Signs of Spring 1
28 February, 2018

The first in our series is on the right. Questionable whether it can count as a sign of spring. Nonetheless, some tribute should be paid to our resident heron, and this is as good a time as any. Mark that intent and predatory gaze. It bodes ill for something small and slippery.

The photographer tells me that the bird's name is Henry, but doesn't recount how introductions were made. He has also established a line of communication with the creature and reports that it is muttering, "Here I am all done up in my smart new feathers and ready to go, but where's Spring?" What function would these smart new feathers have in the scheme of things? Are they there to catch the eye of others of the same feather? To what purpose? Return soon for further updates.

Bags of Help for the Carrs
3 December, 2017

You may remember that last year we won some money in Tesco's Bags of Help scheme. Well, that money has been put to good use down by the Twinney's Car Park where we now have a new picnic area as well as improved habitats along that stretch of the river. We've planted wild flowers in their hundreds and endangered species of trees as well as controlling the Japanese Knotweed on the whole park.

Immense thanks must go to Emma Houghton and John Booth for making the application and then managing the implementation of the plan. The outcome is there for all to us to enjoy and we are all the beneficiaries.

Wilmslow cleans up (the awards)
2 November, 2017

Every year, the RHS hands out It's Your Neighbourhood awards. FOTC has scored well a few times already, but now for the second year running, FOTC has received the top award, an "Outstanding" grading, from the judges at a presentation ceremony in Southport.

This special award for community projects based on gardens, allotments and parks was in recognition of the maintenance and development of aspects of the Carrs, such as the planters, the wild flower areas, the picnic areas and the river banks, for the benefit of the many visitors to the park. The judges commented particularly on the cleanliness and lack of litter in the park and the river.

Chair of FOTC Ian Baillie said, "We are delighted to receive this award, which is a great recognition of all the hard work all our team have put in over the year and of the support we have had from the users of the park. We hope we can maintain the standard over the next twelve months."

It doesn't stop there. Not only did the town's In Bloom team win four awards, but Transition Wilmslow and a Chapel Lane group also got in on the act and deserve our heartiest congratulations. A town is as good as the people in it, and this town has a lot of good people.

The photo on the right was taken at the awards ceremony and shows our very own Ian Baillie (second from left) among other worthy winners.

Cafe Azul
1 November, 2017

The Carrs is doubly improved. Not only the toilet block, but a cafe inside it. And random observation indicates that it is popular and well-used. Long may it prosper.

In the photo below, Robert serves a capuccino.

Attack on the Killer Plants

The Battle of Balsam resumed on Sunday, the forces ranged against each other along the Bollin below the second bridge, the locals heavily outnumbered but reinforced.

The reinforcements were Viv (impressive because she'd been once, and yet returned) and a wonderful family from Wythenshawe, Sean and Janet with all four (4) children, Lojska, Peter, Robbie and Joseph. They are experienced campaigners, heavily involved in Wythenshawe Park and Sale Water Park. It doesn't end there. Ian, by fair means or foul, persuaded his grandson, Ben, to lend the power of his right arm (or at least his smile, see right) to the battle. We are very grateful for their fantastic help. A heroic and very effective platoon we all made.

Gym pops up on the Carrs
30 June, 2017

The new RotaGym was installed in the Carrs on Friday, 30 June, thanks to the generosity of Wilmslow Rotary and Cheshire East Council. The team were just clearing up when the first "gymnasts" arrived, eager to try out the new equipment and confirm that it all worked well - they left feeling fitter already. By Saturday, it was a full house in the Gym. Use of the RotaGym is free, and the equipment is intended for anyone over the age of 14. Instructions are given on each item.

Nothing caps the capers in the Carrs
14 May, 2017

Things were a little slow at first, perhaps because of the uncertainty about the weather. But they soon warmed up. There would be no repeat of last year's ice-breaking huddle out of the rain and under the discomfortingly cosy shelter of the gazebos. Events succeeded each other with the military-like precision you have come to expect from FOTC occasions, all the while accompanied by exemplary judging, good humour and cakes. Dogs paraded. Owners preened. Cakes and sausage rolls were grabbed and consumed.

