WALK REVIEW – LEVENSHULME TO REDDISH VALE. Friday 25th September 2009
Inclement weather threatened to put paid to this walk, and an earlier trek to the Vale was cancelled on the Tuesday, but the weather didn’t look too bad on the Friday morning, so Tom Clark and I decided to go for it, meeting in Levenshulme, near to where Tom lives.
As we met up, the clouds closed in and we considered calling off the expedition, but the Sun made a comeback and as the day went on, the weather improved significantly.
We called in the Isis café, a superb eatery in Levenshulme, in South Manchester, where we had a Chicken & Spinach curry with chips for lunch, followed by cake, before setting off on the walk itself.
We took in three distinctly different country parks, Highfield, Debdale and Reddish Vale. The pace was undemanding and the gradient gentle. This was an easy walk, of about six miles.
HIGHFIELD COUNTRY PARK
From Isis, we walked through urban Levenshulme to the park entranceway, which was marked with maps and information boards. The path ran from Chorlton to Clayton, so we were doing the middle stretch, which takes in open field, bordered by industry & business. It is a well landscaped landfill site, with some pleasant walks and footpaths, as well as a bridle-way going through it, and a large golf course to one side.
DEBDALE COUNTRY PARK
One park led directly to the next as after the golf course and a large cemetery we came to a reservoir, used by the Debdale Park boat-club, and various school and college groups. Signs were everywhere warning of the dangers of swimming. It was hard to point a camera in any direction without the signs intruding into the lens.
Just past he reservoir is the main park itself, a beautifully scenic landscape of orchards and rose gardens where squirrels scampered around and local dog walkers stop for a friendly chat.
REDDISH VALE COUNTRY PARK
Local maps on bus stands and the sign posts leading from the previous parks are misleading about the exact location and distance to Reddish Vale, and local people kindly gave us directions, with one lady showing us the nearest of several entrances after a long walk through urban housing estates and passing a playground where the rides were all sculpted to look like dinosaur heads.
A beautiful park, dominated by the river Tame, and its tributaries, and a viaduct on the Manchester to Sheffield line, opened in 1905. The locals had disliked the line going over the Vale and legend has it that a local witch cursed anyone daring to count the viaducts’ arches, though someone obviously did as the Vale website tells us there are 16 arches.
Impressively, there are graffiti messages on the side of the viaduct, way up in its heights, commemorating the death of someone’s dad. Someone leaning over precariously from the top of the viaduct itself could only have applied the paint.
We took one of many paths crossing the Vale as part of the Trans-Pennine Way, and I remember seeing the Giant’s Money Box there on a previous visit, though we didn’t see it this time round. It is a slot in the inside roof of a railway bridge on Mill Lane, which only a giant could reach easily to put his money into or remove it when required.
The Vale needs signposts to show its interest points off easily – Tom and I travelled map free and more or less worked out our route by instinct, having no real idea or care where we ended up as long as it was interesting, which it invariably was.
The Vale almost became a safari park and planning permission was sought but turned down.
The Visitor’s Centre was just closing as we arrived at about teatime, though the wardens were kind enough to unlock the toilets for me.
We eventually emerged from the Vale after a long walk down a wild country trail, in a quiet and unexceptional housing estate at Brinnington, having gone way past Stockport, and having to get a bus back there to get our busses to Levenshulme & Manchester City centre, bringing the expedition to a satisfactory close.
Thanks to Tom Clark for arranging this walk, and the meal at Isis. There are lots of options for future walks from here, some of which may link to my other journeys.
Reddish Vale Country Park - http://www.reddishvale.moonfruit.com/
Highfield Park http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levenshulme
Directions to Reddish Vale
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