Stoke Newcastle Ramblers

Where walking is a pleasure

Content on this page is contributed by individual members of the Group, and should not necessarily be taken to be the views of the Group as a whole, or of the Committee.

15th June: Croxton and Ollington Hamlet

170515 3aDue to an accident on the A50 Brian arrived at the starting point 45 minutes late.To our amazement  there were 25 eager ramblers awaiting our arrival. After donning our boots we set of on our way for a 8 mile walk across green pastues and views towards Weaver Hills.

The weather at times was very warm and at lunch time a few of us enjoyed a cool drink at the Raddle near Hollington. After lunch we went over numerous stiles with many of them in poor condition (future jobs for the working party).

 From a dodgy start, the day turned out to be a success.Thanks Brian.

Alan Bell

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7th June: Get the Abbey Habit!


The inaugural 4 mile leisurely walk introduced in this summer’s programme took place on Wednesday in a window of good weather within a week of torrential rains and dropping temperatures. The original route for the walk had had to be changed due to the closure of the canal towpath but Anne, our leader, had devised an imaginative way around this. We embarked on a route which included urban, rural and woodland walking. We began at the ancient historical site of Hulton Abbey which was founded in 1219. Many members of the group were very knowledgeable about its history and significance. Anne had done a lot of research and one of the most interesting facts was about the origin of the ‘Monks Way’. Monks were forced to pay tithes to Leek church and any who did not comply had to travel on foot to the gates of the rival abbey to be punished. The historical theme continued – albeit a bit more recent - with us walking past 3 of the walkers’ primary schools with much fond or not so fond reminiscing!

Our coffee stop was overlooking the valley of the Trent and Cauldon canal and we mused about how the hard industrial scenery of coal mines and pot banks has now been softened by the gentle greening of the landscape.  A lunch stop at the end, amongst the ruins of the abbey, concluded this enjoyable and interesting walk.




Photos by Anne

Stoke/Newcastle Footpath Team with their 'stile-ish' new high-vis vests













Photo by Alan Bell

4th June: Sunny Sunday walking via 2 canals

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Photo by Anne Clamp


24 happy ramblers left the roadside parking near to Snape's Aqueduct (old A50 Church Lawton) and walked through fields and woods to Scholar Green down to the Macclesfield canal. Waterproofs on/off, on/off, on and finally off as we sat next to Hall Green lock for a coffee and sandwich. Brief rain to cool down both the day and ramblers. At Hall Green, a lock was built to separate the Macclesfield canal from the Trent and Mersey canal because the water coming down the Macclesfield canal, all the way from Bosley Reservoir via the Bosley locks is from over 15km away, and it is precious. So because the Trent and Mersey would not pay for the water the excess goes to a stream, all for a difference in height of 12 inches!! From the lock we continued to the junction with the Trent and Mersey as the Macclesfield passes over it. We descended via steps to the Trent and Mersey and followed it west back to Snape's Aqueduct via 9 sets of double locks and a 30 metre drop in height. It must have been a real trial for the original boats waiting for locks to fill and empty and there was the Harecastle tunnel also on the Trent and Mersey. There was a disappointment at the end, we had to climb a stile, the rest of the walk being all gated. 24 still happy ramblers finished the walk and then most rejoined to The Lawton Arms for a rest.

Tony Adair

Summer 2017: Group footpath maintenance team features in the national press

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The efforts of Stoke/Newcastle Ramblers footpath maintenance team have been rewarded by a report in the current edition of the Ramblers 'Walk' magazine. Ramblers members will find ‘Like your stile’ featured on page 18 of the Summer 2017 edition.

Alan, the team leader, commented ‘We’re out using the paths every Sunday and just want to give something back’; a typically modest comment from a group undertaking ongoing excellent work that is often not recognised.

Stephen Merry



28th May: Dove and Marston Montgomery

It 's now confirmed - Alan is a stileophile, The stiles on  this walk were many and varied. A few of them were failry easily negotiated. In the morning we enjoyed a pleasant walk through fields and woodlands, along river paths and lanes before reaching our lunch/pub stop at Marston Montgomery where we sat outside in the sunshine enjoying our refreshments. The leader's requests to move on were at last complied with and we then set off again. The afternoon proved more of a challenge for those with dodgy knees as we encountered stiles awkward either by design or through neglect or both. However, all 16 of us survived, mostly undamaged and we had Alan's navigational skills to thank for our eventual return to our cars, as the route finding was a bit of a challege at times. Joking apart, I really enjoyed the walk - well, the coffee break, pub stop, afternoon break and the bits between the stiles!. Lovely weather too. Thanks Alan.



