A summer walk to Tatton Park and cosmopolitan Knutsford
PUBLISHED: 09:02 31 July 2020 | UPDATED: 09:38 31 July 2020
Paul Taylor takes a town and country walk with gorgeous Cheshire views and food
The story goes that in 1017 King Canute crossed the River Lily, then stopped to shake the sand from his shoes.
A bridal party passed and the king congratulated the couple, wishing them as many children as there were grains of sand. Hence Knutsford’s name – Canute’s Ford – and the town’s May Day tradition of decorating the streets with coloured sand.
There is a lot worth lingering for in Knutsford, a town with a cosmopolitan retail and leisure offering, yet still recognisably the template for novelist Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford.
But first let’s head out of town, soon entering the vast loveliness of Tatton Park.
You will pass beside Tatton Mere, a genuine lake, and then Melchett Mere, the result of brine pumping in the 1920s, and named, mischievously, after Alfred Lord Melchett, of the chemical firm Brunner Mond – a prime consumer of Cheshire salt.
Across Melchett Mere, in the distance, you will see the ‘new’ hall - built 300 years ago, and extensively re-modelled a century later.
Enjoy the bustling Stableyard area of Tatton Park, and then it’s back down the other side of Tatton Mere to Knutsford, where you can now linger amid a dizzying choice of refreshment stops.
1. The walk starts from the car park on the north side of the track at Knutsford station, just off King Street, postcode WA16 0PA. Go back down the road from the car park to King Street and turn left, enjoying all that this rather marvellous shopping street has to offer. Just after passing Giovanni’s restaurant on the right, cross over the top of Drury Lane and bear slightly right onto the path between trees. Continue through the archway into Tatton Park, then head right on a wide track, following a line of trees, which then narrows and brings you to Tatton Mere, on your right.
2. Keep to the path close to the waterside until you reach the top of Tatton Mere, then bear left to join the wide road, Knutsford Drive, used by cars. Reaching Melchett Mere, take the path forking off to the left and follow it, passing through oak trees, to reach the end of the mere. Follow the path to the right here, beside a wooden fence towards Tatton Hall, and then keep a metal fence on your left until you reach the back of the hall.
3. There is plenty to see and do in the Stableyard area of the hall: the Stables restaurant, New Gardener’s Cottage tearoom and various shops selling local produce and gifts relating to Tatton’s history. Plus, there are loos.
4. Retrace your steps passing the back of the hall on your right and continue towards the sign for the exit to Knutsford, then head right, following the sign for Tudor Old Hall, along Knutsford Drive. Passing Melchett Mere on your right, pass beside the Allen Hide then turn left, following the Tudor Old Hall sign. Pass the top of Tatton Mere, then turn right along its eastern edge.
5. After quite a distance, the path brings you to a metal gate and thence to a gravel track through Dog Wood. After a second metal gate, proceed to a bridge over the railway, but don’t cross it. Instead, head right on a narrower path which brings you down into woodland. Keep to it until it emerges onto a narrow tarmac lane. Go straight ahead here, and the road soon emerges on King Street at the station.
Area of walk: Knutsford and Tatton Park
Distance: 5 miles
Time to allow: 2½ hours
Map: OS Explorer 268
Refreshments: Starting and finishing in Knutsford means you’re spoilt for choice. But here are three suggestions: Stables restaurant, Tatton Park WA16 6QN; Brasserie Blanc, Royal George Building, Regent Street, Knutsford WA16 6GR; Gusto, 81 King Street, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6DX.