- Start: Marbury
- End: Marbury
- Country: England
- County: Cheshire
- Type: Country
- Nearest pub: Swan Inn, Marbury, Willeymoor Lock
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 257
- Difficulty: Medium
Keith Carter gets drenched on a walk near Marbury which takes in a canal, a lake and a lot of rain
The best way to absorb the essence of an area is on foot, the same method early man used even before the days of the horse and cart.
Walkers like us have a unique opportunity to see the landscape from eye level, discerning the ways folk went to market, driving their sheep or geese by the easiest route, avoiding boggy ground and thick brambles, fording streams at the shallowest point, taking the hard labour out of everyday tasks.
It takes time to become at one with the natural world and walking should never be governed by time or the desire to reach a destination quicker. If you go home having walked only a few miles you can have experienced more than somebody who tramped 20.
You will have become richer. A Spanish proverb says to walk is to gather treasure and I have found this to be true. I came across a herons feather, exquisite and almost shining and yesterday I found a pure white snails shell to bring home in my pocket.
Marbury was silent and deserted when I arrived to research this months walk with my friend Jim, the day tentatively fine yet uncertain, with rain forecast.
1 We parked behind the Swan Inn and set off on the Wirswall Road, keeping left at the junction with the Norbury Road and walking as far as Steer Bridge over the canal where we joined the towpath.
Keep the canal on your left; you dont want to find yourself walking in the opposite direction. Moored near the bridge was a narrowboat with things for sale, walking sticks, cooking pots, painted horse shoes, and the boat owners portable workshop set up on the towpath, a craftsman keeping old skills alive. This is the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal which we remain with as far as Willeymoor Lock, passing under the A49 at Quoisley Bridge.
On reaching Willeymoor Lock what should we find but a lovely pub right at the canal side, with Congleton bitters on draught and we could sit at an outside table watching the antics of narrow boats negotiating the lock with varying degrees of proficiency.
It was at this point that we came to understand what the weatherman means when he predicts sharp showers. The heavens opened.
Sheltering under the inadequate overhang of a flat roof we waited for the storm to pass, realized it wasnt going to and stepped out into the driving rain. This was where you discover just how waterproof your waterproofs are. And I can report that mine arent.
2 Leave the canal at Willeymoor Lock and take the access lane to the road, turn right then cross the road to take the left turn signposted Bishop Bennet Way. The rough, potholed lane rises and on levelling out we follow the footpath sign heading towards Wirswall.
3 On reaching the village keep left and on passing Wicksted Hall gates, where the road bends to the left you find a stile on the right leading onto a field. Head along the right hand hedge and go through a gate to the right into the adjoining field and strike across to a wood. Cross an overgrown stile and through a further field then the land ahead seems to narrow down as though a river had once made its course through here.
4 Up on a rise to the left you should see a lone house but keep to the right of it through the low-lying ground which was heavily water-logged when we passed this way. The expanse of water ahead is Big Mere, one of several similar lakes in the area excellent for fishing. Across the mere you can see the fine church on a knoll, a classic view for photographers and often
used for calendars of beautiful Cheshire.
Follow the edge of the mere (which should be on your left) and at the far end head away at two oclock towards a gate and stile where we join the road. Turn left and we are soon back in the village, still silent and deserted. Steam was coming off the road as the hot sun dried the
Of all the villages I have been to in Cheshire in the course of writing my walks, Marbury has made the strongest impression on me. Perhaps the principle of less is more applies but for tranquillity I have found nowhere like it. A perfect example of rural England at its best.
Area of walk: Marbury, South Cheshire.
Distance: Five miles
Time to allow: 2-3 hours
Map: OS Explorer 257 Crewe and Nantwich
Refreshments: Swan Inn, Marbury, Willeymoor Lock
Wheelchair/pushchair possible? No.