Macclesfield to Leek walk

Reservoirs, Macclesfield Forest, the 'Cheshire Matterhorn', lonely Wildboarclough, the Dane Valley, Lud's Church chasm and the Roaches gritstone escarpment

The Roaches, from field by Windygates Farm SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

The Roaches, from field by Windygates Farm

SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

15-Jun-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Ridgegate Reservoir SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

Ridgegate Reservoir

SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

15-Jun-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Shutlingsloe from Berry Bank (close up) SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

Shutlingsloe from Berry Bank (close up)

SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

15-Jun-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Lud's Church Chasm (detail) SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

Lud's Church Chasm (detail)

SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

15-Jun-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Last Rockface on The Roaches, plus Hen Cloud SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

Last Rockface on The Roaches, plus Hen Cloud

SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

15-Jun-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Macclesfield Canal, from Richmond Hill (road) SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

Macclesfield Canal, from Richmond Hill (road)

SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

15-Jun-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Croker Hill across the Bollin Valley, from The Hollins SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

Croker Hill across the Bollin Valley, from The Hollins

SWC Walk 380 Macclesfield to Leek (via Shutlingsloe, Lud's Church and the Roaches)

15-Jun-21 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Length

27.7 km (17.2 mi), with 934/875m ascent/descent. For a shorter or longer walk see below Walk Options.

Toughness

9 out of 10, with 7 ¼ hours walking time.

Walk Notes

A tour de force of highlights in the Cheshire/Staffordshire borderlands within easy reach of London.

You rise quickly out of the historic Silk Town of Macclesfield over The Hollins, a modest hill with fine views over the Cheshire Plain and across the valley of the River Bollin to pass a string of reservoirs and enter the enchanting Macclesfield Forest. A steep ascent through the woods brings you out onto the open High Moor and a following easy ascent of the ‘Cheshire Matterhorn’: Shutlingsloe. From there descend steeply into the scenic Clough Brook valley and walk back up across another modest hill with quiet pastures into the very scenic Dane Valley by Gradbach Mill, almost at the halfway point.
From the river level rise steadily through Back Forest to explore the unique and magical Lud’s Church chasm, a 100m long and up to 18m deep, mossy cleft in the wooded hillside. Ascend to the Ridge, part of a 6-kilometre long curved ridge which includes the famous gritstone escarpment of the Roaches and the quite sensational Hen Cloud, a tilted standalone rockface. You continue through pastures and over another modest hill with fine views to the historic market town of Leek, lastly through a Country Park right onto the market place and thence through the Old Town to the bus station.

Buses at the start or from alternative endings on the A53 enable shorter walks.

Walk Options

Bus Line 14 (Macclesfield – Langley, about hourly Mon-Fri, every two hours Sat) enables a start in Langley (cut 3.6 km/2.4 mi and 95m ascent). Alight at the final stop by Langley Church and go back down the road (Cock Hall Lane) for 40m to a three-way junction and turn right along Main Road (50°, signed ‘Macc. Forest 1 ¼’). Pick up the directions on page 6 at the single asterisk *).
An Alternative Route on Shutlingsloe avoids the final steep ascent to the summit (cut 45m ascent).
An Alternative Route to the one through Lud’s Church Chasm passes the Hanging Stone, an outstanding viewing point jutting out from the ridge over the Dane Valley, this adds 2.1 km.
An Ascent up the striking hilly outcrop of Hen Cloud adds 500m each way and 66m ascent.
Alternative Endings lead to bus stops on the A53 for Line 16 (Mon-Sat, with the last buses running mid-afternoon though) to Leek (for connections to Macclesfield) or on to Hanley for Stoke-on-Trent station or to Buxton (for Line 58 connecting to Macclesfield):
· either in Upper Hulme (scenic along a tight river valley); cut 6.9 km/4.3 mi and 125m ascent;
· or in Blackshaw Moor (flat through pastures and along a road); cut 5.2 km/3.2 mi and 125m ascent.
At the end of the walk in Leek, you can take buses either back to Macclesfield, or on to Hanley, for Stoke-on-Trent Station (which is closer to London). There are frequent buses linking Hanley Bus Station to Stoke Station, but a pleasant 2.3 km walking route is described in text and also available as a gpx file.

Maps

OS Explorer: 268 (Wilmslow, Macclesfield & Congleton) – just for the urban start – and OL24 (The Peak District – White Peak Area)
OS Landranger: 118 (Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield) and 119 (Buxton & Matlock)
Harvey Superwalker XT25: Peak District South (but only from Macclesfield Forest onwards)
Harvey British Mountain Map: White Peak (but only from Langley onwards)

Travel

Macclesfield Station, map reference SJ 919 736, is 237 km northwest of Charing Cross, 133m above sea level and in Cheshire East. Leek Bus Station, map reference SJ 986 563, is 18 km southeast of Macclesfield, 192m above sea level and in Staffordshire. Macclesfield Station 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. Relevant bus lines serving Leek are: 109 (Leek – Macclesfield) with up to 7 buses a day Mon-Sat and lines 16 and 18 [Buxton –] Leek – Hanley (about half-hourly Mon-Sat, hourly on Sun); Hanley Bus Station has frequent buses to Stoke Station (which is a 2.3 km walk away).

Saturday Walkers’ Club: The walk is doable as a daywalk from London with a train no later than 09.20 hours.

Elenvenses

The Forest Snug Food Van Trentabank Reservoir Car Park, Macclesfield Forest Visitor Centre, Langley, Cheshire, SK11 0NS (07743 909 339). The Forest Snug is located 6.0 km (3.7 mi) into the walk.

Lunch

The Crag Inn Wildboarclough, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 0BD (01260 227 239). The Crag Inn is located 9.8 km (6.1 mi) into the walk.
The Riverside Café Gradbach Mill, Gradbach, Quarnford, Staffordshire SK17 0SU (01260 227 000). The Riverside Café is located 13.0 km (8.0 mi) into the walk, on the banks of the River Dane.

Tea

Tea all options
Roaches Tea Rooms and Restaurant Paddock Farm, Roach Road, Upper Hulme, Leek, Staffordshire Moorlands ST13 8TY (01538 300 345). The Roaches Tea Rooms are located 650m off route, 19.7 km into the walk, on the lane leading to Upper Hulme.

Tea Upper Hulme Ending
Ye Olde Rock Inn Old Buxton Road, Upper Hulme, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 8TY (01538 300 324).

Tea Blackshaw Moor Ending
Three Horseshoes Country Inn & Spa Blackshaw Moor, Leek, Staffordshire Peak District, ST13 8TW (01538 300 296).

Tea Leek Ending
The Lazy Trout Meerbrook, Leek, Staffordshire Peak District, ST13 8SN (01538 300 385). The Trout is located 5.8 km/3.6 mi from the end of the walk.
The Abbey Inn Abbey Green Road, Leek, Staffordshire Peak District, ST13 8SA (01538 382 865). The Abbey Inn is located 2.4 km/1.5 mi from the end of the walk.
Numerous options in Leek; some of the ones on the route are mentioned in the pdf.

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By Train

Out (not a train station)

By Car

Start SK11 6JP Map Directions

Finish Leek Bus Station, Leek, ST13 5JS Map Directions

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Help

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Oct-21 Thomas G

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Walk Directions  

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