Friday 16th October 2015, and another, different “proper” walk up Shining Tor. I didn’t leave the mike at home, but left it in the car with the FT-817 and the Tracer 16Ah battery pack. Cor, that made my rucksack light! Even the addition of a litre flask of lentil & bacon soup and my walking jacket, it being rather mild at the start, didn’t mask the refreshing lightness of my payload.
After dropping Liam off at college, I made my way into Macclesfield and grabbed a Spearing’s meat & potato pie for my breakfast. Marshall Spearing is a famous pork butcher in Macclesfield, but is even more famous for his meat & potato pies, freshly backed six mornings every week.
These famous pies have even been immortalised in song by the local folk artiste Pete Blackthorn!
I found myself a parking space towards the bottom of Buxton Road adjacent to the entrance to Victoria Park. There used to be a large maze of concrete council flats here. I knew them well as I grew up in them in the 1970s, and started married life in them in the 1990s! They’ve all gone now, but the park after which “Vicky Park Flats” got their name, remains. It was a nostalgic wander through as I recognised various places I used to play out as a child.
As I emerged onto Hurdsfield Road, I noticed a breakfast cafe really close to the bus stop, and made a mental note for future reference! A few yards walk up the road and I caught the Number 60 bus service to Whaley Bridge. Well, that’s where the bus was going; I alighted shortly before at the village of Taxal.
A long cul-de-sac road leads down into Taxal village itself, but I took the public footpath about 50 yards before it on the right. This led up to a lovely woodland path, marked as “Taxal Beeches”. After this, I met a tarmac road climbing back up from Taxal village, and followed this up to its highest point. I then followed fine path that followed the drystone wall along the spine of Taxal Edge. This was very enjoyable walking indeed.
I now climbed up a gently sloping field full of gentle friendly sheep towards Windgather Rocks. This popular feature for rock climbers and scramblers was new territory for me, even though I had always lived within ten miles of it. As I approached the highest point, I nipped through a nick in the rocks so that I could walk alongside Windgather Rocks, rather than above them, and enjoy their spectacle. Just one hard-hatted and roped-up climber was passed as I pressed on above the Goyt Forest.
The path was soon joined by the road (Side End Lane) coming in from the north. I was anticipating a mile or so of road walking, but in fact the good path continued in parallel on the opposite side of the wall. As the car park at Pym Chair was reached, I started to think about a rest and a bite to eat. However, some fine drizzle started, and a cold wind picked up, so I threw on my Berghaus jacket and carried on walking instead!
The next section of the route was known to me, although I had only walked it maybe twice before. The path, which had been surprisingly good underfoot all the way so far, now went up yet another level courtesy of stone flagging. After climbing over Cats Tor, I knew that only once more ascent remained before reaching the summit of Shining Tor G/SP-004. I was joined by a chap from Kendal, Cumbria, and we walked together the rest of the way to the top. This stretch absolutely flew by, as it often does when you are in conversation with a fellow walker.
At Shining Tor summit, the first thing I noticed was how cold it had become. Not desperately cold, at 9 degrees Celcius, but enough to add a fleecy hat and set up quickly and get shelter as quickly as possible. I set up the end-fed longwire on mini-pole in conjunction with the SOTAbeams Micro Z tuner. This is my lightest antenna system, and it walks on all bands 40m through 6m. It would only be deployed on 40-30-20 on this occasion though, as I was carrying the Youkits HB1B rig.
I wasn’t hanging around, as I wanted to be on the 2.45pm bus from the Cat & Fiddle, and wanted to allow time for at least one pint in the hikers’ bar first! So it was a quickfire ten QSOs on 40m CW and 30m CW in 14 minutes, followed by a swift packaway. Each contact was interspersed with a huge slurp of lentil and bacon soup, which tasted wonderful. In my mind, I was never quite sure how long the “normal” Shining Tor walk takes, whether it be 20 minutes or 40 minutes. So I made a note of the time - 2.05pm - as I set off for the Cat & Fiddle.
I was satisfied to arrive at the pub 25 minutes later, at 2.30pm. A swiftly downed and most welcome pint of Hartley’s Cumbria Ale, grabbed the poles, map and rucksack, and legged it across the road to catch the Number 58 bus back to Macclesfield. It had been one of the best walks I had done in ages, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. To round things off, I met Jimmy M0HGY and Richard G3CWI for a couple more pints at the Society Rooms in Macclesfield. Thanks to Richard for the route suggestion.