Tuesday, 8 September 2009

River Bollin Valley Dug Walk Trip Report

I lived in the leafy Cheshire village of Bowdon for the first decade of my life, not in a huge mansion neighbouring millionaire footballers but in a busy dead end terraced street. To most people the street was a dead end, but for me the adventure went on through wide meadows and hidden paths to the beautiful River Bollin Valley. Almost a million people live within a twenty mile radius and hardly any of them even know this gem of a valley exists. They may from time to time visit the National Trust's spectacular deer parks and stately homes at Dunham Park and Tatton Park but hardly any will venture along the hidden footpaths of the Bollin Valley. Bowdon was in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Bogedone" a name derived from two old Saxon words "boga" and "dün" meaning "curved hill". When you look towards Bowdon when approaching from the south you will see why.

Max fetching a stick from the River Bollin

At the moment we are looking after my future in-laws border collie Max which is giving me a great excuse to get out of the house and go for evening walks around the local area. I had a day off last week so thought I'd go and explore the Bollin Valley I loved as a child. Streams and Rivers have always been my favourite thing. Seems ludicrous that we don't visit the valley more often as it is only a 3km walk or ten minute drive from our back door, but we rarely get time to go for short easy walks these days, which is a real shame. We parked up at a make shift car park down a small country lane in the heart of the valley by the old Bollington Mill. The dog jumped from the car and ran off towards two gentlemen, one of them had a burgundy England training top on and on closer inspection I realised it was none other than Bryan Robson! A Man who I admired as a teenager and used to chant at from the Stretford End. We said hello, I introduced myself as a fan in that sad dorky way you do when you meet a hero, and he shook my hand and wished me a good walk. You don't get much better starts to a walk than that really!

River Bollin Foot Bridge

The river was teaming with small fish as I peered in from the footbridge. Tiny fish swimming but still against the flow of the river on tiny sandy ripples below the clear waters. The river is fed by many tributaries along the way and some come from well stocked reservoirs and meres which can help the ecology and fish stocks of the river. The rivers banks were as I remembered, sandy and muddy, a true representation of the Peak District moors they are sourced from. The locals are quite excited at the moment as there have been several sightings of an Otter on one of the many tributaries of the Bollin, the location of which I won't make public.

Thistledown

After enjoying a good stick throwing session with Max at the large river bend where the river silt has made a fantastic beach, we continued on through woodlands at first then out onto open meadows where the thousands of thistles were performing there annual "Thistledown" a method of seed dispersal by wind. At times when the wind blew it was like it was snowing. A few of these had only just burst open and they were incredible to see. As we crossed one of the meadows I heared one of my favourite wild noises, the sharp mewing of a Buzzard. I looked up to see two circling above. See here for an example of a Buzzards call. I love that these mighty and majestic birds of prey are only two miles from my house. The wildlife in the valley is great, in just two visits in the last year I have seen Buzzards, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Swifts, Swallows, Moorhens, Mallards, Trout, Butterflies, Bees, Insects and even a very happy and muddy Border Collie!

Max on the track back to the car park

You can make as long a walk as you like starting from many different places along the Bollin and I hope to eventually put up a few on the website in the next few months. There is now a 25 mile long trail known as the Bollin Valley Way. You can download the maps and information leaflets in PDF format for the Bollin Valley Way from here. The valley has so much to see and offers a real getaway for those who live in the hugely over populated and rat racing Greater Manchester area, check out the website at www.bollinvalley.org.uk.

I have uploaded the photos from the day here.

Route Map...

1 comment:

  1. Hi. Came across your post whilst searching for info on buzzards in the Bollin Valley. The walk you describe here is one of my regular dog walks and I've seen a single buzzard on a number of occasions. Today I saw pair of them over the meadow, one mewing to the other. A fantastic sight. We also spotted what I think was a kestrel, although I didn't get a great look.

    The dog likes to swim on the same corner as your photograph of Max, On one day, a couple of months ago, a kingfisher flew past us and followed the river up stream. Fantastic to have all this wildlife on our doorstep!

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