15 April 2015

Cheshire walks: Around Arley

During my six months in Cheshire wending my way around magnificent Arley estate has been one of my favourite pastimes. From my home near Pickmere it’s about 15 kilometres there and back, depending on which paths I tread, and every time I venture there I’m rewarded with a treasury of sights and sounds.

The path ways are numerous – one forms part of the North Cheshire Way, another is a bridle way, others are simply footpaths along which people have walked for generations. I try to avoid the roads as most are unpleasantly busy (Cann Lane, in particular, is one to avoid) but the smaller lanes are less trafficked and prettily lined with trees.

Rather than describe the various walking options, I’ll let my camera do the talking. The green dots on the map show most of the lanes and footpaths I’ve explored, and the red-dotted path indicates the North Cheshire Way – you can find out more about that on the Long Distance Walkers website. The numbered blue dots pinpoint where my photos have been taken. You can click on the map and images to see them full screen.

As my photos have been taken during winter and early spring, I’m sure the views will be much greener and leafier as spring progresses into summer. I hope my images convince you to don your walking shoes and explore this small part of the beautiful Cheshire countryside. You will not be disappointed!

And don’t forget to visit the grandiose Arley Hall and its superb gardens while you’re in this neck of the woods. You can get a glimpse of my earlier visit to the gardens here.

(1) Arley Road is the main entrance road for most people driving to the Hall so a little busy for walking but with lovely trees.

(2) Much of the long straight section of the North Cheshire Way that leads to Arley is now a concreted farm track
but signs of  its antiquity can be seen in the gnarly old hedgerows and the pretty wildflowers growing by the ditches.

(3) A third approach route is via Arley Mossend Lane. The road sweeps round to the left past attractive Willow Lodge, with its elegant topiary hedges, and to the right is a bridle way (see below) that connects to Budworth Road.

(4) Though it gets a bit muddy after rain, this bridle way can also be used by walkers and provides access to a footpath leading through the grassy fields to Arley Green.

(5) Arley Mossend Lane is edged partly by woodland and partly by open fields, providing expansive rural views - perfect for photographs of impressive cloud formations. Friendly horses are frequently to be found in the fields - bring apples or carrots!
(6) This tiny brick shed sits just outside the boundary of Arley's award-winning gardens - the greenery beyond provides a hint of the horticultural treasures to be discovered within.
(7) Back Lane runs along the northern side of Arley Hall's grounds. Lined with stately old trees, it provides tantalising glimpses of the Hall and its woodland garden.
(8) Photos above and below. At Arley Green the brook widens out to form a small mere, which is home to a variety of water birds - you can just see some swan in the bottom right of the above photo. You can also catch a glimpse of the beautiful old buildings to be found here, including a stunning black-and-white gem. On a calm day, the mere provides stunning relfections.

(9) Photos above and below. Sack Lane is a private road and public footpath, connecting Back Lane with Cann Lane. It is bordered on the northern side by luxuriant old woodland, which is currently (April) awash with wildflowers (the white flowers shown above are wood anemone). On the southern side the fields are also presently dotted with white - the somewhat larger white of ewes and their very cute lambs. The trees on the field boundaries produce nice silhouettes in the winter months.

(10) Another view of Sack Lane, taken in early winter, just because I love these trees!

(11) A cottage and a gatehouse sit half-way along Sack Lane, marking the boundary into Arley. Walkers can also take the lane to the right here and do a circuit back to Back Lane, as shown on the map. There was once a mill on the brook here but few signs now remains of its presence.

(12) This is probably my favourite route to and from Arley, along the footpath that runs across the fields. I'm guessing there was once a hedgerow connecting these old oak trees but that has been removed for easier farming access. A note of caution: one of these fields is edged with an electric fence that must be stepped across, and the fields sometimes contain cows that can be a little overzealous in their curiosity, which some people might find intimidating.

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