Three Trots about Tatton Park23rd June 2013
During November and December of last year, I got to visit Tatton Park on no less than three different Saturday afternoons. It was the prospect of autumnal foliage on trees that drew me out on the first of these, though it took the second for that promise to become a reality. Life at the time was such that I was unable to summon the energy needed to go further afield on what were promising sunny days. Normally, I would explain this by referring to end of year fatigue, but things were happening over in Ireland that were playing on my mind too and quite a lot has changed over there for our family since then.
November 3rd, 2012
Sometimes, it feels that it takes more than one attempt before some things can be achieved. That probably shouldn’t have been the case with my first attempt to enter Tatton Park via its Dog Wood entrance. Before then, things looked very promising, and The Moor did its best to detain me but I was focussed on the supposed plan in hand. In the end, I did walk the circuit around Tatton Mere, but not before a moment of madness brought on by a wrong turn. Only for stubbornness, I could have avoided soaking my footwear on soft ground and ripping a perfectly good jacket. Once at home later that evening, the trail shoes were dried and the jacket replaced in an attempt to assuage grumpiness at my own human frailty.
With the navigational flaw sorted, I was on the right track through Dog Wood with warning signs compelling walkers to stay on the track through the Site of Special Scientific Interest. That it was best to obey the signs was not at all lost on me because of my earlier blundering. The shore of Tatton Mere was not at all far away, though clouds had staged a takeover of the sky during my time spent among trees. Such was the cloudiness that my camera stayed largely inactive for the remainder of the day. Rounding the head of the mere, I made for the main park avenue. Dull skies would have given me little reason to stick around, and wet feet only gave me more reason to keep going.
That’s not to say that photographic possibilities weren’t logged because there were Melchett Meres and views towards Tatton Hall to be used. They were left for later as I got myself into Knutsford again. It was then that I realised that the clouds possessed a payload that was to be dropped: rain. That didn’t stop the use of window shopping and trotting in and out of shops as a means to while away the time until the next bus to Macclesfield. It was during this that I spotted a branch of Rohan with winter down jackets in the window. Their water-resistant properties may have interested me but I was not in a mood for shopping after my self-inflicted mishap, so prices later were checked on the web. That investigation was enough to stall any impulse buying to the point that I discovered that a Mountain Equipment down jacket that I already own was water-resistant anyway, negating the need to add to my collection.
November 10th, 2012
Having dried out my footwear and replaced the ripped jacket, the next trip to Tatton Park was to be vastly more successful. For one thing, the sun stayed out for all of that afternoon until nightfall, which was a bonus. That I now knew the right way to the Dog Wood entrance to Tatton Park helped speed things too. That wasn’t to say that I rushed by Knutsford Moor either, even if I wasn’t dawdling either. On reaching the shore of Tatton Mere, I had to share space with a dog walker before moving further along. A later rise of ground came in useful for making whatever photos I could of Tatton Hall and overflying aircraft on their way from nearby Manchester Airport to whatever was their destination.
My amble then took me on towards Tatton’s Old Hall and what remains on the ground of the old estate village that preceded the present day town of Knutsford. After that, I meandered through the deer park and herds of those animals were showing well. It was just as well that the rutting season was over with so many folk about to take in the sights of these majestic animals and views towards the hills lining the Cheshire-Derbyshire boundary. It was easy to pick out the likes of Shining Tor (Cheshire’s county top as I was surprised to recently discover), Shutlingsloe and Croker Hill if you knew their outline and living in the area for more than a decade has given me that knowledge.
At the Memorial Stone commemorating the use of the Deer Park for parachuting practice during World War 2, I turned towards Tatton’s New Hall and was granted many more deer sightings as I went that way. Others were taking their ease to look at the creatures too, even those in cars on their way into the park. At one point, I managed to spook a stag whose sight had entranced one of those car drivers, so my fieldcraft needs a lot more development and I hope that I didn’t ruin anyone’s day. Having had no altercation thanks to any clumsiness, I went around the new hall to discover a good location from which to make a close up photo of the grand house. However, fading evening light thwarted my attempts at capturing what lay before me and there was a wedding on there anyway, so having to leave for another time was no cause for complaint.
