Over the years a Lyme Park walk from Disley has been one of my “go to” walks when time is short but I want to feel as if I have got away. Since returning from Patagonia at the end of October walks have been few and far between due to a combination of working as a Christmas temp at Waterstone’s and a grumbling knee. With the season starting, however, I felt as if I needed to get some miles under the belt so reverted to type with what I assumed would be a very familiar walk but turned out to be so much more.
Leaving Disley behind I headed up the steep hill betwen the Church and The Ram’s Head pub, usually I would continue along the road lined with grand houses and access Lyme Park via the gate there, but this time I decided to follow a new (to me) path in the other direction which ran parallel to the park towards the towards the East Gate. It was a very quiet route following the route of The Gritstone Trail along a Green lane passing a few farms and not seeing another person. There were views across to Cage Hill and it a very peaceful morning. On crossing Bollinhurst Bridge and reaching the East Lodge it wasn’t long before I came across a herd of the Park’s famous Red Deer believed to be descendants of herds that roamed the royal hunting grounds of the Macclesfield Forest. I got some great views and a few of the males were sporting very impressive antlers. I continued down towards the big house itself, famous for it’s role in “Pride and Prejudice”, before stopping by the pond to watch the Tufted Ducks and a big, old Heron with a cup of coffee. The house dates from the end of the sixteenth century and is undoubtedly impressive but with the “Book of Trespass” still fresh in my mind it was hard not to feel pretty uncomfortable at the thought of this entire, huge estate being owned by one family…..
The knee was feeling pretty good so I decided to take a longer loop across to the West Gate which took me through some pleasant woodland before a steady climb skirted some deep valleys and abandoned quarries to take me up passed the Keepers Cottage to Dale Top. The cloud had dropped down at this point and the deep “Cronk” of a passing Raven gave this section a faintly Edgar Alan Poe air to it, but as I traced the path along the boundary of the park towards the Bow Stones, it soon brightened and cleared once more. The Stones themselves are a pair of Anglican cross shafts reckoned to be a thousand years old, there are two cross heads in the big house which are reckoned likely to have been a part of the original crosses. From the stones it was a simple stroll down Mudhurst Lane with lovely views of the Peak District before rejoining my original trail and descending to a very welcome pint of Dizzy Blonde at The Dandy Cock Inn.
It just goes to show that even when you think you know an area like the back of your hand, there are always room for surprises. The views of the Deer on this walk were some of the best I have had in a long time and the fact it starts and finishes in the bustling village of Didsbury would make this perfect for a pre or post Sunday lunch walk. If you’d like to join us on it one day, why not drop us a line.