Activities and Information about Salt Line and Borrow Pit Meadows

Walking at the Salt Line and Borrow Pit Meadows

The Salt Line, besides being an interesting walkway, also connects up with other public footpaths in the countryside. Where these connect with the disused railway lines they are waymarked. Using this extensive network of footpaths, a number of circular walks can be undertaken. The Salt Line also connects with the Trent and Mersey Canal towpath that in turn forms part of the Cheshire Ring Canal Walk. Access points along the Salt Line are being improved in order that disabled users may gain access by means of ramps. The new improved surface should ensure access all year round for all.

‘Tales of Trees’ self guided trail at the Salt Line and Borrow Pit Meadows

Have you ever wondered about the trees around you? Would you like to know a little more about them perhaps? Maybe you’d be interested to know something about the folklore and myths that surround them or would just simply like to know how to recognise them or to find out what they can be used for.

Trees are fascinating and often majestic wonders that we can all easily take for granted. Trees are just there and we often pay little attention as we go about out daily lives. But, trees are so much more and so special in many ways. For centuries humans have depended on them for providing timber, food, shelter and protection and even (for some people) spiritual or emotional benefits. They have numerous uses, some of which may surprise you.

Download and print off the Salt Line and Borrow Pit Meadows 'Tales of Trees' leaflet (PDF, 1.04MB) and then walk along the easy to follow route, which starts and finishes at the car park. Direction markers will help you find your way and numbered posts are situated along the route, each of which corresponds with information in the leaflet.

So why not turn a nice walk in the countryside into something a little more interesting and also enjoyably educational. Enjoy your walk.

Salt Line Solar System Trail at Salt Line Borrow Pit Meadows

Why not come and walk the Salt Line Solar System Trail and learn a little about the planets around you and see just how vast the universe is?

Starting in the car park and walking south towards Alsager, you will find posts with the planets marked on them. From the Sun in the car park through to Neptune at the end of the trail, each post has the planet name carved on it and also a carved circle showing a scale size of the planet as it would be if the Solar System was shrunk down to fit along the length of the trail.

So why not come along and walk the trail and be amazed at just how vast the distances are even within our own Solar System. Before you visit print off our handy Salt Line Solar System flyer (PDF, 136KB) to give you more information about the trail and our universe.

Horse Riding at Salt Line and Borrow Pit Meadows

The Salt Line provides a traffic free ride from Alsager to Hassall. Horse riders are asked to note that no cantering is allowed on the Salt Line. This is to ensure that the pathway is not cut up particularly during poor weather conditions. 

History of Salt Line and Borrow Pit Meadows

The North Staffordshire Railway Company was founded in 1845 and the Sandbach and Audley branch lines formed an important part of the company's early history.

An Act enabling the construction of the Sandbach line was passed in 1846. The first part of the line, including the goods depot at Ettiley Heath, opened in 1852 and the line was finally completed in 1858. The N.S.R. also had the advantage of controlling the Trent and Mersey Canal, which proved vital in the construction of the railway as many of the bulky materials were transported by narrow boat. The Sandbach line cost some £200,000 to construct.

Merritt, the engineer who was responsible for the construction of both the Crewe and Sandbach lines, had 540 men at work with 30 horses and 110 wagons. Originally the Sandbach line was used for goods traffic only, mainly salt being transported from Northwich and Middlewich to the Potteries, hence it's name today.

However, as people became more affluent they were able to afford the cost of train journeys, and passenger services were introduced on the 3rd July 1893, including Sunday day trips to Trentham Gardens, which became a regular service on the line. To cope with the additional demand a new station was opened at Hassall Green on the 17th April 1905. Passenger services eventually ended on the 28th July 1930, although the line continued in use for goods services only until 1970 when it finally closed.

Natural history

Disused railways often provide important wildlife habitats as they have been allowed to develop relatively undisturbed over the last 100 years. As a result they support a wide variety of wild flowers that are seldom seen on surrounding farmland. The Salt Line is particularly rich in wild flowers because of its open sunny aspects, which make it an ideal habitat. The line supports some more unusual species such as Common Spotted Orchid, Common Centaury, Field Scabious, Goatsbeard and Pink Purslane.

Because of the presence of a wide variety of flora, numerous butterfly species can also be seen along the line. Species present include the Yellow Brimstone, Small Copper, Common Blue, Peacock, Red Admiral and the Small Tortoiseshell.

Birdlife is rich and varied; chaffinches, Bullfinches, Yellowhammers, Jays and other more common types are frequently seen along the line throughout the year. A number of more uncommon species of bird have, however, been recorded; these include the Whitethroat and the Lesser Whitethroat.

Whether on foot, bicycle or horseback there are normally numerous features to interest the visitor. During the summer months the ranger runs a number of guided walks during which it is possible to learn more about the wildlife. Night walks are also available for the sighting of bats to mention one of the nocturnal creatures that inhabit the Salt Line.

The Salt Line has a diverse mix of plant life and this has been studied and recorded over the years. In 2000 the site Ranger and local ecologist and volunteer Bill Bellamy carried out a comprehensive study to record what species were present along the length of the trail. This was carried out in conjunction with the production of habitat maps.

In 2010 the current site Ranger received a generous offer from local naturalist Simon Bailey, whose ecological and plant recognition skills were offered in order to repeat the survey and provide comparative data. This was a valuable project to carry out as it provided an indicator of how successful site management practices are in sustaining or enhancing wildlife and habitat value. Thanks are therefore duly given to Simon and the findings can be viewed here: Salt Line Plant Survey 2000 - 2011 (PDF, 75.9KB).

Contact Ranger service

For Middlewood Way, Jacksons’ Brickworks, Poynton Coppice and Poynton Park: phone 01625 383700

For Tegg’s Nose Country Park: phone 01625 374833

For Lindow Common or Macclesfield Riverside Park: phone 01625 374790

For Brereton Heath Local Nature Reserve, Dane-In-Shaw Pasture SSSI, Croxton Park, Biddulph Valley Way, Timbersbrook Picnic Area, Salt Line, Borrow Pit Meadows and Rode Heath Rise: phone 01477 534115

For Astbury Mere Country Park, Merelake Way and Wheelock Rail Trail: phone 01260 297237

For Gritstone Trail: phone 01270 686029

Page last reviewed: 27 September 2022