Southern Woods Walk

Walking trail

The Southern Woods provide a great opportunity to explore the wider estate at Quarry Bank and to watch the river twist and turn and make it's way to the mill. There are also some hidden gems...take a look at the mill pond and weir created in 1801 to control the water flow needed for the new waterwheel. Spot the Quarry which gives Quarry Bank it's name and provided stone for parts of the mill building. It is perfect walk for all the family and don't forget to bring your canine friend.

The mill pond at Quarry Bank, Styal, Cheshire


Map of the Southern Woods Walk


Quarry Bank Mill Yard


From the Mill Yard, follow the sign to the Southern Woods. The construction on the left (1) is a gasometer. Gas was produced at the Mill and stored here. It was used to light the buildings, Quarry Bank House and Styal Village.


On your right you soon see sluice gates to control the flow of water and then a children's playground. After a few minuted, pass the mill pond (2), you can make a diversion to your right to get a better view. Return to the main path to continue the walk. Moorhen, little grebe and mallard hide amongst the red-stemmed dogwood and alder at the millpond. The pond was created in 1801 when the weir was built to raise the water level to the top of a new waterwheel.


A couple of minutes later notice the Quarry on your left (3). Parts of the Mill were built from stone that was quarried here. Look closely for marks made by the masons' picks.


The path soon rises to cross Heron's Pool Bridge, and continues between an extensive wet area (4) and sloping woodland (5). Known as 'carr', the wet woodland in the river floodplain provides good conditions for many rare plants, insects and invertebrates, including ancient species of snails! In spring the woodland is carpeted with bluebells, and other rare wild flowers.


At the path junction marked by a large boulder (6) bear right. The boulder is Lake District granite. It was deposited here during the last ice age and is known as an 'erratic'.


Just before the footbridge (7) turn left uphill and left again at the kissing gate (8). To the right of the bridge, the rivers Dean and Bollin combine. Cross the field and fork right, uphill to a steel gate and walk across the fields towards the Mill. This route was used by Mill apprentices, to walk from the Apprentice House to the parish church in Wilmslow.


Across the fields to the left is a stone obelisk (9) which is due south from an observatory that once stood in Quarry Bank Garden. It allowed the Mill owner to use the sun to set his clocks. At the end of the path, turn left after two kissing gates and pass a pool (10) on your right. In the event of a fire, water would be pumped from the reservoir to the Mill. Fire was a constant threat in the hot and dusty mills. Fortunately fires at Quarry Bank seem to have been rare and small. Follow the path into the Mill Yard.


Quarry Bank Mill Yard

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Southern Woods Walk

How to get here

Mill Yard, Quarry Bank, Styal, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 4LA
By road

Off B5166, 2 miles from M56, exit 5. Heritage signs from A34 and M56

Parking: 200 yards


Southern Woods Walk

Facilities and access

  • Toilets and cafe in the mill yard