Be Prepared! A Long Walk in The Cheshire Hills

A few weeks ago, one of the members of our writing group shared a useful tip. Chris said that, when she was in the Brownies, she was told to place her uniform over the back of a chair before she went to bed in case of emergency.   And, so that she would be able to dress in darkness during that emergency the outside clothes are placed on the back of the chair first, with underclothes on top.  You can’t imagine how wonderful that idea is to someone like me, who yearns for unachievable order and who continually aspires to Brownie-levels of preparedness.

So, on this occasion, the night before my planned 12 mile walk, my mind was full of anxiety (‘Would I get lost and still be wandering around Lyme Park in the dark?’ ‘Was I fit enough to finish the walk?’ ‘Would I prove, once and for all that I was too old and too weak to walk any distance?’).  I found the act of setting out my clothes; Hoody first, then trousers, top, socks and underclothes, all on the back of the chair in the correct order, was a helpful ritual to soothe my nerves. Thank you Chris!

And I am pleased to report that the ritual worked.   Against all odds, I completed this walk;

Distance; 12 miles!!!     (5 hours 55 minutes)

Facilities; Good, clean toilets at the start, Nelson Pit Car Park.

Route; from Nelson Pit Car Park, near the Boar’s Head pub, Higher Poynton, along the canal bank and from there over the fields to Lyme park. Enter the park at the West Park Gate, walk through the woods past both hunting towers and turn right along the Gritstone Trail just before the main hall.  Then out of the park boundary downhill past a massive  hotel complex up towards Disley. Downhill, uphill again, over moor and  through a field with a Bull in it (frightening though it was, this was the most pleasant phase of the walk with hilly moorland on one side and views of the Cheshire countryside  on the other).   Then, more moorland and views of Furness Vale at the apex of the walk before you head back over hills and across fields to Lyme Park, where you walk along the other border, through woodland and along the canalside back to the car park.  This walk is from East Cheshire Walks – from Peak to Plain by Graham Beech.  

Can you see Manchester in the distance? View from Lyme Park

There are two or three points in this walk where the ascent is a bit tough and the descent rough on your knees. The early stages, from Canal to the first hunting tower in Lyme Park, can feel like endless climb after climb but this is followed by a gentle path among woodland which I ‘power walked’ through, worried that I would never do the full 12 miles if I didn’t get a move on. There are a couple of other difficult bits. Even in July the moorland was extremely boggy in several places and it is easy to lose your footing on the dry tufts, as I did, falling ankle deep into one of the water filled ruts. I was very wary of the ‘Bull in Field’ notice just out of Lyme Park.  However, the Bull (why is that in capitals?) was reclining in sunshine, like a rock star surrounded by his admiring cows and acolyte calves. He was only very mildly interested in us so we were free to keep one eye on him and the other on the view.

We started off under grey skies but, as the day wore on, the sun came out and it was a warm, pleasant day.  The second half of the walk, which is not as scenic or as interesting as the first half therefore held some compensation weather-wise.

And I was so pleased that I followed Chris’ advice. Being Prepared put me in a much more positive frame of mind for this walk and, having completed 12 miles with very little moaning, I am now (relatively) confident of my abilities for Hadrian’s Wall on 12 August   ( as long as I am suitably prepared!


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