When it comes to parks, natural landscape and open space, Macclesfield shows more than willing. Walking them is a pleasure and a pursuit, so much so that the area is now renowned for its rural retreats and hiking routes, the latter of which are amply available. There is something sturdy and solid to the environment here, which walkers pick up on in their outings. Walks are planned and sign-posted, with clocked-up hours tracked and weather conditions assessed and planned for. But there is freedom, too, in the way the landscape is laid out. The stark openness and sheer volume of scope here provides a way of connecting with the elements easily and accessibly, whether you trek, hike, amble or wander slowly.
Macclesfield Forest caters to all. Most significant is the view. Trees scale immeasurable height en masse, masking hidden slopes and slant in the land. Footpaths rise and fall, framing the topography marked with benches and stopping-points, to see the views askew and anew. The easiest route circles the reservoir, with options to tag ringed-off parks and designated picnic areas. Picnic spots abound locally. Tegg’s Nose Country Park offers vast choice for lunching location, with its own on-site tea-room, serving warm-up drinks for post-hike indulgence. Nourishment in nature is a focus point in and of itself too. Blueberries and wild apples grow here all year round, easily visible, and often sighted and quoted. The atypical terrain deems the ground a hub of activity, popular for orinteering, abseiling, fishing and rock-climbing. Riverside Park, Danes Moss Nature Reserve and West Park Museum all likewise offer uniquely attractive recreation locally, where a day of exploring can combine food, cultural-intake, fresh air and family interaction. For the more urban-wanderer, The Silk Museum and Macclesfield Treacle Market, both situated with easy access in the town centre, provide local exhibitions and trading stalls which fess up something for all.
For the walker seeking longevity, there are routes spiking off, uphill, and downhill, out and off into eventual higher realms with memorable views of the treetops. For the walker seeking an arm-in-arm natter with a good friend, there are start-to-finish circuitous routes to be lapped, which joyfully round-off by dropping you at the local pub. For the walker seeking solitary expanse and grind, there are headways and remote turf to make heed with, and the chance to continuously take on the elements amid a variety of changeable conditions. Walking, as an act of connecting with nature, is also a way of connecting the dots, syncing landmarks, one to the other, as the steely, protruding local parkland and woodland marked here so do.
Here are our picks
West Park Museum, Prestbury Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 3BJ - Visit now
West Park Museum is famed primarily for its variety of Egyptian artefacts, collected by renowned explorer Marianne Brocklehurst, who donated the space to educate and refine public interest. What’s notable, though, is that the building is located in one of the UK’s first ever public parks, framing it in tended gardens and primed and preened natural features. Restoring equilibrium between outside and in, in this way, the museum offers the chance to coalesce outdoor and indoor contact in one trip. Visitors can explore the exhibitions and collections, which fittingly include work by Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe, a prominent illustrator for the RSPB, before venturing out into the scenic and restorative green spread. The interchange between what is curated and what is not, or what belongs to art and what belongs to nature, is flagged, as is the beauty that comes from mingling among them both comparably.
Tegg’s Nose Country Park, Buxton Old Rd, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 0AP - Visit now
Tegg’s Nose Country Park appeals to the dedicated walker and the laid-back stroller alike. Dominated by rock, the landscape is furiously untamed and wild, imbuing the environment with a founded sense of character. Steeply-sided valleys and hill tops show-off stone walls and sturdy barns common to the area, reminiscent of the quarrying that historically took place on-site. The namesake is a curious point. Thought to have come from ‘Tegge’, an early Norse Settler, and ‘nose’, it is thought that the hill perhaps originally looked like a sheep, or ‘teg’. Inherent to its title, then, is a sense of renewal, rebirth and revival; a heritage much of the witnessed blossoming and blooming plays up to. Walking the three mile route, via a gradual hill climb, exposes you to this fortune, resplendent with chromatic brown and green tones.
