From busy Disley to the wilds of Black Rocks and back again: that’s our walk for a fine day in December, writes Howard Bradbury

There’s really no getting away from The Cage. The majestic old hunting lodge in Lyme Park keeps popping into view in the course of this walk - a reassuring presence, if only to let you know you’re going in the right direction.

This month’s walk takes in some of the early stretches of the Gritstone Trail, which winds its way from Disley to Kidsgrove in Staffordshire, taking in some awesome views over the Cheshire Plain from White Nancy at Kerridge and Tegg’s Nose Country Park - both the subject of previous Cheshire Life walks.

We don’t venture that far along the trail on this walk, but there is a good viewpoint to be reached nevertheless, because we ascend to Black Rocks from where you can look down over the Cheshire Plain and then turn round to see the Peak District rising behind you.

Because this high point represents the half-way mark of the walk, it means that all the hard work is done by the time you enjoy those views; it’s all downhill from here, in a good way.

Great British Life: Holly on the Gritstone TrailHolly on the Gritstone Trail (Image: not Archant)

The Walk

1. Our starting point is the centre of Disley village. Head for postcode SK12 2AE and you will find various parking options. Look for the Ram’s Head - which has been an important fixture in Disley for nigh-on 400 years - and take the road to the left of it, Buxton Old Road, only as far as the White Horse and turn right into Ring O’ Bells Lane beside the pub. You soon reach the Quaker Meeting House, but just before the meeting house, take the path to the left beside houses, up some stone steps and then right along a path with woods to the right. Just a few yards later, follow the path as it forks left into the housing estate, cross over the road and walk the few yards uphill to Bentside Road, turning right here and following the road to its end.

2. Here you will see a footpath signed ahead, going over a stile, across a field and then across another field. At the farm, bear left to reach Green Lane, which is unmade at this point. You can now see the The Cage in Lyme Park ahead of you. Go left along Green Lane and eventually you pass a house with a red phone box in the garden, after which you carry on ahead into the Gritstone Trail. At a stile and metal gate go straight ahead on a well-beaten path, continuing to another gate at which there is a metal signpost erected by the Peak District & Northern Counties Footpaths Preservation Society indicating the public footpath to Kettleshulme.

Great British Life: I met inquisitive faces en route to Black RocksI met inquisitive faces en route to Black Rocks (Image: not Archant)

3. We’re not heading that way though. Go right, downhill, following the Gritstone Trail, and you will soon pass an information sign on the left telling you about Millennium Wood, consisting of 4,000 new trees and shrubs. This is a lumpy, bumpy track - a real challenge, one can imagine, for farmers driving a cart down here in days of yore. After passing a crumbling bridge the track goes uphill towards the East Lodge of Lyme Park. About 100 metres short of the gates to the park, bear left over a stile and onto a footpath marked, again, as the Gritstone Trail. Head towards the trees and keep to what is a quite well-defined path skirting a hill. After passing a metal kissing gate, the path winds down through trees and then up, through another kissing gate towards a farm. Pass to the left of the barn and head for the top right hand corner of the field to a stile.

4. The stile brings us to Mudhurst Lane. Turn right up the lane, pass Bolder Hall farm and then bear left following the footpath sign for Black Rocks. Go straight on at the first fingerpost, then, at the next sign, head left up towards the ridge. Once up at the top there are some great views in every direction. Breath recaptured, follow the path to the left, which will take you down the ridge. keep going until you find yourself in a cow pasture. Head for the middle of the bottom of the field where you cross a stile and head towards a house where the path emerges onto Buxton Old Road. Turn left along the road and, a few yards later, left into Mudhurst Lane.

Great British Life: View from the Gritstone TrailView from the Gritstone Trail (Image: not Archant)

5. With a few minutes , you see a footpath to the right (marked number 59). Follow this in the direction of The Cage until you reach a broader path running across it. Turn left here (it should be familiar to you as you came this way earlier) but when reaching that metal signpost for the path to Kettleshulme, don’t go through the gate this time, but instead go sharp right, downhill, following the sign for North Lodge. You go into woods with a stream to the right and emerge on a path running beside the wall above Bollinhurst Reservoir. This path eventually reaches a gate onto a tarmac lane. Go right up this lane to get to Green Lane, turn left and keep on until Red Lane, bearing right, downhill, to get back to Disley village centre.

Compass points

Great British Life: View from the Gritstone TrailView from the Gritstone Trail (Image: not Archant)

Area of Walk: Disley, Black Rocks

Distance: 5 miles

Time to allow: 2½ hours

Map: OS Explorer 268

Great British Life: The quaint Quaker Meeting House, DisleyThe quaint Quaker Meeting House, Disley (Image: not Archant)

Refreshments: The Ram’s Head, Buxton Road West, Disley SK12 2AE; The White Horse, 18 Buxton Old Road, Disley SK12 2BB; Frankie’s Wine Bar, 7-9 Buxton Old Road, Disley SK12 2BB.