Category Archives: Monthly meetings

A is for Access : A tale of two footpaths

Do you remember Autumn 2014? And, among other things, the surprising news that somehow someone had the idea to close one of the most popular footpaths at Chadkirk? The footpath threatened with closure was the one from the main car park, alongside the stream, over the bridge, through Little Wood and out on the lane by St Chad’s Well.

the start of the path...

One way it seemed possible to save this footpath was to apply to have it dedicated as a footpath. Any footpath that is dedicated and recorded on the Definitive Map showing public rights of way could not be closed. So Friends of Chadkirk started the ball rolling….

The appropriate forms were filled in and submitted to the appropriate officials. Most of the land is owned by Stockport MBC. A small part of the path is not. Establishing that walkers have used the path as a right of way for many years can be a way to have a footpath dedicated. Setting this process in motion seemed vital, given the proposals to close the footpath. The application has been in the hands of Public Rights of Way officials since June 2015.

In the event, after a series of meetings, the Werneth Area Committee rescinded the plans. The footpath remains open. For now. But what of the future? As an application has been submitted and supporting statements made by regular users, might it be best to continue to see if the footpath can be dedicated and thus protected for future walkers in Chadkirk Country Park?

If you visit Chadkirk and have been walking this path for a period of years, then this experience can be the basis of a brief user statement. This can then form part of the evidence that would be part of the case for footpath dedication.

The link to the form to be filled in is here:

http://www.stockport.gov.uk/services/leisureculture/walkinginstockport/publicrightsofway/

Completing a form (under Form tab) and passing it to the Friends of Chadkirk is one way that you can take part in the process of protecting this footpath for future generations.

Issues of Access in Chadkirk Country Park Estate.
Come along to a Friends of Chadkirk meeting.
New friends welcome.

What are friends for?

Resourceful and energetic, friends can help us make the best of life.
At last night’s AGM you’d get a clear sense of the difference that Friends make.

They make a difference through their funding of projects on the Chadkirk Country Park, Farm Estate and in Chadkirk Chapel. In the past that has included the design and installation of the East Window. Later this year, footpaths in the Walled Garden will be repaired and re-surfaced, funded by the Friends of Chadkirk. There are many ways that funds raised and donations are used to benefit the environment and the community here.

While raising funds for Chadkirk is a big part of what we do, Friends of Chadkirk also raise money to make donations to a wide range of other causes. Our treasurer reported back at the AGM about money donated to charities local and global. At the Carol Service in December, the collection raised nearly £300. The collection of £296-64 was donated to the British Red Cross fund, this small contribution to a global fund to take compassionate action within the refugee camps of Syria. In previous years, similar donations have been made to funds to support those affected by the flooding in Cumbria, Guide Dogs for the Blind and other diverse organisations.

It is a reflection of the place that Chadkirk occupies in people’s hearts, that along with funds raised at events, we also receive donations and bequests. At the meeting last night, we were moved to learn of a bequest from a special friend of Chadkirk who had travelled by bus to help us get our beehives established and to take good care of them. Although that baton has been passed on, the continuity of his affection for the bees and this place has been movingly expressed. If Wilf’s family read this, we’d like to say a very special thank you. Please get in touch. Together we might be able to tell a little of his story and honour his achievements, the part he played in helping create the Chadkirk we enjoy today. Many visitors would be interested to learn more about our hives and his work with the bees.

Moving through the agenda from the happenings of 2015 there was talk of plans for 2016. The events, which generally have a monthly pattern, start this weekend.

On Saturday 5th March the gardening team will be active in the Walled Garden (as long as today’s snow has melted away).

On Sunday 6th March Friends of Chadkirk will be offering something a little bit different by way of treats, entertainment and convivial chat. For this year we’ll be doing what we can with our existing technology to show our little in-house life story of St Chad, back by popular demand. By next year we hope to be able to use an upgraded system which we are currently checking out and plan to install soon. This upgrade has been made possible by a significant donation from a member of the local community.

No upgrade is required for our popular Easter Egg Hunt. Last year this attracted many youngsters and their carers and at 2pm on Easter Monday – 28th March – there’s another chance to seek out what’s hidden in the gardens of Chadkirk.

A different kind of delight for those who join our Easter Sunday service on 27th March which will be led by Rev Jon Lyndsey-Scott of St Chad’s Church in Romiley. At this service there will be an opportunity to donate to a local charity. All money collected will contribute to Romiley Ark.

For Friends of Chadkirk there’s a familiar seasonal rhythm to the activities, though with a little twist each year. Things change, so there’s also adaptation to make the best of what’s going on here and further afield. As a result there has been a change to the pattern of some of our regular activities.

