Walk Diary Sunday 4 February 2018 Weather, 3°C. Sunny.
Ecton Hill Depart 10 a.m. 10 ¼ miles Leader: Dick H.
No. on walk 8
Shame about the turnout on such a lovely sunny day, the views were simply terrific, for most of the time we could see the snow covered hills out in the Buxton direction. You will see from one of the pictures that we did find our own little bit of snow, but shall we say, like our group, we were a bit thin on the ground. Although the sun was out and you could feel some warmth from it, I don’t believe it pass 4°C. all day.
We had parked on the west side of Ecton Hill just south of Dale Bridge and we set off north to Dale bridge, turning right to take the path up to the old Mine manager’s house with its copper topped dome. Of course you would expect nothing less than this, as nearly all of the ‘hill’ was mined for copper ore and became quite a money spinner for it’s owner.
We didn’t go all the way to the top of the hill, but rather took a lovely path to the left of the house which followed the contour of the hill in a semi-circle until we were heading south to pick up the small road at Back of Ecton. After passing Lees Farm and Manor House, the metalled road ended, so we then walked along the bridle way west of Wetton Hill, stopping along this route for our first break.
We moved on, still following the same line, as far as a foot bridge below Dafar Bridge, crossing the River Manifold at this point and for a change it had a good flow of water in it. During the summer or in times of drought the water disappears from the river bed and flows under it through the Limestone strata for some way before returning to become a river once more. We walked the, not so busy, Manifold Way south, turning off to walk steeply up into Ladyside Wood. Once up we followed a great little path, clinging on to the side of the hill. The path had been properly cut into the hillside and surfaced to some degree and we have the National Trust to thank for this solid work. We eventually arrived at Ladyside and then had to make our way down and across some very muddy fields, made all the worse by the many sheep which were in occupancy. By some way, we joined the road and ventured along it to Grindon Church.
After a brief look around, whilst our leader was consulting his map, we took the path from the church, north west to Hillsdale, keeping on the same line to join Porthooks Lane, it was here that we stopped by a wall, for shelter, for an enjoyable lunch break. We joined the lane to walk through Butterton, ford and all, bearing left, ignoring Dog Lane, taking a spring saturated path to Hayes Farm, it was here we turned for Warslow, firstly Hill Farm and then literally to pass between the cattle sheds of StoneyFold Farm. After three sheds of cattle, all interested in our movements, plus the farm dog we made it down to the road at Elkstone. We left the road at Little Brownlow, taking soggy field paths directly to Warslow Church. Public Loos here, which were made good use of, before moving off on our last leg, east of Ivy House and then due east to Dale Bridge, making our way down the steep embankment to cross the river and trail and so back to our cars.
Although the walk was only ten miles, I think most of us found it a bit tiring, mainly due to the loss of traction whilst walking over wet fields, so typical of this part of Staffordshire, but it was more than made up for by the great views we had before us, seen by keeping to the higher paths, for most of the day.