Thursday, 16 July 2009

Mow Cop

The village of Mow Cop lies atop the hill of the same name that rises to 1100ft (335m) above the surrounding land. It makes for a strenuous, but rewarding, walk from the Macclesfield Canal at Scholar Green or you can do as we did and get the no. 99 bus from Kidsgrove.

The village could be said to have a split personality. The county boundary, separating Cheshire and Staffordshire runs right though it, which means that the community also sits astride the official divide between the North West of England and the Midlands. Its two former main industries also couldn't be more distinct - millstone grit quarrying and velvet making!

At the top of the hill is the castle - built as a folly by a local landowner in 1754.
The castle at Mow Cop

From the castle there are spectacular views over Staffordshire - towards the Potteries - and from the other side over Cheshire including the Jodrell Bank radio telescope, Fiddlers Ferry power station and Liverpool Cathedral.

The view over Staffordshire

The Cheshire View

The main reason for my visit was to find a pub. Not just any old pub, but the "Cheshire View" The pub lies on one of the steepest roads in England and I wanted to see if my memories of lorries grinding up past the windows at slow walking pace whilst we supped pints of Marston's Bitter inside were accurate.
The Cheshire View pub. A notice inside claims the gradient is even steeper than 25%

Memory plays tricks -especially after 35 years or so - but the pub was still there and the road was as steep as I remember. The pub hadn't changed much either -which did surprise me - and it even still sells a palatable drop of Marston's ale. No sooner had we arrived than there came a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder - and all the lights went out!
After the storm, which was short lived, the landlord lent us a pair of binoculars kept behind the bar so that we could enjoy the "Cheshire View" after which the pub is so aptly named. At least its a more appropriate name than its previous one - the Railway Hotel - as the station was over a mile away and 600ft lower down the hill.

We managed the downhill walk back to Kidsgrove and later -after rescuing an abandoned piling hook from the moorings - moved the boat a mile or so onto the Macclesfield Canal tying up just past the full visitor moorings at Bridge 86. By 21.00 it was obvious that the residential boat opposite was going to be running its engine all evening as the occupants settled down in front of their power-hungry wide-screen telly and as we realised that there was now a vacant space on the visitor mooring we bow-hauled Starcross back through the bridge to a quieter spot.
Our (eventually) peaceful mooring at bridge 86

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