National Trust Cheshire: Hare Hill and Quarry Bank

Cheshire is well endowed with National Trust properties. I’ve already reviewed three of my favourite sites, Lyme, Dunham Massey and Little Moreton, each of which includes an interesting Hall to explore.

Two rather different National Trust sites in Cheshire are Hare Hill and Quarry Bank.

Hare Hill Gardens
Pond area at Hare Hill

No Halls to visit at these sites, but at Hare Hill, there is a pleasant woodland garden and at Quarry Bank, fifteen minutes’ drive away, there is a working Textile Mill, plus gardens and grounds which include an industrial village.

Hare Hill

Although just a few acres in size, Hare Hill has a stylish walled garden and walkways through woodland and around three ponds.

The gardens were developed in the 1960s and 1970s by Colonel Charles Brocklehurst, who owned Hare Hill Hall and estate until handed over to the National Trust. The Hall was sold in 1978 with proceeds supporting the upkeep of the gardens.

The walled garden is grassed in the middle, but has a range of attractive plants in the borders which were just starting to flower when we visited in early March.

Wire horse statue
Wire horse statue in the walled garden

Two impressive wire horse statues in the centre commemorate the death of the Colonel’s twin brother, Patrick, who was killed in a riding accident in 1930.

The woodland walkways had a profusion of colour from snowdrops, daffodils and hellebores, including some striking double hellebores. The garden has a large range of unusual hollies.

It was clear as we walked around that later in the year there would be masses of colourful rhododendrons in bloom, along with pieris and hydrangea. A rock garden is being developed.

There is a permissive walk of about two miles from the gardens to the nearby National Trust property of Alderley Edge, a red sandstone escarpment with panoramic views over the Cheshire Plains.

Facilities are quite limited at Hare Hill, although there are toilets and at weekends a pop-up café.

Quarry Bank

Although the main feature of this property is the Textile Mill, there is much more to see and do and we found an afternoon far too short a time to see the whole site.

Quarry Bank Textile Mill
Quarry Bank Textile Mill

Having booked a tour of the Apprentice House for three hours after our arrival, we headed across the fields to the village of Styal with its rows of terraced houses built for the millworkers. Although there are guided tours of one of the houses, we made do with perusing the small exhibition of village life.

This is still a lived-in village and the school was in full swing as we passed by heading down the steep and muddy pathways to the River Bollin. Not the route to take for the less nimble.

To view the gardens, glasshouses and back sheds, we had to head back up from the river along more steep paths. Although the gardens were not at their best when we visited, the views down into the valley and across to the Mill, made the trudge up the paths well worthwhile.

Quarry Bank: Steep path down to the River Bollin
Steep path down to the River Bollin

Heading down into the valley along more steep paths, we approached the mill from the rear, allowing its massive size to be fully appreciated.

We only had about an hour to spare before our tour of the Apprentice House, much too short a time to visit the five floors of the Mill.

We found the Cotton Processing Room on the third floor and Weaving Shed on the second floor to be of most interest, with the clatter of machinery adding to the atmosphere. The enormous mill wheel visible from the Mule Room should not be missed.

There is a lift between floors making the Mill fully accessible. There is a large café, shops and toilets on the ground floor level.

Quarry Bank: Bustle and clatter in the Weaving Room
Clattering machinery in the Weaving Shed

Our guided tour of the Apprentice House was interesting, particularly seeing the little schoolroom and cramped bedrooms, although an hour for the tour was maybe rather too long.

Overall this unusual National Trust site proved to be a fascinating insight into industrial life two hundred years ago.

With more time, we would have explored the paths along the river and through Chapel Woods. As with Hare Hill, a summer visit would allow the gardens to be fully appreciated.

Joining the National Trust

If you visit heritage sites regularly, then Annual Membership of the National Trust can save you a lot of money. See my article: English Heritage versus National Trust – Which to join?

With regard to Winter Openings, see: English Heritage and the National Trust – Winter Openings

See our other articles on National Trust Sites.

POSTED 18th APRIL 2020 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.