This is a very special place for my family as we can walk there from Poynton and bask in the glory of the house, gardens and grounds. My dad, now 75 years young, has recounted over and over how he remembers sitting on the lawn one fine June day many years ago. Back then, when it first opened to the public in 1947, he looked up at the statues of Neptune, Venus and Pan in awe and amazement. Lyme Park is still one of his favourite places and barely a day goes by without him drifting up there for a walk over the moors.
As Lyme Park is located on the edge of both the Peak District and the Cheshire Plain it has commanding 360 degree views and it would have been a crime to keep this place private and let it deteriorate. I visited a few rooms in the house in the 1980s with school. Some of my friends were convinced that we felt a ghostly presence of a poor grey bedraggled lady standing near a chimney. However, there was not much to look at then and it had an eerie, neglected atmosphere. Imagine my surprise when I visited the interior this summer to find treasures within! Many of the lost and forgotten things have now been re-instated including an original red and black ink Caxton bible worth £750,000. Oh yes, and the second folio of Shakespeare’s plays are in the library too… And these amongst pillaged antiquities and red velvet sofas which you can sit on whilst reading one of the less valuable books.
Further on through the house I listened to a brilliant audio installation called “To Stop Her Mouth” about a 15 year old girl who is abducted by a terrible cad and co-erced in to a marriage at Gretna Green (see creativetourist.com for more details).
Rain or shine, this is a great place to find some fresh air. This is how the author of the first one shilling programme put it:
Apart from the great house, there is, in this isolated situation, no village or even hamlet. To visitors in the eighteenth century the situation made little appeal. One described it “by no means well chosen, as the surrounding country is bleak, Moorish and unfruitful”. To another both house and park presented “a tasteless, wasteful grandeur”. But today we see considerable merit in the very attributes that depressed these visitors. To the majority of us, whose humdrum lives are imprisoned within congested city streets of unprepossessing aspect, a day spent in the moorish and unfruitful spaces of Lyme is not bleak at all but spells freedom.
For a slow walk with the family, I recommend that you set your sights on a circular walk to one of the many hunting lodges. Alternatively, you can head up to Bowstones. On a clear day you will get incredible views of the Cheshire Plain towards Jodrell Bank and the mountains of North Wales. You can also see Kinder Downfall and the dark Peak rising to the east.