CHESHIRE RING WALK. Southern section – Day 1.

Marple – Macclesfield.

I walked with Conrad 3 days of the northern section of this trail earlier this year and I now hoped to complete the circuit on the Macclesfield Canal and then the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Catch up on our walk along the Bridgewater, Rochdale, Ashton and Peak Forest Canal sections  –

Murky weather greeted me at Marple where I was reunited with the last set of locks on the Peak Forest Canal leading up through the town to join the Macclesfield Canal. A brief detour found me in AngkorSoul, a Cambodian cafe fortunately serving good coffee with an eclectic background music mixture, had to tear myself away. Next time I would love to try their food. As a blue plaque states don’t miss Marple!

The Macclesfield Canal, surveyed by Thomas Telford as a direct route between the Potteries and Manchester,  was one of the last narrow canals to be built, opening in 1831 just as the railways were starting. Goyt Mill is encountered early on, an impressive brick building spinning cotton till the 60’s when the Far East took over. Now, as many of these old mills do, it houses small businesses. On the outskirts of towns other small industries exist on the canal banks, they all look a little run down and usually involve breaking something.

I was now striding out along the tow-path. This area seems popular with both permanent and passing canal boat types. They all seemed keen to chat and I discovered the intricacies of mooring rules – 48hr, 2 weeks and more permanent moorings. Apparently satellites can now track your boat and where and for how long you moor up, somehow takes the romance out of the carefree life most of these people signed up for. A pleasant surprise came at bridge 15 – Bailey’s Trading Post, a chandler selling everything for the boat owner but more importantly serving coffee. Several walkers were resting up here so I joined them for the usual interesting chat. Long may these places thrive, deserves a mention. I had only gone 4miles and the morning was disappearing. Across the way I could see ‘The Cage Tower’ in Lyme Park, something to do with hunting, and further on ‘White Nancy’, commemorating the Battle of Waterloo, on a hill above Bollington.

The Cage in distant Lyme Park.

The Cage in distant Lyme Park.

I remember walking along the ridge between them many years ago on, I think, the Gritstone Trail. Wherever I go these days my past seems to catch up with me.

Further down the pleasant rural canal I came across two fishermen. The first was a stately Heron who allowed me unusually close before drifting off…..….. the second was an excited man who had just caught a 12lb pike, what a beauty it was too but I wouldn’t like to get too close to its teeth.Two more large mills were passed as I strolled into Bollington, the Clarence and the Adelphi. They were originally cotton but have since had chequered histories, both now host small businesses but have been involved in silk, parachutes and car safety belts. Near here in 1912 the canal broke it’s banks flooding the town with water and fish.

Onwards to Macclesfield the canal passed an extensive modern industrial area belonging to AstraZeneca pharmaceutical firm, the modern face of Macclesfield. Previously famous for silk weaving,  treacle, canals, railways, Hovis, and Joy Division. [all depicted at the station]

The 'Hovis' mill.

The ‘Hovis’ mill.

There is a choice of restaurants tonight ?Indian ?Thai ?Italian and about fifty pubs – it is that sort of town.



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