Hello people and pooches. Its Joe the Cocker here again reporting on another hike with my human dad or hudad as I call him. On, yet another overcast damp day, me and my dad went for a fairly local hike. Tatton Park is only a thirty minute drive from home. We hadn’t planned this hike in advance and it was chosen on a whim. We have been to Tatton Park together on a couple of occasions and completed two short walks. Today we thought that we would do some exploring and hike for about three hours. When we arrived in Knutsford there were no parking spaces to be found close to the Knutsford Gate so we looked for a space in the first car park that we came to. Eventually, we grabbed a space vacated by someone who was carrying lots of carrier bags from the local supermarket. When my dozy dad went to pay for the parking ticket he realised that he did not have enough change. So, we jumped back into the car and drove away to search for a roadside parking spot. We were lucky and soon found one. He grabbed his bag and off we went towards the Knutsford Gate into Tatton Park. We hit another snag when I had done my business. He realised that he hadn’t brought any more poo bags with us. So, back to the car we went to resupply. Finally, we set off on our hike.
After passing through the entrance to the parkland, which is free to pedestrians and pooches, we followed the path on the western shore of Tatton Mere. As expected, it was muddy and pretty slippery in sections. I tried to run into the lake but, due to blue-green algae warnings, my dad would not let me. This was to be an on-lead day because of the wildlife in the park so, he had control over my wanderings. The lake was very still with hardly a ripple except those created by wading birds. My dad said that he feels sad whenever he comes to this lake as one of his friends drowned here some years ago in a sailing accident. It looks such an innocent lake. Today it was peaceful with only a handful of ducks and moorhens swimming on the surface.
‘Do the Strand’ by Roxy Music turned out to be today’s tune that I had to suffer. There didn’t appear to be any reason for this choice except for the mention of Rhododendron’s in the lyrics. OK, there is rhododendrons in the Mansion Garden but, we hadn’t even reached that area. Plus, I wasn’t allowed in the formal gardens. They are obviously canine haters! I am a dad singing hater!
We left the lakeside and crossed the park road to head slightly uphill towards the perimeter fence and along a line of beech trees. We were gifted views above Melchett Mere as we approached the Ice House. This structure was built in 1856 to store ice taken from a pond next to the Mansion House. The ice was used to refrigerate food and could last for up to twelve months. We passed the Choragic Monument that sits at the head of the Mansion Garden Broad Walk. This folly is based on an ancient monument in Athens and provides a good viewpoint overlooking the parkland. I dragged my dad down the muddy grass slope towards the small lake and he yelled at me as he almost landed on his backside. So funny!
The next highlight of our trip was the Mansion House, Tatton Hall. We had a mooch around the back of the mansion and the Stableyard. The neo-classical mansion, owned by the Egerton family until it was handed to the National Trust in 1958, was originally a much smaller house on this site. The cobbled Stableyard has a café, farm shop, gift shop, cycle hire and a toilet block. My dad would not let me ride the merry-go-round that dominated the space. Meanie!
On leaving the Mansion we walked to the road junction that can lead you to the Rostherne entrance or back to the Knutsford Gate. We chose the Knutsford route but veered left across the parkland towards the Airborne Forces Memorial sat in front of a clump of trees. Over 400,000 parachute training drops took place on this parkland. Continuing northwards we turned east at the perimeter fence. Ancient plough lines can be seen along the ground here dating from when the area was one of the largest pastures in the region used for oats, barley and wheat. We followed the fence line down to the Old Mill and its pool. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to enter this area so we had a quick look around where we could and then headed off to the Millennium Wood. Just visible in the surrounding ground you can see evidence of a medieval settlement. This fenced wooded area has been planted to display thirty different species of indigenous trees. The Yew Circle in the centre of the wood is a must see for visitors. It is a dark enclosed circle of yews surrounding a couple of rustic seats. Eerie yet fascinating.
Across the parkland we could see two large herds of deer, fallow deer and red deer. We walked slowly towards the red deer herd but, we kept our distance as we didn’t want a ‘Fenton’ moment even though I was on my lead. My dad took a few photographs as we were being watched by the huge stags guarding the edge of the herd. After walking on for a few hundred yards we came upon the fallow deer herd. We again kept a respectable distance as we were being spied on by most of this herd. We walked on across the grass in the direction of a small car park.
From here the Old Hall can be seen through the trees at a point where the ground undulates and a footbridge crosses a stream. This is the site of the once Tatton Village. The Old Hall was built in the fifteenth century and was originally the heart of the Tatton estate. The humps and bumps were difficult for my dad to negotiate as they were very slippery and muddy. I managed to get really caked in mud as I did not avoid one puddle or muddy patch. We soon joined the path at the head of Tatton Mere. The view along the length of the lake was uninterrupted all the way back to Knutsford.
The eastern shore’s path was a mix of muddy singletrack and forestry type tracks. My dad would have loved it if I could have had a wade in the lake to wash off some of my mud but, due to the algae warning he wouldn’t risk allowing me the pleasure. We came across a jetty situated about halfway along the lake. This is obviously a great spot for photographers wishing to take long range shots to the Mansion but not really for mobile phone photographs.
The exit from the park was through a pair of deer gates at the end of a compacted stone track. Then it was more mud as we headed through woodland again towards the town. Before we came to the historic town we passed through The Moor with its reed bed surrounded pond. As we left The Moor we turned right along a lane that led into the town. The Welcome Club was passed on our left that was opened by General Patton of the US Army in 1944 for American Officers. This was housed in the Ruskin Rooms that were originally built as reading rooms and a fire station.
A few hundred yards later we were back at the car where we had a quick snack before setting off for home. We had hiked approximately nine miles and we still could have explored more of the parkland. We will return to check out more of the large estate when the weather improves. It was still a really enjoyable hike despite the wet conditions. Till next time!