WALK REPORT – LYME PARK, DISLEY – CHESHIRE.
I went for a walk on Wednesday 13th June 2007 round Lyme Park, withy my mate, Tom Clark.
I know the deer park and hall well from school trips and occasional visits of old, though this was my first visit in years. Getting there was quite an expedition. I expected it to take three buses. It took four – and the same coming back too.
Though cloudy, it was a hot sticky day and the thunderstorm was to break just as the walk came to an end.
The park is approached through a large gate-way, and a little side path, with country gates that turn the park into a maximum security prison for the deer, and Highland cattle within, enables you to walk clear of the cars and coaches bringing people in.
Crossing a cattle grid, we walked up the hill towards The Cage, a large fortress that dominates the park, and which his visible for miles around. The view over Stockport and Manchester was a little hazy, but many familiar buildings were easily picked out.
The Park’s famous deer were proving to be elusive, and we caught only distant glimpses of them, while the cattle were quite easy to see. Some white cattle, imported in the last ten years or so proved to be very distinctive among the woolly Highland cows because their hooves would help to break down the tussocks of grass, and help add greater fertility to the Park soil.
The Cage, like a castle turret keep without a castle attached, stands forlorn and alone. It was a prison for poachers, and later it was used to guard prisoners of war during WW2. Being exposed to high moorland it could be guarded from a distance. No one was likely to escape without being highly visible, especially by day.
Lyme Hall itself was closed, as it is apparently shut every Wednesday, despite the high tourist trade to the popular Park. The Hall had been used in a TV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.
From The Cage we headed first for the café and shops where a lady from the National Trust proved to be very helpful with maps and advice on the sites to see. We fed some ducks and Geese, and some uninvited blackbirds, at the large pond, where some ducks fought one another quite viciously. Then we walked up the long, steep path to the mysterious lantern – a folly like beacon tower that gave shelter to anyone joining the estate’s hunting parties. The leaflet we used as a map and guide warned that this area was quite marshy and muddy, but it was bone dry. This proved to be a useful shelter for us as the rains were now starting as a prelude to the storm to come.
Using trees for further shelter, we headed back to the cafeteria area. We saw the outer grounds of Lyme Hall, looking quite deserted and like a scaled down version of Buckingham Palace. A weather vane depicted a man with a hunting dog going hare coursing. (Makes a change from the usual cockerel or black cat vanes).
The rains hit hard. We heard the thunder rolling over loudly, but saw no lightning at all. The paths turned into small rivers. Ladies ran by with their clothes going transparent, as they sought any shelter they could. School groups headed for their buses and coaches to get away, we hit the cafeteria until the storm’s worst efforts had gone, and headed off for a bus home. We thought we had just missed it, but as it ran late, we were just in time. Unfortunately, we had to change buses twice before I was able to get back to Manchester.
This was a moderate walk, with a few steep hills, but mostly we kept a leisurely relaxed pace.
The park offers many other walks so future visits seem inevitable.
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