Alderley Edge, Nether Alderley, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 4UBRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
An easy access circuit exploring the heart of the Edge.
- Bus stop
Start: National Trust car park, grid ref: SJ860776
Start near the picnic area.
The nearby roadside Wizard Restaurant celebrates the popular legend of Alderley Edge. In a traditional tale dating back to the 1750s, and first published as The Iron Gates in 1805, a wizard waylays a farmer riding a white mare across the Edge. Together, they travel past the Seven Firs, Golden Stone and Stormy Point to the Iron Gates a magical entrance to the underworld. Deep underground the farmer sees a circle of warriors in an enchanted sleep, awaiting Englands hour of need. All but one has a white charger. When the farmer hands over the missing horse, he is rewarded with treasure from an underground store. Treasure? Underground? Could the legend actually be a folk memory of a distant time when men first mined precious copper beneath the Edge? All the clues are here.
Just beyond the Information Room, turn left into the woods and follow the surfaced path gently uphill to the Engine Vein.
One of many mineralised faults that cross the Edge, this huge, 300ft (100m) long fissure features bowl-like opencast pits where Bronze Age man mined copper ores around 4,000 years ago. Patches of green malachite still dot the rock. At the far end is the Seven Firs a possible circular Bronze Age earthwork.
Look out for signs of old mine shafts as you continue uphill.
Few plants can tolerate the mineralised soil along the fault. Both subtle hollows in the woods and concrete caps give away the location of ancient shafts.
Walk on to the Armada Beacon.
As the highest point on the Edge, this was the natural site for one of a chain of signalling fires used to warn of imminent invasion in 1588. Interestingly, the underlying Beacon Hill is now protected as a Bronze Age burial mound.
Beside the path, 220 yards (200m) on, is the Druids Circle.
Composed originally of 24 stones, this decorative folly was created by the landowning Stanleys in the eighteenth century to enhance the landscape.
The path emerges from the trees onto the bare rock of Stormy Point.
Spectacular views open north-eastwards across the Cheshire Plain to the Peak District and the Pennines.
Nearby is the gash of the Devils Grave.
This cave mouth drops into a maze of ancient tunnels at the heart of the legend. As recently as January 1941, three local boys crossing Stormy Point at dusk swore they heard music coming from under the ground.
Head away from Stormy Point, on Carriage Drive.
The once-broad drive skirts the Edge. Lined with majestic beeches and clumps of Scots pine, the track originally brought Stanley family guests to wonder at the views.
Roughly halfway down the Drive, take an optional detour off to the right, to the atmospheric Canyon Mine.
Opencast mining along the fault here has left a series of pits and rock shelters, with shafts at either end.
Return to the Carriage Drive and turn right. Where the drive meets a well-used farm road, look for the Goldenstone, on the verge, 22 yards (20m) ahead.
Mentioned in the legend, this large cleft sandstone rock on the edge of Dickens Wood has acted as a boundary marker, or merestone, since time immemorial.
Now turn back, to return on the (sometimes busy) farm track to the main Alderley Edge to Macclesfield road and the car park.
End: National Trust car park, grid ref: SJ860776
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 1 mile (1.5km)
- Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
- OS Map: Explorer 286; Landranger 118
Generally flat, surfaced and waymarked circuit. Gentle to moderate slopes; bumpy in parts. Suitable for pushchairs. Wheelchair users may need accompanying.
- How to get here:
By bike: Regional Cycle Route 70 passes by the Wizard Public Inn and the National Trust car park. This route is also know as the Cheshire Cycle Way. Please note that there are no cycle racks to lock bikes to at present
By train: The nearest station is Alderley Edge which is approximately 2 miles (3.2km) from here. There are good train links from Manchester, Stockport and Crewe. Taxis are available
By car: From Alderley Edge village, take the B5087 towards Macclesfield, climb up the hill and go past the Wizard Public Inn. You'll find the National Trust car park approximately 50 yds (46m) past this on your left hand side
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