(56 miles in the glorious Peak District!)
The first full weekend in September

Starts on the first Saturday in September and is organised by the 3rd Hazel Grove Scout Group affiliated to the Long Distance Walkers' Association (LDWA) - Click to enter the Group's site


It is 10 years since I last did the Bullock Smithy. Wasn’t the 40th anniversary event brilliant? Oh, but I had forgotten how hard that climb up to Edale Cross was, especially with those new big loose stones they have put down, and the slog up to Hollins Cross and to Chinley Churn and that horrible hill out of Castleton (Cave Dale is even worse apparently) and not forgetting the first bit of the hike from the start up to Bowstones. I didn’t like those steep rocky descents much either, down Jacobs Ladder, or coming down off Hollins Cross and that near vertical freefall to the bottom of Coldwell Clough. In fact the first 20 miles were pretty horrible really. Still, it was a glorious day absolutely perfect for walking or running, visibility was crystal clear and the purple heather on the slopes of Kinder was absolutely stunning. Some other people on the hike seemed to be actually enjoying it and all the checkpoint staff were far too friendly and encouraging. The rice pudding and fruit salad at Edale was my only highlight.
The middle bit was ok though wasn’t it? Apart, of course, from the mad cows chasing you across the field just after Peak Forest, and the even crazier ones just before Earl Sterndale if you were brave enough to even step into the field. I seem to remember these in the very same places 10 years ago. Surely they can’t be the same ones. Is it something they have against the hike just because there is ‘Bullock’ in the title or is each new intake of calves specifically trained by the farmer to chase hikers especially of the Bullock Smithy variety? I got caught and passed on the way over to Peak Forest by the legend that is Jerzy Matuszewski who has done every edition since 1976 and who had set us off from the start with the strike of the anvil what seemed like days ago. Then it went very peaceful for a while. The long slog up the road and beyond to Calton Hill from the halfway point at Millers Dale to Chelmorton seemed interminable and Earl Sterndale was like a ghost town in a low budget western. Not a soul was in at the Quiet Woman at 9.30 on a Saturday night and the pork pies lay untouched on the bar. Still, it had been a glorious evening, the hot air balloons had been out over Chatsworth, the sunset had been absolutely spectacular and conditions for night walking were looking idyllic. I had picked up some good company to walk with even if they were both from Yorkshire and there was some good banter between us and at each of the checkpoints. The tomato soup went down well at Millers Dale and the doughnuts at Chelmorton hit the spot as well as the jam butties at Earl Sterndale. I was almost starting to enjoy it, 36 done only 20 to go. I was looking forward to my hot dog at Brand Top now.
Just who is responsible for those last 20 miles home? Oh yes, I remember now, it seemed like such a good idea at the time. What on earth was I thinking? The pressure was on, if the bloke who dreamt up this bit wasn’t quite sure of the way what hope was there for the other 229 poor souls. I had visions of being left to the mercy of the mad dogs of Brandside. We negotiated our way safely down the slippery bank into Dowel Dale and then across the fields by Stoop and Booth Farm. The dog started barking when we reached the bog by the stream at the bottom of the track up to Brand End. Once a ruin of a place for many years this is now habited and the poor occupier was in for a sleepless night. The hapless dog though must be at least 15 by now if it’s the same one and was going to need some strepsils by daybreak. We make our way round as quietly as possible and then on up to the checkpoint. We’ve made it to the hot dogs and we pick up another member for our party. Fortunately he’s not from Yorkshire.
Onwards then to Cumberland Cottage, the green light at The Knights Table by Flash Stores that had been visible for miles was finally reached after an uphill ‘thrutch’ and onward by quiet lane all downhill for a bit to Knotbury. Then the blister popping rocky paths start. After 40 odd miles just what your feet don’t need. Three Shires Head by torchlight was a tranquil spot but no time to linger we head upstream and climb steeply up the fields to the big stile onto the A54. Our torches pick out the wrong one which has us confused for a minute until we locate the right one further along. Now the nightmare of sharp stones and rocks down the clough towards our destination. As our headtorches come into view the peace is shattered by a cacophony of cowbells and air horns and other paraphernalia which has us laughing out loud deliriously. What a welcome. We stop by the roaring fire a little too long enjoying the banter with our jovial checkpoint hosts. What a brilliant spot.
We make a communal decision to avoid the rocky path hell of Charity Lane and take the longer route by tarmac round to Walker Barn. Barely a car passes us on the uphill grind out of Wildboarclough and then the end is finally in sight as the bright lights of Greater Manchester and Macclesfield lie seemingly at our feet which are now getting a bit hot with this hard track and tar. A short drop into the tiny back room of the chapel and Jerzy and his entourage have the place occupied and we force them into a rapid exit. We can’t be bothered giving chase and head down to Rainow at our own pace thankfully finding a short stretch of softer ground to tread on. The last hill, honestly it is, up Lidgetts Lane and then down into Bollington and finally the sanctuary of the canal towpath. Not much talking now, how much further to bridge 25? A crescent moon comes into view as we turn into the checkpoint. A quick drink and a biscuit and a few grunts of appreciation to the hardy checkpoint staff and then onto the final leg of torture along Middlewood Way.
Pitch black and dead straight, time stands still. After seemingly hours we can take no more and emerge into civilization at bridge 12 at Wood Lanes. More tarmac, then cobbles, my feet are on fire, how much further? Towers Road looms into view I start to smell sizzling bacon, it’s not my feet but my cooked breakfast in the frying pan. Please end, but Towers Road just lingers on. My breakfast must be cold by the time I finally reach the bright lights of Macclesfield Road and the finishing straight. At 4.30am we trudge in, tired but jubilant, congratulations all round. My plastic fork snaps cutting the first rasher of bacon. I don’t envy my companions’ trip back to Yorkshire because by 5.30am I have managed to cadge a lift home and somehow climbed into and out of the shower and into bed. I don’t sleep too well my feet are still throbbing and twitching.
We learn that Neil Thompson of Stockport Harriers was first home in a superb time of 9h.04m to take the Bullock Smithy trophy and Jayne Lawton also of Stockport Harriers was fastest lady and fourth overall to retain the Chinley Trophy. It comes as no surprise that Stockport Harriers also take the Windgather team award with Stephen Jones the third counter and third overall with 9h.59m. However they are pushed all the way by Macclesfield Harriers who have Ian Symington in second place with 9h.35m. In the new category for the fastest person from the Scout Movement ex. 3rd Hazel Grove scout and veteran of 21 completions, Steve Jackson was a worthy winner in 11h.41m. Some generous prizes and energy bars at Chinley were also donated by the ‘Runfurther’ team whose event was incorporated. Spot prizes were distributed to stalwarts of the event with multiple completions. Pride of place in this category goes to Jerzy Matuszweski with a full set, but honorable mentions go to Geoff Pettengell who completed his 25th, Paul Rushworth his 19th, and Julian Brown his 19th and not forgetting Chris Kelly who also celebrated his 40th birthday doing the event.
All 230 starters received a splendid 40th anniversary china mug and of those, 178 completed the route back to the Scout Headquarters in Hazel Grove in what must be almost perfect conditions. My personal thanks to the fantastic team of people who make this event so special and to everybody else who helped or supported in whatever capacity.

The 40th Bullock Smithy, wasn’t it brilliant?
Yes it most certainly was.

Steve Holt

Entries are now open for our 41st event on September 3rd/4th 2016 at

..... and the verdict of the participants.......

"Hello , had great time again doing the walk at the weekend, helping raise money for Scott group."
Best wishes
Dominic Le Roy