Everybody knows the Salt Line, but what about our other disused railway? Going over the level crossing at Alsager Station, then along Talke Road, you will find the entrance to Merelake Way.
On a sunny autumn afternoon this made a lovely short ride with some spectacular views. The line used to run from Alsager to Bignall End, then through Halmer End and Leycett to join the Newcastle to Market Drayton line, all now sadly deceased. The section from Bignall End to Halmer End is a bike path where my three children learned to ride their bikes.
In typical disconnected British fashion, a short piece of this line has become the Merelake Way. How easy it would have been to keep the continuous line, and what a great bike route it would have made. In this case the route is still there, hasn’t been built on, and is ripe for restoring to use as a bike track.
The path becomes a pretty tree-lined avenue:
A little further on you pass Alsager golf club, and then the track is crossed by this grand-looking bridge:
On closer inspection this only carries a humble footpath over the old railway. Quite why such a decorative bridge was built is a mystery. It connects a farmer’s field to a bunker on the 12th hole of the golf course. (I have a secret informant who keeps me posted on golfing matters.) This is the view from above:
The path meanders on, looking rather gorgeous if you are lucky with the weather:
The path ends at Merelake Road, where you can turn right. After a short climb you come to a gloomy overhung stretch of road:
From near here you can sneak through the fence into the golf course, where the highest green has some magnificent views, because this is the highest point in Alsager. Looking down the fairway you can just make out Jodrell Bank on the horizon.
There are appealing views in every direction:
The strange monument on the distant hill is the Wedgewood Monument at Red Street. More about that in a future post, because it will make a nice ride from Alsager.
Returning to Alsager on Audley Road finishes off the ride. At only three and a half miles, this is a short and sweet ride for when time is short. A map of the route can be found here.