21st May: Double Sunset and Double Scoop! in Dovedale.

170521maxm2Precision timing, good weather, an astro-geographical  phenomenon (!) and historical footnotes were some of the themes of Sunday’s full day walk. On arrival we were told that we would be meeting some other ramblers at the lunch time pub stop at 12.31pm. Impressive reconnaissance must have led to such a confident prediction. The walk began with a short but steep ascent of Thorpe Cloud which, for a relatively small pull up, rewarded us with spectacular views of the Dove Valley and a dizzying view of the stepping stones. It was here that the leader informed us of the double sunset viewed from Lin Dale around the summer solstice, discovered by the writer Jeff Kent in 1997.

After our descent we obediently avoided the red flag area where a shooting club were practising. The walk then took us across the varied countryside and landscape of this lovely part of the Peak District with an answer as to why some farmer’s fields have rows of ridges. We were told that these are lynchets – left over from medieval ploughing. Medieval ploughs only had one blade and so would turn over the soil to make a ridge for the seeds to be planted and the furrow would be left for drainage.


On to a coffee stop in the beautiful village of Tissington with some curious ducks, a shoal of copper coloured fish in the village pond and talk of a very good pie shop. We duly arrived at the lunchtime pub stop – sort of at the time predicted - and were joined by two regular Sunday ramblers and their grandchildren. Having young people to accompany us on the afternoon walk was a delight – their energy and questions about the countryside and life in general was refreshing. On to Dove Dale itself and a stop for a delicious ice cream – I have only been on two full day walks but was assured that this happens all the time!  A great walk, ably led by some Welsh chap, who I sort of know.

Good luck to Dora on her 100 mile challenge walk in the North York Moors next weekend.


7th May: Alton/Gallows Green

1705071On a gloriously sunny and warm day, Helen led a walk from the Ramblers Retreat that started at the crack of dawn (well, about 09.00). The morning found the ten of us (including Chris from Nottingham for the second week in succession) going what seemd to permanently up hill (or 'up bank' as it seems to be described in this almost northern outpost) - obviously not true, but at my age it doesn't need much of an incline to get the heart pumping. Just prior to the scheduled lunch stop at the White Hart in Alton Helen took us on a small detour to hobbit land, aka the Alton Towers Enchanted Village, via a car park which invited guests to 'put your car to sleep' while enjoying their stay in exotically named accommodation such as the Chocolate Suite. After a pleasant interlude in the pub Helen whipped us into 1705072shape, going up more slopes than exist in the himalayan foothills - luckily matching these with downhill bits to allow us (me) to get our (my) breath back. Along the walk we were able to enjoy glorious views, buzzards circling to feast on any fallen ramblers and a herd of deer which put on a display of synchronised cantering as they crossed and re-crossed our path through the Bamford estate, along with mother nature's spectacular display of bluebells and many other flora, too numerous to mention. Suffice to say that they were not ones I stumbled across too often during my childhood in West London.

Overall a very enjoyable walk through varied terrain through woods, along rivers and across fields coupled with unequalled views across the English countryside, not to mention the conversations on a wide range of subjects - the very reason I joined the ramblers on retirement. A big thank you to Helen and here's to many more walks to come.



30th April: South Derwent Valley

1704301Another fine day for a fine walk as Jan Bigley led fifteen of us, including two welcome guests from Nottingham, up and away from Cromford Mill. We climbed steadily through pastures and bluebell woodland with good views down to Cromford and the valley below. In the woods we encountered a 'bat box working party' with men up ladders and a woman in control operating a clipboard. After a few more undulations we climbed up to Crich Monument to experience good views and a bracing breeze. Then on down to the Old Black Swan for our lunchtime break. Eight1704302 cask ales were on offer but with another 5 or 6 miles to walk we couldn't do them the justice they deserved. After leaving the pub, strong and stable leadership was required to steer us to our final destination. This was ably provided by Jan but with the added benefit of being aware of the needs of those who were only just managing. We were provided with an ice cream stop where most of us were pleased with the varieties available. We then did a few more ups and downs through fields and picturesque woods before following a flatter green lane back to the village and our cars. Thanks Jan for a really good varied walk.


