walk continued to finish in the attractive little town of Helmsley.
The weather was better for the Sunday with a ten and a half mile long circular walk on the western edge of the North York Moors following field paths and taking in the attractive villages of Boltby, Kirby Knowle and Cowesby. In the latter we stopped for lunch before ascending back onto the moors and visiting tea rooms at an isolated farm shortly before the end of the walk.

Saturday’s lunch stop in Flassen Dale with a choice of places to eat lunch – picnic benches in the rain or in the cabin in the dry.

On Gallow Hill on Sunday’s walk. Nick decides to take a rest much to everyone amazement.

Group walk report 21st April

A perfect spring day by Ladybower Reservoir

Despite a fine and sunny Sunday it was a fairly small attendance for this walk from Hope in Derbyshire.

Setting off from the village we headed north on a path between houses before making the long ascent to the summit of the 462 metre Win Hill which today was very busy with walkers enjoying the fine weather.

After a break on the summit we descended north on a much quieter path and later passing through pine woods to reach the path that runs around the southern shore of Ladybower Reservoir. This very popular path was followed around to the dam at Ladybower Reservoir.
The reservoir is the largest of the three lakes in the Derwent Valley and was built between 1935 and 1943 but work was slow owing to the outbreak of World War II which resulted in a shortage of labour. The dam is 500 feet wide and is mostly constructed of a clay-cored earth embankment. Deep beneath the water nowadays is the former village of Ashopton and roads along the valley had to be diverted and now run over the Ashopton and Ladybower Viaducts.
After crossing the dam we next descended to Yorkshire Bridge before ascending to the Thornhill Trail. The trail runs along the course of a former narrow gauge railway, specially built to transport materials to build the Ladybower Reservoir. A large bench here was our lunch stop.

Our walk over to the small and attractive village of Aston was on a pleasant hill path. Aston has many interesting and picturesque cottages and the historic Aston Hall dates from 1578.
Descending across pastures towards Hope we rounded off the walk with a visit to a tea room.

Thornhill Lane at Aston on a peaceful spring afternoon.

Marion and Unice meet a freindly horse and its owner in Aston.

Relaxing at the end of a walk with a ice cream and a cup of tea, complete with footrests. Courtyard Tearooms, Hope

Group walk report 17th April

At the Magpie Mine, Sheldon

Brian Griffiths recently led the East Cheshire ramblers on a walk exploring the industrial past around Monyash and Sheldon. Starting out from Monyash the group headed north on field path passing Hard Rake a nature reserve which has some rare limestone loving plants in season.

After crossing a road we made a descent through Deep Dale where there were many cowslips and at the foot we stopped for our morning break.
To get to Sheldon it meant a steep ascent up a wooded valley before crossing more fields to reach this former mining village.

From Sheldon it was just a short walk to reach the Magpie Mine which was our stopping point for lunch. Afterwards Brian gave us a potted history of the mine. The Magpie Mine commenced operation in 1740 and was one of several mines in the area. Right from the start there was an issue with stopping the mine from flooding and by 1824 a Newcomen type engine was installed to keep the main shaft free of water. In 1827, 800 tons of lead was extracted, a record which stood until 1871 but the mine was always dogged with disputes with other nearby mines and sometimes fires were lit underground to smoke rival miners out, but this resulted in three miners being suffocated by fumes in 1839. In 1839 the famous Cornish mine engineer John Taylor was brought in to re-open the Magpie Mine and introduce a number of improvements and deepened the main shaft to 208 metres. New pumping engines were installed but water seepage remained a major problem. In 1873 a drainage channel was cut through the rock to take water away to the River Wye some two kilometres away but this proved very time consuming and costly.

For the afternoon we headed south via field paths and lanes and later descended to Lathkill Dale. Turning right, we headed upstream beside the crystal clear water which further up the valley was emerging from a cave system. En-route we stopped for an afternoon break and afterwards the group made our way back to Monyash stopping for afternoon tea in the village.

