Wales Coast Path: Llanon to Aberystwth

14th September 2021 – 12.3 miles

We parked in Llanon and headed back to the church and up a farm track – unpleasantly “muddy” (!) in one short stretch – we assured a couple at the other end that it really was only a very short stretch. We came across a set of old lime kilns, the first of many we saw this holiday, dating from when lime was transported by sea and processed on the coast before being transported to local farms.

Limekilns at Llanrhystud

There was a short deviation inland, then back to the coast via a caravan site with a rather unlikely bridal shop in an old farm building. I suppose there is space and parking for a small business.

It was a warm day, still and clear with views toward the Llyn peninsula and Snowdonia, as well as our goal of Aberystwyth. The trouble today was that we could see Aberystwyth, but it took longer to get there than it looked!

The view north

The path was mostly over rolling hills, but later ran alongside a fairly steep grassy slope down to the sea. I took it slowly looking at the path, not at the drop. We met an elderly man coming in the opposite direction who was doing exactly the same! (it’s not just me)

It wasn’t as scary as it looked from here!

We saw a few red kites today. We saw a number as we drove down here, but I suspect they are more likely to be seen inland. There were also a few choughs flying around.

Closer to Aberystwyth we passed a few farms which the guide book describes as ruined but which look to have been recently renovated. The path loops inland a bit, presumably to get around various properties, then there is one final hill with a very steep descent before reaching a wide, level embankment between the river and the sea, taking us into Aberystwyth.

We had a bit of a wander round and along the prom – we had an ice-cream and bought cakes for after tea – before heading to the bus station about 10 minutes before the bus left to return us to Llanon.

Wales Coast Path: New Quay to Llanon

13 September 2021 – 11.5 miles

We are staying for a week’s holiday in New Quay with the intention of walking some of the Coast Path, but doing other things as well. As it turned out, the weather was fine and there wasn’t a great deal else to do nearby, so we did four days on the Coast Path.

It had poured overnight, and we awoke to heavy rain. However, the forecast said it would clear by ten, which it did. The day was hazy with a few odd spots of drizzle but never enough to even consider putting a coat on. It was quite warm and humid too.

We left our holiday let on the outskirts of New Quay and took the road which leads to the beach and a walk into New Quay. This time we continued a little further along the road to a farm. There was a confusing signpost here pointing in two different directions for the coast path – in hindsight, the post had turned round, and one finger should have pointed back the way we had come!

Looking back to New Quay

We followed the coast north, alongside hedges filled with blackberries and through woods just beginning to show autumn colours.

We had one big dip down to a small bridge over a stream which then dropped off over the edge of a cliff. I didn’t go to the edge to see the waterfall!

We reached Aberaeron in time for lunch – a nice little town with colourful houses around the harbour.

There was a bit of a walk along a rocky shore and then around the village of Aberarth.

Soon, we headed uphill again. Here, we saw a pod of dolphins in the bay. We stopped to watch and take a few distant photographs.

We headed for Llanon where we were going to catch a bus. There was a small car park and the option to head inland (I think it is difficult to cross the stream running down to the beach at times) but we continued along the rocky shore. There had been some attempt to prevent coastal erosion here, but it looks as if the sea is winning!

There were two sets of metal steps leading up off the beach, not very clearly signposted – we had to go up the first set to check before deciding it was the next lot we needed.

A land led through old cottages to the church (where there is a good parking area saying no parking!), and then to the main road. We had the best part of an hour to wait for the bus, but we did find a small, free car park round the corner, ideal for tomorrow!

North Cheshire Way: Adlington to Disley (the end)

23 August 2021 – 14.5 miles

There was a large, off-road lay-by right next to the Adlington crossroads, which was ideal. A short walk down the road at the edge of the village brought us to footpaths across fields, soon crossing the Middlewood Way, a disused railway, now a cycle- and foot-path, and then to the Macclesfield Canal. We only followed this a short way, then cut across fields before it brought us back to the canal.

Some parts were a bit overgrown and not very heavily used, but the path did skirt round this lovely old house. The last part before the canal was very overgrown and difficult. We were a bit cross about this, but on returning home, realised it had been overconfident map-reading and the path was a few yards the other way … oops!