Macclesfield Forest, Macclesfield, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 0NE - Visit now
Macclesfield Forest is like no other. Starting on a marked path, in a direction of your choice, it’s easy to feel the limitlessness of walking and be at one with the natural space. Trees, however, turn the environment into one of concave depths and deeper corners. Once you gain height, roots edge sloping land losing themselves into abrupt drops, while light filters steadily through. The effect is a spectre; under various weather conditions, the place can feel airy, silvery, fresh, misty or golden, dependent on the time of year. The popular 300 mile circular walk leads round the reservoir over mostly level path, boasting the view of the water as it sits in a sunken hollow in the midst of overhanging foliage and bracken. The forest is a site of transformation and evolution; no path is without a new view or a new perspective, revealing, in this way, the changing scope of this preserved, sightly retreat.
The Silk Museum, Park Lane, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 6TJ - Visit now
The Silk Museum states a comprehensive overview of the history of Macclesfield, focusing on its lineage of silk production and prowess. Industrial graft is dictated through the progression of time, telling how the town adapted and adopted the level of skill and craft required for such noteworthy output. Old looms fill the rooms, expressing the force of the scale and labour behind the acclaimed end-product. Visitors typically start here before taking the two hour walking tour on offer, where the story of entrepreneurial development is told with vivacity and insight. Housed in a 19th century art school, with changeable exhibits and events, the heritage and legacy the narrative of this cultured display draws upon is both revered and respected in the work it does.
Macclesfield Treacle Market, Market Place,, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 1EA - Visit now
Macclesfield Treacle Market is illustrious. Myth has it that a horse-cart once overturned and spilt the sticky substance onto the cobbles, and the name stuck. The market has hung around for well over a decade, drawing in visitors regularly. 160 plus stalls take over the square and lanes, filling their fronts with an eclectic array of produce. Freshly pressed apple juice, local eggs, cheeses, deli counters, piled-up pies, flowers, vintage homeware, knitted goods and taxidermy are token highlights, with the market as a whole being a liberal and varied state of affairs. The effect is one of curious enthralment and fancy. It’s perfect to amble along to, as you weave your way among the broad-ranging set-up, taking in the assorted table-boutiques and objects. Scheduled for the last Sunday of each month, the market is the ideal place for a relaxed, laid-back, meander, bite-to-eat or casual saunter thorough the thriving town.
Riverside Park, Mill Lane, Off Palatine Road, Northenden, M22 4HJ - Visit now
Riverside Park offers a clue within its name; grassland meets waterside here in a pleasing alignment of differing natural habitats. The River Bollin is lined with mature woodland and well maintained paths. The woodland itself is divided into two main areas: Sycamore and Tytherington. What was once agricultural land now gloats with an abundance of herbage, leafage and verdure, optimising the space to a premium. The site is pulsing with the undercurrent of natural activity, habitat to an excess of wildlife. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Butterfly Garden; a space dedicated to paying homage to these delicate winged creatures. Wildflower Meadow, a community orchard, picnic sites and free car parking complete the site, with trails expertly designed and suitable for dog walking, guided walks and wilderness-watching.
Danes Moss Nature Reserve, Danes Moss, Gawsworth, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK11 9QS - Visit now
Danes Moss Nature Reserve is a sanctuary of lowland raised bog, making it one of the scarcest and most threatened habitats in the UK. Sphagnum moss pervades, important for forming the peat, which is crucial to the specificities of the land. Species-spotters will note the varieties of moss, with at least six noted and investigated to date. Flying insects abound. Eleven species of dragonfly and nineteen species of butterfly have been recorded, with plans to expand the reserve constantly evolving. Long-term plans involve turning the terrain into heathland, and improving the paths and trails to extend the walks and involvement on offer. Having undergone some significant transformations, the charm of the site is how it retains and preserves its habitat, not only showcasing uncommon conditions but, moreover, thriving within them, allowing visitors to experience its quality.