Long walkers weekend report 2nd-4th August at Kirkby Stephen

The group gathered by a rare AA village sign in Little Musgrave (Sunday walk).

Written by Colin Park & Graham Bothwell

The ‘long walkers’ of the East Cheshire Ramblers recently journeyed north to the Howgill Fells and the westernmost part of the Yorkshire Dales for three days of walking.

On the Friday, the group ventured up onto the Howgill Fells and set out from Sedbergh to make the steady ascent over Arant Haw and Calders to reach The Calf which at 676 metres is the highest point in this group of hills. The return was made over White Fell Head and quiet country lanes.
For the Saturday, Graham Bothwell led a linear moorland walk starting out from the small village of Keld in Upper Swaledale and the group followed a paved path heading towards Kisdon Force and used a wooden bridge to cross the River Swale, before continuing above Cotterby Scar and on towards Ravenseat Farm. On leaving the farm using an old stone bridge, we followed a minor road, track and then paddled across a shallow ford to use a right of way alongside Ney Beck. After passing a shooting hut the group left the footpath, headed across rough ground towards a prominent pillar of stones, then a ruined shelter before approaching a boggy section of the route. On negotiating this we headed towards White Mossy Hill and headed to highest point of the day at Nine Standards Rigg (662 metres). This summit is crowned with nine large cairns which once stood up to four metres high. Their origin is uncertain but they are marked on old maps dating back to 1738 and it is thought that they are much older. One theory is that they marked the boundary between Westmorland and Swaledale. From the summit, a gradual descent was made towards Hartley and before reaching the village we left the Coast to Coast route to walk along a disused railway over the substantial Merrygill and Podgill Viaducts. Leaving the old railway the group walked via fields and alongside the River Eden to return to Kirkby Stephen.
With a met office weather warning in place for the Sunday, the decision was made to do a low level walk rather than heading up onto Wild Boar Fell and Swarth Fell, an area of high exposed moorland with no shelter. Colin Park led a walk north from Kirkby Stephen on a fine sunny morning and followed a series of field paths passing through the quiet village of Winton and passing close to Kaber and Brough Sowerby to reach Church Brough. A break was taken here to visit the ruinous Brough Castle which is in the care of English Heritage. The castle was built by William Rufus around 1092 and stands on the site of the old Roman Fort called Verterae, one of a chain of forts between York and Carlisle. After a wander around the ruins the group paused for refreshments and ice creams.
Continuing west, we now headed for the village of Great Musgrave for lunch in the peaceful churchyard overlooking the River Eden. The return was via lanes and field paths passing through the villages of Little Musgrave and Soulby with shower clouds beginning to threaten as we entered Kirkby Stephen.

The rolling Howgill Fells. The group followed this ridge on the Friday walk and this view looks south from Calders.

Heading towards Nine Standards Rigg on the Saturday walk.

A place to pause at one of the nine cairns at Nine Standards Rigg. (Saturday’s walk).

Resting at one of the recently re-constructed cairns on the Nine Standards Rigg (Saturday’s walk).

Kirkby Stephen Parish Church near the start of Sunday’s walk. It’s hard to believe that there is a weather warning in force for thunderstorms.

A old fingerpost in Kirkby Stpehen giving distances in miles and furlongs. (Sunday’s walk).

Walking by the River Belah, north of Kirkby Stephen. (Sunday’s walk).

Brough Castle – a stopping point for tea/coffee and a vast range of locally made ice creams. (Sunday’s walk).

Anne tries out the stepping stones on Scandal Beck, just east of Soulby. (Sunday’s walk).

Group walk report 3rd July

Stopping for a brief refreshment break on the ascent to Chinley Churn.

By Sue Thersby

Chinley was the start point for a recent walk by the East Cheshire Ramblers. Ten walkers set off under sunny skies with a promise of warm weather. Chinley is a large, busy village on the western edge of the Peak District National Park. Originally it was part of the Royal Forest of the Peak and consisted of little but a few isolated farms until the 17th century. The industrial revolution significantly altered the village with the construction of three mills along the Black Brook, which runs through the village, followed by the Peak Forest Tramway completed in 1806 (a crude railway which used horse-drawn wagons to carry stone). We descended to the tramway to begin our walk and went along it as far as Chapel Milton. Having crossed the Chapel en le Frith road, we made our way to Wash via field paths and then on to Bowden Hall. The history of the hall is obscure but there was a building there as early as 1477. Later in its history it was the home of a Wormhill quarry owner. It has lovely views to the west. From here we crossed the Sheffield Road before having a morning break. The route then continued to Bagshaw and from here we climbed quite steeply to Stonyford. Having struggled to find a route along field paths during the reconnoitre we opted to take the road to join a track which runs parallel to the aforementioned Sheffield Road before crossing it again and joining the Pennine Bridleway at the bottom of Rushup Edge. We followed this for about two and a half miles to the bottom of South Head (1621 feet), taking advantage of some excellent views to have our lunch break on the way. Because of the hot weather and further climbing to be done, we contoured round the base of South Head. A little further on, we left the Pennine Bridleway to cross the Hayfield Road and resume our walk in a westerly direction, passing Peep o’Day. Allegedly this interesting name comes from the position of the small window above the porch of the house. In the early morning sun shines through this window onto and down the stairs. From here, we climbed Chinley Churn and, after enjoying the views from our vantage point, we descended back to the village of Chinley, finding refreshments at a local café.

Approaching the double railway viaduct at Chapel Milton.

Mike Harding crossing footbridge at Charley Lane.

John finds a sunny spot for a tea break.

