This walk is part of the trek The Gritstone Trail in 3 stages using the local train.
The Gritstone Trail runs for 56 km through the Cheshire countryside, west of the Peak District, from Disley to Kidsgrove. This third stage picks up the trail at The Cloud, having left Congleton in a circular route using the Dales Valley Way and the towpath along the Macclesfield Canal to the aqueduct over the River Dale. The route passes Timbersbrook, Nick i' th' Hill, Cheshire's Close, Mow Cop and rejoins the Macclesfield Canal before following the Trent & Mersey Canal into Kidsgrove.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D) Cross over the footbridge that spans the railway and make your way along a short path to the towpath alongside the Macclesfield Canal. Turn right and head almost west along the canal. A shorter version of this route is to turn left and follow the canal past Brook House Farm and take the rising path on the right after crossing a footbridge that heads to Timbersbrook (Weathercock Road) to pick up the Gritstone Trail from there (see Stage 2). However, as you are in Congleton it would be a shame not to see a bit of the surrounding countryside. Go under the A 527 (Park Lane) and follow the canal to a beautiful canal bridge that switches the towpath to the left side (heading west). The canal bends to the leftover a local road (Canal Road) before reaching another canal bridge that switches the towpath to the right side of the canal.
(1) After crossing the bridge, we say goodbye to the canal and take the steps up to Lambert's Lane, heading west. This crosses over The Howty stream, heading towards Brickhouse Farm. Ignore Stoney Lane that feeds off to the right but keep straight on until you reach a local road (Fol Hollow) near Fol Hollow Nursery passing through a gate. On the opposite side of the road, there is a well worn path through the trees that will lead you to the shore of Astbury Mere. Pick up the circular path, turning right to head north-east along the shore of the mere until you reach a crossing of paths, including the Dales Valley Way. Turn slightly right to follow the path through some trees and bushes to emerge onto Astbury Street. Go down Astbury Street, passing The Green, Crescent Rd and Prospect St. with Congleton Cricket Club behind the bungalows on the right, until you reach West St. Here turn right in front of the Farmers Arms, then left along Dane St. until you see a blue signpost in front of the allotments indicating the River Dane Walkway
(2) Follow the path alongside the River Dane, heading east to go up to the A 54 (Rood Hill) near a roundabout. Past a small car park, the path returns to the river between two posts and follows the river on to the next bridge. Cross the footbridge to the park on the other (left hand) side, now heading north-east. The route goes straight through the park, past the Bandstand and rejoins the river on the other side. Bear left along the river following the cycle track through a car park and onto Riverdane Rd as far another footbridge. Cross over to the other side of the river to join Havannah St. turning left to follow the road until you reach the shops at St John's Road Play Area. Take the route back to the river and bear right along the river passing Congleton United FC until you reach the play area. Leave the swings and roundabouts up a path to a wooden swing gate onto Littondale Close. Go up Littondale Close to the T-junction with Malhamdale Rd. and bear right. In about 100m turn right again to get to the T-junction with Harvey Rd and turn left. Go past Swaledale Ave. and ignore the steps going up to Nidderdale Close but shortly after, bear left along the Public Bridleway that goes straight to the Macclesfield Canal.
(3) Bear left along the canal towpath and follow the track round to the right, following the Cheshire Ring Canal Walk. Follow this towpath to go under the A 54 (Buxton Rd) then under the railway. Continue on the towpath heading east until you reach the aqueduct over the River Dane, turn off to the right along the Dane Valley Way. When you reach Tunstall Rd near the bridge over the River Dane, turn right up the road to Lymford Farm. Go past the farm and steadily climb the road to a T-junction. Turn left along a track towards Cloud House Farm but turn right after about 50m. Go over the style opposite a cottage and head across the field in a southwesterly direction. Clamber over the style onto Red Lane and turn left to go past Hillside Farm. The Gritstone Trail (and the Staffordshire Way) join the road from a style up on the left. Keep going up the road and look for the Public Footpath sign on the right in about 100m next to a layby. Take this path past Cloud Side to the top of The Cloud (343m).
(4) The path leads off north-west to swing round left to south-west hugging the edge of the slope through a pine forest. Eventually, the path picks up a track (Gooseberryhole Lane) that goes down to the Tunstall Road just north of Timbersbrook village. Here you have a choice to go down to the village or carry straight on across the road to follow a track (Acorn Lane) by the side of a house that descends to Weathercock Lane. Another alternative can be taken about halfway to the village, using a path that comes off Gooseberryhole Lane at the sharp bend to go through the woods to the Tunstall Road. Opposite this path, there is a metal gate and a wooden style that lead to a track with a dry stone wall on the right and a line of trees on the left. This track passes through a farm and comes out onto Weathercock Lane right opposite the path that heads down to Congleton. If you have gone down to Timbersbrook village, turn right at the village green (a wooden bench and black and white road sign) in direction of Congleton. Past the cottages and up Weathercock Lane past a car park and picnic area to a Public Footpath sign on the left. Ignore this path but carry on for another 100m to the Gritstone Trail sign on your left next to a low brick wall.