This year, for one year only, there’ll be Well Dressing Blessing on Saturday 30th July. . With the Blessing at 1pm, an opportunity for refreshments in Chadkirk Chapel, and the plant stalls and Friends of Chadkirk stall with a range of small treats on offer. Outside the Stockport Silver Band will play.

At the AGM, the retiring Chair passed round a letter from the organiser of the Chadkirk Festival which stated that:

The council will be working with the Friends of Chadkirk on the format for the festival for the weekend 29th/30th July 2017.

This means that we’ll be celebrating our 20th Chadkirk Festival in 2017.
Our expanding team of enthusiasts have plenty to look forward to.

Down at Chadkirk, Friends of Chadkirk make a difference to all most every aspect of this special place. It can be life enriching, community enhancing, ecologically sustaining, landscape protecting. Beneficial. Be-friending.

Want to make a difference? Take part. Join in. Be-friend.

Gardening time

The first Saturday in any month is gardening time down by the chapel at Chadkirk. Whatever the weather, there’s pruning and weeding, or planting to be done.

On Saturday 6th February it rained all day. Drenching and dyke filling rain.
And, yes, the gardeners turned up and got stuck in. It can still be fun, working outdoors, even in the pouring rain. And there’s always a sense of achievement. Gentle activity, good company and a part played in creating a beautiful garden which gives pleasure to so many. Well worth it.

‘Not surprisingly just a handful of us were daft enough to brave the wet weather. February Fill-Dyke (an old country saying) certainly lived up to its name. Two of us got busy transferring primulas from their hidden place behind the benches to the bed by the oak tree, where they can be seen and enjoyed by all. Meanwhile, another gardener donned his waders to clean out 2 of the ponds to keep the Great Crested Newts happy.’

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February 2106 Gardening Team at work

To see a world in a grain of sand…

Amongst the works of art and craft in Chadkirk Chapel is a banner with the well known William Blake quote embroidered. Whether you see the world in terms of subjects on the curriculum – economics, politics, sociology, ecology, history, law – or in terms of connection to landscape and community, a Friends of Chadkirk meeting is likely to tick all those boxes, cover many of the bases. If your grain of sand is Chadkirk, there’s plenty to interest an active mind. Plenty going on.

At the first meeting of the year there were discussions about many aspects of the Country Park and estate, the Chapel and the Walled Gardens, social events in the near future and plans for the medium to long term. An interesting mix.

We looked at issues horticultural (how to get our fruit trees pruned and the grazing animals in the meadow), structural (footpath renovations planned) and economic. In one sense the economic aspects affect much of the activity of the Country Park. While the members of this Friends group, as with the other 50 friends groups in Stockport, give their time and skills freely, there are always things that have a price to be considered. For now we are in the fortunate position of having raised enough funds to be able to pay outside experts to prune the fruit trees or rebuild pathways. And 2016 will see the usual range of fund raising activities down at Chadkirk to top up the pot up from time to time.

This range of activities and events will broadly follow our usual pattern, the usual calendar. Broadly. With one obvious exception. This year, there’ll be a change to the pattern of activities at the end of July.

For over a decade, the last weekend has become a regular date in many people’s diaries for the Chadkirk Festival. 2016 will be different. Usually the Chadkirk Festival is made possible, in part, by cooperation between Stockport council – people, stalls, communications, expertise – and volunteers from the Friends of Chadkirk. However 2016 sees the re-opening of the recently renovated Bramall Hall. The last weekend in July is when this event will take place.

As a result things will be different this year down at Chadkirk.
Currently we are looking at our plans. It looks as if the Well Dressing will be able to go ahead at that time. So the usual days in the week for making the decorations for St Chad’s Well and then, during the last weekend in July there will be a Well Dressing dedication. Date and time to be decided.

It might be possible to add other activities to this Well Dressing weekend in July. However it is looking increasingly likely that the 20th Chadkirk Festival will not be in 2016, but in 2017.

Other dates for your diary will be published here when decisions are made and information becomes available.

In the meantime, the Friends of Chadkirk will meet for the AGM on Thursday 3rd March in Chadkirk Chapel at 7-30pm.

Before then we would welcome ideas from visitors about the year ahead. Whatever your interests, there’s something of interest at Chadkirk.

Autumn 2015 : Harvest supper and Harvest Festival

The autumn equinox takes place on 23rd September. Exactly 12 hours from sunrise to sunset. Day perfectly balanced by night. A few days later on 28th September a full moon, the Hunter’s Moon.

As the days slip and the light changes, autumnal hues are starting to flush the trees in the woods. Birds which are summer migrants have moved on and native birds feed on berries and hips, making the most of this time of plenty.

