Weirdstone Ways

Day out: Alderley Edge, Cheshire

Seek wizards and caverns among the magical plains that inspired author Alan Garner, says Neil Coates

 

7th July 2016
© Getty

The Edge at Alderley thrusts high above the Cheshire Plain. In this sandstone countryside, myth, legend and heritage intertwine; sleeping knights, wizards and ancient industry are the strange bedfellows that inspired Alan Garner to weave his magical tales The Weirdstone of Brisangamen and follow-up The Moon of Gomrath

These gripping stories of ancient magic, dwarves, battles and derring-do have enchanted children since their publication in the 1960s. Protected by the National Trust, the area has changed little since Garner composed his enduring stories.

Walk The Wizard’s Way

Paths and sunken tracks thread past vast Victorian mansions secluded in the woods. One reaches the top of The Edge at a sandstone bluff sheltering the Wizard’s Well. According to local legend, a wizard guards a cavern in which 140 knights sleep on white chargers, awaiting the call to battle against the forces of evil when the world is in dire peril. 

This damp basin, with its barely readable inscription, is one of many locations across the Edge that can be recognised from Garner’s dark tales. A self-guided waymarked trail, The Wizard Walk, criss-crosses the area, revealing the netherworld set in the real landscape.

The wizard Cadellin Silverbrow, together with the books’ youthful heroes Susan and Colin, becomes almost an integral part of the landscape, venturing across and beneath Cheshire’s rolling countryside. 

Pick up the path that rumbles from The Beacon through dingles to reach Stormy Point. This pine-fringed crag is pockmarked by old copper mine workings; railed-off entrances to a secret underworld of passages and caverns – the realm of Fundindelve, which the twins explore at their peril. 

The outstanding view east to the purple-hued moors and hills of the Dark Peak spirals to Shutlingsloe and Shining Tor peaks, pivotal locations in the books. Nearby; the mysterious Golden Stone is still revered by mystics for its aura of power.

Easygoing woodland paths lace the beech, oak and pine woods; passing deep, fern-fronded ravines and swathes
of exposed rocks pitted by mineworkings in use well before the Romans arrived. Engine Vein and West Mine, featured in Brisangamen, can be identified above ground. Several times each year these can be entered on guided underground trips; eye-opening experiences that put you in the shoes of the children who ventured underground seeking the lost magical talisman, the Weirdstone.

 

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