‘Riding the Dragon’s Back’ – Shining Tor Saturday


Or ‘Happy hiking!”, a Message to Aliens and Sociability for Humans and Dogs…

We breakfast early – and alone. Millie is still under the covers trying to ignore the world.

It is a beautiful day and we head out to the car park at Pym Chair in the Goyt valley. This takes its name from either a non-conformist preacher who preached up in the rocks away from the authorities or from a highwayman who led a gang of robbers who preyed on the packhorse trains passing on the road below. We head up Cats Tor on a track paved with local stone containing fossils.

We can see Macclesfield in the very far distance. Larks flutter up all around us. ” Happy hiking!”, a group of D of E kids shout out as they pass. And then, “Your dog is super cute”, a tough fell runner tells us as he runs by.

We walk on to Shining Tor where the ‘super cute’ dog is only too glad to stop for a very early lunch. We head down towards the remains of Errwood Hall. On the opposite hill the slopes are a patchwork of bald rectangles. “Perhaps they are creating a better habitat for ground nesting birds?”, I suggest. “Of course not”, says Darrell, “It’s clearly a message to aliens to stay away as Boris Johnson is about to be elected Prime Minister”. In fact as they actually do harvest heather for seed and use it to extract chemicals it is likely that we are both wrong.

In 1830 Manchester industrialist Samuel Grimshawe built Errwood Hall in the Goyt valley for his son as a wedding present. The family imported 40,000 rhododendrons and azaleas for the gardens using their own ocean going yacht. In its heyday the estate had a staff of 20, a coal mine, a watermill and a school. The house was demolished in 1938 to build Fernilee Reservoir to provide water for Stockport. Thirty years later Errwood Reservoir that we can see before us was built further up the valley.

We enter Shooter’s Clough and meander through a beautiful valley studded with the purple of rhododendrons before heading uphill to the Spanish Shrine, a tiny circular church built by the Grimshawes in memory of their governess, Dolores de Bergrin.

We rejoin the Street, a salters ‘and smugglers’ road used since Roman times to link Cheshire and Derbyshire, and head back to the van…

After a chill out afternoon enjoying the sun and giving newbie campers some camping hacks we’ve picked up along the way we take an amble up to the Temple so Millie can meet her social obligations. We stop and chat too, it has to be said…

A most beautiful evening so we sit in the awning with all the flaps open enjoying steamed fish and new potatoes.

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