Friday, August 25, 2017

To the Edge

So up, personally feeling slightly sadder and wiser after generous amounts of wine the night before. I had a good night’s sleep, and a welcome shower and any sadness and wisdom quickly evaporated. Cheery chats with Lesley again, and Jeremy who ducked out between teleconferences. A croissant breakfast and cups of tea in the garden, which was very nice, and then back into the car again. I'd really enjoyed our short stay, and getting to know Lesley and Jeremy better.

 Then off to Alderley Edge. And our Alan Garner pilgrimage. Alan Garner is a fabulous children’s writer, whose books The Wierdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath, Elidor and The Owl Service, I all read as a child, as had Lorraine. The first two of his books were set around Alderley Edge, is a place that has lived in my imagination for decades. So strange to go there. We drove from Diggle through some gorgeous landscape and then down into some unlovely outskirts of Manchester. Alderly Edge itself is a village that has become an incredibly wealthy suburb of Manchester, being where the wealthiest footballers from teams from the North West such as the Manchesters United and City, as well as Liverpool. We checked into the De Trafford Hotel, a scruffy but cheap hotel, but nicely placed for our day's adventures. Before we explored we went along the High Street to an Italian run café for some basic fare. Such a strange area, men older than me with open necked shirts and thick gold chains, on the next table a pricey nanny with her footballer’s daughter charge, and in the corner a flash-looking but shadey types, which I couldn’t help thinking of as footballer’s agents talking on their phones. Rud vanNistelroy’s autographed shirt on the wall, thanking the café owners. A huge number of flash, brand new cars with individualised numberplates. The ooze of money is almost tangible. Lorraine and I walked up the Macclesfield Road towards Alderly edge. This is a steeply rising road flanked by vulgarian mansions. My mansion envy tempered by the slightly pathetic thought that they may have money, but they certainly don’t have taste. After twenty five minutes walk we reached the top of the hill, where everything changed. We came upon a sign that said To The Edge, and we followed it, and were soon marvelling at a gorgeous view of the Cheshire plain, and Manchester in the distance, and the peak district. The drop is fairly steep, but wooded.

Lorraine and I walked about in the woods having taken in this view. I had downloaded a partial google map which pinpointed places to see. We found our way to another viewpoint called Stormy Point, which appears in The Weirdstone. We stopped a woman walking her dog to make sure we were going in the right way. She was also a lover of the books, and the local legends of Alderley Edge, and was really nice. Football seems to be everything here, and she was soon talking about her team Manchester City, and revealed that her cute but slightly nervous dog was named after Joe Mercer. Lorraine and I then set off, arriving shortly after at Stormy Point, where we were instantly accosted by a man walking two dogs, who told us about their natures etc. Once free of the dog fancier, another splendid view. A plume of smoke from two rather wild looking walkers who had started a fire on the rocks there.

From there we walked on through the wood to find the Goldenstone, and then onto a pub called The Wizard, where we had a pint of shandy and looked at the porcelain dogs, and visited the toilets, marked Witches and Wizards, before walking on. The woman we spoke to in the wood had told us to be sure to visit the carving of a wizard's face above a stone trough, which after walking along the steep side of the hill we found, more by accident than judgement. We got there when the light was dim under the trees, and it was hard to read the inscription and see the wizard's face above it. The inscription says, 'Drink of this and take thy fill for the water falls by the Wizhard's will'. This was reputedly carved by an ancestor of Garner in the nineteenth century.

We then climbed up out of the woods, and found our way back to our original starting point, looking at the amazing view for some time, before walking down hill, past the mansions to our hotel. They had a restaurant and bar below, and we had a feed there, and a couple of pints before repairing to bed, and an early night.

Below, the sign to the Edge; a face carved in the sandstone; mushrooms; crow; view from Stormy Point, Lorraine under trees by Stormy Point; the Goldenstone; the Wizard; me; the inscription about Water and the Wizhard; and you can just make out the face of the Wizard in the photo upper right corner in profile (click the photo to make it bigger), Lorraine photographing things.

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