Approaching from the A537, Shutlingsloe has the classic pyramid shape, arguably, of Europe’s most iconic mountain.

There the comparison ends. At 14,692 feet, the ice and snowbound Matterhorn appears as a vertical wall of gneiss on all four sides.

Great British Life: Bagging an Ethel! Bagging an Ethel! (Image: Helen Moat)While Shutlingsloe has that striking pyramid shape viewed from the Cat and Fiddle road, from other angles it looks more ‘table-top’ in shape.

Indeed, it’s just a pimple in comparison to the Matterhorn at 1,600 feet and a much easier saunter – surprisingly so.

This lovely forest and moorland ramble, with the bonus of bagging an Ethel (one of the 95 Peak District hills over 1,300 feet), offers superb views of the Cheshire Plains from the top.

Great British Life: Views towards Shuttlingsloe Views towards Shuttlingsloe (Image: Helen Moat)

1. Starting at Standing Stone Car Park (busy on weekends), turn right onto the lane to meet the junction with Standing Stone Road. Opposite the junction you’ll see a wide forest path signed Macclesfield Forest. Go through the gate and continue along the track, coniferous forest on one side, moorland on the other.

2. Take the first left to climb up through woodland, then left again, thereafter keeping right to continue through the woods. Leaving the woodland behind, follow the moorland and forest boundary to traverse the uplands. As the path can be very wet, it's worth seeking out a frosty day when the ground is frozen hard or choose a summer’s day after a period of dry weather.

3. Where the path reaches large slabs of stone, go through the gate and continue towards Shutlingsloe, the paving stones and surprisingly flat terrain here making the way surprisingly easy on legs and lungs. It’s only on the last section that you’ll have to negotiate a steep climb with deep steps, making the going tougher. The pain is short and sharp however, and you’ll turn a corner to see the glorious summit of Shuttlingsloe with its gleaming white trig point. As you’d expect, the views are second-to-none on clear days. Drink in the skyscrapers of Manchester, Jodrell Bank with its great telescope, the Cheshire plains, and on clear days, the Shropshire Hills and mountains of Wales.

Great British Life: Views of Trentabank and Ridgegate reservoirs Views of Trentabank and Ridgegate reservoirs (Image: Helen Moat)

4. After enjoying the all-encompassing views, head south to drop off the grassy ridgeway. The natural steps at its end through the rocks can be tricky. Descend with care. At the bottom you’ll meet a narrow path. Turn left, dropping down to a metal kissing gate.

5. Instead of going through the gate, veer left to climb a rise, trending right to drop down to the boundary wall again. Meeting a second kissing gate, go through, this time to climb up through a shaley embankment to reach the col. Finishing the first loop of this figure-of-eight ramble, you’ll meet the slab path again (where it ascends to Shutlingsloe).

6. Go through the gate again, this time continuing on the slabbed path ahead then downhill. The easy paved route will soon deliver you to a gate at the bottom of the moorland and back onto the wide Macclesfield Forest track. Having turned right here, stick to the forest track all the way back to Standing Stone Road and your starting point.


DISTANCE: 3.5 miles


MAP: OS Explorer Map White Peak Area OL24

DIFFICULTY: Surprisingly easy apart from the summit ascent and descent. Watch out for boggy sections.

REFRESHMENTS: none on the route – bring a picnic