The walk starts and ends on the B5470 Rainow Road at Higher Hurdsfield. As you leave Macclesfield town centre on the B5470 (signposted to Whaley Bridge), you will soon pass over the canal, and the road then rises uphill to Higher Hurdsfield. The walk actually starts up Cliff Lane on the right hand side, which is just before the George and Dragon pub (also on the right hand side of the road). For those arriving by car, the Rainow Road is wide enough here to allow safe parking.
Get directions to Higher Hurdsfield by public transport or car with Redplanet.
|Distance:||5.6 miles (9.0 km)|
|Terrain:||Lanes, footpaths and bridleways.
Two moderate climbs.
|Access:||Not suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs|
|Time:||2 to 2½ hours|
|Maps:||OS Explorer Map 268, OL24|
|Grid Ref:||SJ 933 746|
The walk is a circular route, which is intersected by the B5470. To make this a shorter route, you could miss out the southern part of the “circle”. From the starting point, miss out steps 1 to 9 by walking up the B5470 to Rainow. In Rainow, turn left along the Gritstone Trail path. Route directions may then be followed starting at step (10) below.
As with any circular route, this walk can be started and finished from any point – for instance in Kerridge. This circular walk involves a moderate uphill climb to the Buxton Road at the start of the walk, and a moderate uphill climb up to Kerridge ridge after passing through Rainow on the Gritstone Trail. Apart from these two uphill stretches, the walk is fairly easy. Refreshments are available at the Bulls Head in Kerridge. Strong shoes or walking boots are essential.
In order that a stretch of the Gritstone Trail may be incorporated into this walk, the first part of the walk takes you up a lane to the A537 Buxton Road, and a short footpath beyond. The Gritstone Trail is then followed downhill, back across the Buxton Road, and across fields down into Rainow. The main B5470 road is crossed here, and the Gritstone trail is followed up to the top of Kerridge ridge and the White Nancy. The trail is waymarked with yellow discs with a footprint inscribed with a letter ‘G’. After leaving the Gritstone Trail, a steep descent to Kerridge is followed by a pleasant stroll along bridleways and footpaths, to return you to the starting point at Higher Hurdsfield.
Rainow lies in the foothills of the Pennines straddling the Cheshire boundary of the Peak District National Park. The village gets its name from the Old English Hraefn Hoe meaning Ravens Hill, an indication that the area was once a wilderness. The western boundary runs along the crest of Kerridge (Key Ridge from the Old English Caeg Hrycg). The hill has an altitude of over 900 feet, but descends steeply into the River Dean valley. The heart of the village lies to the east of the river. A number of large menhirs (standing stones) can still be seen in the locality. Their original purpose was probably to signpost tracks through Rainow that once formed part of a ridge way to the Scottish borders.
On the northern end of Kerridge ridge is a white building, circular in cross-section in the shape of a sugar loaf. This landmark is known as White Nancy. The White Nancy is a c.18 foot high Grade II listed landmark standing on the top of Kerridge Hill overlooking Bollington, and is visible for miles around. White Nancy was actually built as a summer house by the Gaskell family, who lived below the hill at Ingersley Hall, in about 1815. It is stone built with external rendering and regularly painted white in order to maintain its visibility. It is thought that it may have been built to commemorate the battle of Waterloo. Internally there was a seat all round the wall with a large table in the centre. The table was circular, cut from a single piece of stone. Before White Nancy was built the site was occupied by a beacon which was a small rotunda of brick. Such beacons were erected on high points across the land in which fires could be lit to warn of invasion. It was white-washed from the beginning, but painted green during World War II so as not to provide a landmark for enemy aircraft. The boundary line dividing Rainow and Bollington passes through the middle of the building, placing White Nancy in both parishes. There is no settled reason for the name Nancy, it has been suggested that it was the name of the horse that lead the team dragging the building materials up the hill.
The route is also available as a plain page.