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WALK – THE GRITSTONE TRAIL

 

PART ONE – DISLEY TO WHITE NANCY (BOLLINGTON) 7-8 miles. Wednesday 20th February 2008.

 

Along with my friend, Tom Clark, I embarked on the first of a series of walks along the famous 35 miles Gritstone Trail between Disley and Kidsgrove. Distance into the Derbyshire locations from Manchester means breaking the journey into four stages, rather than doing the whole trail in one go.

 

We set off early, planning to meet at 10.30 IS at the gates to Lyme Park, but as it happens we both ended up on the same bus.

 

                                                                                    LYME PARK

 

The path begins in Disley Village, birth place of novelist Christopher Isherwood.  David Dickenson had his first antique shop here, Les Battersby from the Coronation Street TV soap opera lives in the town,  and they even boast of a Big Brother contestant and historian, A J P Taylor. The path runs quickly into Lyme Park. I have covered a walk through the park itself in LYME PARK, so needn’t go into too much detail here.

 

It was bitterly cold. There were patches of snow on the ground, and several ponds, and a boating lake in the park were frozen solid. We tried breaking the ice on one pond by throwing heavy rocks onto it, which just bounced off.

 

Cutting through the park, past The Cage (an old hunter’s shelter – not a folly as often suggested) to Lyme Hall, and the park visitor’s centre, we picked up the signage for the trail and followed a path up past the park deer, some of who were locking antlers in fierce territorial conflict.

 

We left the park for a path over stark spectacular open moorland, passing a farmhouse that had several large, sophisticated arials and radio masts in the grounds. We were close to the Bowstones pagan Celtic crosses, but not close enough to divert from the path to visit them on this trip.

  

                                                                                    SPONDS HILL

 

We moved up to Sponds Hill, the highest point we reached above sea level at 410 metres, where a viewfinder stone shows the direction of landmarks like Winter Hill and Jodrell Bank, but a hazy mist was all that could be seen to any horizon. There was still enough of a view to make the panoramas quite spectacular.

 

Back on course, we headed for the Bakestonedale Road, named after the stones that the quarries of the area provide. The stones would once have been heated to provide warmth for cottages and houses. (Hence the name). The stone was also used in cooking. The website 

http://www.peak-experience.org.uk/tourism/explore-the-guides/peak-experience-guides/industrial-peak/attraction-details/MillstoneQuarries.html?ContentID=259&PHPSESSID=e2910c3f8ff2fcfc4e43ca3ac8eaedc8tells us, "Local oatcakes remained popular whatever the fashions in bread baking.  Bakestonedale road may be named after the thin gritstones quarried nearby.  Locals cooked oatcakes on disc-like bakestones hung from a pot-hook over the fire or placed on a stove."

Moving on, passing Brinks Farm, we came across a large flock of sheep – the most I have ever been directly surrounded by. When a tractor arrived bringing their feed they ran to it in a virtual stampede. The noise of frenzied baa-ing was intense, with a struggling asthmatic sheep bringing up the rear.

We now reached a stone quarry that cut the path like an open wound, and with three paths to choose and no immediately apparent way markers, we chose the wrong path, causing us to move about a mile off course as we circled back to the quarry.  Most of our route was well sign posted, but at the quarry the distinctive arrows marked G for Gritstone were conspicuous by their absence.

 

With a short walk on the road, which left us wondering if we’d got lost again, we came to the packhorse trail and quaint footbridge over the Harrop Brook.  Nearby, some foresters were burning old holly bushes. 

 We could now at least see the White Nancy, a memorial to the British heroes of Waterloo, built by the Gaskell family in the 18th century; it was looking black in the way it was silhouetted by the sun. It stands on top of a very steep hill surrounded by low valleys, so we knew the walk would end with a challenging ascent.

 

 

                                                                                    WHITE NANCY

 

We were now on the edge of the daunting hill leading up to the White Nancy itself, on the edge of the delightful town of Bollington (known to inhabitants affectionately as Happy Valley). The first phase of the climb was on a steep spiralling footpath, followed by a very vertical stone staircase that few would manage without pausing on route to catch a breath and rest aching legs.

