Alderley Edge woodland walk
This woodland walk begins at Alderley Edge railway station and is just 12 miles (19km) south of Manchester.
Explore a site of important archaeological and geological significance
Set around a dramatic sandstone escarpment in rolling Cheshire farmland and mature Scots pines and beech woodlands, the Edge has spectacular views, intriguing legends and an ancient mining history.
National Trust car park, grid ref: SJ860776
From the railway station turn left towards Alderley village, where you can join the bus (130 Arriva service) that takes you point 2 on the map, by Nether Alderley Primary School and the start of the walk. If you arrive by bus, alight at the same stop.
After alighting the bus, turn left onto a bridleway up Bradford Lane. When the lane forks, take the left-hand route. Continue straight ahead until you reach a road just after Bradford Lodge Cottages and turn left up to Macclesfield Road (a prominent main road).
Take care crossing this sometimes-busy road, then climb the stile which leads towards the National Trust car park and bear left.
Go through the squeeze stile onto the Wizard Walk.
Protecting the Edge for future generations
In 1948 we were given almost 247 acres (100ha) of the Edge so that we could protect some of the finest views and walks in Cheshire. Much of the Edge has now been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to its important archaeological and geological significance.
Continue on the path, with Engine Vein on your right. When the paths cross, continue straight on towards Armada Beacon. Take the left-hand path past the beacon and, following the stone wall, turn left at the bottom.
Engine Vein is a natural fault in the rock, which is rich in copper and other minerals and was excavated by Bronze Age miners who pecked out shallow pits and hollows with simple stone hammers and oak shovels. The existence of a Roman shaft and tunnels at the Vein show that it was later mined with sharper iron chisels. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the 19th century there was intermittent mining using a range of techniques, including hand-picked workings and blasting. Wind-driven smelters on nearby Saddlebole and Edge House farm were used to process the ore.
Take the steps up on your left to walk along the 'top' of the Edge. Continue onwards with a field on your left until you reach Castle Rock. There's a sheer drop here, so take care.
As the highest point on the Edge this site was originally a Bronze Age burial mound. It was later used as one of a series of places in the landscape where fires would have been lit as signals to warn of the imminent invasion by Spain in 1588. It has now gained protected status.
From Castle Rock head towards the road, but after a few yards take a sharp turn right. This will take you down a short set of steps; turn left at the bottom and follow the path until it forks.
Castle Rock is an obvious vantage point over the valley of the River Bollin to the north. Evidence suggests that the site was used as a settlement during the early Mesolithic period (around 8000BC). Though flint does not occur in the rocks at Alderley Edge, during this period people made tools here from flint which they found in the boulder clay deposited in the area during the last Ice Age.
Take the left-hand fork and continue for a short way, passing through an exit/entrance. Turn right through the second exit/entrance at the other end of the path onto Woodbrook Road. This steep, rough road will lead you down to a T-junction where it joins Trafford Road. Turn right here, going over the crossroads with Mottram Road until you reach another T-junction.
The rocky escarpment of Alderley Edge is made up of layers of Triassic sandstone which developed in semi-arid desert conditions, interspersed with occasional flash floods, around 230 to 180 million years ago. Upheavals in the earth's crust tilted these rocks gently upwards to form the Edge. The mature woodlands, remnant heath and ancient mines support a wealth of plant life and wildlife, such as orchids, woodcocks, ravens, bats and masonry bees. We work with local stakeholders and the community to conserve the Edge for future generations.
Turn left here, up towards the A34. The Alderley Edge railway station car park is on the other side of the road.
National Trust car park, grid ref: SJ860776
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