South Manchester to Macclesfield cycle, via Lyme Park and the Middlewood Way

Middlewood Way

Awesome weather = time to get on yer bikes! I’ve been meaning to visit Lyme Park for ages, so we used the opportunity last weekend and set off south towards the park. From our front door to the station in Macclesfield the ride took us about 6 hours, which included quite a few stops for map reading and route changes, and a couple of longer breaks for food and drinks. The route is mostly flat, with very few hills. Regarding the road surface, I managed well with my 7 gear hybrid bike with tyres that are on the thin side, although I did push on some paths that might be manageable with mountain bike tyres. We used a Cycle GM cycle map number 7 (Stockport).

We started our trip in South Manchester and followed the 62 cycle route down to Stockport. This part is a bit tricky and depending on where you’re coming from, it’s probably best to just read the map and aim for Vernon Park to get through Stockport city centre.

Our initial plan was to simply follow New Bridge Lane/Stockport Road/Osborne Street until we got to the 55 cycle route, but when we cycled past Vernon Park we decided to have a quick wander round the park (which is lovely, by the way!). We had a look at the park map and figured we could hit the 55 if we just went along the footpath by the River Goyt until we got to Jim Fearnley bridge which is marked on the cycle map. This plan turned out to be rather adventurous, as for the first stretch along the river we had to carry our bikes up and down steps, planks, and over a few fallen trees. However, once the initial climbing was done, the footpath along the river was wide and suitable for cycling, and the views were marvellous.

Once we got closer to the bridge, there were a few more steps up and down, but again nothing too bad. We went past a cricket club (which appeared to be in the middle of the woods, with no access roads…), crossed over the bridge (dodging the kids racing their bmx bikes down the steep hill) and turned left onto the path to finally get onto the 55. Just shortly after that the 55 leads to a main road, where we did not follow the 55 signs pointing to the left but took a short cut, turning right onto the main road which wasn’t too busy and had a off-road cycle path for a short bit as well. The road took us directly to the Railway pub in Marple, where we had a short pit stop before getting back onto our bikes.

The 55 cycle route starts again just next to the Railway pub, so from there on it was plain sailing/cycling, as we only had to follow the path and signposts down the Middlewood Way. We left the path when we got to the “Nelson Pit Visitor Centre” signs, crossed over the cycle path and the canal, down Lyme Road (a private road that is marked as a public footpath) which took us up a bumpy hill (more pushing) to the gates of Lyme Park. A little further up the hill (past some overheated sheep) the views were brilliant, as we could see all the way down to Manchester. We followed down the path to get onto a paved road, which took us directly to the Lyme Park car park. The hall and gardens close quite early, so we decided to save the visit for another day and have lunch/tea at the pond instead.

The White Nancy near Bollington

Originally, our plan was a round trip to Lyme Park and back up to Manchester, but since it was already quite late and the sun had worn us out, we decided to cycle on down to Macclesfield and take the train back instead. We left Lyme Park the same way we came and went back onto the Middlewood Way (55) cycle path. The ride to Macclesfield was easygoing, taking us past the White Nancy near Bollington and some rather interesting solutions for bridging height differences. The Middlewood Way seems to lead directly to Macclesfield train station, although I think we took the wrong turn somewhere and had to do a few right-left combos past a Tesco’s to get to the station. The trains to Manchester run every 15 to 20 minutes, and finding a train that would take our bikes wasn’t a problem.

The trip was absolutely brilliant, and there’s plenty to see – lush woodland, a river, wild flowers, old mills, a cricket club in the middle of the woods, quite a few pubs… Get on your bikes!

[Photos: Middlewood Way by Terry Wha. White Nancy by Alice Rosen]