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Friday, 11 October 2019

Bollin Valley Around Manchester Airport 14-9-2019

This is a local walk that I have done many times over the years having been brought up in the area. As a kid I virtually lived "Down the Bollin" as we called it. This part of the BOLLIN VALLEY (click here) is a great place to explore the woods, fields and the river at any time of the year. The place was virtually untouched for decades and the only changes were what the seasons would bring through out the year. Over recent years though, the whole place has changed in many ways with the huge expansion of Manchester Airport from it's small beginnings of Ringway. Farms, houses livelihoods and roads have all disappeared to cope with this ever changing environment as more and more people are on the move. While this has had an impact on the countryside that I grew up in, it is still a great place to have a good walk for a few hours or more and if you're in to plane spotting, it's really ideal, as this particular walk will take you to the ends of both runways where you get the thrill of the planes landing or taking off right over your head. One plane that always gets the attention is the large Airbus A380 (click here) as it takes most of the runway to get airborne, a great sight. There are various walks along the 25 mile length of the Bollin Valley, that starts in the small hamlet of Forest Chapel on the edge of Macclesfield Forest to the River Mersey near Partington south of Manchester.
This part of the valley walk is on tarmac lanes, gravel paths, rough muddy tracks, through woodland, across farm fields, through gates, along the river, through a tunnel and of course along the perimeter of the Airport. The start point is at the top of Rossmill Lane in the leafy superb of Hale Barns, where I walked down the newly tarmaced lane to the start of the Rossmill Woodland Walk. This lane for as long as I can remember was always full of pot holes and just an old lane that took you down to the Rossmill farm. There was always space for half a dozen cars to park in a makeshift parking area but this is the first time that I have ever seen it so smooth, all covered in tarmac, the car spaces have also disappeared. The farm was converted into private dwellings some years ago but I have fond memories of the farm when I was a kid playing about in the old barns :-)
Down Rossmill Lane
Start of the Rossmill Woodland Walk
Within a few minutes you will reach a junction of 3 paths going to the right, left or straight on and for todays walk it's straight on past the old oak tree and down to the river. The paths all come out at the same place and there's only a matter of minutes in time difference so any path will do, impossible to get lost here. It's then a straight forward walk following the River Bollin that goes under the M56 Motorway towards an Iron footbridge that I crossed. It was here, when we were kids, that we used to play "on the beach" as there was quite a big sandy area. In fact, there was one or two beaches and they were very popular back in the day with whole families taking adventage of the fine weather that past summers used to bring. Nature has took over alot of it today but you still get folk using it and messing about in the river here, especially in hot summery weather. Today was a good bright day and the place was deserted with only a couple of dog walkers about. The fields were also used by the farmers for cattle grazing and also hay making. I remember helping out when the hay bales needed collecting. None of that nowadays as it's been left to nature with trees being planted to help with drainage.
Straight on past the old oak tree
Path along the river bollin
Path along the river bollin
Tunnel under the M56
Tunnel under the M56
Through the old cow fields alongside the river bollin
Over the stream
Through old farm fields
Over the footbridge
The Beach from the footbridge
The path went through a gate and followed the edge of the wood round to another gate and onto another farmers field. Whenever we get any decent snow in winter, this is a good place to have a bit of fun on sledges but that dosen't happen much these days. It seemed to happen every year when we were kids as apposed to every 6 or 7 years now. The path brings you out on a lane that can get quite busy with cars so a bit of care needed as there's no footpath here. Turning left here, takes you past the Castle Hill Trig Point and straight on to a farm track with a warning sign telling you smile, as it's a nice day :-)
Through the gate and along the woods edge
The sledging field
Overgrown path to the road
Left through the gate
Along the road for a couple of hundred yards
Castle Hill Trig Point with the airport tower in the distance
Down the farm road
Have a nice day :-)
They sometime have horse events going on on some of the farm fields and today was one of those. It looked like some sort of dressage competition, not that I'm an expert or anything, but there was something going on. Not a massive event but enough for the size of the field. There is also a field where they have some sort a car racing going on, again, no expert and I've only seen it on a couple of occasions but it did look like fun. When not in use for recreational use, there are live stock in the fields, Horses and Cows but I've never had any trouble crossing the fields. Again, a straight forward path leads to a gate at the bottom field where you go over muddy parts and overgrown shrub before coming out at the end of runway one at Manchester Airport, where today, it was being used for the planes landing at the opposite end so not much to see from here today.
Horse show getting ready
Straight down the two fields
Looking back at the car race field
Through the gate
Along the muddy overgrown path
Past ponds along the trail
Overgrown path
At the end of Runway One with a plane coming in to land with the Pennines as a backdrop
From here it was along a service road, through more gates, past fields of cows, past some houses before joining another path adjacent to runway two. Following this path brings you out at the end of runway two and on this occasion the planes were taking off from here so some time spent watching them go over my head.
Along the service lane and through the gates
Looking back towards the airport
Along the lane
Past the locals
Onto the path alongside runway two
Onto the path alongside runway two
Onto the path alongside runway two
Coming to the end of runway two
Watching the planes
Watching the panes
This is a good place to watch the planes take off and its also where various paths come together from different directions. There's nearly always a few people coming and going in different directions and today was no different. Also one or two plane spotters and photographers trying to get that elusive photo. I carried on, following the path past another pond, houses and through gates and fields before I was walking alongside the runway watching more planes taking folk to some distant places. It was quite warm now with little wind so a good place to sit and watch for 40 minutes or so while having a bite to eat.