Thanks are due firstly to John, who not only organised this grand affair starting several months ago, but even built the agility course and delivered and removed a car and trailer-load of material, not to mention 80 sausage rolls. Thanks as well to Styal National Trust, whose representatives, Craig and Charlotte, brought along gazebos and fencing, as well as expertise and lots of good will. An honourable mention must also go to our new judge, Phil, who did an excellent job.

Barker's of Wilmslow very generously provided the prizes for our nine winners. The Animal Sanctuary, as always, brought along Teabag, who never fails to capture the attention of the children (and some dogs). The Vets' Place were just as kind as in previous years and provided the rosettes and certificates for the winners. New boys and girls on the block, Ohana, of Handforth, did some dog pampering and made a donation to FOTC.

Finally, a big thanks to Emma and Ann, who (wo)manned the Registration stall, to Barbara and Chris who made some wonderful cakes and sold them, to Polly, who extracted money out of children for the tombola, and Ian, whose artistry created the portraits of the winners you see below.

Winners in the Waggiest Tail contest, Missie with Richard Phillips and Charlie with Will Murfith

Golden Oldies line up, with winner Hugo the Irish Setter belonging to Simone Brook. Those girls look under-age to me

Rescue dogs Rex from Portugal with his owner Terry Norman, and Toby, a retired hearing dog, with Tony Foulds, winners in their class and enjoying life in Wilmslow

Lola and Jessica Roche won the Most Like Its Owner category, which does make you wonder what the criteria are

Prettiest Bitch was fought out by Truffles, Lola and Coco

Best in Show, Bertie

A Busy Weekend in the Carrs
13 May, 2017

On Saturday May 13th, Mockbeggar Morris from the Wirral visited the Carrs Park in Wilmslow to perform one of their northwest-style clog dances. To celebrate their 25th anniversary, they were touring the Cheshire and Greater Manchester area to visit some of the places after which their dances are named. One of the dances is called "Bollin" and as the river Bollin runs through the Carrs they chose to start their tour here.

Whomping the willow
30 April, 2017

FOTC Chairman, Ian Baillie, has a little list. Well, actually, it's quite a long one as it contains all the jobs we keep asking to be done. But since age does not wither it, nor custom stale it, we loaded the barrows with implements of war and set to.

Two main jobs. A willow bough had fallen in the river just after the weir, and that needed to be removed. Secondly, the willow we planted a couple of years ago to hold firm the banks against the ravages of the Bollin in spate has not only done that job wonderfully, but has flourished so as to hide the river entirely - it was in for a severe pruning, just downriver from the picnic area and beyond Red Rock.

Apart from the usual suspects, Park Runners came along to help. Amanda joined the crack willow team while Gary, Anne, Alice and Jane scoured the Twinnies car park for litter, most of which turned out to be dutifully bagged, and then abandoned, dog poo. Why do people do this? (Answers on a postcard, please, and mailed to Prince Philip, who would know how to deal with them.)

Colin dealing with what he insisted on calling 'Lulworth Cove', dignifying with that name a small, though curvaceous, dent in the bank down towards Pownall Bridge

The party on the march, smilingly intent on destruction. From left to right: Emma (with barrow), a tramp, Ian, Chris, John and Amanda (with barrow)

To what is this woman's happiness due? To duty fulfilled, of course. Can you say as much?

Two workers and a by-stander, no doubt wondering which way the bar is

Work on the fallen willow bough was intense

The two Emmas, one reflective, the other cutting

Loo landing
28 April, 2017

See below for evidence that the Carrs gets better day by day, one loo at a time, and that the pessimists don't always carry the day.

Ah, right behind that woman.

Where does he think he's going to park that?

Riparian labour
04 April, 2017

Led by Emma Houghton and our redoubtable chairman (see right), a crack team limbered up and got down to earth by the river near the Twinnies car park to plant some bank-hugging trees. These, it is hoped, will slow the erosion of the friable and already steep riverbank much loved by the local breed of flying dog. And no, we are not trying to ruin their fun (entirely).

Flowers are pretty; toilets are not
21 March, 2017

Nonetheless, what is pretty does not always serve. And it has long been noted that what serves even less is what is not there. Which is to say, toilets. Caught short is caught out and ruins the picnic. Help is at hand. See left. Photographic evidence of work being done on your behalf and for your benefit.

