Creating Steps at Gausie Brow on Pott Shrigley Footpath 9, by Harrop Wood


I have walked Pott Shrigley FP 9 several times in all seasons. If the ground is wet, or even just damp, the path is dangerous where it descends into the woodland at Gausie Brow, with very high possibility of injury through slipping and falling onto one’s back with back or head contact with various rocks projecting above the surface, or ripping clothes or skin against barbed wire with arms outstretched to keep or gain balance. The top drystone wall stile existing stone steps had exceptionally large steep drops (400 – 500mm) which were difficult to negotiate by persons with constricted mobility.  The rotted handrail was loose and was ‘supplemented’ by barbed wires!

After a brief discussion with CEC’s PROW officer, Nicola Swinnerton, we agreed our Project Team would build a flight of steps to overcome the difficulty of this descent. The plans show access routes to the site for construction of the new flight of steps at Gausie Brow.

Plan based on OS map with Gaussie Brow centred. Showing Bakestonedale Road road access point A (to C and D) and Spuley Road access point F (to B and E).
OS map showing location of the steps below E at Gausie Brow and loaded car access point to E from B, and walk-in access from D.

Permissions were given to Nicola by very cooperative and understanding landowners to:

  • Construct the steps at ‘E’
  • Have vehicular access along a private vehicular access from Spuley Lane at ‘F’
  • To drive an estate car with heavy tools, timber, and gravel bags through a private electric gate at ‘B’ and the farm’s sheep fields to ‘E’. (One day required for these deliveries).
  • Have vehicular access from Bakestonedale Road at ‘A’ along a private drive of Sherrow-Booth dwelling to point ‘C’.
  • To park team cars at the top of 20-Acre Field at ‘C’ on several days
  • To drive an estate car daily, laden with tools and materials, to park at ‘D’ in 20-Acre Field with several smaller gravel deliveries.

Initially, whilst awaiting permission to be confirmed to allow us to build the steps, two team members cut back tree branches overhanging and obstructing the path between D and E.  Way-marker posts were placed, and a wooden stile’s step plank at D was studded with staples for better grip.

At the proposed steps site, cutting down and removal of some dense vegetation of hawthorn tree, 30mm diameter briar rose, holly bushes and brambles was carried out, enabling a survey of the site to proceed.

 The hillside’s vertical profile as well as cross sections of the eroded/hollowed-out path were determined. These were plotted on graph paper, and step positions positioned to eliminate the need to remove projecting rocks, whilst maintaining a regular pattern (rhythm) of riser heights and ‘going’ spaces between, and attempting to minimise the quantity of imported 20 mm sized limestone stones required to fill the step spaces. Reference pegs were placed and integrated in the survey for the future work’s setting-out.

I collected timber materials from CEC PROW’s depot at Winsford for the steps’ construction. Over 1.6 ton of 20 mm size limestone stones was brought from Ingersley Vale, where it had been stacked as surplus to requirements on the refurbishment of Rainow FP 38 project earlier this summer. Of this, approximately 0.6 ton was taken to Hedge Row for use on the Gritstone Trail (See ‘Gritstone Trail’ Article on web site) and the remainder to the top of the steps at E (via F and B). This took place on 11th August ’21.   All subsequent deliveries of materials, and daily transportation of tools were taken by wheelbarrow to and from the steps at D (just 200 metres each way), including surplus stones not required and recovered from Hedge Row works on the Gritstone Trail.

The steps were constructed from the bottom, except for the top three steps. 15 mm diameter steel pins were driven into the rocks to support the wooden risers where pegs could not penetrate. (And used as setting-out spacers).

The latter top three steps’ wood risers were built suspended above the ground, supported by posts, and backfilled with rocks and 20mm limestone subsequently.  This was necessary to keep step heights climbable whilst reaching the existing topmost stone step. The stone step protrudes from the drystone wall 300mm below the ‘threshold’ step across the wall. All wood steps below this have 200mm maximum rise.  The wood step risers were sized 50 x 200 mm and one metre wide.

