Trafford Triumph! Congratulations June Mabon!

At the beginning of September Colin Finlayson kindly sent me an article from the Autumn edition of The Ramblers Magazine. The article described how in 2015 June Maybon applied for a well-used path, running from the back of Timperley Metrolink tram station to the Bridgewater Canal, to be added to the Definitive Map. This was not an easy objective to achieve, especially when Railway and Canal Traffic Acts are involved. On this occasion neither the Canal and Riverside Trust nor Metrolink objected so an attractive off-road route, in a busy area, is now preserved for ever. Many thanks June.

East Cheshire Ramblers 50th Anniversary 2023

An early footpath inspection of Wildboarclough 1974

Early History of East Cheshire Ramblers

The inaugural meeting of what was to become East Cheshire Ramblers was held at Roe Street Sunday School in Macclesfield on the 4th October 1973.  It was organised by Lesley Meadowcroft from Manchester Ramblers Association and about fifty people attended the first meeting.

The meeting covered Rights of Way and the need for a definitive map for Cheshire.  Some of those present at the meeting expressed some concern about potential confusion with Macclesfield Rambling Club and not everyone was keen on the idea of public rights of way! Concerns were raised about walkers leaving gates open, climbing walls, letting dogs loose and “How would you like people walking through your garden?” One person was particularly vocal about walkers trespassing on Big Low, Rainow.  

Despite the views aired, twenty people were keen to start Macclesfield Ramblers Association and a committee of ten was established.  It was made up of Chair Tom Chalmers, Secretary David Hughes, Footpath Secretary Pat Bowyer, Treasurer Alan Pedlar, Publicity Pauline Pedlar and committee members Sid Forse, Henry Trufit, Mike Corfield and Margaret Oldfield.  Later Marjorie Cooper became Chair and Anne Court became the Secretary.

One of the first tasks was to create a copy of the Definitive Map of Cheshire showing the Public Rights of Way in the Macclesfield area.  The only maps, available at six inches to the mile, were held in the Cheshire County Council Offices in Chester and the Macclesfield library.  The committee spent hours creating maps with a scale of 2.5 inches to the mile with each footpath drawn in by hand. These maps still exist today. Routes were colour coded:  Purple (Footpaths) Green (Bridleways), Yellow (Parish Boundary). They created a “real treasure trove of footpaths”. In addition a great deal of time and effort was spent to ensure that every right of way was inspected annually. In order to achieve this, footpaths were divided into Parishes and each member agreed to inspect the footpaths in two Parishes. As we do today, the data was collated centrally. In the early days it was sent through annual reports to Pat Bowyer, the Footpath Secretary.  Complaints about ‘obstructions’ were passed to Cheshire County Council  who, it has to be said, at that time, ‘moved very slowly in the plains’! The Committee achieved more progress in Peak Park area where the support of the Countryside Rangers was invaluable.  Pat Bowyer also had great support from Donald Lee of Peak and Northern Footpaths Society.

The Committee faced a constant battle to prevent developers building over footpaths, particularly on new housing estates.  In addition, major issues arose over the proposed route of the Silk Road through Dumbah Hollow.  Over the years careful negotiation was required when farms were converted into private residences. No one wanted a public right of way through their new back garden.  Paths were moved away illegally from farms and often via unsuitable diversions.

The group gained publicity and increased members through Pauline’s articles in the Macclesfield Express, where they allowed her a ‘few inches’ each week.  A particularly difficult confrontation with a farmer on a footpath in Wincle required the intervention of the local police. Fortunately, the constable was familiar with the Definitive Map and the walkers were allowed to proceed. This resulted in some welcome but unexpected publicity! The Macclesfield Express ran with the headline: “POLICE CALLED IN OVER FOOTPATH DISPUTE”. Numbers in Macclesfield Ramblers doubled as a result!  The path in question now has a stile, gate and footpath.

The group also offered support to Chris Bamsey, one of the Country Side Rangers. Together they put in stiles, improved muddy paths and helped install the bridge over Shell Brook.  Another major legacy is the work the group did to secure the Gritstone Trail. Initially the route was to be called the Cheshire Ridgeway as Derbyshire Ramblers were setting up the Gritstone Way. It was eventually agreed to call the route the Gritstone Trail to match and complement the Sandstone Trail in the West of Cheshire. It’s proved to be a great success and has certainly increased footfall over the years. Forty miles of the trail were walked in the 40th Anniversary year and this year fifty miles were walked to celebrate our Golden Anniversary year.

