This walk is part of the trek The Gritstone Trail in 3 stages using the local train.
The Gritstone Trail runs for 56 km through the Cheshire countryside, west of the Peak District, from Disley to Kidsgrove. This second stage picks up the trail at Langley, having left Macclesfield and taken the towpath along the Macclesfield Canal to Sutton Hall. From Langley, the route weaves its way over Croker Hill and Wincle Minn, joins the Dale Valley Way and climbs up to The Cloud (343m) before coming off the trail to Congleton.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D) From Macclesfield station, head down the slope to Sunderland Street going south past all the shops until you reach Park Green. Before the traffic lights and before the park, turn left along a cobbled street that takes you to a small bridge over the River Bollin by the side of a tall building, the headquarters of Gradus Ltd. On the other side of the bridge is the Storm Brewing Co. Turn right and follow Waterside under the A 523 London Road until it reaches Windmill Street, crossing the railway bridge up to the left. Carry on up Windmill Street, past St. Peter's church, until you reach the Macclesfield Canal. Go down to the towpath using the sloping path to the left of the bridge. Go under the bridge on the towpath, heading south along the canal. Follow the canal south until you reach Sutton Hall
(1) DThe canal goes over Byron Lane and shortly afterwards is crossed by Bullocks Lane. At this point, leave the towpath to your right after the trees, joining the road and turning left to cross the bridge over the canal. Ignore the main entrance to Sutton Hall but continue past the first house until you reach a small road on your left. This will take you straight to Sutton Hall. At the hall, the path turns 90º right then bears left to meet Hall Lane at a bridge by a school. Go down to the crossroads at the village green and, opposite a shelter, take the first left along Church Lane. This bends right until you reach a fork in the road. Take the right fork along Judy Lane with fields and hedgerows on both sides. Go past a few houses and up the gentle gradient to the T-junction. Here, turn right along Ridge Hill, past the farm on your right until you reach a Public Footpath sign at a five-barred-gate on your left. This path will take you across the fields to the houses, emerging onto the Langley Road. Turn right and head into Langley.
(2) Carry on up Langley Road, past the village hall, bearing right until you reach Langley Methodist Church on the corner of Main Road and Cock Hill Lane. Bear left along Main Road and at the fork bear right along Clarke Lane to meet the Gritstone Trail coming off the dam of Bottoms Reservoir. Alternatively, take the left fork along Holehouse Lane (signposted dead-end) and walk up to the Teggsnose Reservoir. The Gritstone Trail comes down from Tegg's Nose to cross the dam of the reservoir. When you reach the dam, go through a gate on your right that leads down across the Bottoms Reservoir dam and comes out at the corner of the field into Clarke Lane. Here, head east along the lane until you reach a Public Footpath sign on your right (past the Ridgegate Waterworks) which is the West Entrance to Macclesfield Forest. This tarmacked track crosses Bollin Brook to head towards Ridgegate Reservoir but turns sharp right then bears left to go through Greenbarn and Lees House Farm, ending up crossing Bollinhead Lane by some steps. Go up the steps on the other side and through a metal kissing gate to cross the field to Bollin Head Farm. Keep following the path across the fields, dropping down to the brook and climbing back up to come out on Meg Lane at Higher Sutton
(3) Clamber over the wall (Public Footpath sign and another saying NO SLEDGING) and turn right and almost immediately left. A Public Footpath sign next to a green container indicates the trail along a walled track. You should clearly see on the high ground in front of the mast of the Radio Station on top of Croker Hill. The track descends to Rossendale Brook. At the footbridge bear right towards a small wood and up to the road through a small gate next to a white house. Turn right along Hollin Lane past some white cottages, Follow the road round to the right for about 100m with the brook on your right until you see a Public Footpath sign off to the left through a wooden kissing gate that leads up to Foxbank Farm. Follow the path up Fox Bank bearing left at the top to pass a disused quarry. Now heading south along the ridge, go over Hill of Rossenclowes up to Croker Hill and the radio station antenna at the top (402m)
(4) Follow the path off to the left, heading east, to go down to the A 54 Buxton Road. Turn left up the road for about 50m to take a track on your right that leads up to Golden Slack Farm. Before you reach the farm, turn left to climb up to a fork in the path. Take the right fork up to the top of Wincle Mint, following Minn-End Lane all the way down into Hawkslee. Go past a few houses until you spot the Public Footpath sign on your left next to a wooden fence, then through a metal gate. This path will take you down to Shell Brook before climbing up the other side by the side of a wood. At a junction of paths turn 90º right to head south once more. The path stays parallel with the brook down to your right, gradually bearing south-west to reach Barleigh Ford Bridge.
