Pride and Prejudice: Walk in the footsteps of Miss Bennet and Mr Darcy

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's novel. Tantalise your televisual memory this summer with a walk through Lyme Park, where Miss Bennet was startled by a wet-look Mr Darcy during the BBC adaptation

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When a wet-shirted Colin Firth strode into Jennifer Ehle’s life, an iconic TV moment was born. Lyme Hall played the part of Pemberley in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and the lake into which Darcy dived (or a stuntman, in fact, due to the risk of Weil’s disease!) is much the same today. The park nestles in the foothills of the Peak District and this ramble takes in spectacular viewpoints, canalside heritage and, of course, that unforgettable pond.

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Distance: 51/4 miles (8.4 km) Time: 23/4 hours

START

Join the towpath at Higher Poynton, with the canal on your right. Just past the end of the moorings, the woods on your left hide the remains of the little-known East Cheshire Coalfield.

Pass under Bridge 13, then leave the towpath and circle back over the bridge, joining the rough lane skirting Middlecale Farm to reach, in 700m, a cross-path waymarked by the Peak and Northern Footpaths Society.

Turn left on the path through Ryles Wood to reach, beyond fields, the lodge house at the edge of Lyme’s Estate. Keep ahead along the rough track through a high gate to the main driveway.

Turn right, and in 220m drift left on to a stony track that eases up the hillside towards the ridge-top and The Cage, an elegant hunting lodge. Clear days offer extensive views across this corner of Cheshire and the nearer moors of the Peak District National Park.


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LYME HALL

Continue from the Cage to a driveway near the courtyard of Lyme Hall. This superb National Trust property, which featured as the exterior of Mr Darcy’s home in the BBC series, is renowned for its fine furniture, Mortlake tapestries, Edwardian rose garden, 1,400-acre deer park and the orangery designed by British architect Lewis Wyatt. The interiors were shot at another National Trust property, Sudbury Hall in Derbyshire.

Turn left up the drive, and in 175m bear right through a gate bearing the sign “no cycling”, along the staff car park road behind the former stable block.

Skirt to the left of the car park to and through a handgate, then alongside a hedgeside fence. In another 250m, take the high handgate on the right, indicating the way to the Fallow Deer park (red deer and sheep also graze in the grounds).

The path runs beside a fence on your right, revealing luscious views across Mr Darcy’s pond to the imposing Lyme Hall itself. Keep ahead to another high gate, then head right down steps to the National Trust Information Lodge.

CANAL BRIDGE

To visit the hall and gardens, turn right and climb the steps to the courtyard entrance passed earlier.

Otherwise, go left on the driveway past the huge Wellingtonia trees, with the car park on your left. Bear right over a cattle grid, then shortly fork right and then right again on a sandy wall-side track, remaining with this through gates and past remote houses. Simply follow this lane, as it becomes tarred, down to a Canal Bridge. Cross this and then turn right at the old colliery wharf to find the nearby car park.

WHERE IS IT

Just off the A6 between Buxton and Manchester

TERRAIN

Undulating ways on towpath, estate drives, upland paths and grassy tracks. Muddy in places during winter.

GETTING THERE

Bakerbus Shuttle 391 links Stockport to Higher Poynton (Boar’s Head). bakerbus.com

PITSTOPS

The Boars Head, Higher Poynton, 01625 876676

MAP

OS Explorer Map OL1

MORE INFO

nationaltrust.org.uk (01663 762023)

Illustration courtesy of Fitzpatric Woolmer


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