23rd April: Long Mynd

17042321704231Fifteen of us joined Tony Ratcliffe in All Stretton, and up we went - then along the Long Mynd moorland skyline past the trig pillar - and down we went - to a fab lunch spot sunning ourselves by a stream in Little Stretton, with two of our party enacting the battle of the stones to see who could get the other the wetter...  After welcome refreshments, up we went again - and down - and up - and down.  Who said ‘undulating’ could cover more than 2,000 ft of ascent overall? Tony did! Seriously, thanks for a classic walk in amazing scenery when the weather got its act together with glorious sunshine by the afternoon.



29th Mar: Locks and Gingerbread

Many thanks to the 11 members who joined Susan and me for today’s half day walk from the Four Alls PH, Woodseaves. The weather was kind to us with the rain holding off depite the forecast. We walked, firstly, along tracks into Market Drayton where we joined the Shropshire Union canal at Thomas Telford’s high viaduct and then we proceeded to Tyrley Locks with their unique microclimate. Lastly, from Tyrley Wharf we walked along country lanes back to the Four Alls for refreshments before departure. Today we had a varied walk and saw 19th century engineering at its best.

Stephen Merry

12th Feb: Four Staffordshire Halls

Bottomhouses to Ipstones

As we set off at 09.00hrs into the biting wind and snow flurries after parking in a layby at Bottomhouse it very soon became obvious that the  Met Office had got their forecast right and Woody's luck in choosing the sunny days had finally run out. There was still eleven of us out on this bleak February morning braving the elements. Sadly the temperature was not quite below freezing point although with wind chill it was 'feel like' -5, consequently it did not provide the icy crusty underfoot which we had hoped for. Instead the previous day's snow had soaked away fast into the already saturated low lying pasture land.

Conversation was fairly limited this morning as we picked our way across the fields since we were all muffled and hooded like Eskimos. The snow eased off genorously for our morning break but came down with renewed vigour as we homed in on the sanctuary of The Sea Lion pub in Ipstones. The pub was wood burning stove welcoming and was hosted by a friendly and eager to please landlord. After an hour of relaxation and convivial conversation Brian decided that it was time to answer the call of the wild and to upsticks, don hats and leave. Off we set into the biting wind for the final three miles back to the cars. Icy wind blown sleet now prevailed as Brian shepherded his flock across the boot-sucking semi-submerged pastures. The last mile was a sprint as we all increased our pace to escape the piercingly sharp wind-blown sleet to arrive safely back in the layby and the prospect of an early bath.

Ken Twigge

9th Feb: Oakamoor

These are the Ramblers who took part in the 9-mile Oakamoor walk, on February 9. The weather held and a good time was had by all.

Peter Taylor and Stephen Merry


5th Feb: Timbersbrook and The Cloud

Better a carpark that's closed than a pub that's not open! Our leader directed us to a better parking spot anyway so all was well to start. The cream of the Stoke/Newcastle Ramblers (9 of us) then enjoyed an excellent walk from Timbersbrook. In the morning we spent some time exploring several paths on the slopes of The Cloud with fine slightly misty views in different directions over the surrounding countryside. We then climbed to the trig point for our coffee break where we encountered a man with a tall mast talking loudly into his radio equipment, possibly to Australia. There was also a small dog energetically trying to dig his way there. Leaving the entertainment it was all downhill to the very welcoming pub (Coach and Horses) on the outskirts of Timbersbrook. With immaculate bad timing we left the pub just as Wales were about to kick off their rugby game against Italy. Our leader Brian, being Welsh, probably assumed his team would do better if he wasn't watching them. And so it turned out. The afternoon was a pleasant walk back to the cars, avoiding the worst of the mud that was lurking on most ot the paths to trap the unsuspecting rambler. Thanks Brian (and helpers) for enduring all the mud on the recce so that rest of us softies didn't have to go home with dirty gaiters.

Tony Ratcliffe


Stoke/Newcastle Ramblers contribute to BBC urban walking feature

Representatives from the Stoke/Newcastle group joined the BBC News Media and Arts Correspondent, David Sillito, and a recording team for a short walk along the Cauldon Canal and a discussion on the pleasures of urban walking. The focus of the recording was Dan Raven-Ellison who is currently walking across all of the UK’s 69 cities and 15 national parks and has said that Stoke was full of surprises. Dan wears a headset while walking to record his brain activity, collecting data to help illustrate how landscape influences our mood, health, and happiness.  When asked to suggest an interesting city, Dan said that Stoke had been full of surprises..    

