SHUTLINGSLOE 6 MILE WALK
...putting the 'peak' into Peak District
The 506m/1,660ft summit of Shutlingsloe has been dubbed “the Matterhorn of the Peak.” This shapely hill which pokes its craggy, crooked summit above the conifers of Macclesfield Forest, is one of the few real peaks worthy of the name in the Peak District...
Shutlingsloe: the Matterhorn of Cheshire
The 506m/1,660ft summit of Shutlingsloe has been dubbed “the Matterhorn of the Peak.” Although this may be something of an exaggeration, this shapely hill which pokes its craggy, crooked summit above the conifers of Macclesfield Forest is one of the few real peaks worthy of the name in the Peak District. This pleasant walk also takes in the charming village of Wildboarclough.
Trentabank Reservoir - map
The log cabin-style ranger briefing centre at Trentabank Reservoir in the heart of the conifers of Macclesfield Forest gives more than a hint of “Rose Marie” to the start of this walk. Trentabank Reservoir was constructed in 1929 to supply clear Pennine water to Macclesfield and district, and is now managed by United Utilities. The water company and the National Park have constructed an excellent nature trail suitable for disabled people down to the reservoir.
Unlike many reservoirs, Trentabank has a variety of wildlife interest, most important of which is the large heronry, visible from the roadside, which is managed by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. Goldeneye, red-breasted mergansers and great crested grebe also frequent the secluded waters of the reservoir.
(facing the road) Turn right from the visitor centre on a path which runs alongside the road before turning onto a track (2nd right signed Shuttlingsloe - go right at fork) which ascends steeply in places through the conifers of Macclesfield Forest to emerge on the open moor.
Once out of the forest, the track becomes paved as it crosses High Moor, with our objective of Shutlingsloe looking increasingly inviting ahead. The paving was laid by Cheshire County Council and the National Park to overcome severe erosion problems on the path as it crosses the soft ground of High Moor.
The path follows a wall to a ladder stile just beneath the last, steep climb up the northern face of Shutlingsloe, through a staircase of outcropping sandstone crags to the ridgetop summit.
The 506m/1,660ft summit of Shutlingsloe is one of the finest in the Peak, with spectacular views eastwards across the wooded valley of Wildboarclough to Axe Edge and Oliver Hill, and north towards Shining Tor and distant Kinder Scout. To the south, the rocky escarpments of the Roaches and Ramshaw Rocks are prominent, while the broad Cheshire Plain, with Macclesfield in the foreground, fills the western view. On a clear day, the dish of the Joddrell Bank Radio Telescope can be seen.
The unusual name of Shutlingsloe is thought to mean “Scyttel’s Hill,” and its craggy summit provides the exciting denouement to local man Alan Garner’s classic children’s fantasy, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. There is a memorial toposcope on the craggy summit.
A waymark on the summit points the way down towards the next objective, the village of Wildboarclough. After a steep little scramble, the path emerges at a stile above Shutlingsloe Farm, which is bypassed. The farm drive is then joined and followed down to the lane which leads right to drop down to the road into Wildboarclough. Turn right to reach the Crag Inn (tel: 01260 227239) which serves real ales and a popular Sunday carvery until 4pm).
The old name of the scattered hamlet of Wildboarclough was Crag, and this name is recalled in the name of the Crag Inn, a popular hostelry passed on the route.
Wildboarclough’s other claim to fame, other than the mineral water now produced in its name, is its former Post Office, which must have been one of the largest and most grandiose in the country. Crag Mill, now used for residential accommodation, is a splendid 18th century Georgian-style building which started life as the manager’s house and administration block for Crag Mill, which spun silk for the Great Exhibition of 1851. The little church of St. Saviour dates from the early years of the century.
From the Crag Inn car park, take a stile immediately on your right and follow this lovely green path which contours around the gorse-dotted slopes of aptly-named Mount Pleasant between Higher Nabbs (to the right) and Lower Nabbs Farm (below to the left). Follow a series of large red discs that point the way across several large fields until a long, narrow farm drive is reached and then Greenway Bridge opposite a private driveway and residence.
Just before reaching the bridge, turn right at a stile and follow the bank of Oaken Clough to cross a wooden slab bridge. At a ruined hut, a concessionary path avoids Oakenclough House through new plantations and pond to join the house drive. Go right to immediately meet a stile which climbs steeply left across High Moor, with views back to Shutlingsloe behind.
Follow this path, passing another small, reeded pond, to the corner of the moor and a stile which leads down on a contained, walled path to emerge onto the road at the delightful Hanging Gate public house (tel: 01260 252238).
Turn right and keep right at a sharp hairpin in the main road on this minor road past Brownlow Farm, Higher Hardings Farm and the delightfully-named Thickwithers (all on the right). There are extensive views ahead over the conifers of Macclesfield Forest towards the prominent neb of Tegg’s Nose.
The original Forest of Macclesfield was a hunting ground for the Earls of Chester during the Middle Ages, and today’s regimented conifers are still the home of fox, badger, tawny owls, woodpeckers and Britain’s tiniest bird, the goldcrest.
As the quiet lane descends back into the trees, keep right at every junction to return, after a long mile, to Trentabank and your starting point at the car park.
Start/Finish: United Utilities Trentabank car park, on the minor road to Macclesfield Forest east of Langley
Distance: 10 km/6 miles
Approximate time: Allow 3-4 hours
Highest point: Shutlingsloe, 506m/1,660ft
Map: OS Explorer Sheet 24, The White Peak
Refreshments: Nice Nosh at Trentabank, 2 pubs en route.
Terrain: A steep, but paved, hill climb, then field and moorland paths which can be wet
Walked & updated by Mike & Bridget Cummins July 12th 2015
Last Updated: 13 Jul 2015