Middlewood Way

Robin M

The Middlewood Way offers a 10-mile (16-km) traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It follows the line of the former Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway through picturesque Cheshire countryside and between historic mill towns. For much of its length, the Middlewood Way runs close to the Macclesfield Canal, and there are many options for easy circular walks. For the more adventurous, the extensive public footpath network reaches into the Peak District Foothills to the east and the Cheshire Plain to the west.

A Brief History

In 1863, the towns of Marple, Bollington and Macclesfield were facing economic depression. Local dignitaries, in particular the cotton mill owners of Bollington, hoped that a new railway would improve their fortunes, and presented a scheme to Parliament. The Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway opened in 1869. The line carried cotton, silk, coal and passengers, but always struggled to make a profit. It was closed in 1970 and redeveloped for recreation as the Middlewood Way in 1985. The Macclesfield Canal was completed in 1831, very late for a canal - so late that it was almost a railway!

Coal from Poynton, stone from Kerridge and hats from Stockport were some of the cargoes carried. The canal was threatened with closure in the 1950s. A campaign by pleasure boaters saved it and today the canal is a popular leisure destination.

Accessibility

The Middlewood Way is mostly level and wheelchair-accessible. From Macclesfield to Bollington, the Way is hard-surfaced. North of Bollington, visitors will find various firm, compacted surfaces, the accessibility of which can be affected by weather. At road bridges, access is via steps unless otherwise indicated. At car parks and crossings, our standard entrance is a kissing gate, or other arrangement, designed to admit conventional wheelchairs.

Wildlife

A typical wide selection of woodland and farmland birds can been seen at any time of year.

Some of the ponds are excellent for dragonflies and damselflies.