Cheshire walk - Bollington and White Nancy
- Credit: not Archant
We head to Bollington for a walk which makes you feel like you’re on top of the world
Of all the curiosities to be found in our part of the world, none is quite so curious as White Nancy.
It's a structure without doors or windows, comically shaped and plonked, nigh on 200 years ago, on a beautiful spot above Bollington which enjoys views over great swathes of Cheshire and beyond.
When author Keith Warrender, from Timperley, published his excellent book Manchester Oddities, there on the cover was White Nancy - the oddest of the odd, an insolent white pimple, pointing its black finial at the skies from its incongruous home high on the ridge known as the Saddle of Kerridge.
White Nancy is the denouement of our walk this month. We start quite close to it in Kerridge, near Bollington, but we don't catch a glimpse of it until we are nine tenths of the way through the walk.
But what is White Nancy? Keith's book tells how this site, because of its lofty position, had been used for centuries as a warning beacon of invasion. In 1810, the structure here was described as a 'small rotunda of brick'. In 1816, a newspaper report referred to a 'Northern Nancy' on this spot. Whatever was there before, the folly we now know and love was built in 1817 by the Gaskell family of North End Farm and Ingersley Hall, in belated commemoration of the British victory at Waterloo in 1815.
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Originally, it had a door and was used as a summerhouse, but after vandalism in the early 20th century, it was sealed off and plastered over.
Why Nancy? Possibly a corruption of the word 'ordnance' from the days when this site had military significance, though other stories attribute the name to one of the Gaskells' daughters or even to the horse used to lug a table top up the hill to be installed in the folly.
1. Our starting point is the Bull's Head in Oak Lane, Kerridge. Walk up Redway Lane, which runs beside the pub. Just before the road begins to curve to the right and grows steeper, you will see a concrete path beside homes on the site of what used to be the Redway Tavern (the homes still bear the Redway name). Take this path, climbing quite steeply, crossing over a cattle grid, and continue on this path as it dips down, with some lovely views to the left of fields and hills.
At North End Farm, take the footpath just to the left of the farm entrance, passing by a row of mature trees, through a gate next to a goose pen and over a stile onto a grassy path along the side of a hill.
2. The path continues through the odd gate, including one wooden gate beside a metal five-bar gate, with a thriving holly bush next to it. At a split in the path, take a right turn, through a wooden gate, and after passing through some newish trees, turn right very soon onto an upward path between two walls. Follow the path until it descends to a tall stone stile. Hop over and turn right, walking up Lidgetts Lane.
After a short climb, the road levels out and offers expansive views out towards Jodrell Bank and over Stockport and Manchester. Look out for planes buzzing to and from Manchester Airport in this huge tableau.
3. Just as Lidgetts Lane meets Windmill Lane, there is a footpath going off to the right, with a strange-looking V-shaped stone entry beside a five-bar gate. Follow the path up the hill and over a stile to your left where a sign warns of a deep quarry. By now you are on the top of the ridge known as the Saddle of Kerridge, and the views open up on your right hand side too, with rolling hills to complement the plain to your left. This is definitely a walk to enjoy on a clear day.
4. At the end of the ridge stands White Nancy, at which point you wonder what most deserves your attention - this curious monument or the views which now open up on three sides of you from a wonderful vantage point. Try to decipher some of the graffiti on the side of White Nancy while you're there. There is more than one way down the hill, so save your legs by taking the right one.
From the path by which you arrived at White Nancy, you want to be heading to the left, away from the monument and down steps through old oak woodland. And what a lot of steps there are! Has anyone counted them? Eventually, you emerge onto the concrete path which takes you back down to Redway Lane, at the bottom of which you reach the starting point.
Area of Walk: Bollington
Distance: Five miles
Time to allow: Two hours
Map: OS Explorer 268
Refreshments: The Bull's Head, Oak Lane, Kerridge