The Gritstone Trail

The Gritstone Trail

The Gritstone Trail runs from Disley railway station to Kidsgrove railway station near Stoke. It is a length of 35 miles and is normally walked from north to south. It is mistaken to believe that is fairly flat as it is along a ridge. This is not the case having a total ascent of 5,900 ft /1798m. It can be walked over one very long day, two days or split into 3 days like we did. Over 3 days, one can take time to enjoy the marvellous views all around. It is well signed posted all the way. Keep an eye out too for a variety of wildlife, brown hares, water voles, stoats, weasels, ravens, buzzards, and skylarks.

It follows the ridge with some gentle ascents and descents, with stunning views in all directions- The Welsh Hills, Liverpool, Derbyshire, and Shropshire. It has added historical interest, with Lyme Hall, White Nancy, and Mow Cop. It is well signposted, with no technical walking is involved. Also easy to access by car, however, a lot harder by public transport. Normally we would have stayed the night halfway along the route, but could not find anywhere convenient to stay. Instead we used two cars, leaving one at each end of our days' walk.

Day One, Disley to Tegg's Nose Country Park

We drove from our house in Manchester in 2 cars, leaving one at Tegg's Nose Country Park, which is situated signed off the main A537 road from Macclesfield to Buxton. There are toilets, a cafe and we paid £3.30 to park for the day. We then drove our other car 25 minutes and parked at Disley train station at the start of the walk at 10.15am.

The walk begins up the steps, found to the side of the Gritstone Trail information board at Disley station. We went up the steps then carried on along the road, following the signs. The local landmark of Lyme Cage, a 18th Century hunting tower comes into view. Make sure you check out Disley kennels on the right, with articles from days gone by, and see if you can identify who is in the red phone box!!. Following the signs to Lyme park we entered the park by East Lodge 30 minutes after starting the walk. Check out the tremendous views over Manchester and beyond, also note the herds of deer. Check out Lyme Hall, the largest hall in Cheshire built in the late 16th century. We stopped in the car park for a welcome coffee before continuing to the far end of the car park, then followed the signs to Knightslow Wood and the Gritstone Trail.

We walked through the peaceful woods with views back to the Hall. Leaving the wood out onto the moor, reaching The Bowstones 1269f/t387m at12pm, found just to the left of Bowstones farm. There is a sign "Two shafts of late Saxon crosses which were probably landmarks or boundary stones". There are fantastic views to Whaley Bridge and Kinder Scout. The Bowstones Gate farm and Lyme Cage are local landmarks which can be seen for miles around. We turned right heading south along the ridge. On the right is Sponds Hill 1345ft/410m with a trig point, the highest point on the trail. On the left of the path is a toposcope giving details of the view. We continued arriving at Brink Bank Farm on Bakestone Road at 12.30pm, turning right

to walk along the road, minding the traffic. This is a narrow busy road, so take care. 300m later at a sign opposite the farm yard, we turned left, across the fields, taking a more obscure path to the left, passing a small hill on the right.

It was a very hot day so we sat under the trees to eat our lunch, with views of Bollington, and White Nancy. Continuing past a pretty duck sanctuary, crossing Harrop Stream on an ancient stone packhorse bridge. Packhorses were used as the main form of transport in the hills until the end of the 18th century.

We followed the signs along the road, up Oakenbank Lane, right down an old path and steps, over the stream to the ruined mill, then up a very steep slope to White Nancy. This monument was built in about 1815 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, on the site of an old beacon point. It sometimes has very colourful murals on it depicting historical events. White Nancy overlooks the village of Bollington, where spinning and weaving were the main industries, these are now long gone. We continued along Kerridge Ridge, turning left through the trees to Rainow. There is a sign to the left regarding Cow Lane Cotton Mill, which was constructed on the site in 1789, initially powered by a waterwheel. It was converted to a silk mill in 1821later becoming a bleachworks, before being abandoned in 1907. We followed the old cobbled path through the trees turning left on the B5470 road, then right up Berristall Road with a welcome bench at 2.45pm.

It is strange how the last few miles on any walk always seem to be the longest, today it was also very hot. We struggled to find the way from here, across undulating fields and eventually crossing the A537, finally more uphill before arriving in Tegg's Nose Country Park at 3.40pm, where the cafe and toilets were still open.

