Sunday, 26 October 2008

Hail & hearty in Wildboarclough

A LOVELY DAY, said the weather forecast - and it looked nice (to begin with).
This was the view as we drove towards Longnor.
I suppose we should have suspected the weather man may have got it slightly wrong when we saw this sky as we drove towards Roaches End to park the car, ready for this weeks walk around Wildboarclough.
That 'lump' is Shutlingsloe, also known, rather grandly, as 'The Cheshire Matterhorn'.
This is because some people say it bears a slight resemblance to the mountain when viewed from a certain angle.

After parking the car (and getting ridiculed by some kids for wearing shorts) we set off towards Gradbach woods.
Woods, at this time of year, are great places. Full of stunning colours and interesting smells. Fungi is REALLY taking a hold of things now.
It's SO damp underfoot, that pools of water appear where there is normally just dry ground.
We came across this tree, and judging by the massive 'infection' of fungi, it wasn't going to be standing for much longer (although it looked quite healthy??)

Looking up the tree, the fungi takes on a much more sinister appearance. It almost looks like the tree is being strangled, or possessed (well, it IS almost Halloween).
Just after the fungi, we were caught in the most sudden and heavy downpour of HAIL I've ever been in. In seconds, my rucksack (which was on the floor while I got my coat and waterproof trousers on) had about an inch of hailstones on it. Sue just giggled and crouched under her coat, (not even having time to put it on properly).
As we walked up the road from Gradbach youth hostel, we saw something I have only ever seen once before, a weasel chasing a rabbit! I saw the whole thing unfold once on a bank side near Ladybower. The weasel chased down, and caught, the rabbit. It lunged at the rabbits throat and bit the life out of it. What the hell it did with all that meat, I don't know. Anyway, the weasel WE saw today was almost upon the rabbit when we surprised them, but they ran into undergrowth, so we'll never know what the outcome was. I can guess though, those weasels don't give up easily!
Soon, we were walking along the banks of the river Dane.

The birds winter larder was full, and just waiting for the hard times to come.
These were Rowan berries, which mustn't taste good, as the birds never touch them if they have a choice.
'Who lives in a house like this'?
I've NO idea, but if you look, there's what look like a power, or phone, line going to it!
It's been there for as long as I've been walking, and it always seems to have been in this state of 'repair'.
As we progressed, we gained height, and the views opened up. The sky looks clear, but we had a couple more hailstorms before, and when, we got to Three Shires Head for lunch.

Looking back as we climbed
A derelict barn, as usual with the ubiquitous elder in residence.

The rocky road to Three Shires.

This is Sue pointing out the pool that she swam in one hot summer.

At last we reach the falls at Three Shires Head.
(The three shires that meet here are Derbyshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire)

This is Panniers pool.

With the weather having taken a turn for the better, here we are, ready to carry on past Cut Thorn hill to the road.
More berries for the birds, this time hawthorn

Now then, could we risk taking the coats off, or not?
I mean, it looks ok, when you look the other way?
When you get to the road, one of the tallest stiles I've ever seen awaits you.
We headed North West towards Cumberland brook, with the very top of Shutlingsloe peeping over the horizon.
The finger post at Cumberland brook. If we followed the path forward, it would take us to the Cat & Fiddle pub, but today we turned left and walked down the side of the brook towards the ever prevalent sight of the local landmark - Shutlingsloe.
Here it is, in it's full glory. This is a wonderful place for a picture when it snows. Not bad today either.

The sky now seemed settled, so we took off our heavy clothing and exposed our legs once again.
The fields, walls and skies were just so lovely.
Before too long, we were back to Gradbach woods. At this point, we knew we had time to add a loop to the walk to take us up to, and over the top of, back forest. This forest houses 'Luds church', a cleft in the rocks where sermons were once given. If you click on this link, you can read more;'s_Church
For us, the climb to the top was gorgeous, with all the leaves underfoot.

I just LOVE the patterns in the leaves created by different things, particularly the roots of trees.
Anyway, onwards and upwards. The views opened out again as we gained height and left the tree cover of the woods. The car was now only a couple of kilometres away, but this final walk along the tops was the perfect end to the day.
All the flora was now taking on the colours of Autumn, and browns were predominant all over the hillsides.
Just LOOK at this!!! That's the Roaches, and the car was parked at the end of them.
From this vantage point, we could see a very nice sun beginning to set. I thought we'd be treated to another spectacular setting, but right at the last minute, as often happens, a bank of cloud wiped it out.
It came from nowhere, but all we got was this silver lining (sigh).
Oh well, an almost perfect day :-)

With one final look back across the Cheshire plains, we put the day to bed and returned to Bakewell.
Amazingly, we could see the Wrekin on the horizon. It must be around fifty miles away - not a bad way to end the day!


Needlelacer said...

Exellent photographs and descriptions as usual, Les. Your blogs get better and better. H

. said...

Thanks Hazel, I do try ;-)

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