The Big Macc Ramble
at the Macclesfield Forest car park/picnic site at Trentabank. (Reached via
Langley from Macclesfield.)
From early 2005 you may find a mobile tea shop on the site, and an overspill car park just down the road if needed.
Note: There is now a charge for this car park, so it is perhaps better to start from the lay-by beside Ridgegate Reservoir, near the Leather's Smithy.
1 SJ 960 711 - Trentabank Car Park
1->2: 10.71km, 496 metres ascent
Turn left out of the car park at Trentabank then right at the T-junction after 200m at the bottom of the hill. Continue along the road past Ridgegate Reservoir and turn left at the Leather's Smithy, down into Langley. Hard braking may be required to take the first right turn in Langley, down Holehouse Lane to join a track between two small reservoirs.
Continue along the bridleway, turning left at the first opportunity to descend to and cross a small stream, and dismount for the first (and perhaps only) time on this ride. After negotiating steps, continue through gates to reach a metalled lane. Go along here, dipping steeply right to cross a stream (get in a low gear during the descent!) before rising steeply for 1km to join the A537 at Walker Barn where there is no longer a pub. (Take a breather!)
Turn right onto the main road for about 100m before turning right again up a narrow lane, now designated a 'Quiet Lane'. After about 800m the metalled lane swings left then right to descend, but you carry on upwards beside the forest on a rough but ridable bridleway, Charity Lane, to the left, with wide views of the Peak District. After gaining the crest of the hill descend enjoyably on a track that is very rough at times to the hamlet of Macclesfield Forest. Turn left then fork right past the small (worth a short visit) chapel down a rough, steep track (newly laid hard core in 2005 makes this tricky, a short dismount may be needed) to a T-junction where a left turn is taken. Continue left up to a road junction opposite the Stanley Arms, where a right turn signals the start of a long drag up to a junction with the A537 just before the enticing Peak View tea rooms. Turn left and immediately right here to follow the bridleway up to the Cat and Fiddle Inn. Take a well earned rest.
2 SK 001 719 - Cat and Fiddle Inn
2->1: 11.41km, 292 metres ascent
Cross the road from the Cat and Fiddle and head across the moor on a recently rebuilt path across Danebower Hollow. (This used to be a difficult boggy section but can now be negotiated at speed!) Take care to curb your speed after about 2km on the sharp descent to the A54. Turn right and dodge the motorbikes for 1km before turning right at the first opportunity up a gated lane. This soon becomes a superb and increasingly rockier descent via a sharp left turn (gated) where the route joins Cumberland Brook. The brook is followed down an increasingly rough track on which newly deposited rocks in 2005 make one short section a domain of the bold (we dismounted), and is finally crossed by a ford, soon after which you emerge at the minor road linking Macclesfield Forest and Wildboarclough.
Turn right for a leisurely 1.5km before taking a left turn steeply up another 'Quiet Lane' to the edge of the forest. Here take a track to the left and soon enjoy fast sweeping curves through the undulating forest. After a little more than 1km the track descends over erosion planks. Trying to maintain momentum and dodge the walkers and their dogs, take a sharp left up the steepest hill on the route - luckily it's also the shortest. After this the views open out again as you cross Nessit Hill with the forest below. Continue along the main path which sweeps enjoyably (if gravelly - take care) through the forest to reach a junction with a minor road in seemingly no time at all. Turn right here and take care around the left curve that brings you to a junction where a right turn leads back up the last 200m to the car park and the welcome mobile tea room, if it's there. (Or go left to reach the Leather's Smithy.)
1 SJ 960 711 - Trentabank Car Park
Total distance 22km (14.5 miles), total ascent 788m. This route can take me anything from just under 2 hours (hard work) to between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. Expect to do it at a leisurely pace in about 3 hours.
Here are the statistics, and a route