Cheshire Walk - Prestbury and the River Bollin
PUBLISHED: 00:01 14 August 2013
Keith Carter leads a walk around the charming and delightful village of Prestbury
I read somewhere that Prestbury is the third most desirable place to live in Cheshire, a claim I have no way of proving other than to say it certainly looks a nice place to live judging by the sunny day when I visited to research this month’s walk. I couldn’t have imagined anywhere nicer with its hanging baskets, shops with their doors flung open to the street and the song of the blackbird in the blossom laden trees.
The church, dedicated to St Peter, set in its leafy church yard, dates from the 13th century and has a Saxon cross to prove it. The gravestones have many interesting inscriptions including some bearing sad witness to infant mortality in past times. Opposite the lych gate stands the half-timbered Priest’s House built in the 15th century with a balcony from which the priest would deliver his sermon in times of plague. It’s now home to the Nat West Bank.
The Legh Arms or Black Boy pub had a distinguished visitor in 1645 when Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed there on his march between Manchester and Derby. I think they’ve updated the menu since then. Another interesting survival is the row of cottages formerly used by hand-loom weavers who used to walk to the silk mills of Macclesfield to collect the spun yarn for weaving, returning the cloth when they had woven it. This was known as ‘padding’.
1. For our walk we park in the car park hidden away in Shirley Close behind the church wall. Walk through the church yard to the high street and turn right out of the lych gate. At the bridge over the River Bollin turn left into Bollin Grove and after passing the hand-loom weavers’ cottages and a number of well-maintained residences we leave the village behind and take a surfaced track alongside the river free of vehicles.
2. We pass a playing field and continue into pasture, soon coming to a concrete bridge on the left. Don’t cross it but stay on the riverside path which in places has been eroded as the river has eaten away at its banks. When I visited it was twinkling away in the sunlight but judging by the build-up of driftwood at the bends the winter has seen it in spate.
The Bollin rises in Macclesfield Forest and flows into the Mersey north of Lymm, passing under the runway of Manchester Airport on its way. Our footpath skirts an extensive sewage farm largely concealed by trees but walkers take such necessary intrusions in their stride. Its presence doesn’t spoil the walk and we are soon past.
3. Emerging from the mixed woodland along the river we enter a meadow by a kissing-gate and soon come to a footbridge, one that this time we cross. Climb the bank on the other side and climb a stile to enter the tended grassland on the edge of a golf course. Now I have always maintained that walkers and golfers don’t mix. Walkers are barely tolerated on a golf course and must be ready to move smartly to avoid flying balls and annoyed shouts of ‘Fore!’ How tempting on seeing a ball on the green to kick it smartly into the rough. Control yourself, Pike!
4. Keep to the right along the edge of the fairway and cut through a short neck of trees before regaining the course and shortly crossing it, one ear out for the tell-tale thwack of club on ball. Woodside Farm appears and the footpath directs us round its fences and paddocks. A rowdy rabble of dogs had some fun with us and saw us off their territory by yapping at our heels.
The path passes farm buildings and crosses a stile into a field, cutting through the hedge some way into the field and continuing on the other side of the hedge as far as a gate. The large mix-and-match house ahead is Legh Hall and we cross an expanse of grass looking like my lawn can never hope to do.
5. Aim towards the black and white gable and go through a kissing-gate, the designated path leading us between buildings to where it forks. On the left is the Old Hall, nicely restored, and the path enters a trimmed laurel avenue then enters a field in which walkers are corralled between tape to keep them under control without worrying the sheep.
At the bottom of the field keep left over a stile and follow a right hand hedge through a further field to meet a stile and gate. The next field must have once been workings now grassed over since we cross several mounds them climb a bank to join a track to Woodend Farm.
6. Turn left then take the lane to the right of the opening to the farm. This leads down to a gated entrance to Lower Gadhole Farm and our path turns right between fences to negotiate several paddocks with some fine looking beasts grazing in them. The enclosed path then leads into a dip and crosses a footbridge over a stream.
On the other side we climb up steps to a kissing-gate, keeping left along a left hand boundary to where the hedge turns a corner. Just beyond the turn, take the stile on the left. The track leads down to a bridge, the one we did not cross on our outward route. Once across, turn right and we return to Prestbury on Bollin Grove.
Area of walk: Prestbury and the River Bollin
Distance; 5 miles
Time to allow: 2 ½ hours
Map: OS Explorer 268 Wilmslow, Macclesfield & Congleton
Refreshments|: Plenty of choice in Prestbury
Recommended further reading: Local author Keith Warrender has an interesting look at the area and will be publishing a portrait of the River Bollin soon.