Todd Brook Watershed (15/07/2012)
The concept for this walk was to keep as close as possible to the ridges which surround the Todd Brook and which constitute its watershed. On the east side, the watershed has the River Goyt to the east, while on the west the River Dean and Harrop Brook both flow into the Bollin.
This being St Swithin's day we were happy that it was dry if rather cool for July. I was joined by Steve, John, Carl, Peter and, new to the area, Mary. We started from Disley railway station (although there were no trains at that time of the morning) and joined the watershed at the Moorside Hotel. On the path below Whaley Moor (SJ992817) we paused to enjoy the panorama and between us (mainly Steve) we identified all the hills visible from this spot.
Next stop was the Dipping Stone where medieval folk are reputed to have used one of the hollows in the rock for their fish and chips and the other for the vinegar. Then it was all downhill to the dam on the Toddbrook Reservoir, where the sailors were preparing for their Sunday morning entertainment, just above the point at which the Todd flows into the Goyt.
Passing through Taxal we climbed onto the ridge above Kettleshulme where we stopped for our first break. At Windgather Rocks the clinking of the rock climbers' ironmongery and the shouts of 'Below' or 'Climbing Now' competed with the sounds of the wind, the curlews and a tractor cutting hay. From there it’s a straight (and familiar) ridge walk over Pym Chair, Oldgate Nick and Cat's Tor to Shining Tor, Cheshire's highest point (though that's not saying much for a predominantly flat county).
It is less easy to follow the watershed on the west side because there are no rights of way on some sections and in another section it would mean walking up Erwin Lane (which Steve reckons is pronounced Urine Lane). So after a lunch above Lamaload (with no hot toddy unfortunately), we walked via Redmoor, Saltersford Hall down to the Todd Brook itself, then up the steep stony track known as 'the corkscrew' (SJ978768). After a traverse of Broad Moss (it's always boggy up there) we staggered down again to Summer Close and up to Charles Head, then along the Sponds Hill Ridge. The walk finished through Lyme Park - via Lantern Wood and the Cage - a total of 19.7 miles and 3,424 feet of ascent.
When I first had the idea of following the Todd Brook Watershed, I didn't know that John Goodman of East Cheshire Ramblers is hoping to have this route around the Todd Brook designated as a recognised trail. He contacted me to discuss my route and he explained that he is trying to negotiate a new permissive path over the ridge section between Broad Moss (SJ977775) to Charles Head (SJ976788) which would enable walkers to keep close to the watershed. The route deserves to be better known, so South Manchester LDWA wishes him well in his efforts to have it recognised.