Cheshire walk - Manchester Airport and Morley Green
PUBLISHED: 00:00 18 September 2019
Can the concrete sprawl of Manchester Airport really make an enjoyable country escape? This month's walk argues a good case.
I'm walking along a grassy path just a stone's throw from the runway at Manchester Airport, watching planes thunder skyward in quick succession. Up ahead, a large bird of prey flaps languidly into view, perches obligingly on the perimeter fence, allowing me to squeeze off a couple of fuzzy long-distance shots, then flaps away.
It's always thrilling seeing a big raptor going about its business. To see one in what you may expect to be such a sterile setting is not just thrilling but also a little odd. But, if nothing else, this walk (suggested by the ever-useful wilmslowwalks.com) will show you how nature burgeons cheerfully in the shadow even of an international airport.
Within minutes of plane-spotting from this vantage point above the runway, you will be tramping across lush fields, watching butterflies dancing in the hedgerows, the aeroplanes just an occasional roar behind you.
And on the return leg, you will pass through the cool, shady woods of the Bollin valley, before traversing fields where thistles grow to triffid-like proportions - all just a hop, skip and a jump from the runway.
Along the way, you will pass through Morley Green, a very pleasant little hamlet which boasts some pretty houses, and also one of the county's food heroes, The Cheshire Smokehouse, which has for over a century been producing smoked meats, fish, even nuts, using traditional methods. Time your walk right (see cheshiresmokehouse.co.uk) and you can stop off at the Smokehouse café for refreshments.
1. The walk begins at the roundabout on the A538, just before you get to the tunnels under the runway, coming from the Wilmslow side. Head for postcode SK9 4LR. There is a little parking on Altrincham Road, which is the most northerly exit off this roundabout, but don't expect to get a space on a sunny Sunday.
Go back to the roundabout and on the opposite side of it from Altrincham Road, just a few yards up towards the tunnels, you will find a sign for the North Cheshire Way, going up steep steps. As the path opens out, you see the airport to your right. After reaching the perimeter fence, the path goes left downhill on a tarmac lane. When you reach the tunnel which takes the River Bollin under the runway, head left, crossing a wooden bridge. You soon reach a wooden gate, then go uphill to reach crash gate 7. The path now heads left, giving you unbroken views of the runway.
2. After a few minutes, keep a look out for a footpath sign which directs you on a fork slightly left, away from the runway. A metal gate brings you onto Woodend Lane. Continue along here, but keep a look out for a footpath sign on the left, just before a layby on the right. Take this path on the left, crossing two fields, heading towards a metal kissing gate in the middle of the hedge of the second field. This brings you onto Blakeley Lane.
3. Go left and immediately right, following the footpath into the entrance of Oak Farm. The path goes along the right hand fence, passing beside the big metal silo. Keep to this path across the fields until it emerges on Burleyhurst Lane.
4. Go left along the lane. You will need to take great care here as there are no pavements, and the available verge alternates from side to side of the road, with cars coming round blind corners. Eventually, the road brings you to Morley Green. Go left into Morley Green Road.
5. After a few minutes, go left into the unmade Dooley's Lane. The lane is unmarked, so look for a sign indicating the Bollin Valley Way. Passing Shadygrove House, the lane soon narrows to a grassy path. Keep following the Bollin Valley Way signs across scrubby fields, down into a wooded valley (just keep to the obvious path) and out into thistly, overgrown fields with airfield paraphernalia obvious ahead of you.
Eventually, the path emerges at the Bollin tunnel beneath the runway. Turn right to cross the bridge and retrace your steps back to the roundabout.
Area of Walk: Manchester Airport and Morley Green
Distance: 4.7 miles
Time to allow: 2½ hours
Map: OS Explorer 268
Refreshments: The Honey Bee, Altrincham Rd, Wilmslow SK9 4LT; Smokehouse Cafe (open Tues-Sat), Cheshire Smokehouse, Vost Farm, Morley Green SK9 5NU
Paul will be back next month with a walk around Chester City Centre but if you can't wait that long log onto cheshirelife.co.uk where you'll find more walks to enjoy around the county. And don't forget your camera - your pictures could win you prizes. See online for full details of our readers' photos competition and to see the entries we've already received.