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The Southwest Peak, Cheshire & Staffordshire Fringes - A view from our expert author


It is a mix of millstone grit and coal measures with sweeping ridges of open moorland falling away to pasture, carved out by wooded cloughs and fast-flowing streams.

Surrounding the long finger of the national park in the southwest is a string of mill towns, including New Mills, Macclesfield and Leek. These are a testament to Victorian enterprise and ingenuity: New Mills with its sweeping viaducts and great arched bridges; Macclesfield with its redbrick silk mills (now part of a fine museum trail); and Leek with its Arts and Crafts architecture (built on the wealth of its own mill industry). Between Macclesfield, Leek, Longnor and Buxton, there are some of the loveliest yet largely unexplored parts of the national park, an area with its own distinctive character: it is a mix of millstone grit and coal measures with sweeping ridges of open moorland falling away to pasture, carved out by wooded cloughs and fast-flowing streams.

Within are isolated hamlets and villages, with unexpected treats to be found in the quietest corners. There’s no better place to go slow, whether its fishing on the River Dane, sampling beers in a local brewery, weaselling and rock hopping on the Roaches or conquering one of the mini-peaks such as Shutlingsloe or Parkhouse Hill. It’s a part of the Peak District that draws me back again and again.

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