The next part was straightforward across field and then uphill up a small road to the restored farm buildings of Birchencliff, where we stopped to chat to a lady cleaning her car. Shortly after this we came to the open moorland with clear views across to Manchester and Stockport.

As we headed down off the moor, there were good views across to Lyme Park and the Cage.

We then came to a rather unexpected oratory, a small chapel, which was open. It was lovely and would have been a very welcome shelter in bad weather.

A short walk up the road brought us to one of the gates to Lyme Park. Again, like other National Trust properties, the path wasn’t designated as NCW, but was easy enough to follow. I did work out why there are two routes here, as the park gates are closed at the end of the day!

It was a lovely walk through woodland at first and then the open parkland, bringing us to the car park right next to the Hall. It was heaving!

We kept walking and soon left the crowds behind, as we headed across the hill to the Cage, probably built as a hunting lodge.

A quiet road took us to Disley, where we had a look at the church, and went down to the station which is the official finish point of the North Cheshire Way, and the start of the Gritstone Trail – that’s on the list too!

We didn’t hang round as we wanted to go back across Lyme Park before they shut the gates. We had plenty of time. We followed some excellent footpaths down the edge of fields – wide, well made and fenced off from the fields – to the canal, and then to the Middlewood Way. We chose to follow this back to Adlington as we knew it would be easy walking for the last few miles!

North Cheshire Way: Wilmslow to Adlington

12 August 2021 – 13 miles

We parked on the edge of Wilmlsow and picked up the path on the far side of a main road, straight into farmland and field, then up onto Alderley Edge, somewhere we haven’t visited for many years. Some great views across Cheshire, but it was a bit hazy.

We followed the clear main route along the top of the hill – like other National Trust properties we’ve been through, we found it had clearly waymarked footpaths, but not with NCW markers. It was surprisingly quiet until we got to near the end (closer to the car park!). We were about to head downhill, next to an enormous property being restored, but stopped to let a group through the gate. Good job, as Robby realised he had left his pole back where we had stopped for a drink a mile or so back! I waited while he went.

At the bottom of the hill, the NCW was clearly waymarked, going a different route to the one shown on the map for no apparent reason we could see (2 opposite sides of a rectangle). This took us to the edge of the Hare Hill estate, another place we visited many years ago. It was a walled garden only open in May for the rhododendrons, but now it seems to have been restored and is open for all or much of the year (we’ll put it back on the list). It was more pleasantly wooded walking on another warm, sunny day.

Then we walked through lanes and farmland – including one very flooded one!

The path across Mottram Golf course was reasonably clear to start, then we seemed to have lost it – we also were a bit wary of walking out in the middle of a golf course, although it was pretty quiet. We realised we had stayed here at the hotel a few years ago for one night. We worked out we had gone too far and tracked back through the woods at the edge of the River Bollin to cross the footbridge.

We crossed a few lumpy fields, realising as we did so that this was marked on the map as ‘Moat’ – you could see the layout quite well – and onto the Adlington Road. We walked the extra mile down to Adlington crossroads to save the mileage for the next, longer section.

Lodge gates at Adlington Hall

We returned by road, passing back past Adlington Hall, which again looks an interesting place for a visit. There was a flock of sheep being driven back to the farm – this was quite good because it stopped the traffic on quite a busy road for a while!

After a while on roads that we a bit too busy to be pleasant we cut off and followed the River Bollin back to Wilmslow.

It was a pleasant walk, but, writing it up a few weeks later, I find that there isn’t much that sticks in my mind about it. I also didn’t take many pictures, which also help to jog the memory.

North Cheshire Way: Mobberley to Wilmslow

3rd August 2021 – 12.2 miles

We parked in a layby in a lane right on the path. I had wondered if the spaces would be taken up by plane spotters, but it was very quiet. We walked up the lane then onto a path running alongside the boundary fence of Manchester Airport, but most of the time, you wouldn’t have known it. Neither the fence nor the airport were visible much of the time, with trees and bushes shielding the view.