With grateful thanks to Alan Pedlar

1976 Shell Brook
Looking at a proposed diversion through Throstles Nest Farm near Macclesfield forest in1973/74
Shell Brook in 1975/76

ECR MUSIC NIGHT! Friday 22nd September 7.30pm

You are invited to our Live Music Night of popular songs from the 60’s and 70’s for you to sing along with, hosted by John Galligan on guitar.
 
Admission: £6
Where: Macclesfield Tennis Club, Learning Zone Campus, Park Lane, Macclesfield SK11 8JR
When: Friday 22nd September 2023 to include a light buffet, bar drinks available to buy
To book: Gina Thompson gthompemail@gmail.com 07843 914886.  Bookings close 15th September
 
Online Payment (please let Gina know that you have payed)
Account Name: Ramblers Association (CH2)
Sort code: 60-83-01
Account number: 20129929
Please quote reference MUS
 
By Cheque: Cheques made payable to RA East Cheshire Group and send to
Gina Thompson
6 Reynolds Mews 
Wilmslow
SK9 2NR 
 
Date for your diary 50th Anniversary Luncheon at Davenport Golf Club 7th October.  More information to follow soon.

REPORT ECR Weekend Away 2-4 June 2023 Mulberry Inn, Llwynmawr, nr Chirk

A group of 39 East Cheshire Ramblers spent the weekend in the Glyn Ceiriog Valley.  The majority stayed in the very comfortable Mulberry Inn, Llwynmawr where the staff made us very welcome. As there wasn’t room for us all, some people found alternative accommodation in the area, however nearly all of us gathered at the hotel for the Saturday meal.  We were blessed with exceptionally lovely weather for the entire weekend and made full use of the hotel garden after the walks. A big thank you to all the walk leaders: John G, Maggie S (x2), Jane R, Ann T and Sue M.

Saturday 3 June Long Walk (John G)

Thirteen of us assembled in the centre of Glyn Ceiriog, the main settlement in the Ceiriog valley. Eleven of the group were staying for the weekend, with two of our regular Weekend Long walkers joining us for the day. On a warm sunny day we left the village passing the site of the Glyn Valley Tramway depot before ascending a wooded road that took us high above the valley. At the top of the steep climb, the vista opened out giving a wonderful view over the valley below and the hills beyond over towards Llangollen and the Dee Valley. The valley is an undulating network of farmers’ fields in a sweeping curve between Llanarmon to the west and where the river meets the narrow  ravine formed by the cliffs at Pandy.

1  East Cheshire Ramblers in the Ceiriog Valley

The road now continued on the Upper Ceiriog Trail, a circular route aimed at horse riders as well as walkers. After Spring Hill stables the trail went onto a gravel and sometimes grass track. We stopped for our morning break where there was a grassy bank on one side of the track and large flat rocks on the other to sit on. Continuing again, the track now started to descend towards the valley floor. We then left the Upper Ceiriog trail to follow a footpath as we approached the river by the small settlement of Tregeiriog. Passing the old mill, the path stayed close to the river for the next mile or so as we arrived at the church at Llanarmon where we stopped for lunch.

The Church, which was built in Victorian times, is unusual in having two pulpits inside. Outside in front of the west door are two very gnarled yew trees reputed to be over 1000 years old.

St Garmon’s Church
3  Inside of Church showing twin pulpits

After lunch, we picked up the Upper Ceiriog trail again as we walked through the village passing the Hand pub and the Village Hall. We then crossed the River Ceiriog and started our climb out of the valley on the north side. A steep climb along a road initially and then a recently re-laid gravel track took us high above the valley floor to a large expanse of open heather moorland. After a couple of miles, the track gradually descended towards the River Tierw. As we reached the valley, we left the trail again and followed a wooded path eastwards towards Pandy before climbing up to farms at Gelli and Aberweil, and then along a deeply wooded path where our navigation skills were tested to find our route down to the road just outside Glyn Ceiriog and then back to the cars. We had time for a refreshing pot of tea or a beer outside the Glyn Valley Hotel before heading back to our respective accommodations, or back home (for the day walkers).

