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Bollington to Lyme Park

The walk starts and ends at the Middlewood Way Car Park in Bollington. If travelling by car, take the main road out of Macclesfield towards Stockport (A523). Turn right to follow the sign to Bollington (B5090). Continue to follow the main road (B5090, Wellington Road) through Bollington, until you pass under the first viaduct. Take the next left, which is Adlington Road. Car parking is available in the Middlewood Way car park.

Get directions to Bollington by public transport or car with Redplanet.

Distance: 10.3 miles (16.6 km)
Terrain: Mainly footpaths and bridleways, a few small inclines, can be muddy in places.
Access: Not suitable for wheelchair users and pushchairs
Grade: Moderate
Time: 3½ to 4 hours
Ascent: 376 metres
Maps: OS Explorer Map 268
Start: Adlington Road, Bollington.
Grid Ref: SJ 930 780


The Macclesfield Canal was one of the last narrow canals to be built, indeed, it was very nearly built as a railway! A variety of ideas were proposed and the present canal was approved by Act of Parliament in April 1826. The route of the canal was surveyed by Thomas Telford and construction was engineered by William Crosley. The completed canal was opened on 9th November 1831 at a cost of GBP320,000. Commercial carrying finished only in the 1960’s. However, although in need of maintenance, the canal remained navigable and did not require restoration when leisure use began. Indeed, the UK’s very first narrow canal cruising club, the North Cheshire Cruising Club (NCCC), was established on the canal in 1943! This photo is bridge number 16, where the walk leaves the canal to head up to Lyme Park.

The Lyme Park estate was granted to Sir Thomas Danyers in 1346 and passed to the Leghs of Lyme by marriage in 1388. It remained in the possession of the Legh family until 1946 when it was given to the National Trust. The house dates from the latter part of the 16th century. Formal gardens were created and developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Gritstone Trail is joined in Lyme Park, which leads up to Knights Low woods, and on up to the Bowstones. The Gritstone Trail is a long-distance footpath running from Disley to Kidsgrove in Staffordshire. The trail is well marked using a mixture of finger posts and yellow waymark discs with a ‘G’ in a footprint.

The Bowstones are actually the upper parts of the shafts of double Anglo Saxon Crosses, dating to the 9th or 10th century AD. The crosses were probably destroyed shortly after the Reformation in the mid 16th century. Two cross heads, now in Lyme Park, were ploughed up in a field near Disley Church in the 19th century and may belong to these shafts. The stones were probably erected in their current position at Bow Stone Gate by Sir Piers Legh in the late 16th century perhaps as boundary markers or guide posts. Having passed the Bowstones, the Gritstone Trail now takes you back via Bakestonedale moor to Bollington.

  From the Middlewood Way car park, cross straight over the road (Adlington Road) into the recreation ground. Walk along the right hand edge of the recreation ground, with the River Dean to your right. Cross the bridge over the river, and turn left to follow the river. At the end of the recreation ground, bear right to walk up to the main road.
  Turn left along the main road and then immediately left up a bridleway. This takes you up to the canal towpath, opposite Clarence Mill.
  Bear left along the canal towpath, so that you are walking away from Bollington with Clarence Mill on your right. Now walk for a few miles along the towpath. Eventually you will pass the Lyme View Marina (where there is a cafe). 
  After a few more bridges you will get to bridge number 16. Cross over the bridge, and bear right to cross a field. Pass through a gate. Follow the footpath, keeping to the left hand side of the field. Ignore the footpath off to the left. Go through the kissing gate – you should be passing to the right of the Throstlenest Farm buildings (just visible through the hedge).
  Pass through another kissing gate, and follow the path round to a lane. Turn right along the lane.
  At Green Farm, bear right to pass in front of the farm house. Turn left at a junction to pass behind the farm buildings. Go through a gate, and pass to the left of an outbuilding. Follow the footpath as it turns right to pass to the left of the outbuilding.
  Pass through a gate, and walk round to a tall ladder stile. Cross the ladder stile – a sign now indicates that you are in the grounds of Lyme Park.
  Take the wide path that goes diagonally uphill after the ladder stile. Continue straight on, and bear left when this path merges with a wider bridleway.
  Keep straight on when another bridleway merges from the left. Bear left at the next junction, along a driveway.
  At the next junction, turn right to follow the Gritstone Trail, which you will follow all the way back to Bollington. All Gritstone Trail signs are a ’G‘ in a boot, in a yellow arrow. Follow the Gritstone Trail signs, along a drive / bridleway, going uphill through woods (Knights Low Wood).
  Emerge from the woods, and follow the sign (only just readable) to the Bowstones, which leads you away from the woods, along a wide path up hill.
  At the top of the hill there is a farm house. Just after the farmhouse, the Gritstone Trail turns right. A sign indicates that you will be walking in the direction of Charles Head. Follow the bridleway out across the moors for a few miles now.
  Eventually the bridleway forks off to the left, and downhill slightly, to meet Bakestonedale Road.
  Turn right along Bakestonedale Road.
  Just after a few houses, the Gritstone Trail turns left along a path, away from the road. Follow the Gritstone Trail as it heads out across moorland.
  Bear left to pass to the left of a large pond.
  Bear left where a confusing sign indicates several directions, still following the Gritstone Trail.
  After crossing a stile onto a tarmac lane, cross the cattle grid, and bear left away from the lane, to follow a wall down hill, along a grassy path.
  Cross a stile by a gate, to follow the path (still the Gritstone Trail) down between a wall and a wooded area.
  Bear left after the wall, to follow a grassy path downhill. Cross straight over a farm track, and continue following the grassy path downhill, aiming for a corner fence. Bear right after the corner fence, and you will soon reach a gate.
  Turn left through the gate, and go down hill, passing two ponds on the left.
  After passing through a gate in a stone wall, the Gritstone Trail passes through a wooded area, and heads down hill. Go through a metal kissing gate, and cross an old packhorse bridge over a stream.
  Follow the Gritstone Trail up hill now across a field, until you meet a lane (Hedge Row).
  Turn right down the lane, past houses.
  At the end of the lane, you will meet Spuley Lane – turn left here.
  After a short distance, bear right at a junction (with a house to the left) to walk down into Bollington, along Ingersley Road.
  At the end of Ingersley Road there is a roundabout. Continue straight on along Palmerston Street (the main road through Bollington).
  Just after passing under the canal viaduct, turn right down into the park (recreation ground). Walk across the park, to Adlington Road, and return to your starting point.

Print the route card and map to take on the walk with you. The numbered steps on the map correspond to the numbered steps in the route card.