In Styal

Warning – this post may contain some exaggeration. 😀

I did this at the weekend – except without the tour guide or the hearty picnic.

Styal Expedition

I went out with the Shropshire Community Flickr peeps on Sunday. As a group, we hadn’t really managed a proper meet since May, so I was looking forward to it. The destination, as you may have guessed, was Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire.  The day dawned dry – which was a good sign – and I was picked up and whisked on my way shortly after 9am.

For quite a few of us, not much photography happened on the day. I think it’s fair to say some of us were mainly there for the social side of things. Plus the light was a bit ‘meh’ and as handsome a building as the Mill is, we were finding it tricky to get inspired. (This is my only decent photo of the day – and it’s quite heavily photoshopped.)

Dandelion view

Things perked up after lunch for some of us when we decided to go for a happy amble by the River Bollin. We bumbled along from the Mill up to where the Bollin meets Styal Road. Rain had been forecast for the afternoon, but the sun decided to come out instead which inspired us into finding a different route back on the other side of the river.

Things started off fine as we followed a well trodden path which formed the boundary between a rugby pitch and the wood that the Bollin wound its way through. At some point we decided to abandon this path in favour of tramping our way through the middle of the Bermuda wood.

At one point we mysteriouslyended up where we’d already been once. If Steve hadn’t recognised a discarded drinks can we’d already passed, who knows – we could well still be there going round and round in a never ending circle. By now we would have sacrificed the first group member to feed the others.

Someone (I think it may have been me) spotted what looked like a different path in what appeared to be vaguely the direction of the mill. So off we went.

It was nice and easy to navigate at first, but when we started passing through holes cut into wire fences, we should have perhaps realised that we weren’t really were on a “proper” path.

The route got gradually wilder and wilder. Cameras were stowed back into bags for safety. Near vertical slopes were clambered up and down and down and up again with only weak looking saplings and twigs to cling onto for support. We would lose sight of the Bollin, then send out a Scout to find it again. Finally we were defeated by undergrowth so dense that moving forward ceased to be an option.

To one side of us was an open field with a farmhouse in plain view. The field was presumably not meant to be traversed by the general public as an electric fence ran round the perimeter. Half of the group were in favour of jumping over or under said fence and playing the ‘we got lost’ card if the farmer appeared waving a big stick. The other half were still pursuing other options.

Then came the words that sealed our fate.
“Look – the river is down there.”
“I’m NOT going down there.”
“What…down that practically vertical bank?”
“I’m NOT going down there.”
“Yes – and look – there’s the path we need to get back to.”
“I’m NOT going down there.”
“What – that path that’s on the OTHER side of the river?”
“I’m NOT going down there.”
Yes – and how fortuitous – that tree has fallen over and I think we can use it as a bridge back to the path.”
“I’m NOT going over that tree trunk.”
“Oh, it will be fine!”
“I’m NOT going over that tree trunk.”
“Don’t be silly – you could drive a bus over that tree trunk!”
“I’m NOT going over that tree trunk.”

Sadly for one half of us, the other half were apparently mountain goats in a previous life and bounded off down the hill in seconds, unhindered and apparently unconcerned, by the thought of falling over and bashing the ££££££s worth of camera equipment we were carrying.

The said mountain goats then pole nimbly vaulted over a sizable hole between hillside and tree root before running back and forth over the damn tree trunk several times (including twice blindfolded, and once doing cartwheels) just to prove how easy it was.

Looks like we were going down there after all.

To be fair – it was all very amusing (to the point of mild hysteria in a couple of cases). Verity and I made our way slowly down the bank – accompanied by a variety of squeaks and squawks each time we slipped a millimetre or so. From the noises we made, David who was ahead of us at that point, was sure that at any second we were going to lose our footing and come tumbling down the slope behind him and take him out in the process. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

After a quick no-nonsense look at the pathetic face I was pulling, Steve chucked me across the pole vaulting hole rather than make me actually pole vault it. Here’s Verity at the same point.

Then it was just the trunk to face. I just couldn’t do it on my feet though. After two of the tiniest steps ever, I knew I’d end up in the wet stuff if I attempted any more. So….I opted for the bum-shuffle method:

That’s Steve behind with his hand on one hip and tapping a foot in exasperation at my slow progress. 😉  I may have uttered “I don’t like this!” several thousand times in between giggles.

At least I wasn’t the only one who employed this method though. (Sorry David!)

You’re probably looking at that and wondering what all the fuss was about. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time though. Brilliant. Thank you guys for a great afternoon. 😀


2 Responses to “In Styal”

  1. 1 uphilldowndale August 20, 2009 at 8:20 am

    ‘we started passing through holes cut into wire fences’
    For a moment I thought you had found away into Styal Women’s Prison! Got to love the link, it reads like you are booking bed and breakfast.
    Next time you are out that way, have a look at the village of Bollington.
    They have a flickr page, I’m sure they would point you to some nice locations

  2. 2 nezza August 22, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    lol – it would have been funny if we’d ended up breaking into the prison. 😀

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