Search for the Old Roads of
Historian Fred Hughes writes....
It is still possible to travel along the old salt lanes from the Cheshire salt mines of Northwich and Middlewich to Caverswall. I really wouldn’t recommend it though. Most of the original path simply disappears. Here and there you can pick the route up but it’s difficult to locate. A good place to start is on Ash Bank.
From prehistoric times salt routes have been trailed throughout the world. Even in early Roman periods a principal Italian road was called Via Salaria; a name that caught-on in Britain during the Roman occupation. The names of the English Wych towns represent brine springs and all have references in the Domesday Book. But I’ve come to Ash Bank to locate another route that was once in danger of being lost. It’s now officially called the Bridle Path.
“Job Meigh senior was the patriarch,” says Steve. “He rebuilt Hanley’s Old Hall pottery. The family became leading manufacturers of the day when Job Meigh II made some important connections and partnerships. He was living at Bank House, where Hanley Town Hall is today, when he dissolved his partnerships and bought the Ash Estate and the adjacent Mettle Estate in 1836 on the death of owner Mary Ash. This gave him over 200 acres of prime farm land with spectacular views overlooking the Trent Valley and the eastern slopes of Hanley.”
Ash Cottage is located at the entrance to the Bridle Path and was the home of the Meigh’s gardener. This was rebuilt in local stone to its present appearance in 1851. Nowadays the short road leads directly into a pastoral walk that follows the boundaries of the Ash and Mettle Estates. Filled with woodland glades and medieval meadows, most of the half-mile track remains paved with the original cobblestones that enabled the carriage of coal 250 years ago. Quite dramatically the bridle path suddenly halts and concedes its territory to the awe-inspiring Wetley Moor.
“This old lane really does represent hidden Stoke on Trent wonderfully,” says Steve. “I just love it.”
9 June 2008
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