Sunday 8 January 2012

A Northern Circuit in Macclesfield Forest

Distance: 6km; Ascent: 230m; with Lynsey & Isabel

I was keen to get out for a walk today, having spent yesterday at work, and the weather looked reasonable for this morning, but it was forecast to get wetter after lunch.  So we headed off to Macclesfield Forest for a morning stroll in the woods.  We parked near the Leather's Smithy and set off walking at around 10:15am under overcast, but dry skies.  We headed up the minor road, away from the reservoir, with me carrying Isabel in her rucksack carrier.

A bizarre dead-end footpath to nowhere!
Soon we came across a public footpath sign, complete with an A4 notice about the route informing us that the footpath didn't actually go anywhere and just ended in the middle of some fields.  Luckily this wasn't our planned route, so we continued to follow the red waymarked route up the minor road and then onto a broad forest track.

At the start of the forest track
Walking along the track through upland forest with a heavy load on my back reminded me a bit of sections of the forests on some of our previous TGO Challenge routes, especially around Fort Augustus.  We continued to climb along the track, passing several groups of mountain bikers, before reaching a junction where we left the broad track and turned right onto a narrower footpath through the woods.

Ruin at track junction in Macclesfield Forest
The gradient soon increased now we were no longer on the forest track, and we soon had to stop for a drink of water!  It soon became much darker as the path entered a much denser area of trees.  However after a few hundred metres, we emerged into a more open area of woodland.

A more open section of woodland
The angle of ascent now eased as the path levelled out.  Then we rounded a corner and were presented with a fully decorated Christmas tree in the middle of the forest!  On closer inspection, it would seem to have been decorated by a local walking group.

Christmas Tree!
Soon we reached the highest point of today's walk, where we met a broad track coming in from our left.  The water droplets in the cloud were not very far above us at this point and they chose this point to start to fall down upon us as drizzle.

Track near the high point of our walk
We followed the track to a small hamlet, where we turned right along the road for a short distance, before turning left again onto a footpath.  Shortly afterwards we left the red route, which we had been following thus far, and headed downhill to meet the Bollin Brook and the road.

Bollin Brook in Macclesfield Forest
We followed a series of footpaths alongside the road to the visitors' centre and then along the length of Ridgegate Reservoir to return to the car at around 12:15pm.  It had been a pleasant morning's walk, although we were glad to be heading home as the weather had now taken a turn for the worse!

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