Join Jean as she cycles from Reddish Vale to Etherow Park

Come along on an adventure with Jean as she cycles and snaps pictures around some local country parks, with a bit of history along the way!

It was a fairly sunny Friday when I set off with my partner on our bikes to meet our two friends from Trafford and Whalley Range, on the Fallowfield Loop.

Our small group of cycling women has a combined age of 269 years, the youngest being 62 and the oldest 72. Everyone agreed that it was a joy to be able to meet up after such a long time.

The final destination was to be Etherow Country Park at Compstall, but we headed to Reddish Vale first.

Although this was a relatively short distance from our meet-up point, we were ready to start on our butties. Social distancing meant that only two of us could fit on a bench and the others perched uncomfortably on a low railing.

The route had been designed to avoid hills where possible, so we headed to the bottom of Werneth Low. This road was an older leisure cyclist’s nightmare… it looked reasonably flat, but in fact, required a low gear. For some of us, it meant walking.

Of course, the great thing about a hill climb is that there is an opposite and we whizzed down the other side into Etherow Country Park.

Lots of people had taken advantage of the loosening of restrictions and the good weather. A group of young people were having a great day learning to sail on one of the old mill lodges and we enjoyed our lunch watching them.

Thomas Andrew built the village for his mill operatives in the early 1800s and extended his empire by building two more mills for spinning and power loom weaving from 1823 to 1824.

His mills were powered by the biggest water wheel in the country at the time, with a diameter of 50 feet and a width of 17.5 feet.

It was known as the Lily Wheel as it had been made by Fairburn and Lillie.

To power the wheel, both machinery and weir in the Etherow river were built and can be viewed today by walking upriver through the park.

Of course, the river would not always be a raging torrent, so at times of low rainfall, coal mined from the nearby Ernocroft Wood was used to power a steam engine.

Nowadays, the millrace where the coal was brought is a playground for Canada Geese and Mandarin Ducks (not to be confused with Peking Duck) and the quieter parts of the waterways allow Coots to breed.

As well as all of this, the blackthorn was in full bloom, alongside the occasional cherry tree.

After spending some time watching the river and imaging that we were in an Alpine landscape, we headed out to Brabyns Park.

It’s ok to get off your bike and push and there were plenty of opportunities to do this.

When you need to take it a bit slower you can take in the surroundings more. At this time of year, the Chiff Chaffs have arrived and are one of the easiest bird songs to recognise.

We were now heading towards the remains of Marple Hall. The original hall was probably built in the reign of Henry VII. The building that lasted into the 1950s was built in 1658.

In 1940 the hall passed into the hands of author Christopher Isherwood who wrote Goodbye to Berlin which was adapted as Cabaret. Living in California, he had little interest in the property and passed it to his brother Richard.

In 1954 Richard offered the hall to Marple Council. The council’s refusal to take it on was followed by a period of vandalism and the hall was demolished in 1957.

We should now have been on an easy downhill section, however, the cycle path was closed halfway down the hill. What could have meant turning around and going on a big detour turned into a life-affirming moment when a family, probably on their first outing since lockdown first began, started lifted all four bikes over the barrier.

They waited for us at the other end and once again lifted the bikes over the obstructions.

After a short rest at Chadkirk, we crossed the main road at Otterspool and cycled past the two big Archimedes screws on the River Goyt that generate thousands of kilowatt-hours of sustainable electricity.

Onto the far end of Alan Newton way marked by the magnificent Pear Mill. Many mills and tall buildings have become nesting sites for raptors. Urban sites prove a good place for the birds of prey to find food such as pigeons.

A short stretch of the Trans Pennine Trail took us once again into Reddish Vale. As we went through the gate, a Woodpecker could be heard drilling into a nearby tree and a Buzzard circled overhead.

As we parted on the Fallowfield loop, going in opposite directions, we all hoped it wouldn’t be another year before we met up again.

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  1. Great journey around places I know well. Smashing photos too with a splash of local history thrown in. Well done Jean.


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