Bollin Valley - Past and Present
30 January, 2017

Not exactly news, but nonetheless worth shouting about. Keith Warrender has written many fine books about Manchester from his corporate HQ in Macclesfield, but has not neglected his back yard. My favourite (though, I hasten to add, not my only) Christmas present in 2013 was Bollin Valley: From Macclesfield to the Ship Canal, a book that does what it says on the cover, and quite a journey it is, too. Any journey worth its while asks more questions than it answers. Keith Warrender has answered them in Bollin Valley: Past and Present, which was my favourite present (of countless) this last Christmas. Both are beautifully illustrated with many historical photos in addition to those taken by the author, have what so many history/geography books cry out for, clear and helpful maps, and collect and present a wealth of information that would be very difficult to pick up otherwise. Both are available at Waterstone's in Wilmslow or at that online place. Highly recommended.

The Fixer
9 November, 2016

There are men, and then there's the real thing. He saw the problem; he fixed it. 'It' being the dog sign, flat on the grass like a sick dog. 'He' being our John. All hail the hero of the month!

The sign erect

The sign prone

Award-winning FOTC
3 November, 2016

With every future mention of FOTC, please be aware that the epithet 'award-winning' is now obligatory.

At a Royal Horticultural Society ceremony in Southport on Thursday October 27th the Friends of the Carrs received the RHS It's Your Neighbourhood top award of a Level 5 "Outstanding" certificate for their work in looking after the Carrs. Chair of the Friends Ian Baillie said, "We were delighted to go even one better than last year's achievement of a level 4 certificate, and we see this as a great reward for all our efforts over the year and a recognition of what a valuable resource the Carrs Country Park is for Wilmslow. When the RHS judges visited us in July, the sun was shining, the grass was freshly cut, families were picnicking, children were playing in the play areas and in the sparklingly clean river, and the benches were occupied by people of all ages just enjoying being there. And there wasn't a speck of litter to be seen!"

PS. On the Friday, Wilmslow won Gold in the North West in Bloom ceremony. Not a bad week, wouldn't you say?,

Flora sprinkles her (delayed) magic
16 October, 2016

Flora may not have appeared in person, but her acolytes were out in force on Sunday, after enduring the AGM, to plant the seeds of beauty for next spring.

The soft earth of the Carrs welcomed over 200 wild flower plug plants and 100 snake's head fritillary bulbs, some in the wet areas and others in the community orchard. If only a few come to flower, it will mean a nectar boost for the bees and butterflies all through next year.

Balsam Bash
26 June, 2016

On a weekend of high drama, of alliances fracturing and governements tottering, FOTC were in the thick of it. Expertly avoiding all discussion of Next - no, that's not it ... Becks - no, try again - brecks? breakfast? ... of breck something or other, and in a spirit of cameraderie that seems to have been wanting recently, they gloved up and got down to business. It was great to see some new faces, even if they were sweaty ones.

The photo below shows them at work. Yes, it is mostly a vision of backs and bottoms, but the real work is happening at the other end.

Don't worry if you missed out. There's another one in less than 2 weeks, on Sunday, the 10th. Come along!

Dog Day Delight
22 May, 2016

Contestants were signing up even before the official opening at noon. The sunshine crackled with anticipation and the contained tension that precedes a great sporting contest. Prettiest Bitch, Most Handsome, Best Trick, ... Sign me up! Sign me up! But there was room for the dogs, too. And a new competition for them - the Agility Course run by Daniel Riley, which proved the most popular of all (though perhaps not with the lady who had to crawl through the last tunnel with her spaniel).

Olivia Fitton with her Airedale terrier, Arthur, Best Overall. A study in ecstacy and contemplation. These two also won Most like its owner, though I'm struggling with this one

Five contests decided and everything proceeding with the military precision you have all come to expect from FOTC when the sky darkens, the temperature plummets and the wind turns flesh blue. It rains. The arena empties.

What might have spelt the end in fact called forth the spirit of the Blitz and, throwing English people into a huddle of a most unaccustomed intimacy under the gazebos, it enlivened conversation and caused the sale of sausage rolls to spike. No one left. We waited.

