Cheshire Walks - Barthomley and Balterley
PUBLISHED: 13:49 08 May 2012 | UPDATED: 22:09 04 October 2012
Keith Carter strays into foreign territory on his latest walk, in the countryside around Barthomley
Im starting to lose faith in my book about the derivations of place names. The name Barthomley is said to derive from Bertamlegh meaning a woodland clearing of the dwellers at a place called Brightmead or Brightwell but that doesnt sound convincing to me.
Id put more faith in the origin given in a publication on sale in the church, St Bertolines, which maintains that the village takes its name from the saint Bertoline who performed a miracle here and the Domesday Book records that the name means Bertolines clearing. The nature of the miracle is not specified but you know how it is with miracles.
The area formed part of a much larger holding which included Crewe, Alsager and Haslington and the name of the Crewe family plays a major part in the history since the 13th century. It is odd to think that the modern industrial city of Crewe comes from the name of a great family.
Their coat of arms included a white lion and this is where the name of the pub comes from. The church was the scene of the slaughter of 12 local citizens during the Civil War because they had the temerity to resist the Royalists when they came to the village. Taking refuge in the church steeple from where they rashly took pot-shots at the cavaliers who smoked them out and put them to death in the nave.
Our walk starts at the church gate, beyond which a narrow path leads to a stile into a field. Cross this and also the next one on the left then head across the field on a line approximating to 2 oclock to a further stile after which we keep along a right hand field boundary continuing over a series of stiles. Stiles are the rule today Im afraid, although they are good exercise for the thigh muscles.
Our way forward maintains the same line, the right of way indicated by yellow way marks on the stiles which with careful attention bring us to the drive to a farm (The Limes). Cross the drive to a stile opposite and cut the corner of the next field to reach a road at a bend. Turn left here and follow the lane, crossing Dean Brook and passing a large farmstead, Balterley Green Farm. Pass the farm and look for a footpath sign on the right, the path taking us through the garden of Oak Tree House, then through paddocks to a stile leading into a field which slopes up to a hedge corner.
Pass the corner and continue forward with the hedge to your left to the next stile and the next field where a faint path shows us the way forward. After a further five stiles we come to a kissing-gate which admits us to a road opposite some bungalows. Turn right and we come to Englesea Brook village where theres a curious museum housed within a red brick chapel. This is Englesea Brook Chapel and Museum which I had never heard of but now know to have been a centre for the supporters of a movement known as Primitive Methodism, dedicated to promoting the recognition of workers rights and employment conditions in the 19th century. The museum was closed when I stopped by so I didnt immerse myself in the history but the website spells it out, www.engleseabrook-museum.org.uk.
Retrace your steps to where you joined the road and walk along it as far as the crossroads. We cross the border into Staffordshire just before meeting the Nantwich Road where we need to locate a concealed footpath nearly opposite, just before a business called A-Z Aquatics. I wonder what aspect of aquatics begins with Z?
A narrow path enters a field and we continue along behind the gardens of houses then crosses a further three stiles. We notice that we are on a line of telegraph poles although the footpath is not by any means obvious. We find ourselves walking the length of a field that seems to have been neglected, weeds and rough grass growing over old ploughing that makes the going quite hard.
Our direction heads for a large white property ahead but remember not to cling too closely to the right hand field boundary which has several indentations. Rather, keep straight ahead with that house as the marker and you will reach a gate with a footpath sign beside it but no stile. Go through the gate onto the road and turn left, remaining on it until we see the opening on the right to Balterley Hall farm. New laid eggs were left out for purchase but sadly they dont travel well in the rucksack.
About 250 yards beyond the farm opening we come to a T-junction with, opposite, a little red-brick chapel. This is the Nantwich Road again. Turn right and take the next left into Deans Lane and a short distance along it take the right hand turn leading to a farm where the road ends. A land rover track continues ahead then turns left, bringing us to a substantial converted farmstead, Mill Dale Farm.
Pass in front of it and take the path that heads to a fishing lake and we go left around it, go through two hand-gates and proceed along the wooded dell known as Dean Brook. A good track brings us past what appears to be a second Milldale Farm which I imagine causes the postman some confusion. On meeting the road, turn left and it takes us back to the village passing a number of local farmsteads and a B&B called Domvilles. The M6 is over on the right, deceptively close.
This is quite a complex walk which describes a rough figure 8. It takes us into deepest Cheshire (with a brief foray into Staffs) using field paths and quiet lanes with a promise of a pint at the White Lion at the end. Nice work if you can get it.
Area of walk: Barthomley and Balterley
Distance: 6.5 miles
Time to allow: 3-3 hours
Map: OS Explorer 257 Crewe and Nantwich
Refreshments: White Lion pub in Barthomley.
Wheelchair/Pushchair friendly? Not suitable
The print version of this article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Cheshire Life
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