Cheshire walk - Warmingham near Sandbach

St Leonards Church at Warmingham

St Leonards Church at Warmingham - Credit: Keith Carter

Keith Carter enjoys a walk through the beautiful countryside around Warmingham

Walk this way

Walk this way - Credit: Keith Carter

I warmed to Warmingham. The day I visited this pretty village west of Sandbach to research this month’s walk it presented as peaceful a scene as you will see on a summer’s day. Silence reigned. No-one left and no-one came. What a pleasant place to live and bring up kids, I thought, the primary school almost seemed to have come from a picture book and the church seemed to represent all that is solid and unchanging about the British countryside. Then the peace was shattered by the scream of an angle-grinder as men from BT dug up the road to repair a fault on the telephone line. If the good people of Warmingham wanted a lie-in, they were in for a disappointment.

The smart Bear’s Paw Hotel is at the heart of the village, a popular venue and much appreciated judging by its Trip Advisor comments from visitors stopping off here on their way north or up for Chester Races. The brickwork is a lovely mellow colour, in fact the overall use of the same brick for many of the houses creates the impression of a community at ease with itself.

The River Wheelock winds through the village and the church of St Leonard stands guard across the bridge. The steeple is said to date from the 17th century but there has been a church here since Norman times. One of the village’s former celebrities lies in the churchyard, John Kent, who lived at Church House. Known as ‘Rebel Kent’ he supported Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.

A lake near our route

A lake near our route - Credit: Keith Carter

1. I parked behind the Bear’s Paw and turned left past the front of it to walk through the village for about 250 yards until a footpath sign is seen on the right of the road nearly opposite the entrance to Warmingham Grange. After two gates we enter a field and walk along the left hand field edge to a further gate, this one with a large water trough beside it. Our direction is slightly left and at an earth track we keep ahead, pausing only to unhook the first of several coiled wires across our path. These are not electrified and are easily re-hooked after passing through.

2. Keep ahead and on meeting a gate we turn left and in a few yards meet a lane by a fallen tree. Turn right on the lane and in 70 yards take a footpath on the left, crossing first one stile, then another, and then entering a meadow. A faint yet discernible path crosses the field and at the far side we find a double stile with a plank bridge over a ditch followed by a second one, taking us to the right. Stick to the left-hand boundary including a kink by a lone oak tree then go through a gap to continue in the same direction in the next field.

At the far end the way forward is not immediately apparent and pausing, I addressed two dog walkers who appeared as if from nowhere. As usually happens when I ask someone the way, they were not from the area and couldn’t help me. The unhelpful words “I’m a stranger here myself” were the only response to my query. Luckily the answer was there all along, I had just not seen it, a stile in the left hedge, with another fallen tree blocking the way into a field of maize. Fifty yards further on we find another stile in the hedge on the right, again a double with a plank over a ditch leading to a further field where a path had been worn, the earth packed hard by walkers’ boots.

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3. Exit the field by yet another double stile then cross a meadow to houses and an obvious gate ahead with a stile beside it, bringing us onto a lane opposite a roadside cottage called Cherry Farm. Turn left and once you have passed Yew Tree farm you should see a footpath sign on the left by a road sign and there are steps going up to enter a field by a gate in a holly hedge.

Walk along the right-hand side of the field and at the next gate and stile, bear left. Cross the next field and in the far right-hand corner another of those double stiles is crossed and we keep right on a diagonal path that brings us under the branches of a spreading oak tree to join a lane.

4. This is an area of ponds and a long, narrow lake used by a local angling club, the fishermen’s cars parked in a lay-by opposite. Stay on the lane until you reach Ryecroft Cottage and just beyond, on the right, is a footpath sign with stile and gate. Pass through two fields and on reaching another gate across our path turn left and follow an earth track enclosed on both sides by hedges to meet a lane beside a fenced compound. Turn right for a few paces then left at the junction with School Lane and in ten minutes you are back at the Bear’s Paw.

It took me one hour and forty minutes to complete this walk which presents no difficulties but numerous stiles. The terrain is mostly fields interspersed with quiet lanes, countryside characteristic of much of Cheshire with its own particular appeal. They talk of rural France as ‘La France Profonde’. This, surely, is ‘La Cheshire Profonde’.

The BT men had finished using the angle grinder and I asked if that was their job done for the day and was told they still had another length of cable to pull through yet. I hope they got the phones working. Even a quiet village like Warmingham needs to be in touch with the outside world.

Compass points

Area of walk: Warmingham near Sandbach

Distance: 3½ miles

Time to allow: 1¾ hours

Map: OS Explorer 267 Northwich and Delamere Forest

Refreshments: The Bear’s Paw, Warmingham

Not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs.

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