Hello again humans and pooches. It’s Joe the Cocker here reporting on a Sunday morning hike in the glorious Cheshire countryside. There was drizzle in the air but apart from that it looked like it would be a good day for a country stroll. Where should we go to? My human dad had a look for somewhere fairly local on Viewranger. He found a nice little 8.25 mile hike from Marbury where we had been to only a couple of days ago but, in a different direction this time. This area of Cheshire has plenty of variety in it’s walks. There is beautiful scenery, vast country parks, historical sites and abundant wildlife. Perfect for a few hours hiking with the big feller.
We parked in the small layby on the Marbury Road close to the Plant Nursery. After a short pavement walk in the direction of Comberbach we turned off the road and entered fields where we followed the North Cheshire Way. It was muddy, as is everywhere at the moment but, not too annoying. Budworth Mere was on our right and we had glimpses of the far side of the lake where we had walked a few days ago in Marbury Country Park. After crossing Kid Brook and passing through a small copse we turned right onto Budworth Lane. This quiet lane lasted for about half a mile until we dropped to the A559 Warrington Road. Ahead of us, on the opposite side of the crossroads, there is a small oak framed wellhouse. Dene Well was built in 1880 and houses a permanently flowing water supply from a spout dribbling into a stone trough. Allegedly, it is tested regularly for safe drinking and has always passed the tests. My dad gave me a handful of the water but, I did notice that he didn’t drink any himself!
My dad’s song of the day was ‘Red Right Hand’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. As usual he attempted to sing it in Nick Cave’s voice. One verse and a chorus seemed to be the sum total of his knowledge of the song which is quite a lot for him. Why he chose that song will become apparent later assuming that you haven’t already worked it out.
We continued, gradually uphill, along Great Budworth High Street, passing the old bakery and post office. Great Budworth is my dad’s favourite village in the area with its quintessentially English feel. The village is dominated by St. Mary’s and All Saints church which has parts dating back as far as the fourteenth century. A priest and worshippers in the village is mentioned even earlier in the Doomsday Book of 1086. Opposite is the George and Dragon pub which dates back to 1722. We passed both of these buildings and walked along the cobbled School Lane with a beautiful terrace built in 1585 on our left and the church graveyard on our right. After passing the school, with its maypole in the playground, we continued along a narrow tree lined lane called The Avenue. I was finally allowed to run free here and I had an attack of the zoomies. It wasn’t long before we turned left between houses along Farthing Lane.
As we left the lane at the cross-roads we walked a short way along Heath Lane towards the Ice Cream Farm. The route took us to the right off the road and over a stile. The waymarking was well laid out and took us along the edge of a very muddy field. It wasn’t long before my dad was sinking up to his ankles and I was covered in the gooey stuff again. At the northern corner of the field we crossed a country lane before joining a concrete farm track. This too was covered in mud and slippery in places. Even I slipped once or twice. After passing through a combined road and pedestrian gate the track stretched out before us with large flat fields either side. The fields had recently been fertilised with manure. The cow manure smelled sweet but there was obviously some more dubious manure sprayed around as the area had the odour of a bad curry mixed with rotten vegetables! I tried to run in the fields but I was dragged back by my dad. Anyway, we were actually walking through some pretty revolting goo.
Once we had left the track we followed the NCW along the edge of fields and through small copses. Mud, mud and more mud. We crossed a fast running brook via a replacement footbridge due to the original wooden one collapsing. More muddy paths were trudged through until we came to a field of grazing horses. The exit from the field was over ankle deep in mud and horse poo. I was a wet, muddy and smelly pooch at this point. We left the field and my dad did a strange stamping dance as he tried to remove the mud and gloop from his boots. I noticed that he made no attempt to remove the mud from me. After taking photographs of the horses eating hay from a trough we walked along the lane towards Arley Hall.
We passed the extensive grounds on the right before we walked through the car park to the Lime Avenue approach with the Clock Tower at its head. We didn’t venture any further into the grounds on this occasion as I was a mucky pooch. Dogs are welcomed into parts of this attraction but only the formal and informal gardens. Arley Hall was built by the Warburton Family in 1832, on land owned by the family since the twelfth century, to replace the original house constructed in 1469. The hall is currently a visitor attraction and a wedding venue. Recently, the house was used as the TV home of Thomas Shelby in the Peaky Blinders series. That’s where the song of the day came from. The theme tune of the series. I think that my dad will be bringing me back here in the summer.
We moved on from the stately home by passing through the small hamlet of Arley. We turned left along a ‘Restricted Bridleway’ immediately after the houses. The only restriction I could see was mud and path-wide puddles. It got even worse as we left the track and followed the path along the edge of maize fields. After half a mile of mud and following the footpath we came to Knutsford Road just outside of Antrobus. We had a short length of road walk until we turned right onto Quebec Road. We were gifted a view of Jodrell Bank’s Lovell Telescope with a first quarter moon above it and an aeroplane taking off from Manchester Airport in between. My dad couldn’t photograph this as it was all too distant but, it was an awesome sight.
After we crossed Belmont Road we joined a footpath again across more muddy fields with sneaky puddles hidden in the longer grass. I had a good run in and out of the puddles and chased a blackbird that was hiding in the hedgerow. At one point I did a nose-plant into a grass covered puddle, much to my dad’s amusement, until he stood in one and cursed. On the edge of Great Budworth village we joined Smithy Lane that took us past the village bowling green. We joined Church Street with the tower of the church looming above us. As we passed the George and Dragon pub the roadside seating area was full of people eating their Sunday Roasts. The smell was so tempting but we walked on after I had a cheeky slurp of water from a stainless steel dog bowl on the pavement. Great Budworth has recently been used as the backdrop for the TV series War of the Worlds. From this point we were to retrace our steps all the way back to the car except for a short detour to Budworth Mere.
It was a left-hand turn at Dene Well along the pavement of the A559 until we crossed to the lane on the right of the road. We walked the few hundred yards to the sailing club on the northern shore of the lake. We could just about see Marbury Country Park through the glare of the dazzling low sun. After a short stop at the lakeside we returned to the junction of Warrington Road and Budworth Road. We walked back along the lane until we met the footpath on the left again. Our muddy footsteps were retraced across the fields until we joined Marbury Road where we turned left to our car. We walked past the car for a few yards because my dad had spotted a tree carving on the roadside on our car journey. He took a quick snap or two and we returned to the car.
The map of the walk can be found on Viewranger and is titled Anderton & Arley Hall. My dad said that it was a lovely hike but it would be a lot better in drier conditions. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity for me to run off-lead but, with an eight metre retractable lead I had quite a lot of freedom. It was time for a stinky, muddy snooze while I was driven home. It’s a dog’s life!