Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here to, tell you about a short wobble into the countryside. I say wobble because, that is what my human was doing. Wobbling with a ‘gammy’ knee. He is such a baby at times. Did I limp or make a fuss when my tail was bandaged? No, I didn’t. I think that it is a sympathy thing. I reckon that he wants people to ask him what is wrong with his knee. Well, absolutely no one has commented. I am sure that he will survive!
We decided to do a short walk, with a couple of ups and downs, so that he could try his knee out. After a while scouring t’interweb for somewhere suitable, he suggested Kerridge Hill and White Nancy, in the Cheshire Peak District. It was a sunny day with a light breeze and a temperature around 20 degrees Celsius. So, it was perfect hiking weather. Off we went to Bollington, well, Kerridge to be more precise. It was a pleasant drive, as I slept all the way there, with my dad saying ‘ooh, it’s nice here’ and ‘there’s money around here’ as we passed through Prestbury, Mottram St. Andrew and Bollington.
We parked across the road from the 17th century Bull’s Head, on the corner of Oak Lane and Redway Lane. After a couple of hundred yards uphill, along Redway Lane and passing some lovely cottages on our left, we came to a footpath sign. We walked between the houses until we could see the path heading downhill toward Bollington. We had gone the wrong way. The big feller needs to pay more attention because I rely on his map reading. If he points me in the right direction, I don’t mind leading the way but, if he sends me in the wrong direction, how am I to know? We turned around after a hundred yards so, this time, it wasn’t a problem. He actually pretended that it was deliberate so, that he could photograph the view. It was a Pinnochio moment!
We turned back and he spotted the bridleway sign, on the opposite side of the house that we had walked past. This took us through a kissing gate, on an uphill narrow track, until we headed right up a footpath leading to White Nancy. The path was fairly steep and lined with sandstone steps in places. We stopped to turn around while he admired the view over Bollington, with its old mill buildings. Manchester could be seen in the distance with its high-rise buildings such as the Hilton Hotel. After a short stretch of walking up a grassy slope, we made it to White Nancy.
White Nancy stands on the northern end of Kerridge Hill and was built by John Gaskell in 1817. The Gaskells lived in the nearby Ingersley Hall and the folly or summerhouse was erected to celebrate the Battle of Waterloo. It originally had a door, leading to stone benches and a table but, the door has now been blocked off. The structure is painted regularly in white but, on occasions, it has had images, both officially and unofficially, painted on it. It has been adorned with a poppy, for Remembrance Day, and with a bee, to show solidarity with Manchester, after the Arena Bombing. It has also, unofficially, been painted pink and with the face of Mark E. Smith of The Fall.
When my human realised that White Nancy once had the face of Mark E. Smith on it, he started to sing ‘Victoria’ by The Fall. OMG! Why, oh why do I have to put up with his repetitive and annoying singing?
My dad took a few photographs of the scenery from the structure and a few of me, showing little interest, at the foot of White Nancy, before we headed south along the ridge of Kerridge Hill. As we walked, we could see for miles across the Cheshire Plain, the Pennines, the Shropshire Hills, Manchester, Macclesfield, Fiddlers Ferry and Jodrell Bank (to name a few places). It was windy as we walked but, the sun kept us warm. We stopped regularly to admire the views as we walked along the ridge. On our right we walked past the Sycamore, Bridge and Endon millstone quarries famed for their Kerridge Stone. On our left we had stunning views over the pretty village of Rainow and to the Pennines.
The ridge walk is part of the Gritstone Trail, that runs for 35 miles from Disley to Kidsgrove and is on our ‘to do’ list. The surface of the footpath changes from a narrow gritstone to grass and to a wider compacted finish as we walked. A short incline on a grassy slope, with sheep grazing, took us to the trig point on the top of the hill. From here we passed through another kissing gate before we started our descent from the hill. The footpath dropped down the gritstone hill, steeply at first and then gradually until we met a sharp left turn that would take us along the valley, formed by the River Dean.
My dad kept saying to me ‘come on, monkey’ or ‘are you OK, monkey?’ Why does he insist on calling me monkey? Surely, he is more closely related to monkeys? He could call me ‘Wolfie’ I suppose. He has a bit of a cheek.
The footpath wound its way along the side of the hill, passing through sheep grazing pastures. We stopped for a while, as the big feller complained about his poorly knee. We shared his Coronation Chicken sandwiches and drank a bottle of water. We were entertained by a sparrowhawk, that kept hovering and then swooping for its prey, in the grasses. It failed on three occasions and then appeared to fly away with a fieldmouse or vole. Give me a sausage butty any day of the week!
After we had rested for a while, my human stood up gingerly, and proceeded to carry out some strange knee stretches, as he complained about the inconvenience of having a ‘dodgy’ knee. He can moan for England! We caught some glimpses of Ingersley Hall, the Gaskell family home, now called Savio House. We plodded on along the grassy hillside on a Kerridge stone flagged path, until we came to a gate, that led us into woodland. Waulkmill Wood is a small broadleaf woodland managed by the Woodland Trust. The path through it ran closely to the River Dean and as we left the wood, we were surprised by what we saw.
A rather spectacular waterfall greeted us at the small hamlet of Waulkmill. We could imagine that it would be really impressive after heavy rain. Maybe we will return when the weather isn’t so dry. Waulkmill Farm is a pretty row of buildings by the falls. It is a tranquil spot, as it was bathed in the late summer sunshine, with the sound of thrushes in the trees and butterflies and dragonflies landing on the long grasses by the riverbank.
I spent most of the walk on my lead because we were in sheep grazing country. It would have been nice to have a run around but, sheep are nervous of me. I don’t know why because I don’t bother them. They don’t seem to want to play so as far as I am concerned, they are no fun.
As we moved on along a short uphill section of tarmacked road, we could see the ruins of Ingersley Vale Mill in the valley. We headed left along a rough track that overlooked the village of Bollington. The track went gently uphill until it levelled out for a while and then dropped downhill toward Redway Lane. A few minutes later, after we joined the road, we were back at our car.
It was a walk of around 3.5 miles with 700 feet of climbing. My dad said that it was one of the most scenic short walks that we had done for some time. His knee had held up to the uphill and downhill sections so, he was pleased. He did some complaining on route though. Till next time!