Wood ‘stringers’ (50 x 200 mm cross-section were erected up the slope to support the risers and to contain the 20mm sized limestone infill. The top steps’ side not constrained by a wall was ‘boxed in’ with a raised stringer to contain the deeper fill material.   More stone (approximately 0.5 ton) was imported as 10mm sized limestone chippings by estate car, delivered to point D and wheelbarrowed to E. On one occasion, a passing runner stopped to chat, and then very kindly, changed his training mode briefly to fetch two barrowloads of gravel for us! Steps were cleaned to allow sufficient depth for stone surfacing. Vegetation piles were cut up and stacked in undergrowth.

Posts were erected on the wall-side of the steps and supported independent of the stringer.  This separation of the step and handrail structures ensures future replacement of steps or handrails will be facilitated. All the handrail posts were wrapped in bitumen/polythene sheeting (heat-welded to the wood) for 100 mm above, and 250mm below ground level.  This zone is recognised to be where rotting of the wood occurs.  Handrails were affixed to the posts at two heights above the steps, and were planed and sanded along their top side and corners beforehand. The steps were completed on 27th August.

Spring water, collected in a field tank, overflows to run from the field above the steps, seeps through the wall at E, and saturates the ground adjacent to the steps. More critically, this run-off saturates and muddies the path below the steps as it crosses the path to reach a naturally formed ‘ditch’ by the wall further down.

We cleared a channel alongside the upper field wall which captures surface water flowing through rushes from the tank upstream of the wall. This directed water to a drainage ‘route’ through the wall between its wider spaced founding stones further away from the steps. However, once through the wall, the waters naturally follow the crossfall of the slope back towards the steps.   We installed a 225 mm diameter, two metre length of pipe across the path below the steps and channelled the water towards the pipe’s inlet. The pipe outfall fed into the ditch directly, clear of the path. The final task was to cover the pipe with rocks and grass tuffs and protect its intake with 50 x 200 mm planks against sheep and cattle footfalls. This was completed on 5th October.

During our works , time was taken to rationalize the path leading up to the steps from the valley. Two waymarker posts were placed strategically and their tops yellow-painted for better intervisibility in the woodland. Disks were fixed to them.

All of the 20 mm sized limestone and timber was supplied by CEC PROW. Additional bags of 10 mm sized chippings, several bags of quick-setting concrete, post protection materials and the pipe were supplied by East Cheshire Ramblers Group.

Thanks go to the following Projects Team members for their help and encouragement. Roger Fielding, Roger Jubb, Chris Munslow, Steve Osborne, Brian Richardson, Ian Wasson, Nick Wild and Alan Wilson. Amongst us, eight members attended on 42 person-days, and acheived 236 man-hours work – excluding lunch breaks.


Repairing of posts on Pott Shrigley FP 6 and 7 at Andrew’s Knob off Bakestonedale Road

On completion of ECR Project Team’s build of new steps on Pott Shrigley FP 9 on Gausie Brow, Nick Wild and Brian Richardson undertook to repair a finger post at the intersection of FP 7 with FP 6. A broken plastic finger was replaced and the post re-set to indicate FP 6 southwards; and new disks were added to indicate the true orientation of FP 7 towards Sherrow-Booth’s driveway. We were asked by the field owner to discourage ramblers from crossing his field in incorrect directions.

A new waymarker post was placed on FP 7 where it meets the private driveway to Sherrow-Booth , at the request of the driveway’s owner. A yellow cap was painted on this post to aid sighting its location from the aforesaid finger post.

About four man-hours work was sufficient to complete this task. The waymarker post was supplied by CEC PROW.


Surface improvements to the Gritstone Trail near Hedge Row (lane), near Sowcar, Bollington

The surface on the Gritstone Path (Rainow FP 28) north of Hedge Row, both on the approach and at the first kissing gate, has deteriorated due to rambler footfall. This has caused erosion and subsequent deep puddle water at both places. In this circumstance, negotiating the k-gate was especially constricted because of its railings.

Two of the Project Teams members, Nick Wild and Roger Jubb proposed to carry out refurbishment work. Gravel was taken from ECR Project Team’s temporary stockpile in Ingersley Val and stacked by the GT path at Hedge Row (40 bags at 15 kg each -approx. 0.6 tonne in all), for use in the repairs. Brian Richardson providing materials transport.

Both ‘hollows’ were drained by digging outlet channels, and both these and the hollows were filled with 20 mm limestones. The stone on the approach path was contained by placing side timbers (50 x 200 mm cross-section) with support stobs on the lower outlet side. The stone-filled drainage channels were covered with turves. Approximately 30 bags of stones were spread, and ten bags transported onwards to Gaussie Brow steps. (For the latter, see website article)

Their finished work has been captured in photos of an ECR Ramblers walk on the trail.

