Bollin Valley Way - Western area
When turning off Ashley Road a beautiful timber tythe barn called Coppice Farm can be seen on your right. This building is thought to date from the 15th century.
After Ryecroft farm the walk crosses a few fields and follows the Birkin Brook which has its source in Knutsford. The Birkin Brook joins the River Bollin near Castle Mill, just before the A56 Altrincham Road. Also in this area, but difficult to see, is a small rounded hill which was once a Norman castle. A silver penny dating from 1154 – 89 was found in a rabbit hole on site. The motte and bailey is a listed ancient monument.
Once across the A56 the land is owned by the National trust and is part of the large Dunham Massey Estate which includes the villages of Dunham Woodhouses, Dunham Town and Sinderland Green. Dunham is mentioned in the Doomsday book, and has a long and interesting history. The 2nd Earl of Stamford planted around 100,000 trees and so the landscape today reflects the foresight of the 2nd Earl.
Little Bollington Mill can be seen near the bridge across the Bollin and was a corn mill dating back to 1776. In 1980 the mill was put up for sale and remained derelict for a number of years, before being converted into apartments and houses.
The village pub in Little Bollington is called The Swan with two Nicks. This strange name originates from the time of Elizabeth 1st when some of the swans were owned by wine merchants and the others by monarch. To identify who owned which swan the swans beaks were marked by nicks made by a knife.
After the picturesque village of Little Bollington, the Bollin Valley Way takes to a cobbled path leading underneath the Bridgewater Canal at one end of the Dunham Aqueduct. Look for the carved face on the side of the bridge. The aqueduct was completed in 1769 but had stability problems which caused leaks. In 1971 a massive leak caused the water level in this canal to drop by 14 inches.
Brine Springs rise in the Bollin Valley in this area too, and Dunham Woodhouses was known as a salt village.
The Bollin Valley Way crosses the 215 mile coast to coast Trans-Pennine Trail. The Trans-Pennine Trail is part of the National Cycle Network. The trail uses disused railway lines, canal towpaths, urban cyclepaths and minor roads to link Southport on the Irish Sea coast with Hornsea on the North Sea coast. The Trans-Pennine Trail follows the disused Warrington to Stockport railway where the Bollin valley Way crosses it.
After crossing the trail, arable and cattle grazed fields will lead you along the final stretch of the Bollin Valley Way to the Manchester Ship canal, where the River Bollin completes its 30 mile journey at Bollin Point. Here you will spot the Warburton toll bridge, the only toll bridge in Greater Manchester, with the toll paid for going over the route of the Mersey.
The Mersey once flowed through the village of Warburton prior to the building of the Ship Canal when it was straightened and diverted. The Canal is an extraordinary feat of Victorian enterprise and engineering. The deep water canal, 36 miles long, was completed in just 6 years to enable ocean-going ships to deliver and collect cargo along the route from central Manchester to the Irish Sea. Swing bridges that carried roads and a canal across the canal still work as well as when they were constructed over a century ago, and huge locks and wharfs bear witness to how busy the canal once was.
At the start/end of the Bollin Valley Way you will find the town of Partington lying on the southern bank of the Manchester Ship Canal. A paper mill built in Partington more than 250 years ago was the first factory in Trafford. The completion of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 transformed Partington into a major coal-exporting port and attracted a range of other industries.