Macclesfield Circular via The Dane Valley walk
The Dane Valley, pastures and wooded valleys, and ridges with views of the Cheshire Plain, high moors and gritstone ridges
28.9 km (18.0 mi). Cumulative ascent/descent: 735m. For a longer or shorter walk, see below Walk options.
9 out of 10 Time: 7 ½ hours walking time.
Macclesfield Station, map reference SJ 919 736, is 237 km northwest of Charing Cross, 133m above sea level and in Cheshire East. It is on the Stafford to Manchester branch line off the West Coast Main Line from London Euston. Travel time from London is from 101 minutes Mon-Sat, but 2 ¼ hours on Sundays.
Saturday Walkers’ Club: The walk is doable as a daywalk from London with a train no later than 09.20 hours.
OS Landranger Map: 118 (Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield)
Varied walk, through pastures and wooded valleys and along some ridges, with many fascinating views of the Cheshire Plain and across to the surrounding high moors and gritstone ridges in the westerly Dark Peak area.
Leave the town along a section of the Macclesfield Canal with its Roving Bridge and up along the Bollin River valley onto Ridge Hill and continue through rolling pastures and up onto Croker Hill, the ridge separating the pastoral landscapes of wooded valleys and grazing pastures of the westerly Peak District from the Cheshire Plain. After a short descent, you follow the Gritstone Trail up to and along the Wincle Minn (ridge) – or alternatively through the tight wooded Greasley Hollow part of the Shell Brook valley – to then follow an enchanting stretch of the Dane Valley upstream (shorter and longer options come into play around here) for lunch in Wincle.
Several walk options make for a variety of shorter, longer, higher and lower routes.
Bus Line 14 (Macclesfield – Langley, about hourly Mon-Fri, every two hours Sat) enables a start in Sutton Lane Ends (cut 3.1 km and 60m ascent). From Macclesfield, alight at the Church House stop in Sutton Lane Ends. Walk back for about 100m to a four-way road junction by the Church House Inn opposite on the left and pick up the directions on page 5 at the single asterisk *).
Ye Olde King’s Head 30 Bradley Smithy, Gurnett, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 0HB (01625 611 444). Located 2.4 km into the walk.
The Rose and Crown Buxton Road, Allgreave, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 0BJ (01260 227 232). The Rose & Crown Inn is located 580m off-route, 10.8 km (6.7 mi) from the end of the walk. Open 12.00-15.00 and 17.30-23.00 Tue-Fri, 12.00-23.00 Sat and 12.00-20.00 Sun (-18.00 in winter). Food served 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-21.00 Tue-Fri, 12.00-21.00 Sat and 12.00-18.00 Sun.
Macclesfield is a market town in Cheshire East on the edge of the Cheshire Plain with about 50,000 population. It lies on the River Bollin, with Macclesfield Forest to its east, and is around 26 km south of Manchester.
The medieval town grew up on the hilltop around what is now St Michael's Church. It had a silk-button industry from at least the middle of the 17th century, and became a major silk-manufacturing centre from the mid-18th century, for a while being the world's biggest producer of finished silk, with 71 silk mills operating in 1832. To this day, "Silk Town" is Macclesfield’s nickname.
The town is also the original home of Hovis bread makers, produced in Publicity Works Mill on the Macclesfield canal. Hovis derives from the Latin "homo-vitalis" (strength for man) as a way of providing cheap nutritious food for mill workers and was a very dry and dense wholemeal loaf very different from the modern version.
No proof exists that Macclesfield was ever a walled town, and the various streets with the suffix ‘gate’ in the name are believed to be derived from 'gata', Scandinavian for road, which became gate in Middle English.
During the Civil War, in 1642 the town was occupied for the King by Sir Thomas Aston. And in the Jacobite Rising of 1745, Charles Stuart and his army marched through Macclesfield as they attempted to reach London.
Macclesfield is said to be the only mill town to have escaped bombing in World War II.
A person from Macclesfield is sometimes referred to as a "Maxonian"; these include Blues Musician John Mayall and Ian Curtis and Stephen Morris of Joy Division.
Since 1997, Macclesfield has hosted the annual British Lawnmower Race, held in December.
Bollin Brook/River Bollin
The River Bollin is a 49 km (30 mi) major tributary of the River Mersey. The Bollin Brook springs on the hills surrounding Macclesfield Forest on the western edge of the Peak District, and it feeds a string of reservoirs that supply water to the town. Downriver from the reservoirs it is called River Bollin.
Further along its course it forms the boundary between Cheshire and Greater Manchester. It is culverted under the southern runway of Manchester Airport and joins the Manchester Ship Canal east of Warrington.