Roger and Nick each carried out four man-hours work on these tasks on Friday 6th August ’21. A vaste improvement.


Refurbishment of Steps on Rainow FP38 descending to Ingersley Vale

ECR Footpath Projects Team was called upon to repair a series of flights of steps on Rainow FP 38 descending from the top field of Savio House lands down to Ingersley Vale. Timber and gravel materials were supplied and financed by CEC PROW.

In July 2021 four bulk bags of 20mm sized limestone ‘gravel’ were dropped on the field side of Savio House fenced private drive, as was some long 50 x 200mm planks. A high priority was given to clearing this field by emptying the bags into smaller managable bags for transport by wheelbarrow (100 metres) across the field to a far gate. Thence, through the gate, down four stone steps of a drystone retaining wall, to a stacking space by the wall, at the top of the stair flights in woodland. Very heavy work!

A team carried out vegetation clearance from the top gate and down as far as (but stopping at) a final series of stone steps contained between wooden hand railings (draped in decorative style low-voltage lighting units). Tree branches and encroaching bushes of holly, hawthorn, ash and bramble were substantially cut back.

Of the top flight of twelve wooden steps, four risers were replaced and the flight was strengthened on its downslope side with 50 x 200mm stringer planks, restrained by timber pegs (stobbs) at one metre intervals or less. The surface soil was removed from the step ‘goings’ and 20mm sized limestone gravel fill was placed on the full flight.

The next flight down held ten steps, of which four were replaced. The whole flight was similarly strengthened on the downslope side with a 50 x 200 side stringer. 20 mm sized limestone gravel surfacing was placed on the flight.

The third feature is a single step, now replaced and gravelled.

The next existing steps were formed as stone risers – slabs on end. We reduced their height difference by placing an intermediate wooden riser. A side wood stringer was built to strengthen the wood riser aned contain surface fill of 20 mm sized limestone along the full flight length. At this location, the slope fell away very steeply. To ensure the side timber has stability, raking long stakes were driven into the slope, under the board and path, and fixed to the board’s standard vertical wooden stobb restraints.

Nearer the lower section of path, a new flight of steps was built around a raised gully which formed a large and high obstructive step across the path. In this task some existing stone risers were interspersed with new timber risers and a gravel-retaining side timber installed with vertical stobb restraints. Additional long stakes were required alongside the steep side-slope adjacent to this boarding. As for the higher flight, they were driven raked, under the path, and nailed to the vertical restraining stobbs.

In all, approximately two tons of limestone gravel was spread on the step ‘goings’ to complete surfacing of the flights. 1.6 tons of bagged gravel was left stacked against the top wall for for their removal to the next two projects for this summer. The top gate’s latch was adjusted and the gate trimmed to achieve closer contact and thus enable easier closure of the gate.

I am pleased to thank Janet Allen, Melanie Davy, Roger Fielding, Adrian Flinn, Roger Jubb, Christine McKillop, Chris Munslow, Stephen Osborne, Graham Richmond, Micheal Tooze, Ian Wasson, Nick Wild and Alan Wilson for their enthusiastic support and results. 22 person-visits of men and women attending during these three days worked for 114 hours (excluding lunch breaks).

The land-owner, whilst somewhat concerned when we started, expressed her satisfaction with our works by gifting us a box of very nice cakes on Thursday morning!


A Path Improvement at Poynton, in Memory of Alan Catherall

Alan Catheral, sadly, passed away in January this year. Our ECR committee recognised a wish of our members to provide some permanent recognition of Alan for his enthusiastic and comprehensive contribution to the affairs of East Cheshire Ramblers Group, both in the countryside and management. Quoting from our Chairman Jane Gay “Alan has been a member of ECR since 1985. He was an extremely strong long walker and walk leader who enjoyed the mountains. He particularly enjoyed walking with other members of ECR and chatting to them about the countryside and his latest projects. He was passionate about improving access for walkers.”

