Cheshire Walk - Mottram St Andrew
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 December 2013
Keith Carter leads a walk around the secretive village of Mottram St Andrew
Mottram St Andrew seems to hide its houses behind high hedges which gives the village a secretive air. I wouldn’t like to say where the centre of the village is, there’s no obvious focal point and one gets the impression that, however quiet and retiring, the villagers like it that way.
I talked my occasional companion Rodney into coming on this walk ith me, although he was nursing a sprained shoulder sustained when getting off his tractor. After a long career farming he has a keen eye for farming methods outside his own area and examples of bad farming practice generally lead to some gnashing of teeth.
1. We parked on Priest Road at the roadside near the primary school and walked back to the junction with Alderley Road. Take the left fork and in a hundred yards look for a footpath sign on the left just before a house called Field Head. The path goes through a gateway and bears right across a playing field to cross Pott Brook by a footbridge. On the other side follow a left-hand boundary to reach a kissing-gate, the first of many met on this walk, each one well-maintained and some made in galvanised steel. Keep forward as the field rises to a wooded ridge where a stone stile leads into the wood. Looking right Manchester can be seen on the horizon.
2. Climb the steep bank ahead and at the top take the path cutting away on the left on a path that was in the process of being restored by National Trust volunteers when we passed by. Unusually they were using concrete, a dry mix which you could walk on as soon as it was laid. The dampness in the air allows the mix to go off. The volunteers were on their break but beckoned us along their newly-laid path with a sense of pride in their job.
Beyond the restored section we go down some steps and come to a meeting of ways. Ours is straight on, the sign indicating Hare Hill, a good path through the woods which, on meeting a sunken stream bed, turns left and drops into a shallow dell. Up the other side a stile brings us into a field, the way-marks showing the initials NCW which stands for North Cheshire Way which we join for part of this walk. Turn left after crossing the stile and stay on the field edge, following the hedge round to enter a wood at a gap. Descend into a dell and pause here for a moment to consider a detour to Hare Hill Gardens.
3. The gardens are under the care of the National Trust bequeathed it by the Brocklehurst family. The house is not open to the public but the walled garden is said to be a gem. If you want to include a visit in your walk, cross a footbridge on the right, go through a wood and follow a line of low posts with lime green discs way marking a walk from Alderley Edge to Hare Hill. These posts lead through parkland to a metal fence and a gate leading into the car park with a cabin manned in the summer months. Members get in free but otherwise you have to pay £4.
Notices here warned that the group of giant beech trees were being ‘topped’. Rodney observed that they looked as though they were being felled judging by how drastically the chainsaws had been at work. After a look at the gardens, retrace your steps back to the footbridge in the dell – or if you opted not to make the half-mile detour, keep ahead from the dell, picking up a left-hand field edge then cutting across a field.
4. Cross a further two stiles then climb a bank towards the roof of a house ahead whose chimneys are just visible. A kissing-gate brings us on to a lane opposite a farmstead and we turn left and walk along the lane for about a hundred yards. Look for a footpath sign in the hedge on the right where a metal kissing-gate leads into a field. Cross one field, then another and at a further kissing-gate, a third.
5. The next field had been sowed with grass seed, the shoots just beginning to appear then the footpath begins to descend into a dip where a plank bridge crosses some boggy ground. A metal hand-gate brings us out onto a farm track and we turn left, passing the opening for Hollytree Farm.
Stay on the track, bend right and leave it by taking a broad path on the left via a flight of steps made from railway sleepers. The path runs along the bottom of the gardens of a series of impressive properties, keeping to the same direction, and crossing the drive to a pink thatched cottage on the left. It’s the cottage that’s pink, not the thatch. I felt sure this cottage was made of gingerbread but couldn’t get near enough to taste it. Stay on the footpath crossing various stiles and we come out onto Priest Lane opposite Priest Cottage. Turn left and return to where we left the car outside the primary school.
Area of walk: Mottram St Andrew
Distance: Five miles (5 ½ if you visit Hare Hill Gardens)
Time to allow: Three hours (allow more if visiting Hare Hill)
Map: OS Explorer 268 Wilmslow, Macclesfield and Congleton
Refreshments: Tea shop and toilets at Hare Hill Gardens
Accessibility: Not suitable for wheelchair or pushchair users.