I was visiting friends in the Stockport area recently and, due to fact that my kids and there kids were getting restless, we all decided to go out for a walk in the hope of burning off some of that energy they had built up.
My friends told me about a place that they have visited many times, telling me that after a walk around this particular place their kids had fell asleep in the car on the way back home everytime. So, with this, I smiled as I pushed my sugar fuelled hyped up children into the car with the happy thoughts of finally tiring them out, our destination being Etherow Country Park.
** GETTING THERE...
Getting there is quite easy, by car or public transport, with the bus stops being a matter of metres away from the park itself. The buses being the 383 and the 384 from Stockport.
If you come by car, as we did, turn onto George Street, towards and then passed the small Post Office which is on the left, then, a few metres ahead, on the right, is the entrance to the car park.
If you come by bus, get off at the stop near a van rental place and walk through the passage way between that and a telephone box. There is a sign with the name of the park on it so you know you're there.
The actual address is...
Etherow Country Park,
Just input your Sat Nav with SK6 5JD
** ABOUT THE PARK...
Etherow Country Park is a 31 acre park in a small village called Compstall, which lies in between Marple Bridge and Cherry Tree/Romily, in Stockport, Cheshire.
But before becoming one of the first country parks in England the park started its life as an industrial estate, complete with a mill and a mine. Then in 1968 the park was born and is now classed as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Biological interest. The park contains such things as protected trees, a spectacular, if not massive, water fall and beautiful woodland.
The river Etherow runs though the park, filling the reservoir which in turn fed the Mill. But, as the industrial industry faltered, the mill closed and, together with the area around it, soon became a nature reserve which was open to the general public to enjoy.
Also, in the park, is the Etherow Country Park Sailing Club, which is a small, but nationally well known, boating club.
The park is kept by the local authorities but there is also a group called 'Friends of Etherow' who help keep the park in the beautiful manner it is.
Fishing and model boating are allowed on the lakes, although both need a permit to do so.
** WHAT'S THERE..?
Apart from the beautifully designed walk around the lake there is also...
* A visitors centre
* Café with indoor and outdoor seating area
* Car Park, which is pay and display
* There are also several memorial benches along the walk for you to sit down and enjoy the scenery, or just take a breather.
* There are themed walks, but check before hand when these are and how long these take.
* Fishing along most banks of the lake
* Sailing facilities, both modal and full size boats.
The park also runs 'educational day' for school trips, so, especially in the warmer seasons, the park may be full of screaming kids running around under your feet, (and no, you can't push them in the water even if you're tempted).
The park is open 24hours a day, although the visitors centre, toilets and café are only open 10am until around 5pm.
** MY OPINION...
When we got there it was very busy, with the car park almost bursting at the seams, so, we headed outside onto the streets in the hope of finding somewhere to park, even if it meant leaving car outside someone's house. But this plan didn't quite work out either as the streets were as busy as a pub on Saint Paddies day at happy hour, with half price Guinness on sale.
I was about to head off but decided to give the car park one more try, and it was lucky I did, as just then a car pulled out of a space and I shot straight in, with many cars behind me trying to achieve what I had luckily completed.
Don't get me wrong, it's not that the car park is small, in fact, the car park is a good size, it just seemed to be a none stop flow of traffic, but to me this just indicated that this park was quite popular.
After parking up we headed into the information centre and picked up a leaflet which had a plan of the walks around the park. We then headed of off along the path, following the lake as we went, and once passed the café, the walk takes you passed a housing estate on your left, with a lovely little house actually at the side of the path, then we found ourselves in a tree lined pathway.
From here we had a choice whether to carry on towards the water fall area, where there is several picnic benches to savour the scenery, or you can head back to the café and car park if you find yourself tired. This is a matter of crossing over one of the small bridges which are about half way along the path, taking you right across a narrow section of the lake. Then, on you way back, you can take another route which takes you down the middle of the lake, along the path, not in the water of course.
But we decided to carry on along the path heading towards the water fall area, which the River Etherow flows over, and when we got there it was quite a pleasant, if slightly noisy, surprise indeed as we stood on the bridge looking over the small, but rather awe inspiring, water fall beneath our feet, this was quite a beautiful site to see but I have to say it wasn't exactly quiet.
Around this area there are several picnic benches and a lot of grassed areas to sit around, although when it has rained you may get a wet bottom if you sit on the grass. But on dry days, as it was when we went, the area can get busy, and it was, there were people everywhere but there was still room to sit and enjoy the scenery.
In fact there are many places to sit and rest, taking in the scenery and tranquillity, including several benches and many wooden tables all scattered around the park itself, most of them slightly off the beaten track, allowing you to grab a bite to eat without being disturbed by other walkers.
On our way back to the car park we decided to stay on the 'river' side of the track, choosing to have a wander down the path through Ernocroft woods, which, even though the leaflet claims that this wood has a few remnants from the mining history of the park, we didn't see anything to prove the fact, although we didn't walk too far into the woods. The opening to this pathway is behind a memorial bench with the name 'Ellen Taylor, in loving memory of' engraved on it.
Then, back on track, we came to the end of the walk, which took us passed what looked like an industrial estate and passed the sailing club, with several boats sitting on the tarmac parking area.
Then we were back in the car park with the idea of going straight into the café for a nice drink and a sit down. Sadly, this idea was stopped in its track when we saw the length of the queue coming from the café, realising that we would have been standing there for hours. So we choose to head off and find a shop and grab a cold drink from as it would no doubt be a lot quicker, and it was.
In all, a very pleasant way to burn off a few calories and tire the kids out in a easy to negotiate circular walk with a rather dramatic water fall included. The paths are all wheelchair friendly and wide enough to allow people to easily pass by.
So if you're ever in the Compstall/ Romily/ South Stockport area and have a few hours to spare then this is a nice way to spend those hours, but do take a picnic as the café does get busy and you may just starve to death before you get served.
A family day out at a beautiful park.