Cheshire walk - Plumley and Pickmere

PUBLISHED: 09:59 03 November 2020 | UPDATED: 09:59 03 November 2020

Autumn colours beside the path to Providence Farm
Photo: Paul Taylor

Autumn colours beside the path to Providence Farm Photo: Paul Taylor


It’s off to Plumley for a walk with a little science, a little social history and a good meal at the end of it

Pickmere radio telescope
Photo: Paul TaylorPickmere radio telescope Photo: Paul Taylor

If I said this month’s walk in the Cheshire countryside promised a close encounter with a radio telescope, you would naturally assume we were bound for Jodrell Bank

But no. We are strolling instead past the Pickmere radio telescope, standing proud, lonely, and bizarrely incongruous in farmland close to the busy A556. But, of course, there is a link here with Jodrell Bank. Pickmere’s telescope is one of seven in the nationwide MERLIN (Multi-Element Radio-Linked Interferometer Network) array of radio telescopes, for which Jodrell Bank is the hub.

The walk begins at one of the county’s great historic pubs, The Smoker, and is one of several suggested by the pub’s own website to sharpen the appetite for its enticing bill of fare (see over the page).

We go past the radio telescope and on to Pickmere, a pretty body of water as beloved by ducks as day-trippers. At one time, Pickmere boasted a fairground and leisure boats. Then, during the Second World War, it provided homes – chalets and caravans – for hundreds of Mancunians and Liverpudlians displaced by bombing.

Photo: Paul TaylorPickmere Photo: Paul Taylor

As the 20th century wore on, the leisure boats faded into history and lakeside tourist facilities gave way to housing, but Pickmere remains a popular spot for walkers and anglers.

1. If you are eating at The Smoker (and you really should) then park in the pub’s car park on Chester Road, Plumley postcode WA16 0TY. With your back to the pub, cross the A556 at the lights and bear right along the pavement. You will pass over Smoker Brook and a short distance later, turn left on a footpath towards Smoker Hill Cottage. Keep on the path between the farm buildings and then bear slightly right, beside a field gate onto a track heading towards the radio telescope. The path curves around and brings you to a stile beside a metal gate. Cross here, passing the telescope on your right, and continue past Providence Farm on a track which eventually reaches a tarmac lane.

2. Go left here, and a few metres later go right over a stile, following the footpath for Frog Lane. At the next stile continue ahead on the right-hand field edge, then cross another stile and head left, alongside a wooden fence with woodland and a pond to your right. At the next stile, head across the field, cross another stile and keep ahead with a hedge to your left and, soon, a Christmas tree plantation on your right.

Horses near Providence Farm
Photo: Paul TaylorHorses near Providence Farm Photo: Paul Taylor

3. Reaching Frog Lane, turn left. At a junction, with a large pond to your left, go left along Park lane, following the sign for Lostock Gralam. After a short while, turn right into Mere Lane, walking down to Jacob’s Way, where a right turn will bring you down to Pickmere. It is possible to walk around the mere. Instead, we sat on a bench watching a profusion of birdlife in the autumn sunshine, and a trio of intrepid girls who went in for a swim, ignoring the advice on the parish noticeboard, which carries dire warnings of poisonous algae.

4. Retrace your steps up Mere Lane and turn right into Park Lane, which winds down eventually to the Red Lion pub. Just beyond the pub, bear right at the junction, and immediately left into Spinks Lane. At the very end of the lane, to the right of a field gate, is a grassy overgrown path, which brings you to a metal kissing gate.

5. Go along the left-hand edge of the next field, and, reaching an opening to the next field, bear left through a metal gate onto a short boardwalk. Keep to the right edge of the next field, with a stream to your right, and look for a little bridge on the right to cross the stream. This brings you to another field, which you cross to another metal gate and thence a green lane. Go right here.

Birdlife at Pickmere
Photo: Paul TaylorBirdlife at Pickmere Photo: Paul Taylor

6. Emerging onto Linnards Lane, go left. You will cross Smoker Brook again and come up to the A556. Go left here and a few minutes later, you are back at The Smoker.


Area of walk: Plumley and Pickmere

Distance:4½ miles

Time to allow: 2½ hours

Map: OS Explorer 267

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