Bollin Valley Way & Carrington 2-day backpack

Pitch by the BollinA 2-day solo trek of the Bollin Valley Way (BVW) route that shadows the River Bollin from Macclesfield to Partington at the Manchester Ship Canal. I extended the route start from Macclesfield rail station and walked directly home from Partington via the track network and disused oil railway trackbed of Carrington Moss, though some improvisation was required to access the network due to the appearance of a huge construction site adjacent to the Ship Canal.

A cloudy and uninspiring forecast caused this forgotten route to surface from the bottom drawer of walks, a local low-level leg stretcher easily walked in less than two days. No aerobic hillwalking training here!. Instead there is much fine woodland and some pleasant Cheshire countryside scenery to enjoy as the route follows the Bollin as closely as possible.

The Bollin Valley Partnership has done a good job here with a very easy waymarked route on paths and tracks that satisfies its objectives well and is furnished mainly with black metal kissing gates. I took very few photos, the woodland needing special light to make really good pictures that stand out and it wasn’t forthcoming on this trip. Beyond a couple of minor curiosities I don’t have much commentary to add.

Full report & photos

Sandstone Trail 2-day backpack

Raw HeadA 2-day solo trek of the Sandstone Trail (ST) waymarked route that traverses the sandstone ridges of Cheshire between the western Peak District and the far eastern high ground of the Clwydian hills and Dee hills of Wales.

One of two Cheshire ridge trails, the other being the Gritstone Trail that I did last year, this popular walk was a perfect candidate for a short spell of excellent weather with chilly nights and warm days before Easter and the inevitable influx of walkers, also a better chance of retiring to a fairly early stealthy tent pitch. Bearing in mind the nature and popularity of path sections on the high ground of this trail, I considered my usual Big Agnes Copper Spur tent a potential risk due to its colour and instead dug out my 15-year old forest-green TN Laser Competition (never has an item of gear engendered such simultaneous feelings of love and hate!).

The two principal sections of sandstone edge walking were most enjoyable and offered good views and plenty of lovely woodland. There are also two long sections of typical Cheshire field rambling between farms that were pleasant enough in these warm and dry optimum conditions, but after significant rain these would often be extremely muddy. The trail is plentifully signed with the ST logo, but there are often other paths in the vicinity and you still need to keep your wits about you at times.

Full report & photos

Greenfield to Hebden 3-day backpack

Blakely CloughA 3-day trek from Greenfield to Hebden Bridge utilising a large section of the Pennine Way (PW) that includes a few fragments we have not walked before. It includes a section from our previous trip that we walked in thick blasting mist, giving a chance for some brighter photos. The route approaches via Alphin Pike and takes the high level path across Wimberry Moss and Chew Hurdles, an excellent line that we abandoned on the previous trip.

This was the first sunny spell for ages, but the strong wind on the open moors made walking arduous on the second day and the third morning suffered from early low mist before finally clearing to sunshine.

The powerful wind also made life interesting with regard to a pitch: for hills of this modest elevation, Rishworth Moor is as bleak as they come. The rolling moorland has virtually no natural shelter and the persistence of the wind downslope on the leeward side left few options.

Full report & photos

Wessenden, Black Hill & Chew 2-day backpack

Pitch at Red RatcherA 2-day linear trek in the north-western corner of the Dark Peak.

The route from Marsden passes the Butterley and Wessenden group of reservoirs, joining the Pennine Way (PW) to ascend to Black Hill, one of our old haunts going back to the days when it maintained its reputation as a peat megabog resembling the aftermath of trench warfare, but is now tamed and sanitized by paving across much of its traverse, but not all – the very wet January conditions made progress slow on the boggy bits.

Near Laddow Rocks our line departs the PW to ascend to Black Chew Head, then follows the path across Laddow Moss to Chew reservoir.

This time our faith in the various weather forecasts for clear tops and some sunshine was misplaced: the thick windblown mist persisted on the high ground for the entire two days, a dank and dismal trek leaving only the wild atmosphere of the bleak moorland to savour. At Chew reservoir we improvised a lower level route than planned to reach Mossley using the Oldham Way and Tame Valley Way.

Full report & photos

New Year 2022

Last sunset of 2021New Year greetings for 2022.

After a dismal few weeks, the final daylight minutes of 2021 yielded a pleasant sunset from our terrace, giving a colourful timely photo to brighten up this post. It’s annoying that we missed the recent brief weather window when some excellent inversions were reported from the mountains.

Last year finally opened up the pandemic barriers and we enjoyed some excellent backpacks and tent pitches. Unfortunately this year is off to an inauspicious start with infections clocking up record numbers and the trains running to special reduced timetables, requiring careful planning. We shall probably focus on the nearby Peak District or South Pennines for a while where transport is more frequent.

So all the best to everyone and good walking.