Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Thursday 20 January 2022 - Around Dunham Massey

I took the opportunity to spend an hour or two in the sunshine and enjoy the walk described on page 35 of Jen Darling's recently published third edition of her 'Best Pub Walks in Cheshire' book. Jen will be pleased to hear that no 'edits' are required with regard to this walk.

On such a sunny afternoon, I took loads of pictures. Click on any one of them on your PC to access a slideshow of 40 or so images, or just scroll down through my brief comments.

There's roadside parking near the Axe & Cleaver in Dunham, should you not wish to visit the pub, and parking at various other places en route may be more convenient for some visitors.

After the ten minute drive from Timperley, I parked outside the pub and headed past the entrance in Cow Lane to the excellent Little Heath Farm Shop to pass the old school, dated 1759, which is now the Village Hall, before crossing over Dunham School Bridge and heading along the towpath towards Lymm.

The low sun resulted in any snaps being taken in that direction, here near Dunham School Bridge, tending towards being silhouettes.

The next bridge, Dunhamtown Bridge, has next to it long lengths of wood, balks, that slot into position across the canal when drainage of a section is required for maintenance purposes. These lengths of wood appear at frequent intervals along the length of the Bridgewater Canal, which has no locks.

Slots for the timber balks to be inserted into

Beyond this bridge, the towpath can be pretty muddy at this time of year. Resurfacing as part of the Bridgewater Way project should eventually take place, after when cycling will be permitted on the towpath, but I doubt this ranks very high on Peel Holdings' list of priorities.

A couple of memorial benches have been placed between Dunhamtown Bridge and the aqueduct over the road to Dunham Woodhouses. One is in memory of Norman Oliver (17/6/56 to 5/7/05) and Macie Marie Oliver (15/2/08 to 28/1/11); the other remembers Bob Helingoe (1937 to 2012).

Leaving the canal at the aqueduct, I turned right along the footway to Dunham Woodhouses, where some workmens' vans had churned up the grassy verge where houses had been built following the clearance of land and scrub in the late Middle Ages.

A turn to the left took me down Meadow Lane, past Bollin Cottage.

The lane soon becomes a footpath that crosses the River Bollin. After a while it crosses another stream and heads up to a kissing gate where there's a bench with a good view back to the Bollin valley and beyond.

My path followed some telegraph poles to reach a signpost to my next objective, Woolstencroft Farm.

Another stream was crossed. Dazzled by the sun, I failed to notice the low branch now pictured from the other direction. It was like walking into a piece of concrete. A lengthy pause was required, and my scalp continued to leak (blood or brains - who knows?) for a good twelve hours.

Woolstencroft Farm was passed by way of good paths around the attractive farm, where there was lots mooing coming from a barn.

A road was soon reached, taking me back to the canal at Agden Bridge, where another set of timber balks are ready to be used if the canal needs to be closed. A bench has been placed here in memory of Eric Livesey, Maintenance Supervisor for the Bridgewater Canal Company.

The grassy towpath leads to Lymm.

In my direction, a somewhat muddy towpath, littered with the first walkers I'd seen, headed towards Little Bollington, passing Ye Olde Number Three pub on the other side of the canal. Originally named the Red Lion, the pub probably changed its name when it became the third stop for a change of horses pulling fast passenger boats along the canal between Chester and Manchester.

When the houses of Little Bollington came into view, I left the canal by a gap in the fence and took a track down to Bollington Underbridge.

Through the tunnel, the path rises on ancient setts and cobbles to turn left past White Cottage towards the Swan with Two Nicks, named in recognition of the nicking of a swan's beak to establish ownership..

Beyond the Swan, a footbridge crosses the River Bollin, from which there's a view of the flour mill's buildings that are now converted into living accommodation, and of the millrace. The waterwheel that was here was reportedly the finest in Cheshire.

The Dunham Massey estate is now entered via a 'Restricted Byway' whatever that may be. The fields either side are often flooded, and wellies can be the preferred footwear here. Luckily everything was relatively dry today.

Bollington Gate houses a small stepladder that offers entry to the hall's grounds.

A sawmill is passed that apparently dates back to the 16th century, pre-dating the Georgian mansion that dates back to 1616. The mill is currently being renovated.

Lion statues top sturdy pillars by pollarded trees next to Dunham Massey Hall.

An avenue of lime trees leads to another stepladder stile at Smithy Gate, where I exited the park and crossed the road to head back to the car.

A view in the park, with Smithy Pool just visible to the right

On the left, the Dunham Barn cafe is passed. It's a good spot to pause for tea and cake, but not on my agenda today.

Before reaching the Axe & Cleaver, I passed St Mark's church, which sports a rather petite spire.

And so to journey's end, after a fine little stroll despite picking up a sore head.

Here's my route - 7 km with minimal ascent, taking me an hour and a half.


bowlandclimber said...

Blue sky day.

Phreerunner said...

Yes BC, well worth the effort.

AlanR said...

A very nice walk with some lovely snaps.