Descending towards Chinley from Chinley Churn towards the end of the walk.

Group walk report 29th June

The group on Manshead End, 417 metres.

It was a hot and humid day for this thirteen mile long walk for the East Cheshire Ramblers starting out from the village of Ripponden. The first part of the walk followed the wooded valley of the River Ryburn before making a short but steep ascent to the dam at Ryburn Reservoir. Completed in 1933, the reservoir is operated by Yorkshire Water and is the lower of two reservoirs built in the valley. Both reservoirs supply water to the City of Wakefield.
Above the southern shore of the reservoir a stop was made at a picnic area for a morning coffee break before making the ascent up onto Blackwood Edge. Here we joined the Blackwood Edge Road westwards which is a moorland track. A diversion was made to reach the rounded summit of Dog Hill (435 metres). From here, moorland paths were followed west over Rishworth Moor to join the path which runs alongside Rishworth Drain which is a leat which contours around the hillside and acts as a catchment stream for the nearby Great Withins Reservoir. It was a good spot to stop for lunch as there was just enough breeze to make it pleasant.
For the afternoon leg of the walk we descended on the moorland path close to Rag Sapling Clough to reach and cross the A58 at New Gate End Bridge. A gradual ascent followed over Soyland Moor where our walk continued to the hill called Manshead End (417 metres) and time for another break to admire the views.
The slightly lower Great Manshead Hill was next on our route before joining the Calderdale Way and later descending to Mill Bank, a small village which has a rich industrial history. The valley through which runs the fast flowing Lumb Beck was once a hive of industry with several water mills. Industries included cotton, fine silk woollen worsted cloth and spinning but the last textile mill in the valley finally closed in the 1970’s. At one time, over four hundred local people were employed in these industries but times were hard especially when disastrous fires burnt the mills down.
With another short but steep ascent followed by a gradual descent across fields we were soon in Ripponden and timed it nicely for afternoon tea and c

ake in Stanley’s Kitchen.

Starting point was close to the Old Bridge Inn in Ripponden which is claimed to be the oldest hostelry in Yorkshire.

We walked along Bar Lane in the Ryburn Valley shortly after starting our walk.

A shady spot for our morning break beside Ryburn Reservoir.

Crossing Soyland Moor towards Manshead End.

Group walk report 10th July

By Paul Simms

The Peak Pilgrimage is a 39 mile long-distance footpath from the Church of the Holy Cross in Ilam to St Lawrence’s church in the plague village of Eyam, taking in ten other churches on the way. East Cheshire Ramblers are undertaking a series of circular walks to trace this pilgrimage route and we did the fourth of these recently.

A small group of Ramblers set off from the top of Lathkill Dale on an overcast day in mid-July that quickly brightened up and had us shedding fleeces and jackets and donning sun hats. Many spring wildflowers were still in evidence including the lovely blue Jacob’s Ladder.Also in the dale is much evidence of historical industry with mine tunnels and shafts, screes from quarrying, weirs and mill stones, and the pillars of an aqueduct that supplied a mill for pumping water out of the old mine workings.

The limestone of the dale is some 340 million years old, laid down in shallow tropical seas and coral lagoons with plenty of fossils to see when you know what to look for. At the village of Over Haddon, the stones of the Victorian church of St Anne’s have lots of crinoids and brachiopods. Leaving the dale here we set off across farmland and over many stiles to reach Magpie Mine.

Magpie Mine is the most complete example of lead mining in the Peak District. The picture shows some of our party enjoying their sandwiches in front of the old engine house where a Cornish beam engine was installed in 1840, again to pump water out of mine. Disputes over the rights to mine the lead seams led to the deaths of three miners at adjacent workings in 1833 and their widows put a curse on Magpie Mine which remains to this day!

From the mine we headed back across the fields to Bagshaw Dale and so to our start point.

For more details of the Peak Pilgrimage go to peakpilgrimage.org.uk. For information about lead mining in the Peak District go to peakdistrictleadminingmuseum.co.uk.

Some of the group at The Magpie Mine.

Our visit to the Blackden Trust

Brian Griffiths has recently led the first of three planned visits by our group to The Blackden Trust near Goostrey.

The Blackden Trust really is a “Hidden Gem” and was only ‘discovered’ by the group whilst out on a ramble in the area earlier in the year and not one of the 20 of us had heard of it until a few months ago.

A short walk along the paths and lanes around Goostrey led us to Blackden where famed local author Alan Garner lives. Already living in the 15th century Toad Hall he rescued the 16th century Old Medicine House from demolition in Wrinehill near Crewe. Purchasing it for £1 he organised its reconstruction at Blackden.

We were all thoroughly entranced by the stories told by his daughter Katharine of growing up there, and the history of the place and the buildings told by several volunteers.

Afterwards we all enjoyed tea and cakes in their marquee, especially Andy who wolfed down 2 slices!

I don’t want to spoil it for the following 2 groups so will leave it to Colin Park to provide a more detailed account after his visit. At the time of writing we have only 1 place left for the final visit on 24th August. However there are still places left on their public tours for anyone interested in this absolutely fascinating “Hidden Gem”.Just Google Blackden Trust.

Brian Griffiths

As a footnote Colin Park will lead a visit on the 21st of August and Tony Littler will lead the visit on the 24th of August. Both visits will be preceded by an optional morning walk of around 5-6 miles and full details will appear on our website prior.

The group outside the Medicine House

Enjoying afternoon tea and cake in the grounds of the Medicine House

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 maggieswindells@gmail.com 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 maggieswindells@gmail.com 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.