Eventually we came to an open bank with a good view of the airport and runways. There were a couple of men here watching the planes. It is still much quieter than before the pandemic, but planes were coming and going quite regularly.

There was a tunnel built over the River Bollin when the airport was expanded, presumably in 2000 (MM on the keystone). We then followed a service road down to the dual carriageway. We should have taken a path to cut the corner off, but hadn’t noticed it. It was easier than expected to cross the road by the roundabout, then we entered the National Trust land of the Styal estate. Although we have visited Quarry Bank Mill at Styal a few times, we had never walked into the estate. The path was lovely, leading alongside the River Bollin through the woods.

Of course, there were lots of paths and there were not many waymarkers showing the NCW. However, the main path seemed to be the one we wanted, although we went a little too far towards the village, then sensibly checked the map (only a few hundred metres too far!).

We passed the visitor centre and car park – both very different from how we remember, but it must be a good few years since we visited – and down a clear path between fields. We stopped for lunch on a hillside just before we met the road. There was then a clear, flat path running through parkland along the river, just on the edge of Wilmslow. Another parallel path led through the woods so we took that as being a nicer walk. We got to the end to find a notice telling us it was closed!

We were a bit off the NCW, but there was an obvious path downhill to meet it. We then arrived in a park on the edge of town, where we sat with an ice-cream. We headed into Wilmslow, passing the church. We made a slight error, but soon corrected it, heading under the railway and crossing another busy road (with hindsight it looks as though there might have been a way under the road, but we couldn’t see it at the time). This brought us back to the River Bollin again. We then walked through a couple of estates of rather nice houses to the A road on the edge of town where we stopped.

Wilmslow Parish Church

We headed out of Wilmslow on suburban roads then tracks into the countryside and through woods. The track we had hoped to take down to the road was marked private, so we followed footpaths across farmland (fortunately this area has many alternative routes!). However, the footpath which had been clear then became less so! We seemed to be on a disused golf course, but saw where other people had walked and headed for the road we wanted to be on. The last mile on road was quite busy and seemed a bit of a slog, but it had been a good day’s walking.

North Cheshire Way: M6 to Mobberley

26th July 2021 – 11 miles

We parked in a quiet layby outside the church in Over Tabley, with a short walk back past busy roadworks, where they seem to be changing the motorway junction, to our last turnaround point. I had been a bit bothered that the route might be difficult to find here, with the roadworks, and a motel marked on the map, but it was all straightforward.

Crossing the M6

We then walked about a mile on a straight track through farmland to a quiet road taking to the outskirts of Knutsford. It was probably even quieter than usual as there were notices all along warning that the road was closed where it passes over the motorway. There was a decent pavement all along the road, and we passed the cemetery and a rather impressive thatched cottage which also had model cows in the garden.

Closer to Knutsford centre, there was a large green space (The Heath) and a short suburban road before we got to the gates of Tatton Park. We bypassed the park itself, going downhill past an impressive building, called the Ruskin Rooms, and a row of unusual houses. They were called things like the Tannery and Laundry, and led down to the stream (apparently this area was all built in an Italianate style by the architect Richard Harding Watt).

We crossed a rather nice park, with a lake at one end, then headed up to a main road. Unfortunately we had to walk alongside this rather busy road for about a mile or so, before turning down a quieter road and eventually (at last) onto fields. We met a woman walking her dog here who advised us not to take the direction that the GPS suggested as it was very overgrown. We met a couple of older ladies later who said the path ahead here was also very overgrown (it wasn’t – a few grasses and brambles leaning out into the path, but nothing that I would call a problem). They were also telling us that the land is going to have a few hundred houses built on it, with plans for another similar sized estate a bit further on …

We stopped for lunch in a field a little further on, with a few planes passing overhead – we are getting closer to Manchester Airport. I had thought originally that we could plan our return route to go into Tatton Park from here, but it became obvious that there was no access at all, despite the paths within the park coming close to the boundary here.

We came to the (so far) only really impassable part of the route. The path pointed directly ahead from a stile, but it was completely overplanted. We decided to follow another path to the next field, where we could follow a track to the road if necessary. We were not very far from where we were going to turn round so it would not make a great deal of difference. However, when we got to the stile at the end of the neighbouring field we could see that the way was clear to where the path continued through a field of short grass. I think if you were coming from the other direction, you might well have started to walk across the overgrown field – it didn’t look too bad from that direction, at least for the bit you could see!

