We were very pleased to receive this article from Raymond Crowe. Raymond, who was visiting friends in this area, says he is a keen rambler, and designed this walk after checking with neighbours and an Ordnance Survey map.
He says he enjoyed it a great deal – and hopes readers will too!!
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This walk is very suitable for all ages and abilities. There are no hills and it is track nearly all the way. There is one stretch of road along a narrow country lane with no pavements where you will need to be aware of traffic.
It is a circular route, about four miles long, and takes in some interesting sights including a former railway line, an historic church, an ancient bridge, and old inn and some farmyards. The walk stays on public footpaths at all times even though there are hardly any footpath signs.
If you are travelling by car, you can park at the lay-by opposite 24-34 Sandon Road, Cresswell (postcode: ST11 9RB). You start the walk here.
Immediately notice the telephone kiosk: it was taken over by the Cresswell Community Group after it was decommissioned by BTelecom, and it is now used by them as an Information Point.
Head up the bank passing Sandon Close and Rookery Crescent. Fifteen yards past Rookery Crescent, turn left down a farm track, which goes along the back of the Crescent’s houses. You’ll reach a fork in the track after 100 yards – keep right. You now stay on the track for half-a-mile.
On your left you will see Blythe Business Park, once the site of the world-famous Blythe Colours factory.
Eventually you arrive at Paynsley Hall Farm. Walk through the gate into the farm and then left into the farmyard, keeping the smart new farmhouse on your left as you turn. Unfortunately, there are no footpath signs here, but the right of way does go through the farmyard. When I passed through, there was a plastic tape across the yard – but this is not there to deter walkers, only to guide the farm’s cows.
Keep between the farm buildings until the end of the yard, when you will see a metal gate (on your left) which takes you out of the yard and on to a track heading away from the farm. This gate, and another in the yard, was padlocked when I walked through, so it was necessary to climb over it – but it is easy to surmount.
Follow the farm track – which now leads north to the main railway line. I was told that from this track that, if you look twenty yards to your right back toward the farm, you might just be able to see the ruined brickwork that is all that is left of the historic Paynsley Hall, but I could see nothing.
If the track has cows or bulls on it, especially in calving season, it may be better to use a field-way to the left of the track, which has been kindly marked out with tape – provided by the farmer I presume.
[Just a note about bulls. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not illegal to keep a bull in a field that contains a right-of-way. If there is a bull around, simply follow the official advice]
After two hundred yards on this track, you will reach the River Blithe. This is only small at this point, but some miles on eventually runs into the River Trent and Blithfield Reservoir. Here also is the official crossing point across the main railway line (which carries trains from Derby to Stoke). Be VERY CAREFUL crossing the tracks.
On the other side of the tracks, you’ll see Aldbrough House cottage, now a private residence, but once the home of the railway crossing keeper.
Follow the track for twenty yards, and fork left at the large poultry unit, part of Lower Newton Farm.
Follow the track between the farm buildings, passing a solar panel unit on your left. Keep on in the same direction now for two hundred yards (ignoring the road to the left, which leads into Upper Newton Farm) as the track becomes a road.
Pass through the A50 underpass.
After another 100 yards, the road suddenly bears left, and then you will soon come upon the grassed-over track that is the route of the now-disused branch railway line that led from Cheadle to Cresswell. Turn left onto this track.
The track is owned nowadays by the Moorland & City Railway Company, who have given permission for walkers to use it. (In theory you should be able to take this track all the way to Cresswell village, but it is private land at the very end of the track, so you will need to turn off before reaching the track’s end).
Follow this old line for three hundred yards (passing under the A50 again) before coming to a ‘cross roads’ with a farm-drive. Turn right on to this drive, and walk for 100 yards to reach Cresswell Old Lane. (The right-of-way from the railway track is really across the field but the access to the field-stile is completely overgrown, so responsible walkers are allowed use the drive to get to the lane instead).
You are now at Cresswell Old Lane. Turn left. This lane is very narrow and the hedges high, so walkers need to be VERY careful and watch out for traffic.
Walk for three hundred yards until reaching the historic 200 year-old St Mary’s Catholic Church. The church is said to be the oldest of the ‘modern’ Catholic churches in Staffordshire. It is not usually open, but the graveyard is historic too, and has a large churchyard cross said to be designed by the famous architect Augustus Pugin.
Continuing along Cresswell Old Lane, eventually you come to the junction. Here you can go right for refreshments at the quaint nineteenth-century Izaak Walton Inn, or, to continue the walk, turn left and cross the railway line. The stone bridge here across the River Blithe is 200 years old.
You can now see the lay-by and your car.