A walk around Lindow Common, Wilmslow

We quite often visit Wilmslow in Cheshire and go out for a meal or look around the shops, but one of my most favourite things to do when I’m in Wilmslow is to take a walk around Lindow Common.

Lindow Common is on the outer fringes of Wilmslow, off Racecourse Road, and it’s a site of special scientific interest. It’s also home to Black Lake, which is probably the main attraction for me. Come rain or shine, if we are in the area, we will take a turn around the lake, sometimes if it’s cold, wet and miserable, it’s a very speedy walk. Sometimes, like over the weekend when the sun was shining, it was very much worth a lingering visit.

Lindow Common

This pocket-sized nature reserve is popular with dog walkers and nature lovers alike. Hundreds of years ago it was the village common, where locals would graze their animals, but the trees have rather taken over these days. The common is classed as lowland heath, so there’s a management programme in place where they’re selectively removing some of the birch trees to allow the native heathers to grow.

If you’re driving, there’s a small free car park opposite Hickory’s where you can park if you need to. It’s about a ten minute walk from the town centre, so it feels pretty accessible to me.

Lindow Common

There are information displays throughout Lindow Common, highlighting some of the rare or interesting plants, amphibians, birds and insects you might encounter on your visit. There are any number of things to spy on your walk around this man-made lake, but keep your eyes peeled for water voles, dragonflies, damselflies and a number of aquatic species. Beyond the water, the habitats provide cover for early migrating bird species including the chiffchaff, willow warbler and blackcap.

We don’t always walk through the heath areas, but over the weekend we took a short path through the wooded pathways. We walked through the heather filled heath and back to the familiar territory of Black Lake. The footpaths around the lake are generally well maintained and easy to walk on, and probably fine for wheelchairs and buggies, though parts can get a bit churned up after a prolonged period of wet weather.


In all the years we’ve been visiting Lindow Common, I’m pretty sure the weather this weekend was about the most perfect it’s been. There was not a cloud in the sky and the water shimmered and sparkled in the light. We spotted a number of birds including a rather handsome heron, some baby coots, moorhens, regular ducks and we heard that someone spotted a grebe on the other side of the lake. There was clearly a lot going on.

For those who like to linger, there are plenty of benches around the common where you can stop and enjoy the surroundings and possibly fuss a passing dog. It’s quite a small nature reserve, so there are no refreshment stalls or cafes within the reserve. If you want a drink or snack, you’ll need to bring your own, or pop across to a local café or restaurant. There are bins available, but you’re encouraged to take your litter back home with you if you can.

Lindow Common

Black Lake has a sturdy wire fence around it, presumably to protect the wildlife from excitable dogs wanting a swim, so it would be a disappointing visit if I took my water loving spaniel. The lack of swimming opportunities for dogs does mean that the lake is very peaceful and a real haven for birds and wildlife.

Growing up in South Manchester in the 1980s, we heard all about the discovery of The Lindow Man, in 1984. Pete Marsh, as he was known as was discovered in a peat marsh close to Lindow Common. It is thought he could date back to the Iron Age or though to Roman Britain. Pete Marsh is now being cared for by the British Museum, though I did see him once many years ago when he was exhibited at The Manchester Museum. He may yet return north in the future, and if he does it’s worth visiting this fascinating chap, wherever he ends up.

Lindow Common

Visiting info:

Lindow Common SSSI, Racecourse Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5NQ

A walk around Lindow Common, Wilmslow

Days Out: Etherow Country Park, Stockport

Last week, one particularly sunny day we hopped in the car and went to Etherow Country Park, located on the far flung edges of Stockport. We’d not been before but we’d heard that it was well worth a visit for a walk, and if we went on a weekend there was a high chance we’d get to see the boating lake in action.

We arrived just before lunch and parked (pay and display, but not ruinously expensive). The boy and I wandered over to the lake to check out the local bird life, there was the usual selection of Canada geese, ducks, some swans and a few more colourful interlopers. There were also three little model yachts pootling about on the lake which were quite fun to watch.

etherow country park

We watched the birds and the boats for a while, there were lots of small children throwing bread for the ducks, but proper duck food is available from the little garden centre near the cafe if you forget your own.

We decided to walk down the path to the weir and back around the lake. For the most part the path is tarmac or firm ground and is accessible. The path runs along a small waterway so you can watch the wildlife and waterlife as you walk. There are lots of ancient ferns, undergrowth and interesting bushes and trees all around and it’s clearly a popular spot for local families and dog walkers alike.

Walking up to the weir you pass a few reminders of the industrial heritage of the site, Etherow Country Park was once a thriving cotton mill and various bits of machinery and gears remain. You can hear the weir from some distance away, the roar of the water is something to behold and I can’t help but think Stockport Council are missing out on a trick here, not making use of the water power at the weir. 

Etherow Country Park

Walking back to the car park we decided to skirt around the other side of the lake, by that time a few yachts were out catching the wind. The lake is surrounded by beautiful views all around and even in bleak but sunny February it was breathtaking, you’d never know you were so close to civilisation!

By the time we’d got back to where we’d started, the boys were hungry, so whilst I went to the garden centre to pick up some plants, they popped into the busy cafe for coffee and sandwiches.

We’d enjoyed our morning out, the walk is a good length for a five year old, with enough to interest them along the way. The walk we did was not long, but you can walk up beyond the weir and explore the woodland further up if you want. We’ll be returning later on in the spring for another walk up to the weir.

Etherow Country Park & Local Nature Reserve, George St, Compstall, Stockport. SK6 5JD