What path?

We now passed fields with landing lights in as we approached the airport. The route took us right up to the boundary fence at the very end of the runway, then out onto a lane, where we found several useful laybys to park in next week (I’d assumed we would park in the village).

We returned by some lanes to the overgrown field, then followed the same route back to the car, stopping to buy a cold drink at a shop on the edge of Knutsford to drink in the park. We hadn’t walked last week as there was a heatwave. It wasn’t quite so hot today, but it was till pretty warm walking. It wasn’t the most interesting day – a lot of road walking, but it got us past Knutsford.

North Cheshire Way: Comberbach to the M6

13th July 2021 – 11.7 miles

We parked exactly where we had stopped last time and walked down the quiet road to Great Budworth, a beautiful little village (not sure where the ‘Great’ comes in …).

Great Budworth

There was a nice tree lined path out of the village, which we walked too far along (we noticed a broken waymarker on the way back), but no great hardship.

Tree-lined path

It was mostly easy walking along farm tracks and then the estate road around Arley Hall. There was a distant view of the Hall. We then walked round the estate to the hamlet of Arley Green with some more beautiful and interesting buildings.

Then, across farmland. We had lunch sitting in a wheat field, with the M6 just visible, but we felt in the middle of nowhere with swallows swooping around.

Lunch spot with M6 visible

The bit on the map where it looks as if we went wrong was us trying to see if there was another way through to the next field to avoid the non-long dead sheep across the access to the stile! There wasn’t … but there was space enough to sidle past! I was quite surprised with just how squeamish I felt about this (it was the thought of having to step over it!).

Once past that, we walked almost alongside the M6. It was only really noisy when we got next to the boundary fence and on a level with the traffic.

But we soon headed away, through a rather scruffy farm and down a track to the road, just before the bridge crossing the M6. We made this our turn round point and returned to Great Budworth along quiet roads, passing this farmhouse which had a number of wooden figures around.

North Cheshire Way: Acton Bridge to Comberbatch

27 June 2021 – 11.7 miles

A slight misnomer, as we actually started in Barnton. We had decided not to come out on Friday, when we woke to rain – and it poured all day! So we came out on a Sunday, which perhaps meant there were a few more people around than midweek.

From Barnton, we walked back towards Acton Bridge, following the River Weaver, until shortly after the point we had turned around last week. We then crossed the narrow neck of land to take us to the Trent and Mersey Canal, and followed the towpath back to Barnton. It made for more variety in the walk while adding only a short distance.

Trent & Mersey Canal

The canal was an interesting walk, with plenty going on. There were quite a few narrowboats, moving and moored, and we were just in time to see a couple coming through the Salterford Tunnel, near Barnton.

Salterford Tunnel

We followed the canal towpath past a landslip to the Anderton Boat lift. It was fairly busy here, although the lift itself wasn’t working. The café was doing good business and there were plenty of cars in the car park. We sat here at a picnic bench for lunch.

Anderton Boat Lift

The next section is through the Anderton Country Park where there are a number of paths. We did head off slightly in the wrong direction, but were able to correct it soon and easily enough. Considering how many people and cars there were, it was very quiet!

Anderton Nature Park virtually joins on to Marbury Country Park, with woods, open grassland, and a busy park with play area. Again, it was only busy near the cafe and snack vans!. The walled garden is now a garden centre, but I did not give in to temptation (I wasn’t going to carry plants!).

Marbury Country Park

We then crossed a couple of large fields, with views across to Budworth Mere, with lots of sailing boats out on a Sunday afternoon. A small wood brought us to Budworth Lane, between Comberbatch and Great Budworth, which was our turn-round point.

Budworth Mere

We cut back across the fields to Barnton. The farmer here had put up a notice saying how he was obliged to clear the footpath and asked walkers to keep to it – I wish they were all this good!

