This watercolour painting by J.W. Keightley from the art collection of Buxton Museum accurately evokes the bleak atmosphere of the old road from Buxton to Macclesfield. Even though it was painted around 1950, the road is still recognisable as it snakes across the barren moors up to the Cat and Fiddle public house and on to Macclesfield in Cheshire. The female figure in the middle of the road looks suitably windswept as she battles the elements.
Although Macclesfield Old Road is little more than an abandoned rubble-strewn mud track, it was once dotted with farms as this old photograph will testify. From medieval times until 1918, there were also active coal mines to the left of the road on Axe Edge Moor. Little remains of either industry but can you spot the occasional stone foundation or old mine shaft as you progress along the rocky track?
It is hard to believe now that men once wheeled patients in an apparatus called a bathchair all the way from the spa town of Buxton to The Cat and Fiddle public house via Macclesfield Old Road (and back again!) Just to walk this distance is strenuous enough. We can assume that these bathchair men must have been a very robust breed.