Cheshire walk - Lower Peover

CAPTION: The Tree of Imagination

CAPTION: The Tree of Imagination - Credit: not Archant

To Lower Peover this month, for a walk which reeks of history

Peover Hall

Peover Hall - Credit: Archant

Ordinarily, a Grade 1 listed church with 13th century origins would be more than enough to exercise the mind while also exercising the body on a country walk. And, indeed, St Oswald’s is a fine church, made of local sandstone, timber-framed, of quite dinky proportions and sitting in a quaint hamlet at the top of a cobbled lane.

But there’s some more recent history, as well as another mighty impressive building, to witness on this walk. That impressive building is Peover Hall, grade II* listed Elizabethan manor with its grade 1-listed Carolean stables.

That recent history is Peover Hall’s wartime service as the headquarters for General George Patton of the United States 3rd Army and his staff. The hall also served a prisoner of war camp, and did not survive World War II in the condition one would hope for an English stately home, not least because of a fire started by an American soldier. The hall was restored by the Brooks family.

At the end of this walk lies another place whose history is inextricably bound with that of Peover Hall. For when Patton put his head together with General Dwight D Eisenhower, Allied supreme commander, to plan the D-day invasion of Normandy and thence victory in World War II, they did so in the comfort of The Bells of Peover, just a stone’s throw from St Oswald’s. Which explains why, to this day, you will see the Stars and Stripes flying beside the Union Flag outside the pub. I’d heartily recommend you finish your walk with a visit.

CAPTION: St Anthony's Cottages

CAPTION: St Anthony's Cottages - Credit: not Archant

As for the walk, it is an easy six miles through what I would describe as quintessential Cheshire terrain: flat, lush and copiously adorned with cow pats.

1. We start our walk from St Oswald’s Church, The Cobbles, Crown Lane WA16 9PY. You may find parking nearby, though if you also plan to patronise the Bells of Peover, the pub’s car park may be an option too. As you go through the wooden kissing gate to the right of the church’s lych gate, follow the grassy path ahead through the graveyard down to another wooden kissing gate. Keep ahead on a grassy path through a field which soon meets a stream which is the Peover Eye. Follow the path with the Eye to your left until you reach a lane. Cross here and continue ahead over a stile with the stream again to your left, following the yellow waymarkers across several fields.

St Oswald's Church, in Lower Peover, near Knutsford

St Oswald's Church, in Lower Peover, near Knutsford - Credit: not Archant

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2. Eventually, you will see a caravan park ahead, and the path will bring you to the right of it and on to the main A50 road. Turn left here, passing the large Equiport equestrian supplies store (this is the former Drovers Arms) and continue up the pavement on the left side of the road until it runs out. Cross to the right and carry on just a short distance, taking the right turn beside the postbox into Long Lane. Keep to the lane, and when the tarmac ends, continue on the same track, passing a sign warning ‘No vehicular access to Peover Hall’. You pass the beautiful St Anthony’s Cottages and The Kennels, then turn left on the lane to the church, passing beside the entrance to Peover Hall.

3. Don’t go into the courtyard ahead, but follow the lane round to the right and, reaching the grand white gates to the hall, bear left parallel with the buildings until you see a small sign on the wall indicating ‘church’. Go left through the white gates and then right, with Peover Hall to your right. You pass a sundial, go by buildings bearing an old sign ‘ Peover Nurseries’ and through a thickly wooded part of the gardens before reaching a metal kissing gate. Go through and keep on the path ahead (ignore the kissing gate and path on the right) crossing fields which bring you to a stile beside a very grand cream-coloured house.

CAPTION: A field of cattle beside Long Lane

CAPTION: A field of cattle beside Long Lane - Credit: Archant

4. Emerging on the A50 once more, beside the pretty thatched Nixon Cottage, go right up the pavement and take the next left along a farm track marked as a footpath. After a few minutes, you cross a cattle grid. Head for the five-bar gate ahead, then follow the gravel path round to the left, heading through the next gate on the left and follow the footpath sign. Keep to this path across several fields and you will find yourself heading towards a row of ruddy-coloured cottages. The path emerges to the left of these cottages.

5. Cross over and head along Mill Lane. When you reach Foxcovert Lane, bear right, and after passing the gates of a house called Windrush, bear left down a track marked as a footpath. At the tennis courts on your left, look for a footpath sign directing you to a metal kissing gate behind a small brick building and follow the path along the left field edge, across a bridge and up the next field to a stile. Go left and take the first left, passing the Tree of Imagination (an artful re-purposing of the trunk of a dead oak tree) on your right. Soon after, bear left into Barrows Brow and you will soon arrive back at St Oswald’s.

CAPTION: Flying the flags at the Bells of Peover

CAPTION: Flying the flags at the Bells of Peover - Credit: Archant


Area of Walk: Lower Peover

Distance: Six miles

Time to allow: 2½ hours

Map: OS Explorer 268

Refreshments: The Bells of Peover, The Cobbles, near Knutsford WA16 9PZ

Howard will be back next month with a walk around the Bunbury area but if you can’t wait that long log onto where you’ll find more walks to enjoy around the county. And don’t forget your camera - your pictures could win you prizes. See online for full details of our readers’ photography competition and have a look at the entries we’ve already received.