Walk through Macc Forest to Wildboarclough
The walk starts and ends at the Leather’s Smithy pub, which may be found a short distance beyond the village of Langley. By car, take the A523 Leek road south out of Macclesfield. Turn left at traffic lights and follow the signs to Langley, bearing left after going under the canal. Bear left again at the church, following Main Road then Clarke Lane. After a short distance uphill past Bottoms reservoir, the Leather’s Smithy is on the left. There is car parking available adjacent to Ridgegate reservoir just beyond the Leather’s Smithy.
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This circular walk involves a moderate climb up through the canopied Macclesfield Forest, then down along easy lanes and footpaths into Wildboarclough, and then back via a fairly easy set of paths and lanes to the Ridgegate reservoir and the Leather’s Smithy. The walk up through the forest 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 three quarters of the way round, as well as the Leather’s Smithy pub where the walk starts and ends. Strong shoes or walking boots are essential.
The Leather’s Smithy is situated next to Ridgegate Reservoir. Both the Ridgegate and Trentabank reservoirs in the Forest are used for drinking water. Both reservoirs are home to many wildfowl. At different seasons you may see tufted duck, goldeneye, pochard, teal, little grebe, great crested grebe, and coot.
The Visitors Centre at Trentabank reservoir is worth a visit. Also, at the back of the Visitors Centre, there is a mobile refreshment van, which is open at weekends, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer. There are seats and tables here, right next to the forest, where birds come and go all the time to visit the bird table.
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.
After walking up from Wildboarclough via Oakenclough, the Hanging Gate pub at Higher Sutton is reached. The Hanging Gate is an old Drovers pub, licensed 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.” From here, the views across the Cheshire Plain make the walk well worth while, before returning down through fields to the Leathers Smithy.
The route is also available as a plain page.