AEW&DFPS

Some walks to try

Mobberley Circular - with aeroplanes!

Start
Chapel House Inn, Mobberley (GR:7775:8195)
Pub
Chapel House Inn, Pepper St, Mobberley
Points of interest
Manchester Airport's second runway.

We start from the Chapel House Inn, on the delightfully-named Pepper Street. The first half-mile is along a road with no footpath so please take care. We turn right out of the car park then right again under the railway until we reach a stile in the hedge on the right, to cross a narrow field which dips down to cross an un-named brook. This is one of many in the area which eventually drain into the Mobberley Brook … which drains into the Bollin, which in turn drains into the Mersey, and thence the sea.

Crossing the next, larger, field the path takes us towards Mobberley railway station on the scenic Mid-Cheshire railway line which runs from Stockport via Altrincham and Delamere Forest to Chester. We exit the field by a kissing gate close to the railway level-crossing barriers, then turn left away from the railway up a quiet lane. Quiet, that is, apart from the aircraft taking off from the nearby Manchester Airport and passing low overhead. If the wind is in the east, instead of taking off the aircraft overhead may be in the final stages of approaching to land and will be even lower!

On reaching Hobcroft Lane we turn right into the narrow Slade Lane, and turn and descend towards Mobberley Brook. Just before we reach the brook we turn left down a narrower lane that terminates at the gates of Wee Bridge Farm, which today appears to be more ‘Walled Cheshire Residence’ than farm. However, we can pass through a white snicket gate in ‘the great wall’ to find ourselves in a large garden, with a pond across the line of the path. Deviating left around the pond we re-gain the path up a bank and climb a substantial but easily negotiated stile to a ploughed field beyond. We skirt the right-hand edge of this field, heading towards Mobberley village and the chimney of the former Ilford works. A path comes in from the right and shortly afterwards a second path from the right marks the junction of paths where we turn left, at ninety degrees, directly across the field. This may be heavy going if it has rained recently, since at the time of checking the walk the farmer had ploughed over the path so we might be crossing soft earth. A stile on the northern boundary is our goal, followed by another short stretch of ploughed field before we can take to the grass field boundary which we follow to a muddy gateway out onto Hobcroft Lane.

A left / right dogleg across Hobcroft Lane, over a stile by the road, brings us ever nearer to the south west end of Manchester Airport’s new runway. Built a few years ago, and somewhat controversial to those of us who love this part of the Bollin valley considering that the much busier Gatwick airport manages with one runway, ‘runway 2’ penetrates beyond the former airfield limits far into the parish of Mobberley.

Soon we are among the approach lights for this runway (05R – or five right*). Before long the runway itself comes into view, sloping from its far end, about two miles away, down towards us. We are on a new path provided by the Airport since the opening of this runway, and as we reach the airfield boundary we turn left through a snicket gate, joining a permissive bridleway which follows much of the perimeter of the new runway. I’m not sure why this bridleway has gates – there are no animals to be contained, and the gates hinder cyclists and horse riders. There seems no reason not to leave the gates open, for the convenience of those users.

We follow the bridleway along the airport’s north western boundary to cross Wood lane, a road truncated by the building of the new runway, and continue ahead along a well-surfaced track until reaching a stile on our left.

Here we turn our back on the new runway (though most of the airport, including the original runway is off to our right) and take to the fields again along a path with a high concentration of stiles – ten stiles in two-thirds of a mile! But they are new, easy to negotiate, and in good condition so should not delay us much.

We cross several narrow fields reminiscent of the ‘Moss Rooms’ (long narrow fields) on Lindow Moss so this could well have originally been part of the bog, to emerge into Breach House Lane where we pass Breach House Farm on our right. A stile in the hedge to the left takes us into a large field which we cross to another stile atop a short descent to a fairly new footbridge over the Sugar Brook, where the path from the end of Wood lane comes in to join us from our left over a rather older bridge. Leaving the Sugar Brook (a major tributary of the Mobberley brook) the Mid Cheshire Railway line comes into view, which we cross on the level (taking care!) over a pair of ladder stiles, one each side of the railway lines, past New Mills Cottage. Emerging back onto Pepper Street, we turn left. A short walk takes us back to the Chapel House Inn.

*A brief explanation of runway numbering

Airfield runways worldwide are designated by a two-digit descriptor number. This is the magnetic heading of the runway to the nearest ten degrees, with the least significant digit removed. If (as at Manchester) there are two parallel runways (which obviously, being parallel, share the same magnetic heading), the runways are designated ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ by the letter ‘L’ or ‘R’ after the numbers.

Thus runway 05R, which we see on this walk, is on a magnetic heading of 050 (to the nearest 10 degrees), and is the right-hand runway of the pair at Manchester, the other one (the original runway) being 05L. The same physical runways approached from the other end (the ‘Stockport’ end, the usual approach direction) have, as you’d expect, reciprocal headings – so are designated runways 23R and 23L.

You may be aware that magnetic north, unlike true north, is not static – it varies with time and is known as ‘variation’. After some time, therefore, the magnetic heading of a fixed runway will change. It was earlier this year that Manchester’s runways, which had been 24 / 06 since the airport was first opened in the 1930s, changed to the current 23 / 05 designation.

© Vincent Chadwick

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