(5) Cross over the River Dane and bear left to meet the Dane Valley Way. Turn sharp right to follow the river west, along a conduit that leads to Wallhill Farm. Here, turn right towards the river but follow the path left before you reach it, to drop down to the A 523 road. Go over the stile and cross the road to the left, going through a metal kissing gate on your right. This path will go over a disused railway cutting and over a footbridge to head back towards the river in a northwesterly heading. Where Ravensclough Brook joins the River Dane the path climbs up on the far side of the brook to reach Raven's Clough. Go over the wooden style to get to the farm track and turn left. Keep along this wooded track with Ravensclough Brook down to your left until you reach a right-hand bend in the road and we say goodbye to the Dane Valley Way. Head straight on up towards Hillside Farm and bear left to go over a stile and on to Red Lane. Turn left and look for the Public Footpath sign on the right in about 100m next to a layby. Take this path past Cloud Side to the top of The Cloud (343m).
(6) The path leads off north-west to swing round left to south-west hugging the edge of the slope through a pine forest. Eventually, the path picks up a track (Gooseberryhole Lane) that goes down to the Tunstall Road just north of Timbersbrook village. Here you have a choice to go down to the village or carry straight on across the road to follow a track (Acorn Lane) by the side of a house that descends to Weathercock Lane. Another alternative can be taken about halfway to the village, using a path that comes off Gooseberryhole Lane at the sharp bend to go through the woods to the Tunstall Road. Opposite this path, there is a metal gate and a wooden style that lead to a track with a dry stone wall on the right and a line of trees on the left. This track passes through a farm and comes out onto Weathercock Lane right opposite the path that heads down to Congleton. If you have gone down to Timbersbrook village, turn right at the village green (a wooden bench and black and white road sign) in direction of Congleton. Past the cottages and up Weathercock Lane past a car park and picnic area to a Public Footpath sign on the left. Ignore this path but carry on for another 100m to the Gritstone Trail sign on your left next to a low brick wall. Here we say goodbye to the Gritstone Trail until another day as we need to carry on a further 50m to another Public Footpath sign next to some houses.
(7) If you took the first option, along Acorn Lane, you'll have to come down Weathercock lane to find this path on your right. Go through the metal gate onto a gravel track. This will eventually take you down to the canal near the railway. Go over the footbridge and turn left along the towpath. The canal bends gently to the right to head into Congleton. Keep on the towpath until you reach the bridge that carries the A 527 over the canal (Park Lane). Just before this, there is a path that leads off the towpath and accesses the footbridge over the railway and into the station. (A) Congleton Station
D : km 0 - alt. 138m - Macclesfield Station
1 : km 2.58 - alt. 163m - Sutton Hall
2 : km 4.87 - alt. 186m - Langley
3 : km 7.94 - alt. 285m - Higher Sutton
4 : km 12 - alt. 403m - Croker Hill
5 : km 18.04 - alt. 159m - Barleigh Ford Bridge
6 : km 23.26 - alt. 330m - The Cloud
7 : km 25.53 - alt. 150m - Weathercock Lane
A : km 28.18 - alt. 132m - Congleton Station
The route wanders through small hamlets and drops down to brooks and rivers. The undulating landscape is capped by the climb up to The Cloud, so stout footwear is recommended. Waterproofs should be carried and a good stick or poles will come in handy if the going gets wet and slippery.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
There's plenty to see along the way, not only natural features but also the legacy of what was a thriving industrial community at one time. The route starts and finished along a canal and it crosses many brooks and rivers. The countless farms we pass are an indication that the rural community is still important and will continue into the future whereas the modern industries come and go.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.