Saturday 3 June Medium Walk (Maggie S)

Twenty three walkers took part in the 10 mile medium walk from Chirk. We set off with the short walkers and passed by the Cadbury factory where the smell of chocolate lingered as we dropped down onto the Llangollen Canal. We left the canal after walking through the tunnel and joined the Offa’s Dyke footpath where we stopped for a break and a drink in the sunshine with the short walkers. The footpath took us across fields and along quiet lanes to Chirk Castle where we all stopped for a picnic lunch and well-earned ice cream. The medium walk then continued, with two additional walkers, back through the Chirk Castle Estate where we re-joined the Offa’s Dyke footpath. The group walked down through woodlands to the Ceiriog River where we crossed Pont Faen, the oldest stone bridge in the Ceiriog valley. From there we continued along Offa’s Dyke, climbing a steep ascent, until we reach the other side of the Ceiriog Valley. We continued along footpaths and lanes before descending through shady woodland to the river. We followed the river footpath which took us under the aqueduct and railway bridge, back to Chirk.

In the background Chirk Aqueduct a 70-foot (21 m) high and 710-foot (220 m) long navigable aqueduct that carries what is now the Llangollen Canal across the Ceiriog Valley near Chirk, on the England-Wales border, spanning the two countries.

Saturday 3 June Short Walk – when 7 became 5 and 6.5 became 8.3 (Jane R)

A group of 7 opted for the short walk on Saturday morning. We joined the medium walkers for the sections north along the canal and then south along Offa’s Dyke to the grounds of Chirk Castle.

After lunch 2 of the group joined the medium walkers so we were 5.

We enjoyed fabulous views of the castle in the sunshine before setting off through the parkland to Chirk. We bravely walked round a herd of cattle, including a bull (preferable to climbing the fence).

The ladies were impressed by Chirk Aqueduct and wanted a closer look, this led to crossing it to admire the view. With the help of OS maps, I found a revised route going via Chirk Bank and onto the café in Chirk. Hence 6.5 miles became 8.3.

Gates of Chirk Castle

Sunday 4 June Long Walk  (Ann T)

On a beautiful day with blue skies and a coolish breeze, 15 of us set off from a small car park, along a fairly potholed road, steeply uphill from the village of Glyn Ceiriog. Our first high point was Vivod mountain. A good viewpoint, especially north toward Moel Famau and the Dee estuary, visible through binoculars, but not a spectacular summit. A steep descent and then forest path led us to ascend Moel Fferna, a northern outpost of the Berwyn range. Lunch was eaten here while two more local chaps debated the names of the mountain in view, but it was decided we could see Snowden and various associated tops plus the Rhinogs. A short section of deep heather led us to a track and descent to Blaen-y-cwm and a short steep bridleway followed by field paths to return to the road which led to the car park. All agreed it had been a good walk and very sociable as there were lots of tracks rather than narrow paths.

Sunday 4 June Medium Walk (Sue M)

Sixteen walkers took part in the Sunday medium walk, which started at the Mulberry Inn. Within a short time we were walking along easy pleasant paths through woodland and grasslands full of wild flowers above the valley of the Afon Ceiriog.  Slightly steeper paths took us higher towards the top of the moors giving us stunning views of the deeply dissected and rocky gorge-like valley below.  

Walking down to the river we learnt of past industries: quarrying and gunpowder production, but now the area is very quiet and unspoilt with small, scattered farms and hamlets. The paths took us over the top of the moors with more lovely views before returning to the Mulberry.

Sunday 4 June Short Walk (Maggie S)

The Ceiriog Valley, west of Chirk, must be one of the most neglected and yet one of the most beautiful areas for walking in Wales, if not in Britain. Nine walkers set off for the 6.8 mile short walk from the village of Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning. We climbed a hill south of the village and made a steep but gradual ascent to the ridge high above the valley.  We watched curlews swoop and glide above us and listened to sky larks as they soared into the blue, blue sky. After a stop for coffee, we continued along the Cefn Hir-fyndd ridge before dropping down to Llidiart-cae-hir where we stopped for lunch. From there we walked through wild flower meadows before turning right on to the lower slopes and a gentle walk back down the valley.