Lyme Park is a National Trust area situated between Disley and Poynton in Cheshire. At the centre of it there’s a heritage property which has been used for period drama filming: think Jane Austen and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. For walkers this is not its main attraction and after visiting the park numerous times I’ve never been near the building. The grounds are extensive but it’s the rear of the park which is most wild and interesting, where it borders the Peak District. If you enter this way there’s no charge, which is not the case if you come in the main gates with your car. The front entrance is near Disley and the rear, where I always go, is near Poynton. If you proceed further up the road from Poynton you eventually reach Rainow, Saltersford, and the Goyt Valley. This gives you some indication of the character of Lyme Park in terms of where it’s situated.
(Note: there are display problems with this video which concern the Flash player and hardware acceleration. The only solution I have found is to select HTML 5 viewing at YouTube which you can select here: www.youtube.com/html5. The video runs for 37.54 minutes. If you see all of it, relax and enjoy. If you don’t – consider the advice I’m giving you. It seems that HTML 5 is the future).
As with other British parks found in London and around the country Lyme Park was once the private grounds for very rich people, the kind of place still questionably enjoyed by the Windsor family. I understand Charles Windsor has a great affection for Balmoral Castle. I would too. I find it extraordinary that he has what is effectively a holiday home of such grand and magnificent scale, in the highlands of Scotland. These country estates were, and still are with the Windsors, a retreat for family, guests, and country recreation which includes hunting. Deer roam parts of Lyme Park, but I’ve only seen them on one occasion where I go over the back.
If you’re interested in walking rather than a park trip as such, the fact that you are in Lyme Park is fairly incidental. Cross a boundary you barely notice and you’re in the Peak District. You can also start walking in the Peak District near a small village called Pott Shrigley, drop down to the park and walk in a circuit back up to the Peak District.
My favourite area is near an interesting and attractive place called Cluse Hey. The hillside there is notably lovely: not in any dramatic way but because the colours, textures and shapes are so beautiful. It’s a photographic favourite, like a piece of music I return to repeatedly. The ridge along the top is surprisingly exposed to wind which means you can get a strong buffeting. You also have extensive views across Cheshire and back to Manchester and beyond.
There are wonderful trees at Lyme Park, I’ve seen kestrels, and it’s a popular area for family recreation although that tends to be located in the tourist section through the main gates and leading to the country house. Since I’ve never been there I don’t know for sure but I imagine it has the usual attractions of a tea shop and gift shop.
If you live in Manchester, Stockport and surrounding areas Lyme Park is a walking asset I can recommend. Forget about the tourist areas because over the back you find substantial and lovely hills to satisfy the wandering spirit. As with other parts of the Peak District you enjoy ‘big skies’ which with good light makes for wonderful views and good photography. If you do roam and explore around here parts can be very muddy but you’re never in any danger or predicament. It’s tame stuff compared to Scotland, Wales, and the Lake District but from Manchester you can drive there in about thirty minutes, have a satisfying walk, then drive back to the comforts of home. I enjoy all kinds of walking: two or three week holidays in the Pyrenees when I camp in the mountains, extended hill camping trips in Scotland, Wales and the Lakes, and rambles such as you see in this video at Lyme Park in winter. Each experience is different and they all have their own value.