By Melanie Davy
This was a gentle 4 mile stroller walk with a mixture of quiet country roads, woodland paths and fields. Fourteen people set off from Alderley Edge National Trust Car Park, crossed Macclesfield Road, and headed for the fields via Bradford Lane and Finlow Hill Lane. Despite being so close to civilisation, the views from the fields give you the impression that you are miles from anywhere. At Slade Lane, we turned right along the lane edged with bluebells and red campion. At Hocker Lane we turned left and very shortly saw a huge wood full of English bluebells in full flower. We crossed a stile and walked down the hidden path next to the bluebells. It is a very extensive bluebell wood and looked stunning in the dappled light.The next field was full of inquisitive young cattle. No doubt expecting food, they rather alarmingly rushed across to greet us, but ground to a halt when they realised it wasn’t feeding time.We turned right on Birtles Lane and walked to St Catherine’s Church, Birtles, where we stopped for a break in the peaceful churchyard.
St Catherine’s is listed as one of England’s Thousand Best Churches and is a Grade II listed building.It was originally a private chapel for the Hibbert family but is now a parish church. Its unusual octagonal tower contains eight bells and the stained glass and furnishings were collected by the Hibbert family from Germany and the Netherlands and date from the late 16th and early 17th centuries. They include a pulpit dated 1686, a medieval eagle lectern and two large brass chandeliers which are copies of those in Milan Cathedral.
We re-traced our steps for a few metres and took the path to Higher Park Farm. This took us back to Hocker Lane where we turned left and walked along a quiet country lane as far as Hayman’s Farm. Taking the footpath up Finlow Hill, we turned left and returned to the car park. A very pretty walk, which would also be perfect for a summer’s evening.