A clear footpath

North Cheshire Way: River Weaver to Acton Bridge

18 June 2021 – 11.7 miles

We parked in Kingsley village, as the nearest convenient spot, and walked across fields and lanes towards Belleair Farm, where we had finished the previous walk. I wish all farmers would ensure that the path was as obvious as this, for everyone’s sakes.

We soon reached the River Weaver Navigation and could just see back towards the motorway viaduct, which is so familiar to us. There were a couple of kayakers with a dog, who kept pace with us for quite a while.

Kayakers

I had expected the route here to be fairly open and perhaps a built up path, slightly boring, but it was not at all like that, in and out of woods, and across fields. It was a clear path, but not heavily trodden at all. It could have done with a bit more footfall, as it was slightly overgrown in places, with some very lively nettles! We both had tingling legs for the next 24 hours …

We stopped for a mid-morning break, the kayakers stopped on the opposite bank and this dredger (?) went past. We saw it later, moored further up at Acton Bridge. Apart from the kayakers, and another boat at Acton Bridge, it was the only thing we saw moving on the river.

We followed the river/navigation all the way. Looking at the map, you can see where the river was canalised. An impressive viaduct carries the west coast main line from Crewe. We didn’t have to wait long for a train to pass over.

There were some interesting bridges around Dutton Locks, where we had lunch. Again, you can see how the river has been canalised, leaving an island in the middle of the the original bend. We sat here and had lunch, and had a good look around at the locks before crossing to continue on the north bank of the river.

The wide track here led us to Acton Bridge a mile further on. Quite a few more people were around here walking along the river and it was much easier than the ploughed fields and overgrown paths earlier in the day.

We carried on a bit further along the river, but decided to turn around before the next village. We headed back to Acton Bridge, then returned to Kingsley on field paths and quiet lanes.

North Cheshire Way: Alvanley to near the River Weaver

14 May 2021 – 12.3 miles

Lockdown was easing, and we wanted to go for a day’s walk, somewhere different, but not too far away. What about that North Cheshire Way we started? I looked it up (that’s why I keep a blog) and found it was over 8 years ago!

We found a parking spot in Alvanley village, couldn’t see the exact road junction we’d reached last time, but decided not too be too bothered about that. We passed the church, over fields, and over towards Helsby Hill, where we started to see a few other walkers.

Alvanley church

It wasn’t anywhere near as busy as wed expected on Helsby Hill. We stood and looked at the view of the Mersey plain, although it was rather too hazy for anything really impressive.

Helsby Hill

The path led around the hillside and through the woods, before crossing some more open fields and heading through the woods on Woodhouse Hill. It was one of those good, well-made paths that you keep heading along, until you realise that it isn’t waymarked and we were no longer on the North Cheshire Way (too busy being nosy at the posh houses!). We should have turned quite sharply right at the top of the steps! So back we went until we picked up the path again.

This led us to the War Memorial at the top of Frodsham Hill, where we sat and had lunch, with a small group of walkers already sitting on the benches. Good view again over Runcorn, the Ship Canal – not picturesque, but interesting, and it was good to be able to pick out different features.

The route skirted the edge of Frodsham. Although on the map it looked as though we would be going through built up areas, we hardly did. It felt fairly rural.

Path through the woods with bluebells and wild garlic

For the final part, we crossed flat farmland. Here we went round all 4 sides of a field, trying to make sense of the map, the GPS, and the footpath signs, until we realised we should be heading down the road/track. (We didn’t have a proper route on the GPS, plus I’m out of practice using it!). We finished by Belleair Farm, just a short way from the River Weaver, but a suitable turn-round spot.

We headed back up the lane to the main road. There is a large campsite on the corner and as we walked past a car towing a caravan missed the entrance and drove down the lane. As we walked out of sight we could just see him reversing back up the lane!

Only one unavoidable muddy section, near the end!

We walked back along mostly quiet country lanes, but made a bit of a mess with keeping on top of which junctions we had passed etc, with the result we walked up and back down a road, adding an unnecessary mile or so onto the day. Still, it was good to get out again, and the path today was much nicer and more interesting than I remember the first section of the North Cheshire Way.

I’m off to have a refresher in how to use the GPS …