Walk from Standing Stone to Wildboarclough via Shutlingsloe
The walk starts and ends at the Standing Stone car park at the top of Macclesfield Forest. However, this is quite difficult to get to on public transport. As an alternative starting point, the Leather’s Smithy pub is recommended, which may be found a short distance beyond the village of Langley. There is a bus service from Macclesfield town centre to Langley.
If travelling by car, the Standing Stone car park is reached as follows: Drive out of Macc town centre along the Buxton road (A537). Pass through the village of Walker Barn. Take the unmarked road off to the right on a left hand bend shortly after Walker Barn. At a T junction, turn right. On a left hand bend, turn right (the Stanley Arms pub is on the left here) - this is signposted to Wildboarclough. Take the next right (signposted to Forest Chapel). Do not take the right turn to Forest Chapel, but continue straight on. The Standing Stone car park is on the right.
This circular walk involves a moderate climb up through the canopied Macclesfield Forest, across High Moor to the summit of Shutlingsloe, a steep descent down to the village of Wildboarclough, along part of the Gritstone Trail to the Leathers Smithy pub, then back up into the forest to return to Standing Stone. The walk up to the summit of Shutlingsloe is fairly strenuous, but offers wonderful views, especially on a clear day. Refreshments are available at the Crag Inn in Wildboarclough, the Hanging Gate pub which is passed at about half way round, as well as the Leathers Smithy pub. Strong shoes or walking boots are essential.
Regular visitors to Macclesfield Forest will be well aware of the curiously named ‘Standingstone’ car park. This must have been so named for a reason, but the question is where did this so called standing stone stand and how old was it? Various sources record a number of ‘stones’ in the area of what is today Macclesfield Forest, but unfortunately the majority have now disappeared. There is one remaining standing stone, which is undoubtedly used as a rubbing post today, and can be seen in a field at Higher Ridgegate to the left of the road close to the Leathers Smithy pub. One of the best documented however, is that reported by Dr J.D.Sainter, Watkin and Earwaker once located in the same field as a tumulus to the north-west of Toot Hill. According to the County Sites and Monuments Record a ‘prostrate unworked stone post probably a rubbing post’ was reported by the Ordnance Survey in 1964, but sadly this could not be located on a subsequent visit in 1972. The Reverend Marriott also described and illustrated two ‘rude upright stones’ on the summit of Shutlingsloe in 1810.
Shutlingsloe was once described as the Matterhorn of the Peaks, although fortunately for us the ascent is nothing like the real thing. At a modest 506m high this Matterhorn is easily accessible. From the peak one can see Oliver Hill and in the north the distant peaks of Shining Tor and Kinder Scout. To the south the town of Leek may easily be seen, and to the south-west Croker Hill and Bosley Cloud. The steep descent from the summit of Shutlingsloe takes you down into Wildboarclough.
Wildboarclough’s claim to fame is as the place where the last wild boar in England was killed. The village is now a quiet backwater, popular with visitors at weekends. The large house of Crag Hall in Wildboarclough is the country seat of Lord Derby, and there was once a carpet mill which used Clough Brook to power its machinery. The mill was largely demolished but the administration block remains, a fine building which once had the strange distinction of being the largest sub-post office in England. Below the mill, this bridge over Clough Brook bears a commemorative plaque to the flash flood of 1989, which drowned a motorist in his car here. The route also passes the Crag Inn in Wildboarclough, well worth a stop for refreshments. After the Crag Inn, the route follows footpaths to Higher Sutton, and the Hanging Gate pub.
There are wonderful views from the Hanging Gate. On a clear day, Jodrell Bank radio telescope may be seen, and the Helsby Hills in North Wales. The Hanging Gate is an old Drovers pub - licenced for over 300 years. The pub sign is a hanging gate with the legend “This gate hangs here and troubles None. Refresh and Pay and Travel On”. The route now follows the Gritstone Trail, which leaves from the back garden of the pub! The Gritstone Trail offers true upland walking, mostly over 1000 feet/304 metres. It stretches from Disley in the north to Kidsgrove in the south. However, we only cover a short section of it on this walk, down to Ridgegate Reservoir. After passing the Leathers Smithy pub, the route follows part of the ‘red’ waymarked trail around Macclesfield Forest, and passes through the hamlet of Forest Chapel before returning to the Standing Stone car park.
The route is also available as a plain page.