Before a single defeatist thought had been uttered, the judges (Craig and Vicky from Style NT with Ian Baillie of FOTC), nothing daunted by the downpour, marched out and called the competitors to order. The malevolent minor deities of the upper air sensed the implacability of their determination, retreated and took the rain with them. The announcement of Best Overall was greeted with rapturous applause in weak but growing sunshine and the party broke up with smiles all around.

Many thanks are due. Vicky and Craig of the National Trust, Styal, provided most of the equipment as well as judging with impeccable disinterestedness. Damian Riley set up and managed the Agility Course. The Vets' Place provided the rosettes and certificates for the winners. The Animal Sanctuary brought Teabag along to delight the children. Barkers of Wilmslow provided the prize goody bags. But the biggest thanks must go to John Booth, who not only organised the show, but set it up, begged and bought material, not to mention cooking and heating up the sausage rolls. The inestimable ladies of FOTC made the cakes.

Apologies to Scooby, a Jack Russell belonging to Jane Hill of Wilmslow, who won Best Trick. We have somehow managed to lose the photo of the winning couple. Sorry, Jane. Sorry, Scooby.

The Cutest Puppy was 14-week-old Phoebe the dachshund, here with her owner Fiona Doorbar from Alderley Edge

An eager queue builds up as show-time approaches

Skye, owned by Tracey Ware of Hazel Grove, won the Golden Oldie category

The Waggiest Tail belonged to Charlie, Kate Taylor of Cheadle's cocker spaniel

The Most Handsome was Eric, Felix McKay's Manchester terrier. Yes, we have asked our photographer where the rest of Eric's head has gone - he was unable to supply it

Coco, Prettiest Bitch with Esmae

FOTC hero, John, who organised the day. He fully realises the impermanence of hero status, so if any of you want to throw yourself at him, please be quick

Tom's Bedlington terrier spent 2 years on the end of a rope in a builder's yard and was a worthy winner of Best Rescue Dog

The bunting points to people finding joy in the unforeseen, getting close up and sharing views on dogs, the weather and dogs

The things that dog puts on Facebook - shameless!

Dolling up the Carrs for summer
April, 2016

Look at those men on the right. What are they doing? They're wearing hi-vis jackets so it must be important, mustn't it? The one with the uncombed hair (well, what would be the point?) - what's he holding? Could they help the police, or anyone else for that matter, with their enquiries?

Read on.

What those two layabouts were doing had nothing to do with what they were supposed to be doing; indeed, they were gazing gormlessly at a huge fallen fir tree and reflecting on mortality (as well they might, by the look of them). What they were supposed to be doing was in fact being done by their less philosophical, but vastly more useful, companions, who had set to some hours previously to prune with commendable vigour the willow on the river bank.

We planted this willow just a couple of years ago to grip and keep hold of the friable banks of the Bollin. This job it has done superbly, but willow grows like rabbits breed and, throwing up its arms to heaven in questionable ecstacy, blocks the view of the river to ordinary mortals. So the select group you see below gathered to restore that view and, in two spots, succeeded admirably.

But that is only half the story. Earlier the Wilmslow Clean Team had flown in from ... Wilmslow to bend their backs picking up, and enrich their imagination wondering about, the litter left in the Carrs by their fellow citizens.

A big thank you to them and to all those who came to help.

This woman aroused envy and cupidity for the potency of that implement of hers

He's rarely violent, but sometimes people need to be shown the consequence of their actions.

You remember that piggy that built his house of sticks? Silly piggy. Smile, lupus, smile

It's like A Chorus Line, isn't it? From behind.

News and events

Fly tipping outrage

On Thursday, the 17th of March, at about 9am, your under-cover reporter approached Twinnies car park disguised as a dog-walker and was taken aback to find a lady adding to an immense pile of rubbish by the already overflowing bins. The scene was so incongruous that questions had to be asked and duly were. After intense interrogation, the story came out.

This visitor from Southport was going to meet a friend in Wilmslow at 9. Scarred by previous experience of peak-hour on Styal Road, she had come at 7 for a walk in the Carrs. It was a walk she was never to take. No sooner had she stepped out of her car than she noticed a baby's carry-chair sitting forlornly by the bridge. As she approached, more and more rubbish came into view, strewn down the bank to the river. Filled with righteous indignation, but with no guilty party in sight, she set to on the clean-up. Two hours later, she was still at it.