The much-edited recording appeared on BBC 1’s Breakfast show on Monday 30th January at approximately 6.52 AM. If you are interested, you can currently access the program at where you can fast forward to the relevant part.

Tony Adair


22nd Jan: A winter's day on the Roaches

Hubbie Ken led a 10.5 mile walk on Sunday 22nd January. It was a racing start for the 16 of us as the wind whistled round our ears and nether regions on this cold, icy, frosty morning. We stopped at Gradbach to enjoy our mid morning break with snowflakes starting to fall. Ian was quite jealous this was not his Winter Wonderland Walk as advertised as last Sundays walk. We had our pub stop at the Winking Man where a few of us got quite competative at playing Skittles. Both Alans had secret weapons - one was left handed and one had teenage year's experience. It's amazing what hidden skills ramblers have!

After all this excitement we ventured out in to the thick mist to contine our walk via Hazel Barrow, The Blue Hills and to emerge between Hen Cloud and Rockhall. Our last climb was up onto the Roaches Ridge back to our cars. Unfortunately for Ken the Ice Cream Van was not there!!

Eileen Twigge

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Not taken from a bird hide, but weather was so cold it stopped the lens fully opening!



18th Jan: Turkey Trot and shorter walks in general

On Wednesday 27 colleagues enjoyed a short four mile walk in Dimmings Dale followed, for those that wished, by some excellent food and banter at the Ramblers Retreat tearoom; a former 19th century lodge. The weather was kind to us and the occasional mud underfoot added to the charm of the day. Great thanks are due to our leader, Malcolm, for both leading the walk and for liaising with the tearoom so we were all accommodated and welcomed.    

On the following day the group committee discussed shorter walks in general. This was at the request of some of our more mature members, but it was also felt that some newer members might also appreciate the opportunity to walk shorter distances to ‘get into their stride’. Hence there will be a small number of 4 mile walks within our forthcoming half day calendar replacing, on the odd occasion, our typical 6 mile jaunts. You will find these by scanning the mileages given for each walk in our walks’ programme that is freely available on-line and is distributed in hard copy to all our members. We also ask our leaders to consider whether they might want to lead such a walk in the future.

We do not promise a group meal at the end of every shorter walk, but eating your own packed lunch in a rural setting at the end of a gentle stroll can be a treat in itself!

Stephen Merry

17th Jan: Gun Hill

170104 ShadowWhile doing a recce over Gun Hill, as the sun was setting behind me I caught this amazing shadow of myself, spread out towards the Roaches.


15th Jan: Walking in a Winter Wonderland

This was Ian Swift's walk.....well let's now re- title it ...Trudging in a January Wetland!  Eleven brave souls turned up at Whitmore Village Hall for the start of the 12 mile walk around Maer Hills. There was originally talk of mutiny and going for breakfast at a nearby hostelry or even having a day out at Dagfields. However the rambler genes in us all said we are not wusses, and so we all donned on every waterproof garment we had and set off. The rain persisted and so did the banter. We enjoyed a cosy, dry lunch stop in a pub in Ashley where we had a snug to ouselves. Then back out into more heavy sludge, slurry, mud and rain. Ian had done his homework and made notes about the history and burial of Josiah Wedgewood at Maer Church. Unfortunately for him, he gave us a choice of a ten minute detour and speech or carry on up the hill. We all seemed to turn into hill sprinters whilst Ian stood, wet paper in hand. Never give a rambler a choice especially when it's pouring down!

Another enjoyable day out.

Eileen Twigge

7th Jan: Bus walk

A crowd of us met at Hanley bus station for Brian's walk through the city. Most had come by bus, but some had driven in and parked.

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We caught the bus to Hanford, got off by the filling station and picked up the River Trent to walk into Stoke.  Kingfishers are regularly seen on that stretch but we weren't in luck - probably because of all the chattering going on.

We emerged briefly into the streets of Stoke before dropping again, down to the Trent & Mersey Canal. After a coffee stop at Etruria Industrial Museum, our route took us through Festival Park and up behind the ski slope onto Festival Heights. A tranquil walkway, unknown to most of us, led us to Burslem and a friendly pub stop. Since there was no food on that day, the landlord allowed a couple of us to bring in Wright's Pies from the shop down the road. Suitably refreshed, we enjoyed a stroll around Burslem Park, then followed the old loopline into Hanley Forest Park. Two of the group felt obliged to climb the old slag heap to enjoy the view while the rest had a cup of tea from the kiosk.

Read more: 7th Jan: Bus walk


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Monday, February 19, 2018