Pickmere, Cheshire

by Veronica

Yesterday's day out was to Pickmere in Cheshire, a beautiful lake and pretty village about 35 mins drive from here. It has interesting geography and history and a personal link too

Mere is an old Norse/ germanic word for a lake or sea and is still used in Northern England.

Pickmere is a village and civil parish near Knutsford Cheshire and its main feature is a beautiful lake.

Surprisingly for me, I have never been, despite having lived in this area all my life. As a child my mother's annual summer holiday used to be a day out at Wythenshawe Park or Pickmere in Cheshire.

When I visited yesterday I could imagine my mother's life long love of the countryside starting right there at Pickmere. To have a day out from the murky, polluted filthy slum housing of inner city Manchester to the beauty of Pickmere for a day-out must have seemed like heaven to her.

Welcome to Pickmere

Welcome to Pickmere
Welcome to Pickmere

There are a few meres in North Cheshire, nothing to the extent of the English Lake District but pretty in themselves. It is  believed that these meres were created as a result of subsidence thousands of years ago.  Pickmere was apparently formed when three subsidence pits flooded together.  It is about 40 feet deep.  There are danger signs all round and swimming is prohibited.

Pickmere was mentioned in the reign of King John (1199 -1216) and the lake name was given to  the village near to it.

Yesterday, we started our visit with a magnificent lunch at The Red Lion which has the biggest portions I have ever seen on a plate. I couldn't eat half of it.

The pub had beautiful gardens and the hanging baskets were stunning.

The red lion
The red lion
pub gardens
pub gardens
hanging baskets at The Red Lion Pub
hanging baskets at The Red Lion Pub

To the mere

This being the middle of summer in the North of England it was fairly damp but here in the North if we stayed in whenever it was wet we would never go out.

The walk to the lake took about 15 minutes and was very pretty ambling through the lovely village and looking at prime Cheshire farmland. This beautiful B & B was once owned by the descendants of local lord-of-the-manor Hugh de Pikemere.

 

18thC Pickmere guest house
18thC Pickmere guest house

Down to the mere

The mere is approached down a long steep slope. It is easy to see how it was possibly formed after subsidence. Seeing it as we turned the corner was quite breath-taking.

The grassy knoll at the top was full of lovely carvings including this wonderfully carved bench below.

the walk to the lake
the walk to the lake
by the lake
by the lake

Joe Robinson - local historian

At the top of this slope we had a cup of tea and I met a remarkable gentleman and local historian called Joe Robinson who has lived in Pickmere since he was a child and is now in his 80's.  He was fascinating to listen to and told me that when my mother would have visited Pickmere as a child, there would have been boat trips and a fairground to attract visitors. No wonder my mother loved it as a child.  As I wandered around I could visualise my mother in that place,  walking those footsteps 80 years ago.

Joe has written a few books about the area. He was a really lovely man and I was honoured to meet him.

lakeside walk
lakeside walk

The water was so clean that we could see the stones on the bottom of the mere. Boats aren't allowed as they would dirty the water. It was beautifully maintained. Swimming is not allowed either. All around there were excellent information boards.

really spotlessly clean water
really spotlessly clean water
PIckmere
PIckmere

Information boards

I love reading information boards.

These boards were tastefully done to blend in with the locality and the information was of good quality. They listed the names of several birds, plants and fish.

information boards
information boards
information boards
information boards
information boards
information boards

Around the mere

There were no noisy, dirty oily boats to spoil this water and peaceful experience. There were several beautiful wild flowers and the mereside walk was an enchanting experience.

beautiful wild flowers
beautiful wild flowers
wildflowers
wildflowers
wildflowers
wildflowers
typical Cheshire woodland  gate
typical Cheshire woodland gate

This was a lovely place and I will definitely visit in better weather next time.

Updated: 07/12/2016, Veronica
 
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Veronica on 07/20/2016

There are some Saxon names locally but Wythenshawe is largely Norman. Wythenshawe it self is an Anglo-Saxon name Withen scaga- Willow grove. Saxfield in Wythenshawe is another one, Poundswick . William the Conqueror though granted the lands to Hamon de Mascey and there are still many Masseys in the area, also Dunham Massey.

frankbeswick on 07/19/2016

Veronica, your observation that Wythenshawe [North Cheshire] was drained in the mediaeval period has struck me as true, as what you said made me realize that many of the local place names there are mediaeval rather than Anglo-Saxon, which fact seems to confirm what you say.

frankbeswick on 07/19/2016

You will find that soils can vary a great deal locally.

Veronica on 07/19/2016

That is very interesting. TY .

Where we were brought up on the Cheshire Plain the soil was clay.

frankbeswick on 07/19/2016

The salt lake was in the late Paleozoic era, about 210 million years ago, hence that is why they mine deep for the salt that it deposited. More recent geological events have involved glaciation and its aftermath. The presence of glacial clay on the land surface favours the development of lakes and swamps, as the clay is impervious to water, which therefore does not drain away quickly. Glacial clay is one reason why the north of the county was quite swampy in places. But I have noted that glacial clay does not cover the whole county. For example, when I worked in Tatton Park [in Cheshire] at the Tatton Flower Show, I noticed that the soil was mainly sandy.

Veronica on 07/15/2016

Great comment BSG. Indeed the land is still very damp underfoot at times. Cheshire used to be an inland salt lake of course and there are still salt mines and huge salt reserves.

The "Little Ice Age " was a substantial period of cold during the medieval period. I don't know but I suspect that even when land is drained it would still have a tendency to get very water- logged because although it is drained the underlying geology would be the same.

Our conditions are very damp at the best of times of course but it doesn't upset us much. I say that the reason why the North West is so beautiful with lakes and lush green land is because it is so wet.

blackspanielgallery on 07/15/2016

Between the times when the land was drained and now came the Little Ice Age. Did it have a lasting effect on the land there? I know it impacted England since the River Themes froze over during the Little Ice Age, and that certainly must have had some effect still noticeable today. So, conditions were at least temporarily changed since the time of the Normans.

frankbeswick on 07/15/2016

Certainly the clear water makes life easier for the heron.

Veronica on 07/14/2016

I love heron.

Pickmere is certainly alive with birdlife. Maybe the very clear water attracts them.

frankbeswick on 07/14/2016

I think that you will see a good range of birds at Pickmere, as it combines avian fauna connected with woodlands with those that are water lovers. The area where I live, South Lancashire, which for non-British is just north of Cheshire, has a sizable population of heron, which roam around seeking water for fishing,so several would have found Pickmere. Dunham Massey, not far away, has a good population of coot, moorfowl and various wild ducks and geese. Furthermore, I have seen jays and nuthatches in Cheshire woods, so I would expect to see them at Pickmere. Pied wagtails and hedge sparrows, along with more common fauna, such as geese and magpies are there, and wood pigeons are ubiquitous. You often hear their cuck ur coo from the trees.

Though not in historic Cheshire, if I walk a mile south of my home and cross the river, I enter the historic county of Cheshire. Veronica lives somewhat south east of me in North East Cheshire.

I use the term historic county as Veronica and I both dwell in the administrative county of Greater Manchester, but most Britons regard administrative counties as necessary evils and we still stick to our historic identities, thus Veronica sees herself as being in Cheshire, which she is, while I am in Lancashire. Identity is given by the historic counties to which we belong.


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