Revelations on our ranger-led walk
A FIVE-MILE circular walk from Danebridge with Cheshire East Council countryside ranger Martin James saw him identify plants and birds, their habitats, and give tips on identifying birdsong, as well as regaling us with local myths and legends.
We headed east and soon saw Hanging Stone (an impressive millstone grit outcrop) ahead of us.
Passing a slender rowan tree sapling, Martin explained that people still believed it was dangerous to chop them down as they were considered sacred to the fairies.
Fortunately, fairies’ wrath could be avoided as the trees cast little shade and could be left when managing trees in the moorland.
En route we heard a charm of goldfinch (singing like rattling keys), song thrush (three to four repetitive notes), willow warblers (descending scale) and saw an unkindness of ravens swooping over the outcrops – birds as large as buzzards and identifiable through their “cronking” call.
One of the highlights was walking through Lud’s Church. It is not a real church, but an impressive hidden chasm in the hillside – mossy, cool, damp and covered in ferns.
There are various theories as to why it is called Lud’s Church – a secret place of worship by followers of an early church reformer and named after Walter de Lundank who was captured during a meeting; the Green Chapel of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; Luddites hid here; and a hunting horse called Lud which bucked in panic on suddenly reaching the chasm edge and threw his rider to his death.
The rider’s ghost still roams the area, covered from head to toe in moss and leaves and is known locally as the Green Man.
We followed the River Dane west on an undulating path back to our start point.
The river sparkled in the dappled shade and we looked out for grey wagtails and dragonflies picking off the insects from the water’s surface.
We saw a tree creeper, making its methodical way up forest trees picking off insects and heard chiff chaff singing in the forest.
What a beautiful country we live in.
For more details of East Cheshire Ramblers’ programme of weekend and midweek walks ranging from four to 15 miles go to ramblerseastcheshire. org.uk
The East Cheshire Ramblers ready to expand their knowledge of the countryside with a ranger-led walk