Abney Hall in Cheadle is one of my favourite places to visit. It’s a little gem, tucked away and hidden from those not in the know. It is popular with families and dog walkers and I’ve been going there since I was a baby. It’s one of our most lovely green spaces locally, it’s a wildlife haven, it’s fabulous for families and dog walkers, and is home to a little gem – The Abney Cafe.
I grew up pond dipping and climbing trees there. I swam in the stream, played pooh-sticks on the bridge, and my son does the same things I did and he loves it there too. I’ve visited the pet cemetery and wondered about the lives of the horses, dogs and cats buried there, obviously adored by their owners who lived in Abney Hall years ago. I think Abney Hall is now offices, but it’s still a beautiful building in equally lovely grounds.
We visit Abney Hall regularly. I sometimes slip in and take the long route home after I’ve been in Cheadle. If I’m by myself I’ll stop for a brew and a bite to eat. If we’re walking the dog we’ll stop at the cafe for some refreshment. It’s the only cafe in a park I’ve ever been to where the dogs have a whole exciting field to run about on while you drink your coffee and have a sit down.
It is a great cafe. It’s an oasis and a community hub for locals in search of a hot cuppa. The welcome is warm and everyone is friendly. A stop at Abney Cafe is something I look forward to on our walks there. It’s the warm, welcoming heart of the park and Abney Hall will be much poorer if it loses the cafe.
Sadly it seems this small community cafe is one of the smaller victims of Carillion going bust. The cafe owners were renegotiating their lease when the firm went bust; left in limbo Stockport Council called time on their lease and they have until 1st March to clear out.
When I visited earlier today, Steve the owner was prepared for the fight. I chatted to him over a coffee and a steady stream of visitors came in for a coffee and to talk to him about what could be done to save Abney Cafe.
If you want to help save Abney Cafe and this important community hub, please email Councillor Sheila Bailey.
You can also give the Cafe Facebook page a like and keep up to date with cafe news there. There will be a gathering of support at 11am on Sunday 18th February. Bring along the whole family and your dogs to show your support!
Abney Hall is one of my favourite places to visit and it’s virtually on our doorstep. It’s just outside Cheadle village and is less than ten minutes in the car from our house. It has everything a little adventurer and his fairly exhausted parents need to while away a couple of hours. We went over the weekend with the promise of some pond dipping and an ice cream, what more could a small boy want?
We parked up and walked round to the pond. The pond was looking incredibly healthy, with water lilies in bud and lots of ducks and birds in and around the water. Last year the pond suddenly developed a sink hole and all the water drained away, so it was good to see it looking in such fine fettle.
We found a suitable spot and tried pond dripping. There wasn’t much to be found, but the small boy enjoys the process of pond dipping as much as catching something, and every good fisherman knows they can’t catch something every time. His Dad however did catch some tin cans and other rubbish, which we put in our bucket and took away to a bin. I wish people were more considerate!
Having no luck at the pond, we walked up and around near the Hall and then down the steps to the stream. As a child I used to paddle in the stream which always looks clear and cool and it’s quite shallow so it’s great for (supervised) little ones to play in. Plus there’s the stunning backdrop of Abney Hall to admire!
The boys didn’t manage to catch anything in the stream either, so we decided it was time for some ice cream. I’d already managed to cross the stream (without getting my feet wet) so the boys had to follow. The small boy was a little nervous, but managed it by holding on tight to Daddy’s hand. Later he had to cross some stepping stones over slightly deeper water, which he did all by himself.
We walked round to the cafe, spotting a heron, cows, a squirrel and several different kinds of birds along the way. We had a lovely few hours, a nice walk and a bit of an adventure. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon!
At the weekend we took the boy for a walk around Abney Hall. I’ve lived a few minutes away from Abney Hall all my life and spent many, many happy hours there as a child.
We used to love pond dipping, playing in the steam and chasing around in the woodland. Slightly morbid me, used to enjoy visiting the pet cemetery, where the beloved family pets of the halls previous residents are buried.
The hall has a grand history and is perhaps most famous for its connection to Agatha Christie who visited relatives there on a number of occasions and wrote several stories during her time at Abney Hall.
We went this weekend because we’d heard that a sinkhole had opened up in the pond and it had entirely drained away.
The sinkhole which appeared in March
When we visited at the weekend it looked like the pond had been repaired and had started to fill again with rainwater.
The pond at the weekend, it looked full and healthy
We had a lovely wander around the park, the boy loved pointing at the ducks on the pond and splashing in muddy puddles. I love the building itself, it’s really quite gothic and the gargoyles are beautifully spooky.
Architecture is lost on the very young who much prefer crossing the stream and splashing as they go.
As well as a game of pooh-sticks!
It’s a beautiful place to visit and we intend to take him back quite regularly, I’m keen to see the slow unveiling of the newly repaired hall and I imagine he’s excited about more epic pooh-sticks battles.
Abney Hall is near Cheadle, Cheshire and is free to visit and enjoy.