Leek 9 to 12 October Hikers report

Friday 9th October Orientation walk around Leek Staffordshire on the architectural trail. The walking trail around the town revealed the Victorian influence, many of the buildings were in the Arts and Crafts style. William Morris had an influence, spending long periods of time here as the town was a centre of silk textile industry, there is still the Leek school of embroidery here. We started our walk at the Nicholson War Memorial 90 ft high and made of Portland stone one of the highest in the country. We then explored the graveyard of St Nicholas Church where there are the remains of two pre-Norman crosses. We passed many fine examples of Georgian town houses and lost count of the number of pubs on route with unusual names such as the Silent Woman. Following our walk, we all dispersed to various eateries in the town centre.
Saturday 10th October Hikers walk of 12mls across moorlands, fields, finishing with a walk along Rudyard lake. We arrived at our starting point at Rudyard miniature railway and reluctantly emerged from the cars to face a heavy downpour. On a fine day the views would have been stunning we had some periods of dry weather which enabled us to stop for snacks and drinks. We walked over the Staffordshire moorlands with heather and ferns beginning to go into a lovely golden colour. We estimated that we climbed over approximately thirty stiles in varying states of dilapidation. We had a pub stop for a late picnic lunch the manager was happy for us to eat indoors and we enjoyed the local beers and ales. We finished our hike walking along the lakeside shore and ended up at the boathouse for a group photo. In spite of the intermittent heavy rain we enjoyed a varied walk. Sunday 11th October hikers walk of 11mls approx. with fields and moorland in the morning and a return via the Roaches (rock formation). Once again, we set out in car conveys only to find that half of Staffordshire had had the same idea and parking spaces were at a premium, we eventually parked in another lane which resulted in a slight walk adjustment. It was a bright sunny day and the moorlands were at their best with magnificent views of the Roaches. We clambered over stiles, crossed rivers and climbed a moderately steep hill before we reached our lunch time stop of the picturesque Ship Inn at Wincle. This also proved to be a very popular spot with queues of four by fours attempting to get a parking space. We enjoyed drinks and snacks before moving further down the road to the Wincle Brewery where we had our picnic lunch. Geoffrey decided not to do the Roches but joined us for lunch and did his own walk in the afternoon before very generously being part of the car convoy for the return to Leek. The afternoon hikes up through a pine forest and along the Roaches afforded us wonderful views and great walking. We had a short stop whilst Blue Peter completed filming Children in Need for Countryfile. After a steeper but quite manageable descent we returned via fields and under more electric fences (unfortunately on of our group had his head zapped at this point) until we reached our cars in time to take some photos of the sun setting on the Roaches. We arrived back in Leek with time to get ready for a meal at the Leek Bar and Grill a local Turkish restaurant.
Monday 12th October with a forecast of more showers we changed our morning walk
to a visit to Froghall Wharf situated in the beautiful Churnet Valley at the end of the Caldon Canal, followed by tea and cakes at Hetty’s Tea shop. We once again set out in a car convoy this time including luggage as our destination was on route to Stoke on Trent Station. Froghall Wharf is an area of industrial significance with a number of lime kilns. The Caldon Canal opened in 1779 and links Froghall to the Trent and Mersey Canal at Etruria Stoke on Trent. We enjoyed a walk along the canal towpath where we saw a horse ramp where horses which had slipped into the canal were able to get back out. We finished our walk at Hetty’s tea shop where we had very generous portions of cake with our cups of tea.  Great weekend in an area well worth further hikes and exploration.
Many thanks to Sherril Kennedy and Janet Williams for devising and leading our hikes.