Your correspondent could not help digging a little deeper. And the findings throw a very different light on the incident. Two in particular. Prescription medicine, a name on the packet, most of the tablets still in their wrapping. A credit card in good condition, with a different name. Could it be that this was not your usual idiot? That what we were looking at was an after-crime scene, the detritus of two or more burglaries?

Pausing only for essential business (throwing the ball for the dog - the disguise must be maintained no matter what the circumstances), your reporter rushed home to phone the police, who were straight on the job*. Cheshire East were likewise informed and agreed that, yes, this could be a significant find.

And the bin men cleared the crime scene.

And so this drama ended.

For now.

* Elsewhere

This brave FOTC member ventured to the scene of the crime in order to include her silhouette in it

The evidence

Winter's veil
March, 2016

Winter's veil from Friday, 4 March

Saps and saplings
December, 2015

Ol' Man Bollin just keeps on rollin'.

Friends of the Carrs plant for the future.

FOTC is 'thriving'
29th October, 2015

Though we are not entirely sure what it means; we are quite certain that it is a good thing. Friends of the Carrs stalwarts, Colin Shepherd, Ian Baillie and John Booth (photo) risked life and limb travelling to Southport for the Royal Horticultural Society presentation ceremony, where they picked up an 'It's Your Neighbourhood' Level 4 award entitled 'Thriving'. Despite the fog of confusion hovering before their eyes, all three made it back to Wilmslow with the certificate and were able to raise a smile at their narrow escape from Lancashire.

Party in the Park (fourth edition)
11/12th July, 2015

The weather looked decidedly ropey on the Saturday, drizzle for most the morning and early afternoon. It did not bode well for the open-air cinema showing of Mamma Mia. And yet, so I'm told, over 1000 people turned up and not a wet bum among them. Perhaps they can thank the 80-strong Magic Voices choir who warmed up the evening and blew away the clouds.

The Party was similarly blessed. There were about 1500 visitors to this fourth edition, with live music from local entertainers and many very popular food stalls. Well done, Wilmslow Council - you're on to a winner.

The cinema crowd on Saturday evening.

Cheshire Constabulary Corps of Drums at the Part on Sunday.

The cinema crowd on Saturday evening.

Adlington Morris Men at the Party on Sunday.

Balsam Bash Ep. 1
28th June, 2015

A rather disappointing turn-out, but no lack of enthusiasm from first-timer Andrew and son Sam, as well as the rest of us. We worked mainly beyond the second bridge.

Canine Capers on the Carrs
17th May, 2015

On Sunday May 17th, the Friends of the Carrs held their annual dog show, "Canine Capers in the Carrs". The show is now in its third year and is becoming increasingly popular as a fun day out for dogs, their owners and everyone interested in dogs.

There were over 100 entries for nine different categories. In between events, a busy refreshment stall and Levaggi's ice cream van kept everyone well fortified and a dogs' agility course presented a variety of challenges to the dogs and their owners.

The event was supported by Wilmslow's newest veterinary practice, The Vet's Place, and Barkers, who provided rosettes and goody bags for the winners.

On the left: an anxious wait during the judging, a difficult task carried out patiently and sympathetically by Simon Hiley, Lead Ranger at Quarry Bank Mill and main organiser of the day.

And the winners are ...!

Louise Clark from Knutsford with Milo (Best Rescue Dog).

Sophie Thompson of Cheadle Hulme's Barkly performed the Best Trick.

Matt Freeman of Styal with Archie (Most Handsome).

And Hayley Pritcherd of Lacey Green was the proud owner of Lacey, judged the Scruffiest Dog.

Waiting for the judge to pass, inspect and decide is nerve-racking and tests the steeliest of spirits. Look at the fear etched on these faces.

Stevie Jepson from Styal with Bella (on left) for the Prettiest Bitch category.

Georgina Davies from Wilmslow with Daisy (Child's Best Friend).

Carolyn and Jack Bowler of Styal's Luke had the Waggiest Tail.

