Hawk's Nest, Goldstitch Moss & Lud's Church

An exploration of northern Staffordshire that is rarely walked.

Technical sheet
No. 293208
A Macclesfield Forest and Wildboarclough walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Update : 21/08/16
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h20[?]
Distance Distance : 9.65mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 1063ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 1060ft
Highest point Highest point : 1355ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 863ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Peak District
Location Location : Macclesfield Forest and Wildboarclough
Starting point Starting point : N 53.19289° / W 2.00449°
Download : -


(D/A)From the entrance to Gradbach car park, (Grid ref SJ998662) exit left. Then cross over the river via the footbridge and the meadows to the road ahead. Turn right at the road then left at the building. The path climbs straight up the fields following the wall on your left to cross a footpath to reach a bridleway (Grid ref 009675).

(1)By walking left on this bridleway you can visit Three Shires Head. If you want to miss out Three Shires Head turn right along the bridleway ignoring the first wide path to turn right down a narrow path just prior to Hawk's Nest (Grid ref 016674). This path drops down to the river which can be a problem to cross if the river is in flood. Assuming you are safely across, climb up to the path ahead to pass Far Brook Farm on your left. On reaching the road go right.

(2)Turn left at the next footpath. This passes a farm onto the moor with few footpath signs. Proceed in a southerly direction over the stiles and through wall gaps until you reach a barn, within sight of a road (Grid ref 016663). Turn right at this building to contour the hill then drop down to the road on your left (Grid ref 013663) following footpaths marked on maps.

(3)Cross over the road to take the stile ahead and down the steep hill to the river. Climb up the gully ahead joining a well defined path that takes you in front of a farmhouse to Green Gutter Head. Turn left through the mushroom farm and its buildings to the reach road.

(4)Turn right along the road, going straight on at the cross roads (Grid ref 012650) to join the farm road to Goldstitch House. Turn right at the house and follow the path alongside the river through the valley. The path is well defined and crosses over the river prior to climbing up through the bracken to the gap near Bearstone Rock and Roach End.

(5)Proceed up to the top of the path (Grid ref 995645) and turn right through the wall gap to follow the path along the ridge with excellent views over the Cheshire plains. Eventually the path drops down at the end of the ridge and you should turn right at this point and follow the good path descending to a group of large rocks.

(6)Here there is a finger post sign to Lud's Church. A dramatic deep cleft in the forest rocks 50 feet deep, steps lead into the chasm and it's well worth the visit. Return to the rocks and follow the path that descends through the trees to a bridge over Black Brook. Staying on this path follow the River Dane through the grounds of the Youth Hostel and up its drive to reach lane. Turn left to reach the start.

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 896ft - Start: Gradbach car park
1 : mi 1.12 - alt. 1250ft - Turn left to visit Three Shires Head
2 : mi 3.44 - alt. 1276ft - Turn left at the next footpath
3 : mi 4.14 - alt. 1175ft - Cross over the road
4 : mi 4.64 - alt. 1257ft - Turn right along the road
5 : mi 6.7 - alt. 1332ft - Turn right through wall gap
6 : mi 8.78 - alt. 1076ft - Lud's Church
D/A : mi 9.65 - alt. 896ft - Finish: Gradbach car park

Useful Information

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

Starting from Gradbach Car Park, close to the YHA Hostel, this walk will take you to the rarely visited Quarnford area before visiting Lud's Church. Historic details about Lud's Church are quoted in Walk No 1178.

You can also visit Three Shires Head with its important packhorse bridge, widened to take the extra traffic of the pony trains. It is a lovely quiet spot. The 'Y' shape of the three rivers forms the boundary of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Local folklore recounts of a man named Harry who used to make counterfeit money, selling it to travellers. When the police got wind of him he would cross over the river into the another County and so avoid arrest. He lived in nearby Flash, hence the name 'Flash Harry'. This extension adds 1.5 miles (2.5 km) to the route and another 300 feet (90 m) of ascent.

There used to be several Wallabies around Bearstone Rock and Roach End, originally escapees from a nearby private zoo, but they have not been seen for many years. However this might be your lucky day!

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