At the Magpie Mine, Sheldon

Harrop Brook Bridge

Historic Footbridge Saved

An iconic stone arch footbridge across Harrop Brook near Bollington has been saved from collapse thanks, in part, to a donation by East Cheshire Ramblers. The bridge was probably built in Victorian times. It is in the Peak District National Park and is on the Gritstone trail, a popular long distance trail stretching from Disley all the way south to Kidsgrove.

Over the years the bridge supports have been eroded by the force of the Harrop Brook and the bridge is in danger of collapse. However, the cost of restoration far exceeded the cost of replacing it with a ‘standard’ timber footbridge. East Cheshire Ramblers considered that it would be tragic to lose this unique little structure and have pledged £500 towards the cost of restoration. CEC obtained similar donations from Pott Shigley, Bollington and Rainow Parish Councils and also from the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society. The repairs are in hand and due for completion by summer 2019.

This is an example of the work of the Footpaths Committee of East Cheshire Ramblers whose members regularly liaise with the Public Rights of Way Unit of Cheshire East Council. The Footpaths Committee monitor an area stretching from Disley and Poynton in the north to Wincle in the south. The Committee strives to ensure that all the public footpaths in this area of East Cheshire are in good order.

Harrop Brook Bridge showing a gap in the stonework at the right hand side of the photograph.

ECR Coach Trip to Arnside

A coach load of ECR members enjoyed a coach trip to the Arnside area on Morecambe Bay on a rainy day in June. Despite a dire forecast the rain never amounted to much more than a heavy drizzle and had almost stopped by the time we set off back home.
The day got off to an unusual start when we stopped to pick up one of our members in Macclesfield and had to repel boarders who had mistaken our coach for theirs and were insistently trying to join us. We shall never know if they would have enjoyed a day walking in Cumbria.
All three of our walks ended by walking over Arnside Knott and down into Arnside village. There were surprisingly good views of the Kent Estuary and the southern Lake District from the top. One disappointment was that the promised stop for ice cream before the ascent was not possible because the tea shop was closed: perhaps the weather was too bad for even hardy Cumbrian farmers.
The short walk was led by Ruth Harrison and started a mile or so along the coast from Arnside at Sandside heading inland through the village streets and over fields to the peel (or pele?) tower at Hazelslack. The route then took us round Silverdale Moss across surprisingly dry fields to a pleasant walk through woodland to the ruin of Arnside Tower and its closed café. This led to the only serious ascent of the day through the woods surrounding the Knott. The Knott has superb views over the estuary, the Lakeland hills and back towards the Tower. The walk finished with a descent to Arnside and its welcoming cafés, most of which were actually open.

Short walkers on Arnside Knott

Hazelslack Tower

Arnside Tower

The medium walk was led by Steve Hull and started near the fire station in Milnthorpe walking across a playing field by the River Bela to avoid the narrow village streets. We made a sharp turn to cross the river near to Dallam Tower (another peel tower) and then walked across the deer park with its many deer calves. After passing a deer shelter and two mills – one for making specialised paper and one an ancient corn mill – we took a path overgrown cow parsley which proved to be the wettest part of the day. The route then went up through woods to the Fairy Steps. None of our party took up the challenge of descending the steps. The descent to Hazelslack was taken slowly across slippery limestone where we joined the route of the short walk. We followed that route until Arnside Knott, from where we descended to walk along the coast for the last half mile into Arnside. On top of the Knott we heard the siren warning of the approaching bore across Morecambe Bay which can be very dangerous for the unwary.

Medium walkers on Arnside Knott with Arnside Tower in the background

Arnside Viaduct from the Knott
The long walk, led by Colin Park,started close to Carnforth station where the 1945 film ‘Brief Encounter’ was filmed and then proceeded via Warton village with its ruined old rectory to Warton Crag which with its wooded limestone country required some complicated navigation. From the crag the walk continued through Leighton Moss Nature Reserve down to the coast at Crag Foot and then along the coast via Jenny Brown’s Point and Jack Scout to the west of Silverdale. After taking the coast route round Arnside Park the party ascended Arnside Knott and so back to the coach at Arnside.

Near Jenny Brown’s Point on the long walk (Warduck’s Wall)

Coastal viewSilverdale Cove

Text: Steve Hull
Photos: Jenny Bordoli, Maggie Swindells, Sylvia Hill