The Middlewood Way offers a 10-mile (16-km) traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists and horseriders. Along its route, there are visitor centres (in Bollington, at Nelson Pit, and the Anson Engine Museum), pubs (a selection in Bollington, the Miners Arms in Adlington, the Boars Head at Higher Poynton, and where the Way passes under the main A6), toilets (in the visitor centres and in Tesco's in Macclesfield) and cafes (two near the Boars Head in Higher Poynton, and one in Adlington). There are car parks in Macclesfield (Tesco's car park is easiest), Bollington (just below the viaduct where the Way crosses the town), Higher Poynton (near the Boars Head), and at Rose Hill Station in Marple where the Way terminates. You know when you've reached the Boars Head because here the Way passes through an old railway station, where the old platform is still intact.
The Middlewood Way follows the line of the former Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway through picturesque Cheshire countryside and between historic mill towns. For much of its length, the Middlewood Way runs close to the Macclesfield Canal, and past Ladybrook Valley, so there are many options for easy circular walks. For the more adventurous, the extensive public footpath network reaches into the Peak District Foothills to the east and the Cheshire Plain to the west. For horse riders the Way offers a traffic-free ride all the way from Marple to Bollington - along the specially constructed bridleway (see the Horse Riding section). The Way is also open to cyclists and provides the ideal opportunity for a quiet and enjoyable family outing (see the Cycling section). Picnic sites are situated at various points along the trail. There should also be many opportunities for bird watchers, as the Way is bordered by many areas of woodland along its length. It should be noted however that the Way can become quite muddy in wet weather. For more information, have a look at this extract from Walking Northern Railways.
In 1863, the towns of Marple, Bollington and Macclesfield were facing economic depression. Local dignitaries, in particular the cotton mill owners of Bollington, hoped that a new railway would improve their fortunes, and presented a scheme to Parliament. The Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple Railway opened in 1869. The line carried cotton, silk, coal and passengers, but always struggled to make a profit. It was closed in 1970 and redeveloped for recreation as the Middlewood Way in 1985.