 

The ascent is certainly worthwhile. The view from the monument, especially across the weaver’s town of Bollington itself, is stunning. The Nancy was originally a Summer House, (now sealed up) so it doesn’t qualify for being defined as a folly. It resembles a fifteen-foot high white breast with a nipple on top, though it has been known to be painted as snowmen, Santa and Christmas puddings at the appropriate festive times.  The origin of the name Nancy is lost in the mists of time. Theories suggest it was the name of one of the Gaskells, or possibly the donkey used to haul the stone up the hill with which to build the monument.

 

The paint is now flaking badly, and the Nancy requires some restoration work. The monument is often voted as one of the best-loved landmarks in the North West.

 

It isn’t clear whether the Gritstone Trail goes close by or directly up to the Nancy, though if it doesn’t, a detour from the path to take in the monument is a must anyway.

 

We had hoped to cover the distance between Disley and Tegg’s Nose, (ten and a half miles) but the bus times made it very practical to catch a service from Bollington, which meant going no further than the steep summit of the White Nancy.  We hope to take in Tegg’s Nose when we embark on phase two of the expedition.

 

                                                                                                BOLLINGTON

Bollington was the birthplace of Terry Waite, famed for his long period of captivity in the Lebanon, after he traveled there as a peace campaigner. Irritating TV antiques expert David Dickenson still lives in Bollington. 

We descended on the town, and debated the best way to find a bus sop and a pub, as we had just over an hour to spare before the last service back to Stockport. A local lady overheard s and gave us directions. Most pubs in Bollington close for the afternoons, but Te Cotton Tree welcomed us with open arms, real ale and the offer of cheap hot pot.  The landlady’s two dogs were eager to share this with us, and kept unlatching doors to come back whenever the staff ushered them out. Once we had finished eating, the dogs decided we were not their best friends in the whole world and ignored us completely.  After a quick game of Scrabble we caught the bus, flagging it down at a stopping point without any bus stop visible, by waving frantically when the bus appeared round the corner - the locals assured us that this was how it was done, and headed back to Stockport. The ride from there to Manchester was on a bus filled with feral morons running wild, and shouting, but it couldn’t spoil an otherwise terrific day out. 

Thanks to Tom Clark for coming along on this expedition.

 

Link -

http://www.cheshire.gov.uk/countryside/Walking/linear_trails/gritstone/disley_teggs_nose.htm

 

Arthur Chappell

 

SEE ALSO A TO Z CONTENTS LISTINGS  ATHEISM / HUMANISM  CULTS AND BRAINWASHING  ENGLISH CIVIL WAR HISTORY  AND RE-ENACTMENT PAGES   EROTICA (ADULTS ONLY)   .FILM REVIEW PAGES   FUNNY PAGES GENERAL ARTICLES   GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHS       HOME PAGE  LINKS TO OTHER PEOPLES PAGES    LISTS (MY TOP TENS OF EVERYTHING)   MANCHESTER, ENGLAND   MY FICTION MY POETRY  MY SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY AND HORROR PAGES  MY SCRIPTS   NEWS  PHOTOGRAPHS OF ME   UPDATES   WEBSITE REVIEWS  FACEBOOK - http://profile.to/arthurchappell/ My Space http://www.myspace.com/arthurchappell  E-MAIL  arthur@chappell7300.freeserve.co.uk   MY BOOK REVIEWS These reviews and abstracts cover just about every book I have read recently. Scroll through the whole alphabetical list of abstracts and reviews below, or look through the following genre and sub-category list SUB-CATEGORIES - CHILDREN’S BOOKS  CLASSIC LITERATURE  COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS  CULTS ENGLISH CIVIL WAR  EROTICA (ADULTS ONLY)  FANTASY HISTORY HORROR HUMOUR MANCHESTER, ENGLAND NEWSPAPERS/MAGAZINES NON-FICTION PHILOSOPHY  POETRY  RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORIES A TO Z OF BOOK REVIEWS BY AUTHOR A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z  (Superhero comics are listed alphabetically by the name of well known heroes, i.e., Batman Superman, etc).