Time: 3 hours
Start: St Bertolines Church, Barthomley GR767524
Map: Outdoor Leisure Sheet 257 Crewe and Nantwich
Terrain: Fields, fairly level, some small slopes
Barriers: Stile 10 approx
The walk starts and finishes in the village of Barthomley.
The beautiful red sandstone church of St Bertoline sits above the picturesque White Lion pub and other typical Cheshire black and white half timbered cottages.
St Bertoline was said to have been an eighth century saint who performed a miracle in the spot where the church is built. The church is actually built on an ancient barrow mound, which could suggest that religious ceremonies have been carried out on this site for hundreds if not thousands of year.
Barthomley was described as “Bertemlev” in the Domesday Book and in the eleventh century was a small village, with a Lord of the Manor and a priest. The village had some farmland but back then woodlands and mosses dominated the landscape. Barthomley became part of the land owned by the Crewe family in 1608. The country estate was sold on to the Duchy of Lancaster in 1937, and has remained part of the Queen’s estate ever since.
The surrounding countryside changed greatly during the period of the enclosures when rough land was brought into agriculture. By the nineteenth century a rich farming community had developed around the village, many of the farms are still working farms today.
The White Lion pub is named after the white lion on the Crewe family coat of arms. Although the building dates back to 1614 it was not used as an inn until the nineteenth century.
The little brook behind the pub which is crossed twice during the walk is called the Wulvarn Brook, so called because of the story that the last wolf in England was killed in Barthomley Wood.
Many of the small ponds also known as pits, that are passed on the walk were once marl pits. Marl is a lime rich clay that was dug out and spread over fields with sandy soils, to improve the quality of soil. Cheshire is particularly rich in marl pits.
The deep valley called Mill Dale also forms the county boundary with Staffordshire. Its depth provides shelter for wildlife and in spring the valley is carpeted with blue bells.
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