(5) Whichever option you've chosen, all the routes meet her to continue along the Gritstone Trail to Brookhouse Lane. Turn right coming out of Overedge Farm then left at a Public Footpath sign. Cross the fields to reach a disused railway and turn left along the route with Dane in Shaw Brook on your right. The old railway goes through cuttings and over Reade's Lane and the A 527 sharing the Biddulph Valley Way. Carry on south until you reach a turn off near Higher Whitemoor Farm. Follow the Gritstone Trail signs down to the track that heads north-west past the farm towards Whitemoor Wood. Just before the wood, turn 90º left to follow the trail along Congleton Edge and down into Nick i' th' Hill.
(6) Take a look at the Congleton Edge Methodist Church just down the lane before returning to the Public Footpath signs. Be careful to follow the Gritstone Trail signs to get off the road onto a grassy path that skirts the western edge of Willocks Wood, eventually coming out at Pot Bank on Mow Lane. Turn left and follow the road to a fork, bearing right to continue along Mow Lane until you reach a junction at Cheshire's Close, where there is a layby with a view over Cheshire (and a trig point and memorials). Carry on along the road (now Congleton Rd) to Bodkins Bank Farm on the left. Shortly after the farm, bear right into the trees by an entrance and a sign for Roe Park. This path gradually separates itself from the road, still heading south-west along a Heritage Trail to reach Wood St in Mow Cop. Cross over Wood St and take the track (marked National Trust) to Mow Cop.
(7) Make your way up to the top of Mow Cop Castle then leave the town on the path at the side of the telephone box and Mow Cop Methodist Church. Go downhill along the path behind the houses to a lane (Halls Rd) and turn left. After about 50m turn right along another track heading west to The Bank. This track becomes The Brake and comes out onto Mount Pleasant Rd. Go straight over the road and follow Meadowside Lane in front of the houses to reach Spring Bank. Turn left along the road, passing the Methodist Church and continue round to the right under the railway bridge to reach a junction with Station Rd. Bear left to cross the Macclesfield Canal.
(8) Just after crossing the bridge, take the path on the left down to the towpath and follow the canal in a southwesterly direction. Stay on the right hand side of the canal all the way down to where it crosses the A 50 (Liverpool Rd East). Carry on along the towpath to the locks at the Trent & Mersey Canal. Turn left along this canal, using the path on either side until you get to Hardingswood Rd and the Canal Tavern. The towpath is now on the right hand side and follows the canal round to the railway station. Come up from the canal into the car park, passing a blue sign indicating the Gritstone Trail.
(A) Kidsgrove Station
D : km 0 - alt. 132m - Congleton Station
1 : km 0.81 - alt. 130m - Lambert's Lane
2 : km 4.03 - alt. 87m - River Dane Walkway
3 : km 7.53 - alt. 126m - Macclesfield Canal
4 : km 14.2 - alt. 330m - The Cloud
5 : km 16.53 - alt. 151m - Weathercock Lane
6 : km 21.69 - alt. 222m - Nick i' th' Hill
7 : km 24.9 - alt. 323m - Mow Cop Castle
8 : km 27.42 - alt. 126m - Station Rd and Macclesfield Canal
A : km 31.48 - alt. 132m - Kidsgrove Station
As explained above, a shorter version of this route is to turn left and follow the canal past Brook House Farm and take the rising path on the right after crossing a footbridge that heads to Timbersbrook (Weathercock Road) to pick up the Gritstone Trail from there. Also, another alternative is to turn right at the Macclesfield Canal (waypoint 3) and follow the towpath until just after passing under the railway, cross the footbridge and take the rising path to Timbersbrook. Also, the bike track Nº 55 from the A 54 is an interesting route out of Congleton. The terrain is fairly easy so a good pace should be manageable for most of the route.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
The canal route is easy and pleasant walking. Getting a chance to see the aqueduct is worth the extra miles and The Cloud is always worth the climb. The Old Man of Mow and Mow Cop Castle are also worth exploring but the canal walk at Kidsgrove is a fitting finale to the trail. The recommendation is, it is well worth carrying on along the Trent & Mersey Canal to see the entrance to Harecastle Tunnel. Here the water is bright orange, caused by iron-rich springs seeping into the water. Over 600 miners and bricklayers worked under dreadful conditions to build the 2 km long tunnel which emerges in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent.
Enjoy the walk, the views, the villages and the pubs. Don't rush but keep an eye on the weather and the time. Plan ahead and have alternative routes if you get into difficulties. Don't leave any rubbish and don't damage the environment. Keep to the Country Code and respect the farmers, vegetation, animals and rivers. Don't take any plants or stones home; take photos (they last longer and you can share them). Say hello to fellow walkers and help anyone who needs it. Take care of yourself and make the most of the moment!
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