Alan working at Back Dane concessionary path December 2017 (See Article “Restoring a Concessionary Footpath at Back Dane, Wincle – ECR Projects Team, November 2018” herewith)

It was agreed that Poynton-with-Worth FP 27, centred at SJ 9470 8270 between Elm Wood and Ben’s Wood would be improved, and a plaque in memory of Alan would be posted there. A kissing gate and finger post would be erected at the path’s north-eastern end, a waymarker post erected at an intervisible more southerly spot. At the southern section by the canal, hawthorn trees would be cut back to improve the path’s accessibility. At the south end, plastic fingers would be restored to an existing finger post, and its ground anchorage made more firm. This post is adjacent to a footbridge leading to Hagg Farm and Poynton Coppice.

Eight members of our ECR FP Projects Team assembled on site in July and carried out this work to everybody’s satisfaction. Assembling and placing the kissing gate……..

Clearance of hawthorn tree obstructions on the path by the Canal……….

A finger post was erected by the gate, and the fence meshed to the gate……..

Incidentally, we have adopted a protective system for posts against rotting, whereby a bituthene sleeve is wrapped around the post at its most vulnerable rotting zone (100 mm above, and 250 mm below ground level), melted and rolled onto the wood………

A waymarker post was placed midway………..and the bridgeside finger post was refurbished……..

Soon after, a site visit was made to attach the plaque to the new finger post……

My thanks go to Janet Allan, Roger Fielding, Adrian Flinn, Ken Hobbs, Roger Jubb, Ian Wasson and Nick Wild. They contributed to a team total of more than 39 hours of work, excluding breaks.


Waymarker Posts Placed in Gin Clough, Rainow

In March of 2021, our PROW officer, Nicola Swinnerton asked me if East Cheshire Ramblers Projects Team would place some waymarker posts in Gin Clough at Rainow. Rainow Footpaths 57 and 59 intersect here and cross the brook, but there is some confusion about their routes away from the brook at this locality.

Roger Jubb, Nick Wild and I obliged by placing three new waymarker posts with disks, either side of the brook and by a northerly wall, and placed disks on a fence post. We cut away some gorse bushes to improve intervisibility between these posts along the paths.

In all, I recorded 11 hours for our field work and my previous materials collection.


Clearing Vegetation Blockage at Airport Inn Footpath

On crossing the A538 eastwards, Wilmslow Footpath 102 by the River Bollin should provide a passage for walkers approaching the Airport Hotel, and Styal Woods beyond. However, bushes, copsed tree branches, brambles and plants such as himalayan balsam periodically smother the path and completely block rambler passage along it for its full 30 metres length.

So five of East Cheshire Ramblers Footpath Projects Team set out to restore the path with an open aspect. Several years of growth of branches rising to 10 metres from coppiced ash and sycamore stumps were cut down and the stumps reduced to ground level. Likewise blackthorn, hawthorn and bramble bushes and ‘undergrowth’ were raised to ground level. Rotted fallen tree trunks, covered in ivy, were sliced up and rolled further from the path. Some dead or dormant large diameter tree stumps were left, but the remaining path was cleared for two metres width.

Cleared, but some tidying-up to do.
David James, Janet Allan, Melanie Davy, Helen Battilana

My thanks go to four members of the Projects Team shown above. Five of us attended for a long morning which started very wet, and ended in sunshine. 19 work-hours were completed on site.

New finger and waymarker posts erected near Jenkin Chapel – ECR Projects Team

In early 2017, the PRoW officer for East Cheshire, Evan Pedley, asked if our Footpath Projects Team would install finger posts and waymarker posts on certain paths around Jenkin Chapel in Rainow Parish. He highlighted posts for paths FP 7, 8, and 10.

Hard at work (or at least one is) establishing a waymarker post on FP 7.
Roger Fielding, Duncan Learmond, Ken Hobbs, Chris Munslow.
Another hard-worker, Helen Battilana, made the stiles safer by fixing staples to steps.

Six of us turned out for the day to transport the posts to their sites, carry the tools and dig the holes. And despite appearances (taken advantage of by the author’s descriptions above), all six worked hard on a cold day, chiselling holes in bouldery ground, compacting backfill around posts, placing staples at stiles and clearing some brush and branches.

Centred on OS SJ 9854 7678

On FP 7, two waymarker posts were placed either side of the brow on Fox Hill and a finger post was placed by the semi-collapsed pasture wall at the missing stile crossing point.

