Cheshire walk - Astbury, Little Moreton Hall and Brownlow Heath

Moored up on the Macclesfield Canal

Moored up on the Macclesfield Canal - Credit: Archant

Two of Cheshire’s architectural gems feature in this January walk near Congleton

What better than to chance upon Little Moreton Hall on a crisp winter day after yomping across frost-flecked fields?

The sight of this queasy 16th century manor house – barely a straight line remaining in its top-heavy structure – is a tonic at any time.

But this fairy tale black-and-white pile would look yet more impressive looming up from a winter landscape.
There are two other good reasons for this being our January walk. First, this route can be a bit of a mudbath at any time of year, so sub-zero temperatures would at least render the going firm. Second, the walk goes through some fields where cattle are kept, and those who, like me, have lately grown a bit wary of the beasts can expect them to be indoors at this time of year.

The other architectural gem on this walk is the grade 1 listed St Mary’s Church, Astbury, which dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries and has been described as one of Cheshire’s most beautiful churches. Quite a claim!

Pretty houses in Astbury village

Pretty houses in Astbury village - Credit: Archant


1. The starting point is the village of Astbury, postcode CW12 4RQ. There are a few parking opportunities in the village, and, if you are eating there, the Egerton Arms has a car park. Having enjoyed St Mary’s Church, head off up Peel Lane, with the church on your right and the pub on your left. You pass Glebe Farm, where you may see the odd alpaca alongside other farmyard animals. After the kerb disappears on both sides of the road, head right into Dodds Lane. Pass Meadow Bank Farm and follow the road downhill and then up. At a sharp right hand bend, go ahead through a gate onto the canal towpath and turn right.

Milestone beside the Macclesfield Canal

Milestone beside the Macclesfield Canal - Credit: Archant


2. Stay on the canal for quite some time now. Just before you reach bridge 85, look for an opening on the right which takes you down to New Road. Turn right and follow the road downhill for a couple of minutes, looking out for a stile into a field on your left. Take the path straight across a large field, walking between the two poles carrying power lines and down to a stile, then bear left up the next field, passing to the left of another electricity pole to reach the next stile. Go up the next field, passing to the right of a dead tree and onwards to an opening at the top of the field with a broken-down stile beside it. Continue through the next large field to a stile which brings you to a farm track. To your left you will see bridge 86 of the canal.


3. Head right down the farm track and keep ahead over another broken-down stile beside a metal field gate and along the right hand edge of a long field. Cross a stile and along the right hand edge of the next field, but at the next stile, head left across the field, through two metal kissing gates and along the right hand edge of the next field reaching a kissing gate which brings you to the lane beside Little Moreton Hall.


4. After enjoying the hall, head towards the busy A34, cross over and bear right along the narrow verge. A couple of minutes after passing the entrance to Cuttleford Farm Shop, take a path on the left along the edge of a crop field. Pass to the right of a large tree and, at the end of the hedge, go straight across the next field and then along the right hand edge of the next field to reach a stile bringing you on to Chance Hall Lane. Go right, and, after passing the entrance to Alcumlow Hall Farm, bear left into Brook Lane.


5. Follow Brook Lane down to a T-junction and bear left, passing Ivy Cottage on your left. A short distance later, go right onto a bridleway, passing the notice board for Newbold Astbury Cum Moreton Parish Council, and continue into a grassy avenue of trees with fields on either side. Reaching a lane, cross over and continue ahead into a narrow metalled road which is signposted as the continuation of the bridleway. Just before reach a large green barn building, head right down a grassy track. Take a left hand fork soon after, then a few metres on, go right onto a hedge-lined path between two fields.
 

6. At the metal kissing gate, go left down the next large field. Reaching the road, turn left along the verge and walk back towards Astbury village.

Area of walk: Astbury, Little Moreton Hall and Brownlow Heath
Distance: 6 miles
Time to allow: 2¾ hours
Map: OS Explorer 268
Refreshments: Egerton Arms, Peel lane, Astbury CW12 4RQ; Pecks Restaurant, Newcastle Road, Moreton CW12 4SB.

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