The Golden Oldie title went to Troy, belonging to Tony Foulds of Wilmslow.

The prize for Best Overall went to Dottie, belonging to Laura and Isla Keay of Wilmslow.

The first Wilmslow Park Run
18th March, 2015

The first Wilmslow Park Run took place in the Carrs on Saturday April 11th. 175 runners of all ages and abilities completed the scenic 5 kilometre course through the park, urged on by the numerous families and friends who came to watch, and the strollers, dog walkers and pram pushers already out enjoying the fine weather.

This will be a free, regular Saturday morning event in the Carrs. The organisers are particularly keen to see novices and young runners joining in. The run starts at 9.00 and normally everything will be packed up and gone by 10.00, although it is hoped participants will linger for a chat and refreshments afterwards.

Working party parties on the Carrs
18th March, 2015

Well, maybe 'party' isn't quite the word, but FOTC and Styal National Trust got together if not for their own, then for the pleasure of others by sprucing up the Carrs for spring.

They did some tidying up and litter picking, pruning and weaving willow near the pinch point; they removed a fallen tree opposite the willow to try and improve the river flow, and repaired the river bank (thanks to Simon and the National Trust team) at the pinch point to protect the new path.

Santa Dash
December 2014

Fleet of foot and Father Christmas don't often go together, but they did last Saturday in Wilmslow for the Santa Dash. To the bemusement of some and the amusement of others, the peloton jogged, strode and wheeled for 3.5km around the Carrs putting some red into the afternoon and their faces. Those who participated and those who witnessed it were all the better for it.

(Almost) High Drama on the Carrs
4th September, 2014

Sunday afternoons in August have always been a peak time for visitors to the Carrs with families either out for a stroll or playing games and children honing their cycling and skateboarding skills. This year has been busier than ever thanks to the new multi-use path which was completed in the spring.

However, the crowds scattered when a freak wind sheared the bough of a huge willow tree bringing it crashing down onto the new footbridge. Fortunately, nobody was injured but with the bough hanging precariously above the bridge it was unsafe to cross. Although this left many people stranded on the wrong side of the river, the emergency services responded quickly and the bridge was swiftly reopened albeit with some minor damage to the railings.
John Booth

Note: We are filling in a retrospective H&S Assessment as this news goes to press. Following which will follow a public enquiry and a raft of new laws so that this never happens again.

New playground
6th August, 2014

On Wednesday July 23rd, the refurbished children's playground in the Carrs opened again for business with a splendid array of slides, swings, climbing frames and much more for the children to enjoy, and benches and picnic tables for accompanying adults to take a well-earned break.

The work was completed well ahead of schedule, just in time for the beginning of the main school holidays, and a long period of fine weather since the re-opening has added to everyone's enjoyment.

Special thanks, too, to Primrose Cottage Nurseries and Incredible Edible for the splendid planters at the entrance to the playground.
Ian Baillie

Loosestrife, meadowsweet and thistles
17th July, 2014

A damp spring and a warm summer have led to wonderful displays of wild flowers in our wet areas - the dazzling colours of the yellow loosestrife and the purple loosestrife, the frothy white clouds and rich scent of the meadowsweet are the highlights of the summer, with buttercups, thistles and bulrushes also in abundance.

We have also trialled a wildflower seed selection to see if we can encourage flowers in the drier areas alongside the new path, and have been rewarded with a spectacular display of corn marigolds, along with cornflowers, poppies and ox-eye daisies.
Ian Baillie

Party in the Carrs
Sunday 22th June, 2014

On Sunday June 22nd, Wilmslow's annual Party in the Park took place in the Carrs. The weather was glorious and around 2,000 people came to enjoy the music, food stalls and children's entertainments, and to picnic in the sun.

FOTC had a stall to display our activities and recruit volunteers.

At the same time, we had a Balsam Bash which impressed many visitors (in fact, the sight of us working added immeasurably to their enjoyment of not doing so) and took us another step forward in our efforts to clear the Carrs of this invasive species (the balsam, not the visitors).
Ian Baillie

Canine Capers, 2nd Edition
Sunday 18th May, 2014

Around 60 dogs and their owners joined in a fun dog show organised by Friends of the Carrs and The National Trust at Styal Estate.

