Dot Flint Chair of the Town Partnership Forum is delighted to announce yet another example of working together by the Town Partnerships to establish a new circular walking trail connecting the towns of Alsager, Congleton, Holmes Chapel, Middlewich and Sandbach, to be known as the ‘South Cheshire Market Towns Trail’ (SCMTT). A free illustrated map including directions narrative of the trail and shorter sub-routes will be available in our local Towns Information Centres. The Map funded by Cheshire East through the New Home Bonus Fund, is a great example of what can be achieved by volunteers working together, it will help promote our wonderful countryside and offer people an opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle.
The idea to establish the SCMTT was conceived by the ‘Five Towns Partnership’, an organisation comprised of residents representing the Partnerships of Holmes Chapel, Congleton, Alsager, Sandbach and Middlewich, and superbly supported by the local Ramblers Groups and U3A. Our local towns are surrounded by wonderful and varied countryside and are of historical interest and it seemed a great way to promote fun, health and wellbeing of residents and those living further afield by enticing them into our towns and countryside by providing the challenge of a long distance circular walking trail that passes through or close by the five towns. The degree of challenge posed by the walk caters for all abilities; while some will relish the full challenge (circa 40 miles) others may wish to break it down into sections completed over several days or indeed take the alternative routes indicated on the map. Others may prefer to walk a single section between towns, spending time to explore them and return home by public transport.
The SCMTT can be started from any of the five towns but the directions narrative on the map starts from Asbury Mere Country Park, Congleton and assumes a clockwise direction to the walk. AMCP is a good starting point for the trail as it offers car parking and cafe with splendid views of Bosley Cloud, Congleton Edge and Mow Cop, to the East. Congleton Edge and part of the Mow Cop Ridge are traversed en route and afford magnificent views of the Staffordshire Moorlands to the East and the Cheshire Plain to the west (walkers wishing to take a more gentle route can follow the Macclesfield Canal to Scholar Green). Just a short (0.5m) distance from the Macclesfield Canal near Scholar Green is Little Moreton Hall (NT) a not to be missed Tudor mansion. The route now forges through rich Cheshire farmland passing close to Alsager and joins the Trent and Mersey Canal at Hassall Green when the route alternates between canal bank and farmland through Sandbach and onwards to Middlewich. The Ancient Crosses and cobbled square in Sandbach and canal locks at Middlewich are well worth visiting. Great shopping and eateries too! From Middlewich, the trail heads through flat farmland to Holmes Chapel, a delightful village, then heads down into the River Dane valley where a majestic viaduct spans the river. The trail then follows the Dane Valley Way, a beautiful area of steep-sided woodland rich in wildlife, through to Swettenham village. The Dane valley is left behind as the trail heads through Brereton Heath Nature Reserve and onwards through richly worked farmland back to AMCP. Enjoy!
Footnote. A lot of volunteer time went into developing this map/route by residents, Congleton Ramblers and in particular Congleton U3A walking groups for their tremendous effort in siting the Wayfinder decals that guide walkers along the correct path. Thank you to all.
Mike Smith, Congleton Partnership. Congleton 270350 Extn 7