At Chadkirk, as elsewhere, these glimpses of the connections between all things can bring a deep sense of pleasure and these delights are enjoyed by visitors, many of them strolling round Chadkirk daily, others visiting at weekends, some more occasional visitors, coming to the Chapel, Walled Garden, woodland walks and country park for some of the organised events.

Our calendar of events follows the rhythm of the seasons and reflects the community and the environment.

On Saturday 12th September we had our annual bird and bat box making event. This year drenching drizzle drove us inside. Snug in Chadkirk Chapel, visitors were ably assisted by John, who helped them to construct winter homes for bats. The nesting boxes for the birds will be ready when for small birds when spring arrives. This is an ideal opportunity for people young and old to learn about the life cycles of these animals from some-one who knows. Fascinating and fun.

Please be aware that this is our only bird and bat box day this year.

October always provides an opportunity to celebrate.
There’s our annual Harvest Supper on Friday 23rd October and the Harvest Festival on Sunday 25th October.

Tickets for the Harvest Supper are available from Staircase House. The evening in the chapel includes a quiz and hotpot, with home made apple pie for pudding.

For the Harvest Festival no ticket is required.

Chadkirk in July

There’s plenty happening at Chadkirk this month.
The month starts with our Friends of Chadkirk meeting in Chadkirk Chapel; a relaxed meeting to discuss, among other things, the 2015 Chadkirk Festival. This is our 19th Festival here at Chadkirk, and we know from the visitors who come that, for many, it has turned into one of their favourite summer days out and become something of a tradition. The last Sunday in July? Oh yes! That’s the Chadkirk Festival.

During our meeting there was a chance just to refresh our plans. The Festival will be a blend of all those traditions that regular visitors enjoy so much, together with a few new features that will add a touch of novelty and some small surprises. More of which later…

Before then, there’s time to spend in the gardens. Here volunteers in our gardening team will be doing some weeding, and making the odd nip and tuck, to make sure the garden is at it’s glorious best for the Festival. Today it is radiant and full of blossom in the summer sunshine. From the paths, approaching the garden, the scents of summer fill the air. In the Walled Garden, there are some fine specimen roses, with a stunning cascade of Rambling Rector transforming one of the apple trees.

This week’s combination of warmth and wet has provided ideal growing conditions. It may have brought out blossom; it has also nourished weeds. Whereas once, the weeding and maintenance of these gardens was shared between local authority workers and unpaid volunteers, now Stockport MBC pays to mow the lawn. Virtually everything else is being done by local people.

The gardening team includes people with a life time of gardening experience and folk who just enjoy being in the garden doing a little gentle activity with a friendly bunch. The expertise of the the gardening team leader provides inspiration and focus for the rest of the team. This means there’s a great opportunity for people to come along, be in the fresh air, do a little stretching and moving and feel that they are making a difference, enabling others to enjoy this special place.

The Friends of Chadkirk gardening team will be in the garden on Saturday 4th July, whatever the weather. Please join us. We are there between 2-4 approximately. Chadkirk Chapel will be open, serving ice cream, tea and coffee. During our break, the gardeners chat and share refreshments. Always a cuppa for each member of the team. Often some home baked cake, biscuits or flapjack brought along by one of the friends as a thank you and a treat.One of the many rewards of being part of the Friends of Chadkirk.

Tea break at the June Gardening Saturday

Well dressing for beginners

Preparations for this summer’s Chadkirk Festival are well in hand. There are opportunities for people to get involved…

Each year the Festival begins with a ceremonial unveiling of St Chad’s Well. Our well is dressed each year by a team of enthusiasts. Members of the team include those with years of experience, real skill and artistic flair. They develop a unique design, reflecting current themes and then explore ways of realising the image.

In addition to the more experienced members of the team, there is always an opportunity for others to take part in the process of creation.

On Wednesday 1st July at 7pm there will be a chance to gather in Chadkirk Chapel and learn more about this year’s design and be part of it’s assembly.

Then later in the month in the days before the festival, you are welcome to join us to complete the process.

On Wednesday 22 July and Thursday 23 Chadkirk Chapel will be open between 10 am and 4pm. Join us for an hour or for a morning or afternoon. Or spend a day or two. Then enjoy seeing the fruits of your labours ceremonially unveiled on Sunday 26th July at the start of Chadkirk Festival 2015.

The design for the well dressing for 2013 was based on the newly installed East window

The design for the well dressing for 2013 was based on the newly installed East window


Chadkirk Well Dressing 2013
The team of craftsmen towards the end of a long day's work. Photo: Artemisia

The team of craftsmen towards the end of a long day’s work.
Photo: Artemisia


Well dressing Chadkirk Festival             Photo: Colin