In beautiful sunshine, the dogs took part in various classes including Most Handsome Dog, Best Trick, Waggiest Tail and Best Rescue Dog (to name but a few).

There was also a doggy agility course available throughout the day, tackled with varying degrees of success by the participants!

The event was supported by Newgate Animal Sanctuary who bought along Tea Bag the Shetland Pony to join in the fun and Wilmslow's new veterinary practice The Vet’s Place who generously donated prizes and free advice. Further prizes were donated by Barker's, the new shop in Wilmslow which sells everything a dog could wish for.

The day was a great success and a fun time was had by all. Plans are already being made for next years show!

In the photo above right, Starry, a Yorkie who came from a very unhappy background to be given a loving home by Josie Chappell of Bredbury – Starry won the Best Rescue Dog category.
Ruth Lees

The Vets Place and the Newgate sanctuary stalls.

Baxter the setter with his owner Moya Slevin of Wilmslow – winner of the Most Handsome Dog category; Teabag the Shetland


Come all ye huddled masses! The path to freedom (and Wilmslow) lies before you!
3rd April, 2014

After many years of discussions, planning and grant applications, the work to upgrade the path from Wilmslow to Styal through the Carrs has been completed. The result is a very accessible, 2.5 metre wide, surfaced bridleway, already being used and appreciated by all members of the community, including walkers, wheelchair users, pram and pushchair users, horse riders and cyclists. At its opening on Thursday 3rd April, David Topping (cutting the ribbon in the photos), Cheshire East’s Cabinet member for Environment, said, “I am delighted that the hard work from all the partners in this venture has resulted in the opening of this valuable asset for our residents to use. There is much focus at present for people to get out into the fresh air and get some exercise. This will help to encourage such activity in Cheshire’s wonderful countryside.”

An informal ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by many of those who had been involved in its creation. Attendees included Graham Beech (on the left in both photos), instigator and one of the prime movers of the project, who recalled, “I have campaigned for many years to get a high-quality multi-purpose path through The Carrs and am absolutely delighted that it has been completed. This really is a path for all categories of users and for all ages. My long-term vision is to see it continue to Styal Country Park, Manchester Airport and beyond.”

This has truly been a Partnership project with landowners Cheshire East Council managing the project, Friends of the Carrs applying for the grant, the Bollin Valley Partnership getting the community on board and the wider public supporting the scheme with letters and campaigning.

Emma Houghton (on the right in the first photo), Community Projects Officer at the Bollin Valley Partnership, said, “The hard work, time and energy everyone put into this project all seemed worthwhile when I heard a story of a man in a motorised wheelchair who had been unable to access the site for many years. He didn’t kick up a fuss but as soon as the path was renovated, he jumped at the opportunity to visit and enjoy the Carrs.”

Funding for this ambitious scheme was made possible through the Paths for Communities Scheme (P4C) operated by Natural England. Improvements to The Carrs have also benefited from the allocation of section 106 recreation funding through nearby developments.

Reflecting on the experience, Ian Baillie, chairman of the Friends of The Carrs, said “The Friends are delighted with this project and hope to complete some wildflower planting and river bank protection to complement the new path. We hope that it will be many years before we have to worry about the link from Wilmslow to Styal again!”

The main path runs alongside the River Bollin from the bridge near the Parish Hall to Twinnies car park, where it meets the recently upgraded Kings Road to Lacey Green link. Additional resurfacing and widening work has been completed by Cheshire East Council on the sections of path that link to Hawthorn Lane and to Cliff Road, providing flexible access to and from the town centre. The sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, hopes to designate the upgraded paths as part of the National Cycle Network, linking to the nearby Airport Orbital Cycleway.

NB The photographs above show the before and after of the ribbon-cutting. If you alternate blinks really fast, it will look like a video. (We at FOTC like to deliver media-rich content.)