Some tree branches and ground vegetation were cut back to clear the route through light tree cover descending to the wall. A tangle of old, trampled fence mesh was made safe by rolling it up and depositing it clear of the ‘stile’.

A finger post was placed for FP 5’s intersection with FP 7.

A finger post was erected north, and clear of, the farm building plot, to show the route for FP 8. Disks were added to the existing ‘post’ south of the building to add clarity to the routes of FPs 6, 7 and 8.

Footpath 10 was walked northwards to determine the commonly used route between sedge-filled boggy ground, and to find the options for crossing the stream at Green Stack. To aid finding the former option when going south at the wall corner, a fallen waymarker post was re-established twenty metres south of the road. A finger post was placed near to where the road crosses the stream.

Lower branches were taken out from fir trees alongside FP 10 approaching a stile beside Green Stack.

This project was completed in 1 day by 6 ECR Footpath Project Team members who, between them, worked 25.5 hours (excluding lunch break). Helen Battilana, Roger Fielding, Ken Hobbs, Duncan Learmond, Chris Munslow, and myself, Brian Richardson, attended.



Footpath restoration works between Middlewood and Poynton on eleven linked footpaths.

Map centred on OS SJ 934 845

This article describes ECR Footpath Project Team’s restoration works in Poynton-with-Worth Parish on paths, in an area of 1.5 sq km, northeast of Poynton and west of Middlewood.  It is encompassed by Norbury Brook (north), the Middlewood road (east), Higher Poynton (south), and surrounds Rabbit Burro Farm and Prince’s Wood. Improvements took place, throughout 2017, on eleven footpaths, all identified on the map below.

This is a historic coal-mining area, and many of these paths are relics of coal-transporting routes which criss-cross the land with carting tracks, and railway wagon haulways etc. and which, at different stages of history, connected with (or avoided!) turnpikes, High Lane (north), the Macclesfield Canal (east) and, later, the railways in the east, and in the west at old sidings by Poynton Station.

The comparatively well-drained colliery railway and haulway embanked paths have been inundated with gorse bushes and trees over recent years, such that ramblers have been forced off the raised ground and have had to pick their ways along deep muddy cattle-formed tracks.

Crewe-based PROW Officer for this part of East Cheshire, Evan Pedley, presented me with 1:5,000 plans, marked up to show heavily overgrown or ‘lost’ gorse-smothered sections of paths. He asked if our Projects Team could clear the paths of the excessive overgrowth, and if we would provide replacement handrails in some places.

I programmed this work at Poynton-with-Worth in phases, alternating with visits to other East Cheshire project work sites. The Poynton project took up 18 days with visits to the area’s footpaths from February to October. As a result, 2017 was a busy and productive year for the Projects Team, which included 17 days through June to August spent reconstructing a long series of steps at Bollington*, and visits to work on paths in the parishes of Prestbury, Rainow and Wincle*. (*see previous posted articles).

Aspects of the team’s work in this Poynton-with-Worth area:

  • General vegetation clearing (and grubbing up of roots)
  • Establishing new finger posts and waymarker posts
  • Relocating footpaths
  • Preparing the north seating for a boardwalk – and erecting a new notice post
  • Constructing new, and restoring old, handrailings
  • Stile repairs

I will describe our work, in categories.

General vegetation clearance

Showing paths with vegetation clearances

Footpath FP 9

We commenced on February 15th with clearances on FP 9 progressing from east to west. Linked clearances encompassed various intersecting paths as pictured above.

FP9, between FPs 85 and 53, was especially smothered in gorse, and was unwalkable. Considerable effort and time was spent cutting down the bushes and grubbing up the interwoven roots, enabling a clear view and walkable path along its embankment.

Four views taken in December 2020 along FP 9, east and west of its crossing of FPs 17 and 54, are shown below.

Footpath FP 85

FP85, whilst walkable, was heavily overgrown and the team cut back the hedgerow each side extensively.

FP 85’s intersection with FP12 was found to be located too far north, and we cut through the hedgerows either side of FP 85 at the correct location for FP 12 and relocated the finger post. (For more views see ‘Finger and Sign Posts – further below).

The south section of FP 85, is ‘lost’ in Prince’s Wood approaching FPs 6 and 7. The ‘selected’ approach follows the fenceline using unlocked gates for passage. Finding, clearing and clearly waymarking the designated path is a task for the future.

