Long walk from Rainow by Linda Brackenbury

Enjoying some of that rare November sunshine.

The sun decided to come out of hiding for the East Cheshire Ramblers 11.5 mile circular walk from Smithy Lane, Rainow. The first objective was the hamlet at Gin Clough where a footpath was taken past Yearns Low Farm down to the Works used for Lamaload Reservoir. A climb then brought the party through a plantation of larch and pine to the reservoir’s United Utilities car park. After a short lane walk, we followed a moorland path leading up the slopes of Shining Tor, the highest point in Cheshire at 559metres. The group had a welcome break for coffee partway up with the slopes noticeably steeper after the rest. However, before the last ascent to the Shining Tor summit, the party turned left to follow a side valley parallel to the Tors Ridge above and so arrived at the ruins of Thursbitch. This evocative, remote valley stirs the imagination as evidenced by author Alan Garner, who specialises in books based on local locations, writing a book titled Thursbitch. Following Thursbitch’s old access track brought the party out on the lane above the well-known landmark of Jenkins Chapel. However, an indirect route was taken to the chapel via Green Stack Farm and then Green Booth Farm.
From the chapel, the ‘No Through Road’ of Back Lane was taken which drops to cross the Todd Brook. A steep ascent followed which is called The Corkscrew as the track turns in order to lessen the upward gradient. Even so, it was a significant ascent and the group stopped at the top for a well-earned lunch in the sun. Afterwards, a moorland path was taken towards Summer Close Farm but was then left for a concessionary path which enabled the group to continue along the ridge before dropping to Charles Head. Across the Macclesfield to Whaley Bridge B-road, an old farm track to Further Harrop Farm was taken. Beyond, a path parallel to the Harrop Valley led into Harrop Wood. Through the wood, the party turned left to cross the brooks in the valley bottom before a field path and track brought the party to Billinge Head Farm. A restricted byway now led on to Rainowlow Farm and just beyond the party joined Smithy Lane, a short distance above the walk starting point. The sun was still smiling on our return to round off an excellent day’s walking.