Down the path passed the pond
Through the gate
Down the lane
Down the path
Through another gate
Through another gate into a field
Down the path
Through another gate
Adjacent to runway two
Past another pond
Watching the planes
Might never see one of these again, Thomas Cook
One thing that was going on, just after I had set off again, was a plane coming in to lane that somehow didn't seem right. One thing we don't want to see is any plane in trouble but this one was coming to land that seemed to have cause for concern as the emergency services where on the runway. As it happened, the plane landed safely and all was well with no disasters. It was an old RAF war plane that should of been at an airshow somewhere but had to land as one of it's engines had failed. I saw it land safely but it did have a knock on effect as all planes that were taking off had to do so at runway one, where the arriving planes were landing so there were one or two late departures from then onwards. Better late then never though.
RAF plane landing safely
Emergency services following the RAF plane
No disaster, all is well
I made my way down and under the Runway Two tunnel and along the River Bollin. A great bit of engineering and also a home to nature. There are some bat roosts, small mammal & bird resting/nesting areas, fish runs and other creature comforts. I was fortunate to see a kingfisher flying through the tunnel above the river and quite a lot of dragon flies knocking about. In fact all day I saw lots of butterflies, dragonflies, two woodpeckers, kingfisher, buzzards, kestrels and lots of songbirds. If nature is you thing, its a good walk to spot the comings and goings of creatures at anytime of the year. So through the tunnel and back onto the service lane that takes you back to the end of runway one where another great sighting of the Airbus A380 taking off after being diverted from runway two.
Information about the bats
Back on the service lane
Runway two tunnel with Bat Roosts on the ceiling
Looking back through the tunnel
Tunnel information
Back on the service lane
Over the river bollin
Watching the A380
Watching the A380
Watching the A380
I made my way back the same way as I came through the fields passing the horse show. I turned off here, going over a hidden stile that takes you through another field to another hidden stile. This goes past some houses and eventually brings you out on the lane over the River Bollin before heading back into the fields. When \I was a kid, there was an outdoor swimming baths here, Castle Mill Swimming Baths, and people from all over the area used to go there. We are talking 1960's into the early 70's when it was finally pulled down and today a grand house is built on it. I don't know the history behind it and seaching the net is quite fruitless apart from peoples memories but health and safety would of had a field day in today's world. Great memories though :-)
Back through the car track field
Passing the horse trails field
Hidden Stile No. 1
Hidden Stile No.2
Overgrown footpath
Castle Hill Lane
The site of the old outdoor swimming baths
The site of the old outdoor swimming baths
Back along the field
From here, I went up the steps that take you into Sunbank Woods before heading back down near the Iron Bridge. I retraced my steps back to the car at the top of Rossmill Lane
Steps leading to Sunbank woods
Sunbank woods
Sunbank woods
Sunbank woods
River Bollin
Back through the old farm fields
Back through the top woods
Back through the top woods
Heading towards the old Oak tree
Back up the lane to the car
A great walk that I never tire of. Well after fifty years of walking round here it must mean something to me. It has changed a lot over the years with nature taking over many of the swimming places, farms and livestock have gone from many parts and of course the expansion of the Airport. There are plenty of options to make this walk shorter or longer if you wish with various starting points to choose from. You can still have a good few hours without seeing anyone else to relax and blow the cobwebs away and good place to see nature and go plane spotting if you like that sort of thing. If you prefer flatish walks rather that the more challenging mountain walks then this would be ideal. Then again, it's a good walk for anyone that loves to out and about taking in the fresh air

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