Footpath FP 17

Three thickets of trees were thinned out or cleared on FP 17 between FP 9 and the intersection with 53 and 62.

An extensive length of FP17 north of FP53/62 intersection was cleared of branches, saplings, and brambles.

Footpath FP 54

On FP 54 within Prince’s Wood, several hollies and small trees were cleared from the path’s line, mainly between FPs 5 and 6.

Footpath FP 14

Two of us visited FP 14 in woodlands at the north edge of this area, and cleared some hollies and other branches. We added new waymarker disks to existing posts, and, as described later, erected a waymarker post.

Preparations for a new boardwalk

At the north end of FP 54, where FP 17 crosses FP 9 onto FP 54, there are two sunken channels orientated east-west which flood in winter and walkers used to need to find alternative ways around these obstructions to go south on 54. As our path clearances exposed the crossing, East Cheshire Ramblers Group was inspired to approach the PROW officer, Evan Pedley, at Cheshire East Council to arrange installation of a boardwalk across the two hollows. East Cheshire Ramblers Group arranged finances from Ramblers UK for the boardwalk’s purchase and its erection. The erection contract was arranged by Evan Pedley.

As part of FP 54 clearance, our project team cut down obstructing silver birch branches at the boardwalk north abutment on FP 9 edge.

With the boardwalk construction imminent, I attended the location for two days by myself to prepare the north embankment for the boardwalk seating pad, and to ensure free passage from the boardwalk to FP 9. For this, I completed cutting out tree branches, and grubbed up gorse bushes and some tree stumps.

A contractor to CEC carried out the boardwalk installation work, which, as stated earlier, was financed by Ramblers UK through East Cheshire Ramblers Group.

Finger, waymarker and notice posts

Showing new and replacement finger and waymarker posts and new boardwalk ‘acknowledgement’ notice

As footpath vegetation clearance progressed on FP 9, the crossing point with FP 17 and 54 was exposed and the location for a four-way finger post was determined. Just south of this intersection FP 54 crosses the new boardwalk and a waymarker post was erected on the brow of the large field further south.

FP 12, crossing FP 85 and approaching FP 9 seemed to be mis-located 20 metres too far north. Thanks to GPS, this was readily confirmed, and its correct alignment determined. Following hedgerow clearances described above, finger posts on FPs 85 and 11 were moved south to locate the FP 12 intersections correctly. A waymarker was added to FP 12 on the brow of the rise crossing the grassy field eastwards to New House Farm.

Two waymarker posts were erected at the customarily used south end of FP 85, where it splits to join FP 7 at two spots. Waymarker posts were added at the intersections of FP 54 and both FPs 5 and 6.

A Finger post was added at the intersection of FPs 11, 18 and 19. A waymarker was added on FP 14 in the wood near a bend.

We erected a notice board at the north end of the linked boardwalks on FP 54, visible on FPs 9 and 17.

Stile repairs

Showing Locations of Handrailing Installations (in green), – and New Boardwalk (in Red)

Stiles were repaired or improved on FP 54 in Princes Wood, on FP 85 near its north link to FP 17, and on FP 17 by FP 53.

New handrailing and repairs

Showing Locations of new and repaired handrailings

In Princes Wood a single wood sleeper crosses a small brook. A handrail was constructed there. Meanwhile staples were hammered to the stile steps to enhance boot grip.

In the northeast corner of this area, adjacent to FP62 there is a deep sump collecting water into a pipe culvert in a hollow formed by an adjacent brook. Evan Pedley had asked for a guard rail to be positioned by this sump and culvert to protect walkers and their children. In May, three of us attended to the installation.

Our third handrailing foray was to FP 13 across Middlewood Road, east side of the area. Mike and I engaged in replacing handrails on steps to a footbridge across Norbury Brook. We replaced the roadside posts, mid-height and top handrails both sides on these steep steps.

ECR Footpaths Project Team Attendees

The project tasks described above were carried out by Janet Allan, Helen Battilana, Ian Black, Mike Collins, Roger Fielding, Adrian Flinn, Barbara Hare, Ken Hobbs, David James, Roger Jubb, Duncan Learmond, Gillian North, Tom North, Brian Richardson and Ian Wasson.

