This week, we decided to take a different look at a place we have visited a few times before. Alderley Edge has many trails to discover and, in the past, we have always explored around the Edge itself. Now Rowan is finding his walking legs, we decided to go a bit further afield and explore the woods and fields in the area.
Before setting off I had used OS Maps online to plan a route and print off a map for Rowan (which he is still really taken with) so when we arrived, we donned our boots, visited the toilet and set off on our way. Alderley Edge is looked after by the National Trust so parking is free for members. As we left the car park, we spotted the Wizard Tearooms and decided we would pay a visit on the way back.
Turning right out of the car park we walked down the road with the forest to our left and open views over Cheshire to our right. We soon realised that the route I had planned was following the waymarked trails. Presently, we passed through a gate into the woods of Alderley Edge.
Here there were tree stumps, pine cones, sticks and leaves for Rowan to discover, so we lingered a while, finding all the interesting things on the ground. Eventually, we decided to resume our walk, and rather than turning left toward Castle Rock, we continued ahead towards Waterfall Wood.
Our path led down to a gentle stream flowing across the woodland floor where we turned right to walk alongside it – the only sounds to be heard being the trickling of water and birdsong. Occasional rustles in amongst the trees would alert us to squirrels looking for food. Soon, we came to a wooden bridge where the path began to rise more steeply, steps leading us up into the trees and the sound of running water getting louder. At a couple of points, fallen trees blocked the way, but posts had been fixed to allow them to be easily climbed over (or under as Rowan opted for).
The trail levelled out again and we discovered a pretty little waterfall which made me think of fairies and other enchanted woodland creatures. Rowan simply thought it was “amazing”.
We continued past the waterfall and found ourselves in the open again, surrounded by farmers’ fields. Climbing over a stile on our left, we followed a path enclosed by wire fences then turned left again to head back towards the woods. From here for the next half mile or so the route became very muddy with Rowan being hefted under my arm for a short stretch as the mud was nearly coming over the top of his little adventure boots. He managed the rest like a little trooper though.
After passing a couple of small ponds, we left the fields via another stile and found ourselves back amongst the trees again. Going was slow due to the mud but as the path climbed and looped round, we came across a bench where we stopped for lunch before dropping back to the valley floor and the stream we had previously walked alongside. We crossed over using a stepping stone and headed to Dickens Wood following the line of a fence on our right.
The trees thinned out a little as we reached the foot of the sandstone escarpment, where we found the remains of an old train track leading to one of the many mines in the area. Alderley Edge has been mined since prehistoric times and is one of the oldest metal mining sites in England with copper, lead and cobalt being extracted. More information about the mines can be found on the Derbyshire Caving Club website here.
Something I have noticed since going out for our walks is that Rowan’s imagination has grown even more. We came across trees that people had carved names into from which he “read” me a whole story, he found curved pieces of wood that were actually mouse seesaws and stick dens that were spaceships that he piloted and landed on another planet. I love hearing his thoughts on things and seeing his creativity blossom.
Our planned walk, which had been following the waymarked Woodland Trail now diverted to the Donkey Track Trail which climbed steadily to the top of Alderley Edge where we were rewarded with a magnificent view across Cheshire towards the Peak District. We spent some time climbing around the sandstone mounds and exploring the interesting trees before heading back to the car park and Wizard Tearooms where Rowan picked a particular large and well deserved piece of cake, which I am told was delicious.
Alderley Edge is somewhere we will always return to. It is full of history and legend which only adds to its appeal. You can find more details on the National Trust website here. For this day out we walked two and a half miles and climbed 180 metres and though the walk we took wasn’t pushchair friendly, there are lots of tracks that are making it suitable for kids of all ages.