Steve and JJ sometimes lead walks for the East Lancs Group of the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA). They have an idea that the group will enjoy a 15 mile trample across the fields of Cheshire.
These walks are taken seriously. Much planning is necessary, with many reconnaissance trips to suss out the best route. Today was one such ‘recce’.
Starting as instructed from King’s Road in Wilmslow, I found myself totally alone, and having no idea of the planned route I decided to start by lapping the car. I should have known – JJ was driving. He eventually turned up, deposited Steve and Viv, and rushed off to take delivery of a staircase.
Our route comprised a circuit of Alderley Edge, starting in Wilmslow and heading across Lindow Moss, often visited on these pages, but not from quite this direction. It’s always good to explore new paths…
JJ was waiting for us, in disguise; the staircase hoax wouldn’t fool us, surely?
I could swear I saw a couple of wallaby and a family of emu in the background – an elaborate hoax, even for JJ.
It had been raining. The undergrowth, mainly nettles, balsam and willowherb, had been growing apace. It was sodden. So were we. Steve came off best as he had shorts. But he did get nettle rash.
By and by we came upon the new Alderley Edge by-pass. The old rights of way have now been re-opened and we found our way across easily. A local farmer, upset by the whole enterprise and the wide swathe of the new road through prime farmland, had confirmed this to Steve.
Here you can see the new road, with Alderley Edge beyond.
After passing through a tomato factory, we reached the hamlet of Nether Alderley, where there’s an attractive church, St Mary’s, dating from the 14th century. The yew tree is apparently 1200 years old! There’s lots more information on this interesting place in this Wikipedia link, extracts from which are reiterated below.
The large building in the graveyard – the Stanley Mausoleum – was built in 1909 by Edward Lyulph, 4th Lord Stanley. He died in 1925 and it contains his ashes and those of his wife, Mary Katherine, who died in 1929. The mausoleum is built in ashlar buff and red sandstone with a Kerridge stone-slate roof. It was designed in the neo-Jacobean style by Paul Phipps, and is rectangular in shape, with two storeys and a three-bay north front. The central bay contains a door, above which is the Stanley crest, a three-light window and a date plaque in the gable. On the sides of the upper storey are three four-light windows. Inside the mausoleum is a white marble sarcophagus.
There’s also a sandstone schoolhouse in the churchyard, built in 1628; the school room was on the ground floor and the schoolmaster's accommodation was above. A large room was added to the rear in 1817, and in 1908 the building was restored and presented to the parish by Lord Stanley. It is now used as a parish hall and is listed Grade II.
Across the road from the church and from Millbrook Cottage Guesthouse, is Nether Alderley Mill, a National Trust property dating from the 15th century. The watermill is one of only four virtually complete corn mills in Cheshire, and is a grade II* listed building. The mill was in active use until 1939, and was acquired by the National Trust in 1950. A period of extensive renovation followed, although the present machinery is about 100 years old. The mill is powered by a pair of overshot Victorian water wheels arranged in tandem and fed by the mill pond behind the building. The Trust regularly demonstrates grinding flour.
The flagstones of the timber-framed roof, which extend almost to ground level, weigh about 200 tons.
Beyond Nether Alderley, Bradford Lane leads inexorably towards the Edge, climbing imperceptibly to its 190 metre summit.
The route goes through pleasant woodland, though it was very dark here today, under the steely grey clouds.
Alderley Edge has appeared on these pages on several occasions. Readers may be pleased to learn that I forgot to take any pictures today.
Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) accompanied us for most of today’s walk, soaking us from time to time as we hacked through its water-laden foliage. If you look carefully you can see a bee, and apparently some bee keepers are great fans of the plant, from which an excellent flavour of honey is said to result.
Eventually we made it to the Bollin Valley Way. We noticed that the path to our right was still impassable due to a landslip, requiring an alternative route to Prestbury. There are no such problems in the Wilmslow direction, new stiles and fingerposts having been recently installed. There are even intricate carvings on this fingerpost, below the circular plaques.
On the outskirts of Wilmslow, JJ eventually appeared, claiming to have taken successful if rather belated delivery of his new staircase. He was looking friskier than usual!
We had seen no other ramblers, but on gaining the byways of Wilmslow we were joined at times by the dog walking fraternity.
The balsam is rampant in the Bollin Valley, and the citizens of Wilmslow are trying to do something about it…
Here’s our route – 25km, with 250 metres ascent, in a little less than 6 hours. An excellent local stroll for us, but of how much interest to the sturdy chaps from East Lancs LDWA? We shall see…
A slide show of all 29 pictures taken today is here.
I recorded the route on the Garmin Gadget, the result of which is shown below. It gives the exact route – perhaps useful to Steve and JJ should they want to transfer it to a GPS or tweak the route, which could easily be extended to encompass an interesting circuit around Styal.