Via perfecta est
14 March 2014

The new path was completed on time this afternoon, so do pop down to admire it if you have a moment this weekend. The site won't be totally cleared yet because the landscapers are coming to reseed etc. And Cheshire East have asked the contractors to stay on and do two more jobs - at Cheshire East's expense! The tarmac path from the first bridge up to the basketball area is to be widened to the width of the new path, and the path from the Parish Hall to the first bridge is to be repaired with the same materials as those used originally.
(Work funded by a Natural England grant through their Paths for Communities scheme)
Ian Baillie

Progreditur labor Caput 4
28 February 2014

Thanks to our very professional team of contractors, and with the benefit of some better weather, progress has been excellent and the project is said to be a few days ahead of schedule. I'm optimistic that, by this time next week, I might be telling you that the job is just about complete.

Have a look at the photos to see here and below how far along things are.

On the right. 25 Feb: The upper section of the path, leading to bridge #1 - note that the tarmac "binding course" is already laid and that the new path makes a diversion around the tree roots. The muddy section to the right is drying out as water permeates through the stone sub-base.

Click on the photos below to see larger versions.


27 Feb: The same stretch of path as in the previous photograph, taken just two days later. Joining, as it does, to the existing bridleway from Kings Road, this has already proved to be popular with skateboarders - a user category we'd not thought about! The binding course will be coated by a tar "spray and chip" procedure. Full description here for path connoisseurs.

27 Feb: The same again, looking upstream.

25 Feb: a shot at the other end of the path, near Twinnies car park, showing the sub-base being laid and rolled.

27 Feb: scraping out the final section of the graded slope parallel to the present cyclist/pram/wheelchair-unfriendly steps, looking downstream. Note the blue sky.


More news and pictures next week!
(Work funded by a Natural England grant through their Paths for Communities scheme)
Graham Beech

Progreditur labor Caput 3
21 February 2014

Despite the weather, there's good progress to report on the Carrs Greenway.

The stone sub-base has been laid for about a third of the distance from the middle bridge (bridge 2) upriver to bridge 1 - see the picture above left, looking downriver from about half-way between the two bridges.

Likewise, the sub-base for the section between bridges 2 and 3 is almost complete, except for the last 100 squelchy metres towards Twinnies car park. Considerable amounts of stone will be needed here to provide a stable support for the path.

Even better news: the tarmac and a gang of layers, spreaders and rollers turned up and began work today (Friday). Still a fair bit of preparation to do at the Boddington/first bridge end, but they reckon it won't take long (cue torrential downpours, ice, snow and earthquakes). And - as a treat for construction plant aficionados - there's a picture of the device used to do the rolling in picture (on the Home page).

The contractors are doing a great job, despite the adverse conditions. I'm optimistic that we'll soon be able to walk, cycle, push prams & pushchairs or whatever down the path.
(Work funded by a Natural England grant through their Paths for Communities scheme)
Graham Beech, with contributions from Ian Baillie

Progreditur labor Caput 2
11 February 2014

Despite the weather, good progress is being made and I was assured today that the contractors are still on schedule. Given the state of our own garden, this seems little short of miraculous! The stone base layer downstream from the middle bridge has already been laid and rolled for, I estimate, about half of the distance towards Twinnies car park. The remainder of this section has proven to be a bit challenging because of the waterlogged ground. This is being dealt with by a combination of land drains (see last week's update) and by tipping a deep layer of stone (see photo of this alongside dumper truck) to form a solid foundation whilst also enabling the water to percolate towards the river. A geotextile membrane is then placed on the stone followed by the finer crushed-stone base that will ultimately support a thick tarmac layer.

Work has also started upstream from the middle bridge. Conditions here seem much better with a variety of ground conditions varying from sand to clay. No doubt there will be challenges ahead, but flooding should be less of a problem. The second photograph shows a section near to the middle bridge with a layer of membrane in place.

It may be wet and muddy but so far we have been spared deep-freeze conditions, which could slow down the project considerably. So far, so good!
Graham Beech

Work starts on new path
4 February 2014

Suitably equipped with hard hat and bright yellow jacket, on Monday I ventured into the Fairclough site to see how things were going, There's a lack of people in these pictures because I'd arrived just when the workers were knocking off for lunch!

The main progress to report is that the route of the path has been scraped clear and that land drains are being installed to take away the floodwater before laying foundations for the path - see the photographs. Interestingly, the water is not being drained into the river, for fear of contamination. Instead, a large pond is being excavated to provide storage capacity.

More news early next week!
Graham Beech