Hare Hill & Monk’s Heath from Alderley Edge – Mar 2020

My third weekend walk in a row, I think this is some kind of record! I got an early start on this one so it was nice and quiet when I arrived at the National Trust car park … just as I like it. The few people who were there seemed to be getting ready to walk their dogs.

This was another go4awalk route, listed as 9¾ miles but ended up a little over 10 by the time I finished. As ever, the kmz file is available for download here for those who like their Google Earth, and the route outline is shown below.

Some areas of the walk appeared to have been updated with new fencing and stiles since the route was first published, so the day got off to a slightly shaky start. Once in the groove though it was a joy (despite the abundance of water and mud in the fields!) with plenty of beautiful countryside and chances for photography.

As the route goes through the National Trust owned land at Hare Hill the directions make reference to viewing the Gardens, via tickets available at the ticket kiosk … open March – October. What it fails to mention (and maybe this wasn’t the case when the route was published) is that the gate at the rear of the property and the main entrance gate on the other side are both chained and padlocked outside these dates, effectively blocking the route! Not one to be deterred I climbed over the metal fencing at the rear (easy enough), walked through the site and climbed back out on the other side … damned if I was turning back. It was a little tricky at the front as there was barbed wire, but I made it unscathed with all my dangly bits intact 🙂

About ¾ of the way round, the route takes you through the churchyard of St. Mary’s at Nether Alderley, which is worthy of it’s own little gallery. Anyone who follows me knows I’m an atheist yet I have a love of religious buildings and architecture … this one was glorious and dates back to the 14th century.

Sandstone Trail – Part I

So the deed was done and I walked roughly 36 miles over 3 days (34 miles of the trail plus some detours). I survived and even came out of it relatively unscathed, the only injury being to my left ankle which is healing slowly … I hope so as my next outing is only 3 weeks away!

I took as many photos as time would allow and, although there weren’t as many opportunities as I’d have liked, it’s taking a while to work through them and get them looking as I’d like. Bearing that in mind I thought I’d create three posts to reflect each day of the walk … so in this first post I’m covering the walk from Frodsham to Tarporley (roughly 15 miles).

They’re in chronological order but I can’t necessarily remember exactly where each was taken, so don’t expect a step-by-step walk through … it’s also about quality not quantity! They’re all meant to either mark a certain milestone in the walk or to evoke the feeling of a location. Anyway, enough waffle … hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear any comments you may have …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandstone Trail – prologue

That period between the end of the summer holidays and Christmas has always been a drag for me … the days get shorter, the clocks go back at the end of October and after the glorious riot of colour at the beginning of Autumn it just feels like a long slog to the end of the year. My employer has a fixed shutdown pattern that leaves a number of floating holidays which I always save to the end of the year. Two years ago I had the idea of combining items from my bucket list (in that first case a long weekend in the wonderful city of Edinburgh) with using up some of my holidays. I got to visit a place I’ve always wanted to go and break the monotony of year end … win win!

Since that first trip I try every year to think of somewhere I’ve never been or something I’ve never done and arrange at least one long weekend away. This year is no different and I have two trips lined up … the first being a walk along the Sandstone Trail.

I’ve walked a few sections of the Sandstone Trail over the years. It’s a sandstone ridge that runs for a total of 34 miles through the heart of Cheshire from Frodsham at its most Northern point to Whitchurch in the South … and I thought why not? I’ve never done a walk over multiple days before so now’s the time to give it a go. Beginning next Saturday morning I’ll be getting a taxi to the railway station and a train to Frodsham. From there I’ll walk 14 miles to Tarporley where I’ll stay over night. Sunday will be an 8 mile walk to Bulkeley where I’ll stop over again. Then Monday will be the final, 11 mile leg to Whitchurch where it’s time for another train and taxi ride home.

The route is described in the wonderful book by Tony Bowerman – Walking Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail, which is the official guide.

Sandstone Trail official guide book
Walking Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail – Tony Bowerman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll also be making use of a wonderful PDF guide which I stumbled across on the South Cheshire Harriers website. That’ll be the one that lives in the waterproof map bag should the heavens decide I need a shower or two! I live in hope that the weather is kind to me during the weekend and I’ll be able to post a few images after the walk. Wish me luck!

P.S. Things like this are also a big test of my anxiety as I can find myself trapped in thoughts of things going wrong … the usual “What if …?” thought patterns that so many people with anxiety suffer from. But they’re also an opportunity to push through the anxiety and come out the other side stronger and less willing to listen to that negative inner voice.