The Gritstone Trail (or Cheshire Gritstone Trail, as there are other, less well established, routes in the Peak District under the same moniker) is a 56 km (35 mi) waymarked linear long-distance footpath which follows the most westerly hills of the Peak District from Disley Station via Macclesfield and Congleton to Kidsgrove Station. Managed by Cheshire East (although partly in Staffordshire), the trail involves 1,800m of ascent and is mainly outside the National Park. Most through-walkers take 3 days (stopping at Macclesfield and Congleton) to complete the trail, but an unofficial extension from Kidsgrove to the mainline railway station at Stoke-on-Trent, The Kidsgrove to Stoke Ridgeway, is described in a free ebook.
Jodrell Bank Observatory
The Jodrell Bank Observatory – originally the Jodrell Bank Experimental Station and from 1966 to 1999 the Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories – hosts a number of radio telescopes, and is part of the Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester. The observatory was established in 1945 by Bernard Lovell, a radio astronomer, to investigate cosmic rays after his work on radar during WWII. It has since played an important role in the research of meteoroids, quasars, pulsars, masers and gravitational lenses, and was heavily involved with the tracking of space probes at the start of the Space Age.
The main telescope at the observatory is the Lovell Telescope with a diameter of 76m (the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world). There are three other active telescopes at the observatory: Mark II, and radio telescopes of 13m and 7m diameter.
On 7 July 2019, the observatory became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Peak District (National Park)
The Peak District is an upland area at the southernmost end of the Pennines.
The Peak District National Park is one of the UK’s most popular, and is located within the boundaries of five counties (Derbys., Ches., Staffs., Yorks. and Greater Manchester). Founded in 1951, it was the first national Park in England. The Park spans an area of around 1,440 km2 (550 mi2) and – despite its name – its terrain consists mainly of rolling hills, farmland, moorland and some gritstone escarpments (the "edges"). It is however significantly higher than much of the terrain in the surrounding area.
The Peak District is formed almost exclusively from sedimentary rocks dating from the Carboniferous period. They comprise the Carboniferous Limestone, the overlying Gritstone and finally the Coal Measures, though the latter occur only on the extreme margins of the area. In addition, there are infrequent outcrops of igneous rocks including lavas, tuffs and volcanic vent agglomerates.
The northern Dark Peak (whose geology is gritstone) is one of the most famous landmarks in the Peak District National Park, known for its exposed and isolated tracts of moorland, as well as its expansive rolling plateau which is covered by cotton grass bogs and heather moorlands. The soil of the area is composed of moorland peat which provides the perfect environment for the plant life in the area. The areas to the flanks of the high moorland host numerous copses which are composed of Oak and Birch.
The southern White Peak (whose geology is mainly limestone) is another distinctive area within the park due to its gently sloping Limestone plateau, crisscrossed by the Limestone Dales. The Dales provide the areas’ drainage and vary in steepness throughout the area.
Peak District Boundary Walk
Created by the Friends of the Peak District, the Peak District Boundary Walk is a 305 km (190 mi) waymarked circular long-distance footpath which broadly follows the boundary of the National Park along existing footpaths, tracks, quiet lanes, former railway lines and a canal towpath. A guidebook and an extensive website help in breaking the journey into stages. https://www.friendsofthepeak.org.uk/boundary-walk/
Dane Valley/Dane River
The Dane River is a 56 km/35 mi long tributary of the River Weaver (and therefore the Mersey) that originates in the Peak District at Dane Head on Axe Edge Moor, close to the source of the River Goyt, just to the south west of Buxton. Flowing southwest, it forms county borders for around 16 km (Cheshire/Derbyshire, then Cheshire/Staffordshire), before flowing west through Congleton. The point on the river where the three counties meet, at Panniers' Pool Packhorse Bridge, is called Three Shire Heads. The bridge and the waterfalls on the River Dane southwards are very picturesque, and frequently feature on calendars.
The name of the river (earlier Daven) probably derives from the Old Welsh dafn, meaning a "drop or trickle", implying a slow-moving river.
The Dane is the longest, cleanest and possibly fastest flowing river flowing through Cheshire. It can optionally share its outflow between the Irish Sea and the North Sea with the aid of canal feeders.
Dane Valley Way
The Dane Valley Way is a 77 km (48 mi) waymarked linear long-distance footpath through Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire, rising from the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton over 5 kilometres to the source of the River Dane at Dane Head in Derbyshire and then follows rights of way along or near the course of the river - generally downhill - to its confluence with the River Weaver (a Mersey tributary) in Cheshire at Northwich.
The initial section from Buxton climbs through Grinlow Woods to Solomon's Temple at the summit of Grin Hill, providing superb views across the Dark Peak. The trail crosses Axe Edge Moor (over 500m high, the highest traceable river source in the White Peak area, and the watershed between the Irish Sea and the North Sea), where the River Dane originates at Dane Head. It passes the scenic Three Shires Head (where Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire boundaries meet) with its stone footbridge and cascades. The path continues along the wooded Dane Valley through the hamlets of Gradbach, Danebridge and Wincle. It leaves the Peak District and continues through the Cheshire Plain, later involving a high degree of road walking.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
Aug-21 Thomas G
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Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk