Rev­e­la­tions on our ranger-led walk

Macclesfield Express - - EAST CHESHIRE HOSPICE -

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

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