Bollin Valley Partnership

Bollin Valley Partnership

Protecting and enhancing the River Bollin catchment


Bollin Valley Way - Central section



The Way crosses an area know in Wilmslow as “The Carrs”. The word “carr” often means waterlogged woodland. This type of habitat can still be seen downstream from Twinnies Bridge.  An alternative definition comes from a Norse word meaning meadow which has been recovered from bog as apparently this area was once used by locals to graze animals. Therefore it suggests this area was once boggy and wooded and overtime drained and used for agricultural purposes.  Of historic interest on The Carrs is the ruined St Olaf’s chapel built in Victorian times. Nothing much remains except a few brick walls. Nearby is a large rounded stone with an inscription carved upon it, which states “the oak tree near this spot was grown by Henry Boddington, J.P of Pownall Hall, an ardent and original Director of Manchester Ship Canal  1885 -1892 who carried home the first sod cut by Lord Egerton at Eastham in 1889 and planted an acorn in it”. The oak tree mentioned in the inscription stands nearby.

St Olafs chapel

The River Bollin provides power for numerous mills but the most well known today is Quarry Bank Mill at Styal which was founded by Samuel Greg in 1784. This site was chosen by Greg as the river drops 14 feet through a steep sided valley, creating fast flowing water to turn the 2 water wheels which powered the cotton spinning mill. They also constructed a tunnel and a wheel-race to increase efficiency.  Samuel Greg believed in treating his workforce well and gave employees fair wages, good housing, a school and gardens to allow them to grow their own food. Even so working conditions were unpleasant and many employees suffered health problems.  Quarry Bank Mill is now owned National Trust and is well worth a visit as there is much to see and do.

The Bollin Valley Way follows the river underneath Runway 2 at Manchester Airport through a dramatic tunnel. 

tunnel and bridge

The airport was originally known as Ringway Airport. In 1929 it opened as a municipal airport on a temporary licence. Nearby Barton Airport proved to be lacking in capacity so more land was purchased at Ringway and the airport was then opened in 1938. During World War 2 it was used to manufacture aircraft and to train parachutists. In 1975 Ringway Airport was renamed Manchester International Airport. In 1980 Concorde flew in to Manchester and thousands of people drove into the surrounding lanes to witness the visit, causing the local road network to become grid locked.

Rossmill is a joy to walk through in Spring when the bluebells and wild garlic are in flower. These plants plus others can often be an indication of a woodland being of great age. Old woodlands are usually full of wildlife, listen out for noisy nuthatches in early Spring calling from the tree tops. You might spot one, as it hunts for insects on branches and tree trunks.  They nest in holes in trees or nest boxes, and usually plaster mud around the inside of the hole to make it just right for them.


Nearby Cotteril Clough contains woodland of a similar age and is today a nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest managed by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. This woodland is one of Cheshire’s best examples of ancient woodland.  There is no public access to the woodland which clings to the steep sides of the clough. The wood became a nature reserve after the pubic raised funds to purchase the area.  Cotteril Clough Nature Reserve was also purchased in memory of Thomas Coward, a Bowdon resident and famous Cheshire Naturalist who died in 1933.

 When you reach Mill Lane it is now hard to imagine the large open air swimming pool in the valley near Castle Mill which provided years of summer outdoor fun for many years until it closed in the late 1970’s.