Golden plover

THREE SHIRES HEAD

Directions

Take the A537 Macclesfield to Buxton Road. About one-and-a-half miles past the Cat and Fiddle inn, turn right towards Congleton along the A54. After another mile and a half, park in the lay-by on the right hand side of the road.

From the lay-by, walk about 100 yards uphill. Now cross the road and enter a small field through the gap in the drystone wall behind a steel safety barrier. Cross the stile in the far left hand corner and then turn left to follow the wall downhill. You are now in the corner of a field where there are two gates. Stay in this field and turn right to continue downhill while keeping the fence on your left. Proceed through a gate and then take an immediate left to follow the grassy track downwards. Follow the track and wall downhill (this track can be very muddy, so please ensure that your footwear is waterproof). A fence now continues the line of the wall and the track follows the course of the River Dane. Soon after passing through another gate, you will arrive at Three Shires Head (grid reference SK009 685 on sheet 119 of the OS Landranger Map). Two pack-horse bridges are to be found here. Return to the lay-by by retracing your route.

Description Of Site

Three Shires Head is the meeting point of the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire. The River Dane rises about two miles above here and runs in a steep-sided valley at this point. The area is between 360 and 450 metres above sea level and is typical of the Cheshire uplands. The heather, bracken, and purple moorgrass are interspersed with rocky outcrops while the surrounding pasture lands are closely grazed by flocks of sheep. A few stunted trees are to be found on the hillsides and a small area of mixed woodland lies near the two bridges.

Best Time of Year

The main season for birdwatchers is undoubtedly the spring. On the river itself, you may see dipper, mallard, common sandpiper, and grey and pied wagtails. Look out for the area's speciality, the ring ouzel, on the moorlands and fields. Other birds commonly seen will include wren, skylark, meadow pipit, wheatear, cuckoo, snipe, curlew, lapwing, red grouse, and golden plover. Robin, song thrush, chaffinch and greenfinch can be found in the small copse by the bridges.

The snipe is probably best located by listening for its "drumming" - the sound made by its vibrating tail feathers as it dives when displaying. This sound has been likened to the bleating of a young lamb.

Many of the above-mentioned species may be seen in all but the coldest of winters. From October to April, these birds are joined by large numbers of redwing and fieldfare -winter migrants from Scandinavia who will roost in the few trees and feed on the farmland.