Then, I followed the southern shore of Melchett Mere and found boggy conditions as I did so. Being shod in boots and a knockabout pair of jeans meant any muddying was of no perturbation to my state of mind. Crossing the main avenue through the park, I made for a quieter path towards the gate, so there was no need for awareness of passing traffic. More views over Tatton Mere followed to complete a satisfying day. It was a world away from the disgruntlement that I had felt the week before and nothing but a sense of quiet satisfaction pervaded the bus journey home.
December 1st, 2012
At the end of November, my mother needed to go for a planned stay in hospital and it revealed some disturbing news about her health. That left me shaken by thoughts of her not being around with us for that much longer and thoughts turned to getting out for a walk somewhere in an attempt to clear my head. Hearing the sound of her voice on the phone again after she returned home was undoubtedly the lift that I needed and it’s a memory that I treasure all the more now that she no longer is with us. While she was shaky over the Christmas and New Year period, she did seem to rally afterwards and grow a little stronger. However, it was an infection in March that returned her to hospital for the final time and meant that a new life had to be constructed without her being there for us.
Ironically, I went and pulled a cracker when it came to the weather that I had for that Tatton Park visit for it was an afternoon of unrestricted sunshine with clear blue skies overhead. If anything, it appeared that the weather was doing its utmost to brighten my life and I made plenty of photographic use of the sunny conditions. The walk was a variation of those I had done before with my mind being set on getting near Tatton Hall before the sun became too low in the sky. The itinerary took me through Knutsford, by The Moor, though Dog Wood and along the shore of Tatton Mere. The trees were more bare than was the case in November, but stragglers of leaves were hanging on, so autumn was not a memory just then anyway.
Once at the head of Tatton Mere, I crossed the main estate avenue to pick up a good path to the north of Melchett Mere and so avoided the boggy patches that I crossed on my previous visit. Plenty of folk were out and about and planes flying overhead, but neither detracted from the splendour that surrounded me and there was more to come.
Tatton Park may have its own herds of deer but I wasn’t expecting the sight that greeted me and I approached my vantage point for Tatton Hall: some stags walked ever nonchalantly one after another as they crossed from one patch of rough pasture to another. That the autumn rut was well ended was proven by their ignoring a throng of hinds who grazed just by the hall. It was a magical encounter that added to my seeing the hall well lit by the sun. Trees may have been in shadow but it was a matter of making the best of what was there and to grumble would have been most ungrateful.
With photographic errands completed, I started to make my way back towards Knutsford again. This time around, I passed a folly named The Temple before continuing towards Moss Plantation and noting any signs instructing folk against going right through it so as not to disturb tree roots. Being at a certain elevation affording good views of the hills near Macclesfield from over Tatton Mere. It’s a viewpoint worth exploring again now that summer is with us.
While going this way, I found a freshly lost woollen glove that got handed in at a booth on my out in case anyone wished to get it back again. More likely, the owner gave up on it but I thought it to be better to get it in out of the weather anyway. With that piece of civic mindedness completed, I went into Knutsford with ample time to spare before the next bus. It was the sort of day that you’d be thinking of lingering, but that wasn’t my state of mind at the mind. The outing had been restorative and that was what was asked of it. Before I left for home, I tried out the fare at the café in Booth’s supermarket and it set me up well for the evening too.
Since the passing of my mother, there has been a lot of walking with Derbyshire taking up a well-deserved amount of my attention for longer outings. Cheshire is doing its bit too, especially with lunchtime and evening strolls though there have been longer trots through nearby hills too. So far, there hasn’t been a return to Tatton Park, though I do fancy the thought of visiting earlier in the day after a spot of breakfast in Knutsford (maybe Booth’s, but there are other places). There is more photography that can be done and we have a different season now too. Spring is past us for 2013 so it’s a question of being more selective about times of day to get the best light and you can get over constraints like those. Life itself goes on and restorative walking always has a place.
Return trips on bus service 27 between Macclesfield and Knutsford.
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