Sunday, December 04, 2011

Mobberley to Ashley, Sunday 4th December 2011

It was my turn to lead today. We met at the Chapel House Inn on Pepper Street in Mobberley for a walk of just under 4.5 miles. Rain threatened, and perhaps that had influenced the turnout of just ten of us. We turned left out of the pub car park and walked to the cross roads at Four-Lane-Ends, where we turned right up the minor road which runs to Kell House Farm past Parkside Farm. From there onwards the path follows the eastern edge of the flat fields, with views across to Tatton Park to the west. Several field boundaries are crossed by stiles until the path goes right over a stile into a long field before Birtles farm. This field has been divided into horse paddocks by use of electric fences, but there were ‘gates’ for walkers to pass formed by insulated removable sections in the fences.

On reaching Birtles farm there was a little confusion as the way through, but we found it eventually between two farm buildings and into the field beyond. This part of the walk is particularly delightful, as the path descends into a narrow valley to a wooden bridge  across a tributary of the Mobberley and Sugar brooks, then climbs up to cross another field overlooked on the right by the delightful Arden House, looking just like a giant dolls house!

Our path descends again to join the drive to Arden House, which crosses another brook then climbs to the north before turning ninety degrees left to join the busy Ashley Road between Birkin Farm and Stock Farm. There is a footpath along this road so the traffic wasn’t a problem for us, and we were able to stop to admire flocks of murmurating starlings (that is, hundreds of them moving as one, like a dark cloud that is constantly changing shape). However, the unceasing roar of traffic on the adjacent M56 motorway does detract from the rural scene here.

Approaching Ashley village we took a track on the right that leads past Ashley Cricket Club, and on through fields which must belong to a livery stable such are the number of horses we saw, before descending into the delightful wooded valley below Arden House. We had suffered a few light rain showers from the threatening sky, and now as we climbed out of the valley and left the woods behind, the rain came down a little more determinedly. By the time we reached Mobberley Road, it had stopped.

The next third of a mile or so were along this busy road, and there being no footpath we had to take care. Sugar Brook Farm was passed on out right before the road descended to cross that brook. The delightful long and low Primrose Hill Farm stands above the road to the right, and soon after passing it we came to Breach House Lane on the left. Thankful to leave the busy Mobberley Road behind we turned down this side road then almost immediately over a stile on the right into a field.

Beyond this field the path crosses the Mid Cheshire railway line. Signs warned us to ‘Stop, Look, Listen’ before crossing the tracks, but in truth we had been far more at risk from the speeding traffic on Mobberley Road than we would be of getting mown down by a train on this straight section of line with clear views in both directions. Strange how society has such differing levels of safety standard for the two modes of transport isn’t it?

The path follows the top of the valley of the Sugar Brook until at a crossroad of paths we turned right back to the railway, which we crossed a second time at New Mills, to emerge again on Mobberley Road. However, we soon turned off into Pepper Street and back to the Chapel House Inn where, in front of a roaring wood fire, we enjoyed a well earned drink and post-walk chat.

©Vince Chadwick

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