We took yet another trip to a local National Trust the other weekend because we were trying to take things easy. Which, I must say, is not easy!
Needing to visit the charity shop to drop off somethings, we headed down the A6 to Lyme Park to see the Cage and wander the hills.
Lyme park is definitely one of our favourite spots to go walking as there are such varied walks that you can take around the estate as well as venturing into the garden for a more sedate walk. As you know, we’re not so good on the gentle walks and despite our best efforts by wearing our everyday clothes, we still managed to clock up the miles going up and down hills!
I used to be there pretty much weekly with our first borrow dog, Belle. (I explain about borrow dogs in this post) I even broke my ankle there two years ago – before hiking 2 miles back to the car and driving home! So you could say that we have some history with Lyme Park. It had been a very long time since our last visit so we were excited to see how it had changed. The visibility was also great, which means you get to see all the way to Manchester and over to Derbyshire too.
Feeling rather peckish when we arrived, we headed straight over to the lower cafe to grab a bench and enjoy the views. The paths are really sturdy and straight to get to the cafe, but there are some cobbles beyond the gate. The picnic benches are scattered around the grassy areas outside the courtyard and there is generally one or two free. Plus, there is lots of space to enjoy your food on the grass anyway should it be a bit busy.
Towards the Cage
The name of the Cage is slightly confusing and it isn’t a cage at all! It was originally a hunting lodge because of the high vantage. The women could socialise while waiting for their men to come back when they would enjoy a feast. If you’re there at the right time, you can sometimes have a tour of the Cage – well worth it for the views!
The walk up to the cage is lovely, not only because the ground is solid and easy, but the views are absolutely spectacular! Over the rolling hills and trees you get to glimpse the city and also the fields and reservoirs of Derbyshire. On a clear day, you can distinctly make out Beetham Tower and the Manchester City ground on the horizon. The day we visited was one of those days – although we were having difficulties finding the stadium!
Over the hills and far away
You’ll find that there is a constant stream of people wandering up to see the cage – most with a friendly smile to share and sometimes with some hits and tips about places to visit if you take the time to chat. I once got chatting with a man who was telling me how he almost got squashed against his car trying to photograph one of the deer in rutting season! He also told me about some lovely Buxton walks, which fixed us up for our weekend. You just never know what you might learn from a simple chat on a hill.
Lyme Park is right on the border of Cheshire and Derbyshire (can you imagine how lovely it would be living here?!) so you can get fantastic views around you and over both counties.
Rather than taking the nice relaxed and easy walk back towards the path, we decided that we wanted to head in the direction of the Derbyshire side of the estate. The side with the rolling hills, glistening reservoirs and wooded areas. This meant that we had to drop into the valley and climb up again. This is generally not too bad of a walk, but in jeans while getting rather warm from the activity, it got more and more challenging to bend at the knees. You would think this would have been a reminded for us to take it easy… Nope!
Back to the path
Strolling back up the hill takes you to the path which winds you back towards the house and often some deer if you’re lucky and in season. You can see how quickly you can cover the parkland by how far the Cage becomes at each stage of the walk – it acts as a great marker.
Following the gentle path back around you get more gorgeous views over the hills and also a great view of the house. The house is open for visits throughout the year and definitely worth checking out – you can sometimes get the opportunity to dress up in period clothes which can be quite fun!
Oh yeah, factoid! It is the lake in the garden where Mr Darcy came out from in Pride and Prejudice – not that I watched it, I just know the facts!
Anyway, back to the walk…
Still feeling rather energetic and the sunshine still peeping through the clouds we ventured on to visit the other side of the park towards the wooded area and dry stone walling works (something to add to the bucket list!)
This side of the park is generally a little bit quieter; at this time of year, anyway! You have more places to go off track, but a great deal with hard standing should you be looking for something a bit easier on the old ankles. We, of course, went off piste!
Although a lot smaller in areas than the bit by the cage, there are more parts to explore and a nice peak that you can climb for a bit of warming up and for a good vantage point.
As the sun started to dip and we became increasingly ready for a brew, we slowly meandered our way back to the picnic area for our refreshments.
Although it was more strenuous than the relaxed wander we had promised ourselves, it was still a far cry from our usual power hikes. So I reckon we did really well to be honest! I think even when I’m doing a gentle walk though, I’m sticking to my hiking gear for comfort!
Watching the sun slowly moving down, the temperature dipping we decided that it was time to head home. Liking the fact that we had only done a mini wander around Lyme Park, we were pleased to think that there were many more times we can visit to watch the seasons change and get a good hike in (the summit of the park has the most amazing 360 views!)
Ready to recover and filled with fresh countryside air we were homeward bound!
Still feeling a bit yucky, but better for having relived Lyme Park through this post,
Have you visited Lyme Park before? Do you visit National trust Properties? Which is your favourite?
Share in the comments below 🙂