Last Sunday saw our first chance to get out for a walk this year and so, having walked up Rivington Pike with Rowan last year, we decided to take a stroll up Shutlingsloe near Macclesfield Forest. With rain forecast for around three o’clock, we made sure we packed waterproofs along with our picnic lunch, but even walking at little legs pace, we expected to be back from our just over three mile adventure before the rain.
We parked at Trentabank Car Park and once the obligatory toilet stops were finished and Rick was lured away from the smell of the butty van we set on our way, first calling to the information board to show Rowan where we would be going (he seems to be developing my fascination with maps). We picked up a leaflet and our young adventure leader began to lead us round the red route (his favourite colour).
Now I normally like to have the OS map for the area we are walking, but a bit of online research beforehand told me that this particular walk up Shutlingsloe was on well made and well signposted paths. Despite this, I felt a little strange knowing I didn’t have a trusty 1:25,000 OS Map and on the way down vowed I would be picking one up for the area, especially considering it is only 40 minutes from our doorstep.
Rowan led the way looking out for the red markers and soon the path began to steadily rise. “Do you think you can get to the top of that hill?” and “think Mummy needs pulling up” were enough to encourage the boy’s little legs up some steeper sections at this point.
The path began to level out and the mist surrounding the conifers either side of us made the place feel magical and slightly Middle Earthy, though to path to Mordor wasn’t quite so obvious.
We strayed from the path into the trees to explore a little, looking at the pine cones and needles, and wondering what creatures may live here. Maybe there could even be a Gruffalo. Instead we found a mossy hedgehog log then decided to head back up to the path to see what else could be found up ahead.
It was at this point the first complaint of tired legs was heard and after an attempt at cajoling, out came the jelly babies. They magically restored Rowan’s tired legs and on we continued, the bag coming out at intervals until I started to wonder how tired the boy actually was, or were we actually being hoodwinked by our wily little three year old.
We passed a pile of logs presumably from the recently felled area of the forest and before we continuing, we checked whether this was the log pile house of the snake from the Gruffalo. Obviously it was, but the snake wasn’t home.
Soon we came to a signpost for Shutlingsloe that encouraged us to leave the red route to pass through a gate at onto a pitched path. Walking through the gate was like walking into a different day. The wind had picked up, the cloud had drawn in and there was ice and the remains of snow of the ground. This sense of excitement seemed to encourage Rowan on. The tired legs were forgotten and he hopped and skipped along the path with renewed vigour, assuring us when given the choice that he wanted to carry on.
I’m told that the views from Shutlingsloe are beautiful. For us the visibility was limited but we pressed on regardless. Rowan was happy to do so and it was invigorating to be outside in the wind. Chatting to people we met along the way, we found out that the path ahead was pretty slippy and may turn out to be too much for a couple with a little one and two dogs to control. Getting up wouldn’t be such a problem but getting down might be a bit treacherous. We continued until reached a six foot dry stone wall with a step stile. The steps were covered with ice so we agreed with Rowan that we would come back and climb to the top of this mountain another day.
We turned around and headed back down through picking up the yellow route for a slightly different journey back to the car park.
Our whole route was about three miles, and we climbed nearly 200 metres. About another 70 metres would have seen us to the top but it wasn’t to be that day. We will return soon to reach the summit and take in those tremendous views. There were a few mountain bikers on the route so we felt safer keeping our nutty dogs on a lead. More information about the area can be found here, including some lovely photos of what we could have seen had the day been clearer.