Cheshire Ring: Little Bollington – Altrincham

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For today’s walk we met at the Swan With Two Nicks pub in Little Bollington, which we knew from a previous walk. The pub takes its name from the practice of marking ownership of swans with nicks on their beaks. The practice died out with the advent of ringing on the legs.
We left the pub in bright sunshine and soon crossed a footbridge over the River Bollin. A footpath then took us into the Dunham Massey estate where we had a comfort break at The Stables restaurant near the [Grade I listed] Dunham Massey Hall. Anne gave us a potted history of the estate and its buildings which have been owned by the National Trust since 1976. We then resumed our walk and made our way through the estate and then along School Lane passing several tea rooms and a number of cottages which make up Dunham Massey’s forty-five listed buildings. All showed the estate’s characteristic red painted doors, guttering and drainpipes. Further along we came to the 1759 school building now used as the Parish Hall. We continued along School Lane and crossed the canal via the Dunham School Bridge. Leaving the canal behind, we carried on until we came to the Trans Pennine Trail which runs along the now disused Lymm Railway track bed. The trail here is straight as an arrow through an avenue of trees which arch overhead, making a haven for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders. We followed the trail for about a mile and saw a number of cyclists, one on a recumbent tricycle and a lady on horseback. We had a complete change of scenery as we entered the Altrincham Business Park, a mix of office buildings and manufacturing premises. Here we saw the Gunn JCB factory with its mounted cannon and stopped for a drinks break. A nearby Greggs provided coffees for some. We then carried on through the estate and crossed the A56 at the Navigation Inn, where we ate at the end of our last walk, and joined the canal towpath. Shortly we saw a contrast between old and new with an old dilapidated warehouse next to the two Budenberg HAUS apartment buildings. These buildings were designed by Foster + Partners, who took inspiration from ocean liners: “They cantilever out over the canal in a deliberate dramatic gesture meaning the apartments at the ‘prow’ of Haus 2 and 3 actually sit over the canal”. Shame their view is of the back of the Business Park buildings. Soon we saw another old building on the far bank, the 1897 Linotype Works warehouse and its boiler tower. These are being preserved and incorporated into a housing development as the rest of the factory is demolished. The Linotype machine revolutionised newspaper publishing in its day. While our side of the canal was still flanked by industrial units, a wonderfully picturesque scene unfolded on the opposite bank. Here, beside an old canalside crane and a weeping willow, sat an old man with his dog. Alongside the crane the man had his “pet” Harris Hawk on a perch. Harris Hawks are known for their social nature and intelligence. We passed the Oldfield Brow canal boat moorings and, after passing under Seaman’s Road bridge, came into open farmland. Soon we reached the Dunham School Bridge we’d crossed earlier in the walk but this time passed under it and onwards past the Dunham Massey estate on the far bank. After a short stop for group photos and a look at a ladybird convention, we carried on and crossed the River Bollin aqueduct, before leaving the towpath and passing through a tunnel under the canal to reach Park Lane and the Swan With Two Nicks for our customary meal and drinks. Thanks Anne and Sheila for organising a great day. You can choose the weather for the next one!

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