Amongst us fifteen team members, we visited the project on 18 dates between February and October 2017, attending on 51 person-days and fulfilling 219.5 hours of labour (excluding lunch breaks).


Footpath restoration work at Dunbah Hollow on Bollington and Prestbury parishes’ paths near The Silk Road, Macclesfield

Map centred on OS SL 9164 7692

Dumbah Hollow holds a brook which runs along the east side of the north end of the Silk Road, Macclesfield.  The main path, Prestbury FP 33A follows a route from Flash Lane, between the Silk Road and the brook, to meet with Bollington FP6 where it crosses the brook further south. Prestbury FP 3 crosses the Silk Road and our path 33A to descend and cross the brook to Bollington FP5.  Noise from the road impinges a little upon our appreciation of the natural beauty of this stream and its wooded banks, but it is a lovely path to walk.

Incidentally, the stream with no name can be traced to its confluence (a grand name for such a lowly stream!) with the Bollin. It joins the Bollin at Top o’ th’ Hill, opposite Mottram Hall, avoiding the River Dean and Buttley sewage works on the way. It once served a hydraulic ram near its Bollin confluence.

By November 2013, Path 33A was overgrown with brambles and tree branches, and the wood structures needed major repairs. There are several flights of wooden sleeper steps, and boardwalks and footbridges crossing the stream. I shall describe our Project Teams’ restorations work by types and locations thus:

  • Clearing brambles and bushes.
  • Clearing tree branches on FP 33A near Flash Lane.
  • Replacing the bridge handrails at Bollington FP 6.
  • Clearing vegetation, and replacing woodwork at Prestbury FP 3/Bollington FP 5 bridge steps and boardwalk.
  • Clearing vegetation, and replacing woodwork on steps down to the north kissing gate on FP 33A.

Clearing brambles and bushes

ECR Projects Team began work on this path on 25th November 2013, cutting out and grubbing up  brambles.

Clearing tree branches on FP 33A near Flash Lane

In October 2017, we returned to the low-lying northernmost section where trees from The Silk Road wooded verge had overhung the path and were resting upon the highway authority’s wooden fence.

The trees grow very profusely in the moist environment here. We have cut the branches back to beyond the fence, knowing they have space to thicken out within the fence confines for several years.  Better exposure to sunlight will help to dry the path now….

Clearing up. Duncan Learmond, Tom and Gill North, Ian Wasson, Mike Collins
Tree and vegetation scars healing – some months later.

Replacing the bridge handrails at Bollington FP 6

Handrail and posts, rotted and collapsed, on the bridge at FPs 33A and 6.

Prestbury CP FP33A crosses the bridge to Bollington CP FP 6 here. In May 2017, in response to the PROW Officer Evan Pedley’s request, and along with other works, our team attended to the replacement of the handrail here. New railposts and a handrail were constructed.

Clearing vegetation, and replacing woodwork at Prestbury FP 3/Bollington FP 5 steps, boardwalk and bridge.

Soil and vegetation were scraped off the steps and new wooden pegs were driven to support the wooden step faces, and thereby extending the sleeper servicability. Rather than disturb the step by removing firmly nailed old pegs, the new pegs were driven next to them. On this flight and on the flight further north on FP 33A, we drove over fifty new wooden pegs.

Several rotted posts and damaged handrails were replaced on the stairflight. The soils rested on shallow bedrock and we found concrete support to them necessary. Two planks were replaced on the boardwalk.

Clearing vegetation, and replacing woodwork on steps down to the north kissing gate on FP 33A.

Vegetation clearance and placing staples on the steps was carried out as a priority, since we used them frequently in damp conditions.

New handrail posts were required to replace missing and rotted posts.

The paths of Dumbah Hollow will need further attention at some time to replace the wooden steps and improve the muddy low-lying section of the path’s surface. We have laid branches to alleviate the worst of the mud.

Our thanks must go to sixteen of our volunteers: Janet Allan, Ian Black, Mike Bull, Mike Collins, Susan Dale, Andy Davies, Brian Griffiths, Barbara Hare, Ken Hobbs, Philip Hodgkinson, Duncan Learmond,  Gill and Tom North, Ian Wasson, Nick Wild and myself.

16 Projects Team team members made 29 visits to site on 9 days and worked 122 hours, excluding lunch breaks.