AEW&DFPS

Some walks to try

Lindow Moss

Start
Racecourse Road car park, Wilmslow. (GR:834:815)
Pub
Boddington Arms, Altrincham Road
Points of interest
Saltersley Hall. Lindow Common SSSI.

Lindow Bog is a small fraction of its original area, much of it having been drained and built on. Today we will walk from its eastern edge almost to its northern extremity marked by Burleyhurst Lane, then via the ancient Saltersley Hall to the western edge of the bog at Hollingee, then back via Coppock House, Barlow House, and Lindow Common to our starting point on Racecourse Road (so named because it was indeed a Gypsy racecourse, long before it became a road).

We leave the car park and enter the bog at Greaves Road, off Altrincham Road. This was once the site of the ‘Long Bar’, frequented by peat diggers and Irish paddys, a scene of round the clock drunken revelry. Today it is a quiet green lane leading past the allotments of Lindow Horticultural Society. After a short right-left dogs-leg into more open country, the track continues past rising ground to our right, which marks one of the now landscaped rubbish tips in this area. If we have time, a short detour to the top of this man-made hill will be rewarded by interesting and extensive views over the surrounding flat landscape.

At a ‘T’ junction we meet Rotherwood Road, one of the main tracks on the bog. It runs from Stormy Point in the south to Moreley Green in the north. We will turn right to follow it north past one of two unusual communities of ‘prefab’ houses and mobile homes on the bog. Just north of this settlement, we turn left off the main track over a stile and across a field over one of the few small hills in the area. This brings us to the end of an ancient green lane at the edge of Ross Mere, a flooded sandpit popular with fishermen. We skirt the western edge of the mere to pass by Saltersley Hall of which Fletcher Moss in his ‘Pilgrimages no. 2’ wrote:

‘It seems strange for a solid stone house to have been built away from everywhere, with nothing but spongy moss in front and by its sides. Begirt as it is by the quaking bog… it may one day go down quick into the pit, leaving only corpse-lights to flicker o’er the moss where once had been a human home.’

Even today it is strangely isolated. At the end of the long straight trackway of Newgate from Wilmslow, and another from Burleyhurst Lane and Mobberley. Unlike any other house in the area, it is built of fine stone blocks with mullioned windows, like a church. Its name is a clue – built on a sand peninsula into the surrounding bog, it was probably a defended staging post on the salt route from Cheshire into Derbyshire. Alas, Stella’s free-range pigs are no longer to be found rootling around in the surrounding scrubland.

Just beyond Saltersley we turn left over a stile and across a field, the ancient moated house of Hollingee visible to the right. Passing some ancient hedgerows we cross another stile to emerge into a hollow lane where we turn right. The land around here has in recent years been turned into a golf course, and the bland uniformity of greens and tees blankets the ancient landscape, turning it into an out-door board game. We go left at a finger post and head down to the delightful Coppock House Farm. The path passes just to the west of the farm buildings and continues along the drive, where the owners have thoughtfully provided a wooden bench for weary walkers to sit and contemplate life, the universe, and whatever else might float through their mind.

Coppock House drive ends at Moss Lane, where we turn left over a stile, and cross a field to another stile. The next field is very boggy, so even though the path goes straight across, we will skirt around the edge to a pair of stiles with an old plank bridge over a stream between them, cross another short field, then climb up the bank and over another stile to turn right, and then left along the track that skirts around the western edge of the second of the two unusual communities of ‘prefab’ houses and mobile homes on the bog. Almost immediately we leave this track to the right and enter this community via its ‘back door’ – the garages and parking area for the residents.

Unsigned and almost invisible at the end of a row of houses is the path we will follow out of the settlement, over a stile and across another field behind Barlow House Farm. Through a snicket gate by the farm, we turn left along a track of rolled limestone chippings to emerge on Moss Lane, Wilmslow (could this once have been the other end of the same Moss Lane that we recently left at the end of Coppock House drive?). A short walk past Ned Yates Garden Centre brings us to Stormy Point, where we turn left into Rotherwood Road and head north. If we were to continue straight ahead we would come to the same stretch of Rotherwood Road we passed along earlier in the walk, but instead we turn right along a typical Lindow Bog green lane – straight, lined with silver birches meeting in a green arch over our heads, and bordered on each side by deep ditches of brown peaty water.

Passing some rickety shacks of horse stables to our right, we turn off to the right down a narrower lane, then left to emerge on the drive of a large house just by Racecourse Road, which we cross to enter Lindow Common, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Here the Rangers are endeavouring to maintain the common in as close to a natural state as possible (ideally it should be cropped by sheep, but they wouldn’t mix too well with the hundreds of domestic dogs that are brought here each day for ‘exercise’). The wetland common, along with much of the bog we have traversed today, is one of the world’s fastest-disappearing landscapes, and as home to many creatures and plants which depend on it for survival, it is vital that as much as possible is preserved from drainage and peat digging.

In Wilmslow, we are lucky to have such a varied and interesting landscape right on our doorstep and I hope today’s walk has illustrated that.

A short walk across the common brings us back to the car park.

© Vincent Chadwick

Design by Hywel