There are things you do because you think you ought to, or like in this case, because it’s part of a greater plan/challenge. The Cat & Fiddle climb is definitely one of those. If it wasn’t an iconic UK climb and wasn’t part of the UK 100 Climbs book then I probably wouldn’t have ridden it.
Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with riding the Cat & Fiddle but it starts right in Macclesfield, just off the busy A523 and the road itself (the A537) is a fairly busy route taking traffic eastward to Buxton and beyond. So it’s not exactly what you’d describe as a peaceful idyllic climb that’s for sure. Of course it’s not all bad news because once you’ve climbed up there and taken the obligatory photos, you’re then free to find an alternative route down and turn the ride into something all cyclists crave – a loop!
I’m not entirely sure why we’re all obsessed with loops, especially when sometimes we ride the same loop that we’ve ridden many times before, so it’s not just about variation. But cyclists naturally loop; it’s just the way it is!
On this occasion I had planned to loop round from the Cat & Fiddle pub by continuing on to the junction with the A54 and heading back towards Wildboarclough and then cutting through Macclesfield Forest back to my car. Which, by the way, I’d parked near Sainsbury on the side of the road on Westminister Road, just in case you’re interested. My planned loop worked out just fine; there was one adjustment when I found that my ‘quiet lane’ off the A54 turned out to be an off-road byway rather than anything paved and road bike ride-able but apart form that, the section of the A54 to Wildboarclough was pretty quiet of traffic and the scenery along there fantastic.
Once I’d found a suitable turn off at Wildboarclough the roads did indeed become quiet lanes, with some of them even labelled as such on nice little signs. It had been a misty morning as I’d been working up in Liverpool and the mist had cleared by the time I had started my ride from Macclesfield come the afternoon but now as I rode down through the lanes to Macc Forest I came across remaining patches of mist and I could sense the temperature dropping off too. Another misty evening was on the cards and I was glad that I’d be back to the car before it really got properly dark.
The ride down from Wildboarclough alongside Clough Brook and finally down into Macc Forest is a really nice ride. Great surroundings, very little traffic if any at all and of course from this side it was pretty much downhill and plain sailing all the way. If it were a closed road event Standing Stone Road would be a great opportunity to smash some speed records but although it’s steep and long it’s just not straight enough to just let go properly with the chance of a car coming the other way.
So what about the Cat & Fiddle climb then? I’ve not really mentioned it have I. Erm, it’s OK. I mean, it’s in a nice part of the country so the scenery is great at times and it’s a good length of hill but it doesn’t really have any challengingly steep sections and there’s a little too much traffic. If it was close to me then I’d love it and ride up and down it all the time, but then there’s nothing in my area of the UK that comes close to the length or height of the Cat & Fiddle. If I’m in the Peak District on the other hand, then there are so many other hills that I’d rather climb!