Spending a day in Marple and Marple Bridge
- Credit: Pics; John Cocks
How to enjoy the delights of Marple and Marple Bridge in 24 hours.
Yes, Marple was indeed the inspiration behind Agatha Christie's most famous sleuth, Miss Marple. But why was the queen of crime fiction to be found in this leafy location?
Christie came to Cheadle Hulme in 1929, to visit her sister and apparently went to a house sale at Marple Hall. She was so impressed, that she had a Damascus moment and decided to name her 'old maid' character Jane Marple.
The Hall has long since been demolished but there are many good reasons why Agatha Christie may still enjoy the area today. It has plenty of natural beauty, a good selection of shops, bars and cafes and a relaxing neighbourly atmosphere.
It's also surprisingly easy to get to by by car, train (there are two stations, Rose Hill and Marple), bus and even by narrowboat via the Macclesfield or Peak Forest canals.
IN THE MORNING
Take a walk
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The Roman Lakes at Marple Bridge are a picturesque location to take a walk, a bike ride, or even a canoe trip and are steeped in history. The lakes and the valley that surrounds them were once central to the great enterprise that was Samuel Oldknow's Mellor Mill providing it with much-needed water.
After the mill was destroyed by fire in 1892, The Roman Lakes were transformed into a pleasure park with a dance hall, boating and amusements such as penny slot machines.
These days the pleasures are largely in the enjoyment of the scenery and the area's rich history and ecology, as well as its wildlife. You can do a spot of birdwatching or (if you have a permit and the necessary gear) fishing.
There's a circular walk you can do to get there. From Marple head via Brabyns Park and along the River Goyt, then up to the Lakes via Low Lea Road in Marple Bridge.
Stop off at the tearoom at the Lakes perhaps before taking an alternative route back by continuing onto Roman Bridge, then up the (rather steep) Strines Road.
Don't miss St Martin's Church, which was built during the Arts and Crafts era and contains works by Pre Raphaelite artists, William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Edward Burne-Jones and Ford Madox Brown.
What could be more delightful than pottering around the shops in Marple Bridge? The area may be small but it has plenty of mooching-potential.
Head for Town Street and browse - not just an exhortation to take a look around but the name of this pretty boutique stocked with designer fashions from France, Germany, Spain and Italy. New stock arrives every month along with individual jewellery and accessories, so it could become a regular haunt.
Pluck some blooms from the local florist, Jenni-fleurs and hunt for curios at Townhouse Antiques, or gain inspiration for the home at Ryeflatt interiors. In Marple, snap up summer fashion at Helen Winterson on Market Street and all your craft supplies at Sew-In and if you're in search of some energy Marple Health on Stockport Road may have a few natural remedies to put a spring back in your step. Finally, if you fall in love with the area and want to stay a night, or several, check out The Barn at Mellor, a detached conversion of a hayloft and stables, with its own private garden and a great base for walking and horse riding.
DAY ON A PLATE
Start with breakfast at Libby's Bread & Wine on Town Street in Marple Bridge. With its impressive display of bread and cakes, all made on the premises and breakfast menu favourites, it's one of the best places to rub shoulders with the locals. As Marple Bridge is a bit of a media hangout you may even spot a celebrity sipping on morning latte.
Dutsons, which is also on Town Street, is another favourite haunt of the locals. Here you can enjoy a full English breakfast, a slightly decadent eggs benedict or (media connection ahoy!) a BBC (Bacon, Brie and Chilli jam served on a toasted bagel). They serve sandwiches and salads for lunch and if you've worked up an appetite you can head there for afternoon tea too.
Marple also has some great cafes and restaurants for lunch and dinner. If you want authentic Indian street food in a colourful setting , make for the Chaat Cart on Derby Street. Aarti Pandey's southern Indian food has been a big hit since she opened the restaurant three years ago. Aarti's take on her menu is an evolution of her street food journey that combines the delight of being able to sample a snack that might be served up at a roadside stall in southern India to small plates that demonstrate just how exciting the region's cuisine can be.
Angkor Soul is another reason outsiders flock to Marple. The 30-cover dining room is usually packed by a mixed clientele seeking to indulge in the flavours of authentic Cambodian cooking.