Aston Ring Bridleway
This attractive route provides an off-road, circular route of approximately seven miles, much of which follows the Weaver Navigation.
UPDATES REGARDING THE CLOSURE
(Autumn 2020) The Aston Ring along Pickering’s Cut near the railway viaduct was due to be opened this summer with the worst areas fenced off but this has now been delayed by the Council. An alternative solution is in the process of being agreed with the local Badger Group and Natural England. Although officially this route is closed, there are no signs and some riders are still using the route either by dismounting and leading using the mounting blocks or by by-passing this section through a couple of bridle gates via the Woodland Trust land. Clearly anyone does this at their own risk and there is also some badger activity in the adjacent field. This is extremely frustrating and we are continuing to lobby rights of way.
Parking is available at the Leigh 1 Arms adjacent to the A49 swing bridge (CW8 4QT), but please telephone first (01606 853327) and park away from the pub. Limited parking is available at Davenports Farm Shop just off the A49 nearby (CW8 4QU), but please phone first to arrange on 01606 853241.
- Follow the road to the rear of the Bella Napoli Italian restaurant and cross the A49 to a lane, taking extreme care. After 300 yards turn left after the caravan park and follow a track past Bartington Hall to the canal bridge. (Davenports Farm Shop is adjacent to this track). Go through a gate and cross a field diagonally towards a bungalow called Heron’s Court. If there are ponies in this field some riders find it easier to follow the track around the edge.
- Turn left through a gate, follow a fenced track with a woodland planting on the left to another gate and pass through Bluebell Wood. Follow the field edge and bear left at the first hedge line uphill following the headland where there are lovely views across the Weaver Valley.
- Turn left through the next gate, head downhill to re-cross the canal through a further gate and follow the fenced track down to a gate next to the river.
- Turn right and follow the road and cross the Upper Horse Bridge. The former swing bridge was replaced in 2010 with an arched structure which allows access for boats to the sluices which you can see to the right The new bridge is wider with a non slip surface and is more inviting for horses. If you prefer to lead your horse over, there is a mounting block either side. Continue past Dutton Locks and the former lock cottages. You may see canal boats passing though and there is also a picnic area here. Follow the riverbank which has been surfaced in gravel and cross the Lower Horse Bridge over the old course of the Weaver to a gate. Again mounting blocks have been provided either side as some horses find this wooden bridge spooky.
- Continue along the riverbank through several gates through Woodland Trust Land where there may be cattle. Pass under Dutton Viaduct to a gate at Pickering’s Cut Cottages. Take care along this section as there are badger holes. A permissive diversion was put in place in 2016 which allows riders to by-pass the worst holes. Please walk past the cottages to the next gate. Keep to the riverbank until you reach another gate.
- In the next field you bear right and cross diagonally towards a gate at the wood at the base of the escarpment. Take care across here as there may be mole hills and cattle
in this field.
- The route follows a steep track up the valley side alongside the wood. Turn left along the track towards, then past Aston Grange Farm.
- The road bears left towards Aston, but take the right turn past Weaver View Cottages with a copse on the left. This section has been surfaced as part of the National Cycle Route. Follow the track through a gate where there are good views across the valley. Continue downhill under the railway arch and through two more gates with woodland planting on either side.The route then passes through Dutton Lodge Farm through a further gateway.
- At the road, turn right and at the fork bear right and then turn immediately left at a bridleway sign. Go through a gate and cross a field to another gate. The bridleway is then surfaced and follows the base of Park Brow, a wooded escarpment. (Past the wood an alternative route can be taken to the right of the fishing pond and under the railway viaduct to link back to the route already described along the river. Take care near the viaduct as the ground can be boggy).
- The main route carries straight on through a gate and back to the Lower Horse Bridge. Re-cross the bridge, go past the locks and back over the Upper Horse Bridge. Follow the road alongside the river back to Acton Swing Bridge. Dismount and lead your horse under the bridge, taking care as the visibility is restricted and the traffic makes a noise above. Re-mount using the mounting block sponsored by Mid Cheshire Bridleways and return to your vehicle through a gate, taking care next to the road. These directions can of course be reversed for a change.
Please use the Countryside Code
It is recommended that you carry a mobile phone and wear high visibility clothing as this route is quite isolated and it is better to avoid riding it alone.
Points of Interest
Wildlife – Buzzards can frequently be seen overhead and falcons are said to nest on the railway viaduct. Reed warblers, swans and mallards nest in the reed beds along the river banks.
Acton Swing Bridge – This was constructed in the 1930s when the A49 was realigned to replace an old stone bridge that can still be seen just upstream and a former swing bridge.
Dutton Locks – These were built in late 1870s and the lock keeper’s office and houses date from this period. There used to be a horse bridge across here and the pivot can be seen.
Lower Dutton Horse Bridge –This was originally built in 1919
but was completely re-built in the nineties and is listed for its historic importance. It is constructed of curved, laminated greenheart timber and crosses the old course of the Weaver.
Dutton Viaduct – This was built in the 1830s and the stone piers are built on timber piles and is listed for its historic importance. The main west coast line crosses this and it is said to sway when a train passes!
Pickering’s Cut – The first house used to be a pair of lock keepers cottages as there used to be a pair of locks here. The former swing bridge was removed after the war and you can see the abutments.