We really enjoyed Day One of the trail, and would really recommend it to nearly anyone. We went on a mi-week day in August, most of the trail was deserted only seeing people in Lyme Park and on White Nancy. There is a variety of interesting scenery and historic sites.

We were very happy to have decided to split the walk into 3 days instead of 2. It certainly gave us more time to have a good look at everything we were passing, and stop to admire the views instead of rushing. All that was left now was to drive to Disley to collect our other car which we had left there earlier.

Distance 11.55 miles 18.6 km

Duration of Walk 5.37 Hours

Average Pace Min/km 29

Steps 33464

Elevation gained in 581m 1907 feet

Day Two Tegg's Nose Country Park to Rushton Spencer

After the successful Day one, we were keen to embark on Day 2, We left one car in a lay-by on A523 Macclesfield to Leek road, just outside Rushton, and drove 20 minutes back to Tegg's Nose, Macclesfield.

Leaving Tegg's Nose Country Park at 9.30am, we turned left out of car park along the clearly marked path, passing through the now abandoned quarry. Take time to study the notice boards and old machinery. Quarrying started here in the 1500s and continued for about 500 years. The rocks were used for a variety of purposes-roads, buildings, and roofing. Continue downhill passing two reservoirs which were built in 1850 and 1971respectively,in order to regulate the flow of the River Bollin feeding the textile and silk mills of Macclesfield,

Turning left up Clark Lane, then right towards Green Barn Farm, over a cattle grid passing Throstles Nest Farm, we continued through fields, oddly with many geese and sheep in. Arriving on a lane, turning right, then across more fields to Dye Cottages, and Lower House Farm. A fairly steep climb now starts with the top of Croker Hill 402m reached at 11.30am or 5 miles from the start. It was a shame that the views were all slightly misty, but still fantastic, with the Welsh Mountains being seen. We ate our lunch by the concrete tower at 12.00pm. The tower was built in1955 in case of nuclear war, it could link with other towers, Heaton Park in north Manchester and Pye Green to the south. It is currently used to transmit local radio stations. Turning left past the farm, across the fields, turning left on the main road, left then right down farm road along Wincle Minn 386m, with views of The Cloud at Congleton.

Passing through a farm, then a field of very scary cows, down to the stream, through the woods. Apparently the next part of the walk can be extremely muddy so there is a diversion via Rushton Spencer itself. When we were there it was very dry so we followed a path along the canal feeder. The feeder is now mostly silted up, but with interesting plant and bird life. The water in the River Dane was split, one feeder canal supplying Rushton and Rudyard Lake, the other heading in the direction of Congleton. It is always interesting to investigate . We retuned to our car at 3pm, and drove back to Tegg's Nose to collect our other car. On the Gritstone Trail brochure, the Day 2 ends at Timbersbrook, but we were glad to not to be continuing up The Cloud, but saving that hill for another day. We had really been looking forward to Day 2, but did not enjoy it as much as Day one. Maybe as it was hot for walking at about 28°C with not much shade, a slightly misty views, and not quite as much to see along the path.

Distance 11.81 miles 19 km

Duration of Walk 5.18 Hours

Average Pace Min/km 29.30

Steps 31519

Elevation gained 1208 feet 368m

Day Three Rushton Spencer to Kidsgrove

For the final leg of the walk again we took two cars, parking one at the end of the walk at Kidsgrove Station, then drove the other to the start of our walk in Rushton, leaving the car again in the lay-by on the A523. This time we crossed the road,

joining the disused railway line and after a short distance turned left descending back down to the Gritstone Trail, where we had left the path at the end of Day 2.

We headed west crossing the stream, then turned right following the stream through the meadows to a gap in the trees and up through Raven's Clough, which is a very pretty wood. Arriving at a road we turned left, rounded the corner, another left, then up a hill to Cloudside. The ascent of The Cloud hill 1125ft/343m is fairly easy, not taking too long to reach the top with its marvellous views. A toposcope on the summit helps to identify sites of interest, again the Welsh Mountains, Jodrell Bank, Liverpool, Shutlingsloe and far away The Wrekin can all be seen. We sat and enjoyed a snack with the view.

