The Shropshire Union canal towpath is a magnificent walk in either direction from Audlem and is now the southern part of the Weaver Way. You can explore away from the canal in all directions, however, including this selection of walks in the Audlem area.
Also 1:16,000 OS maps of the areas from Audlem north to Nantwich, and from Audlem south to Market Drayton, are available at Audlem Mill. These clearly show the canal and towpath, and all public footpaths, bridleways and roads.
The book "Audlem Locks -- A Walk Through History" describes the two mile walk from the Weaver aqueduct over the canal to the top of the fifteen locks. Obtainable from Audlem Mill.
Allow 2.5 to 3 hours and passing by a fine historic house set in remote countryside.
From the Square go west on Shropshire St past the Methodist Church and turn left at the canal through a gate. Walk southwards up the towpath, the Weaver Way, for over 2 miles to the sixth bridge (No. 72) near Adderley. Turn left and pass through Hawksmoor Farm, sometimes having to go through or over several gates in the farmyard.
Follow the concreted track to its end. Continue on the rougher track but go straight ahead through a gate when the track veers left. Cross the field past a line of oak trees with fine views of Highfields to the right. Veer left onto the Highfields Farm road and walk towards the distant Lodge where you join a lane. Turn left and follow it until Bagley Lane where you turn left.
After 300m, opposite a converted barn, take the footpath to the right, over two stiles, past a small pond, to a stile in the field corner. Follow the right edge of a field to a stile. Bear left across another field, always keeping the hedge to your left, before reaching a stile and lane. Go straight over to a track to the right of a cottage where there is a stile to the right of the normally locked gate.
After 200m the track becomes a metalled lane. Follow it to a small lane to the left. Cross the stile and head towards Audlem on the clear path with fine views of St James' Church. At the bottom of the hill negotiate two stiles, cross the footbridge and small Green, turn left and follow the lane up to the Square.
A 60 – 70 minute circuit with fine views from the canal and passing a magnificent mill by the River Weaver.
Leave the Square along Shropshire Street past the Methodist church. Turn right at the Bridge Inn and join the canal towpath northwards past the Shroppie Fly pub. Stay on the towpath, the Weaver Way, for a mile with fine views of the fishing lakes and River Weaver.
At a bridge (Number 80), leave the canal – the exit is immediately after the bridge, climb up and turn left down the lane eastwards. The footpath soon leaves the farm track to the right through a gate. Cross the field parallel to the track towards a stile, then two more stiles and past a fourth where the fence is missing, to join a metalled farm lane. Go straight ahead on the lane and descend to Hankelow Mill.
After crossing the River and the Millrace, take the path to the right over a stile. Climb the bank and follow the path, vague in places, towards a wire fence. Keep the fence to your left until it veers sharp left where you go straight ahead towards the trees. Veer left until you see a double stile with a small footbridge. Head towards the right hand large tree, then to a stile. Head to the telegraph pole and then the cream painted cottages where a stile takes you to the road.
Turn right and follow the pavement past Little Heath Farm and continue along Cheshire St to Audlem and the Square.
A 40 minute to an hour's circuit
From the Square, head west along Shropshire Street, past the Methodist church to the canal where you turn left to descend to the towpath through a gate. Head up the canal past numerous locks, pass under one bridge to the second bridge where you turn sharp left immediately after the bridge to join Bagley Lane. Turn right and after some bends, turn left in to Wood Orchard Lane.
After 600m turn left through a farm gate next to a cottage. After 200m the track becomes a lane. Follow it to a small lane to the left. Cross the stile on the left and head towards Audlem on the clear path which gives fine views of St James' Church and the village. At the bottom of the hill negotiate two stiles, cross the footbridge and small Green, turn left and follow the lane up to the Square.
A 30 minute walk with fine views of Moss Hall, a Jacobean mansion
From the Square, head north up Cheshire Street, past the Car Park and cemetery to a lane on the left, with a sign to Moss Hall. Descend the lane to a stile on the left and a footpath which follows the fence and hedge before crossing the large field with views of Moss Hall. Cross a stile and, going straight ahead, climb up a smaller field to a stile which leads down to the Shropshire Union canal.
You can explore the attractive area around Lock 15 before turning back up the canal towpath past many moored narrow boats to return to the village past more locks and the Shroppie Fly and Bridge pubs. At the road, turn left to return to the Square. Distance 1 mile.
Allow three hours for a walk that includes the canal towpath, the River Way and the attractive village of Hankelow.
Leave the Square along Shropshire Street past the Methodist church. Turn right at the Bridge Inn and join the canal towpath, the Weaver Way, northwards past the Shroppie Fly pub. Stay on the towpath for two miles with, initially, fine views of the fishing lakes and River Weaver. Leave the towpath at the Coole Lane bridge.
Go north on Coole Lane for 300m, ignoring the footpath off to the left, before taking the South Cheshire Way footpath to the right across the fields. After a mile across fields, the path descends to the River Weaver.
Cross the bridge and follow the path as it rises along the hedgerow. Part of the path is narrow with hedgerows on either side – if overgrown it's better to stay in the field – before the path emerges into a lane after passing Hankelow Hall which can be seen the left. Turn right and follow the lane into Hankelow, past the Green and duck-pond to the White Lion pub where you can enjoy refreshment.
