How to explore the Peak District
Whilst I adore Scotland (and have made it my home for the last 22 years) I will always have a place in my heart for my childhood growing up in a tiny village in east Cheshire near Macclesfield. With moors to stride across, mountains to climb and a royal forest to explore, the beauty of the edge of the Peak District National Park will always draw me home. Here are my favourite ways to discover my part of east Cheshire on some great Peak District walks.
The Three Shires Head
The Three Shires Head is where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet on the River Dane on Axe Edge Moor. My favourite way to get to the Three Shires Head is to walk from the village of Wildboarclough – a 4.5 miles/7.5km round trip, or if you are looking for a longer walk, try this Three Shires Head walk from Gradbach.
To visit the ‘three shires’, cross the main bridge over the River Dane to go from Cheshire to Derbyshire and then cross the wee bridge to take you into Staffordshire. If you are brave enough – have a wild swim in the Panniers Pool. Make sure you visit The Crag Inn at the end of the walk.
Once part of a large royal (Norman) hunting ground for boar and deer, I spent my childhood exploring Macclesfield Forest. With two reservoirs, Ridgegate and Trentabank, and a heronry to walk around, plus miles of paths to hike the forest is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. There are five walking routes to follow, but my tip is to get away from the well-trodden lower paths to discover more peaceful walks (try the red route on this map) and watch out on a sunny day, the road to the forest can be a traffic nightmare. Food and drink is well served by The Leather Smithy which does a roaring trade so grab a pint and a seat by the reservoir.
Stroll along Tegg’s Nose
The 380m high ‘Teggs Nose’ sits above Langley Village and Teggs Nose Country Park on its slopes is a popular day out for many from Macclesfield. Once a millstone grit quarry, the park now provides lots of routes for walking and climbing on the quarry faces – I learnt to climb and abseil here as a scout.
As a child we always climbed the hill from Bottoms Reservoir alongside Tegg’s Nose Reservoir and up Saddler’s Way to the tea room at the top. We always return by the ‘giant’s steps’ – great fun as a kid. In the heart of the village is the St Dunstan’s Inn (otherwise known as the Dunny) which gives a warm welcome to walkers.
By the way – growing up in Langley I always wondered who Teggs was, turns out that Teggs are actually sheep!
Shutlingsloe, Cheshire’s Matterhorn
Affectionately nicknamed Cheshire’s mini Matterhorn, Shutlingsloe might not be the highest point in the area (that’s Shining Tor) but it is certainly the most attractive. The best place to start your walk from is the Macclesfield Forest visitors centre opposite Trentabank Reservoir and climb Shutlingsloe as a round trip.
The walk is around 5 miles to a height of 506 metres (1,660 feet) and takes a couple of hours, longer if you drop down to Wildboarclough for a pint at the Crag. If you have kids with you, or just fancy an ice cream or a coffee, Blaze Farm is also a great place to stop.
Find Forest Chapel & discover Forest Gin
The 18th century ‘Forest Chapel’ (the church is actually called St Stephen’s, but everyone calls it Forest Chapel) sits in a tiny hamlet under the oddly named Toot Hill with its earthworks, or remnants of an ancient village.
My favourite walk to Forest Chapel explores the base of Tegg’s Nose Country Park before climbing up high up above Macclesfield Forest for views across Cheshire and the Peak District moors. Look out for The Stanley Arms pub for lunch and then visit the new Forest Gin Distillery (open Tuesday-Friday 1-5pm) for an to discover an amazing gin and tonic deep in the woods.
Parkhouse Hill & Chrome Hill
Chrome Hill and Parkhouse hill are deservedly Instagram famous – for they are some of the most shapely and dramatic hills in the Peak District. Formed as a coral limestone reef knolls (basically sea creatures nowhere near the sea!) the ‘dragon’s ridge’ formed on the edge of a lake 340 million years ago.
The two hills can be walked in a round trip through the Dowel Dale from either the pretty village of Hollinsclough or from Earl Sterndale. The latter village has a lovely traditional pub, The Quiet Woman which has a great fire for after winter walks.
If you like to cycle, the High Peak cycle route passes nearby to Parkhouse Hill, one of the Peak District cycle routes for families.
What are your favourite Peak District walks?
Love, from Scotland x