We took a left turn by the trig point, along the very obvious path lined with heather to a road then down many steps to Timbersbrook car park, 2 hours after setting out. On the way down see if you can spot any sign of an ancient hill fort located in a conifer plantation, and two ancient trenches which run across the hillside. During the 19th century grit stone was quarried from the slopes of The Cloud, and used for construction of the Macclesfield Canal, local railway bridges and millstones. Take time to read the interesting historical information boards found here. The car park was the site of a large silk mill, and dye works before being demolished in 1976. In the brochure this is suggested for the start of Day 3 with only 9 miles to Kidsgrove.

Turning right out of the car park, then left across the fields to Brookhouse Lane, turn right, then go through the farmyard and across more fields to the Biddulph Valley Way. The path follows a disused railway line, which used to carry coal from the Potteries to Congleton. Now the old embankment goes through pretty woods with many wildflowers and birdsong. After 2km we turned left down the steps, then went underneath the railway line, turning left across further fields, along the bridleway to meet a road at Pot Bank. White clay is found at Pot Bank, which was once used for pots and clay pipes. Continuing along Congleton road which follows the ridge with fantastic views and another toposcope at 335m.

We continued passing the "Old Man of Mow", a gritstone pillar over 20m high which was left standing as the stone around it was quarried away, presumably as it is made of poor quality gritstone. The gritstone was used in road construction, and some local buildings. One of the best features of today's walk now comes into view-Mow Cop- built on the final out crop of Millstone Grit. This was built in 1754 by Squire Wilbraham to improve the view from Rode Hall. This is a popular spot, take time here to admire the last good views of the walk. We descended through the car park turning left past the Memorial Church. This was built in 1860 on the site of the first open air meeting of Primitive Methodism held in1807. The meeting attended by 2,000 people lasted from 6am until 9pm.

Continuing down The Brake, which was part of an old tramway carrying coal from the nearby collieries to the Macclesfield Canal. Following the road down to the canal, we spotted the Rising Sun pub, calling in for a hot drink. We then followed the canal bank for a few miles towards Kidsgrove. Before the aqueduct is reached we turned right, then left along the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal. Out of interest we continued to the entrance of Harecastle Tunnels where the canal used to transport coal to the Potteries. There are actually 2 tunnels, the first built by James Brindley opening in 1777, the longest tunnel at the time at 2.6km. It was built with no tow path, boats were moved by legging taking around 3 hours. The 2nd one was built by Thomas Telford, opened in 1827, with a

tow path would was much faster taking around 40 minutes. The tunnels then were operated on a one-way system, to Tunstall in Stoke. The canal water is bright orange due to the iron rich springs feeding into the canal. Retrace your steps for 300m taking the turn to the end of the path at Kidsgrove Station. Usually I find towpaths not very interesting, however these two canals are both really attractive. It is amazing how quite the walk is now, compared to the hive of industry that it must have been at one time.

Distance 14.4 miles 23 km

Duration of Walk 8 Hours

Average Pace 33 Min/km

Steps 45491

Elevation gained 1572feet 479m


This walk starts from Disley Cheshire which is accessible by train from Manchester and Buxton. We spent 3 days completing the walk. But it could be done over two long days, day one Disley to Rushton Spencer, then day two Rushton Spencer to Kidsgrove- ending at the station. Accommodation could be found in Congleton which would be a short taxi journey to and from Rushton Spencer. Or like we did, take two cars and park one at each end of the days' walk.

If you only have one day, we would recommend day one Disley to Tegg's Nose, as the most interesting.

There are very few facilities alone the way, so ensure that you take plenty of food and drinks.

As always we advise wearing walking boots- we wear Lowa, taking food, water, wet weather clothes, hats, sun hats, map, compass and first aid kit etc.

We really enjoyed this walk, the weather was great, and the views were tremendous, surrounded by beautiful countryside. We had done stretches of the walk previously, so for us it was great to link all the different parts of it up.

Resources Used

Gritstone Trail Walkers' Guide, available via Cheshire council.

Ordnance Survey 268 Wilmslow, Macclesfield and Congleton

Websites Used We used to record the walk.

Further Information Lyme Park Bowstones White Nancy Mow Cop Pub, near Mow Cop Trains Buses