Go straight across the main road to join Longhill Lane, then take the first lane on the right. Stay on this lane for over half a mile, ignoring a left turn, before turning right into Monks Lane. Where the lane bends right after 600m, carry straight on along the footpath to the left of the house on the bend. This is Mill Lane and it returns you to Audlem.
Go straight across when it reaches the road along a small lane for 50m with the stream to your left and then turn right up Stafford St to return to the Square.
A gentle 30 minute walk but with a number of stiles. The Vale path can sometimes be muddy.
From the Square, turn left from the Buttermarket and walk down Stafford Street to the Post Office. Turn right into School Lane. At the bottom fork right and then veer left at the small Green, cross the footbridge and stile, then immediately turn right along the stream to another stile to enter Audlem Vale. There is a steep drop to the right so care is needed for a few yards.
Follow the clear footpath for 300m to the left of the stream (it can be muddy) before rising leftwards up across a meadow towards a stile where you join the Shropshire Union canal. Turn right and return to the village where you leave the canal just before the bridge. Turn right (the Bridge Inn might tempt you to linger) and return to the Square. Distance 1 mile.
Thank you to Peter Kay for describing this new circular walk.
The erection of a splendid new bridge at Brooks Mill, down the lane from the chapel at Lightwood Green, makes possible a circular walk of just over 5 miles.
No one has been able to cross Barnett Brook for many years and we are indebted to the former Cheshire County Council for the work. The scenery is varied and you can finish at a pub.
Leave the village on the Whitchurch Road. At the bottom of the hill turn left along Mill Lane towards Swanbach. As the road turns left, go straight on on the footpath which goes south to Heywood Lane.
On reaching the lane, turn north again on another footpath which soon turns westward towards Lightwood Green crossing the Ducklow and passing Newtown Farm. The path joins a small road, where you turn right before meeting the main road. Cross the A525 and walk past the Methodist Chapel down the lane to Brooks Mill.
Cross the bridges and head right towards Lower House Farm on Back Coole Lane. Walk right towards Audlem and then shortly go left on a footpath to Manor Farm on Coole Lane. Turn left towards Nantwich and leave Coole Lane on the right after passing Park House Farm.
Then head downhill towards the canal. Emerge on the bridge at lock 15, near the Old Stables and walk southwards up the towpath back into the village.
A few words of advice: you will need your map as not all the paths are clearly signed and the field after the old railway line can be boggy.
The description of this walk is kept in this section, although the path itself is reported to be largely inaccessible over the section in Shropshire, and the gate by Adderley Pool Bridge has been blocked off. The walk originally appeared in the Manchester Evening News. Distance – about 5 miles.
From the car park turn right into the centre of Audlem where St James' Parish Church, built in 1278, stands above the ancient Buttermarket. Here there is a Bear Baiting Stone, while the lamp in the middle of the square commemorates Dr Bellyse: "In appreciation of a life spent in relleving the sufferings of his fellow creatures".
Walk down Vicarage Lane past the Old Priest House, now a coffee shop, to Audlem Green and the 1655 Grammar School. Crossing the little hump-backed bridge over Audlem Brook keep straight on over the wooden stile. A path leads beside the hedge then you continue across the field to a stile in the opposite corner.
Joining a tarmac lane follow this past Sandy Lane Farm and, when the tarmac turns away to Fields Farm, continue down the track. The waymarked path crosses Wood Orchard Lane and continues over the fields of Kinsey Heath.
When the hedge bends away, go straight on heading for a stile in the field corner and round the next field into Field House Wildlife Area. Emerging onto a quiet lane, opposite Kinseyheath Farm, turn right and walk past the attractive houses.
Just beyond the junction with Wood Orchard Lane a signpost points left across the fields. The next bit is infrequently walked and becomes rough underfoot with some awkward stiles, but can be avoided by shortcutting along Bagley Lane to the canal. If you are pressing on regardless, the path leads by the hedge to an encouraging wooden stile and footbridge, then parallels the hedge to another stile. Continue along the field boundary to a wooden stile by a metal gate which takes you unceremoniously into Shropshire.
Bidding farewell to Cheshire, continue by the hedge and cross a bit of fence by a pond. Then, with no sign whatsoever of any path, make your way diagonally across the field to a gate in the bottom left corner by Adderley Pool Bridge. Then, climbing couple of gates, you descend to the canal.
Now the walking is easy and you follow the grassy towpath beside the Shropshire Union Canal back into Cheshire. Beyond a wooded curve a lock-keeper's cottage stands beside the first of the Audlem locks. The flight drops 93ft in one and a quarter miles. Continuing along the towpath the Short Walk joins at Coxbank, by Lock 3.
There are lots more locks, then, after passing under the A525, you go by the Bridge Inn, which once stabled the canal horses. Kingbur Corn Mill is now a craft shop and the Shroppie Fly pub was formerly a warehouse.
Just before the final lock, Lock 15, double back up the canal embankment and take the path which leads back across the field. Then joining a tarmac lane turn right and stroll back into Audlem.