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FROM the sheep-studded slopes of Shuttlingsloe to the picturesque village of Prestbury – Macclesfield borough has much to be proud of.

So to honour your favourite places, the borough council has launched the “Pride of Place” poll to pick the region’s top beauty spots – and with such gobsmacking scenery, jaw-dropping landscapes and resplendent buildings to choose from, you face quite a challenge.

But to make the job easier, ten locations have been shortlisted across the Macclesfield, Wilmslow and Knutsford areas.

 An MBC spokesman said: “The poll is easy, fun and a great way to get to know this area in more detail! It’s been difficult to narrow down the list to ten, and perhaps it’s inevitable to see our countryside among the nominations.

“Places like Tatton Park and Arley Hall are also likely to be popular choices, given the forthcoming Year of the Gardens campaign.”

A – First comes a landmark with a regal history – Macclesfield Forest. Created by the Norman conquerors for hunting game, there were plentiful supplies of deer, wild boar and wolves, but it was a sparsely populated area – and the fact it has remained so may be the key to its beauty. The modern hamlet is centred around Forest Chapel, which lies in a hollow on the ridge between Langley to the west and the valley of Clough Brook to the east. On arrival at the chapel, visitors are afforded a beautiful vista eastwards up to the Cat and Fiddle Inn, the second highest inn in Britain, which sits bleakly on the crest of the ridge which separates Cheshire from Derbyshire.

B – The River Bollin rises at Macclesfield Forest – before snaking its way to the quaint village of Prestbury. The civil parish, about one and a half miles from Macclesfield, is thought to have been an original Saxon settlement – with pottery in the cemetery dating back to pre-Christian times. As well as the peaceful trickle of the Bollin, Prestbury is also awash with listed buildings – St Peter’s Church is one of the oldest parish churches in the country and houses a Saxon Cross in its churchyard. There is also Prestbury Hall; Butley Hall; the 14th century Priest’s House; the Norman Chapel; The Admiral Rodney, a late 18th century pub; the Reading Room; and even the old telephone kiosk.

C – The Bollin then flows its way through Styal Wood, Wilmslow, shaded by the trees which make up the National Trust site, a popular walking spot.

D – From a shaded wood to a medieval deer-park, Lyme Park is at the heart of a vast estate, with an imposing stone mansion, in Disley. The ancestral seat of the Legh family for nearly 600 years, development of the estate began in the 16th century, when Sir Piers Legh started a big rebuilding programme, and in the 1720s, modernisation of the park by famous Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni made the site even more impressive.

E – Jumping from family estate to folly, White Nancy, Bollington’s quirky landmark, is well-loved by Maxonians. Standing defiantly on the northern front of the Saddle of Kerridge, the stone dome is a popular haunt for walkers, who, on clear days, can look out over the Manchester cityscape, Jodrell Bank, Winter Hill in Lancashire and Snowdonia in Wales. White Nancy was originally a summer house built by the Gaskell Family of Ingersley Hall, Bollington. It is believed to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, but the origins of the name are uncertain.

F – From the Gaskells – an old Bollington family – to the peerage of Ireland and Viscount Ashbrook, who lives at the Knutsford family seat, Arley Hall – surrounded by more than 2,000 acres of gardens and parkland. Visitors are guided up to the estate by an avenue of bleached lime trees and greeted by the clock tower, which was built in the 19th century, and sits next to a 15th century barn known as “The Ride”. The first walled gardens were built in 1743 by Sir Peter and Lady Elizabeth Warburton and they were redesigned between 1840 and 1860 by Rowland and Mary Egerton-Warburton.

G – Arley Hall stands in stark contrast to the wild Lindow Common, in Wilmslow, ruled only by the birch trees which have overrun many areas, providing cover for most of the heathland, once home to grazing cattle. The local nature reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) located on Wilmslow’s western edge, hides the Black Lake at its heart. The name Lindow is also used for one of the historic parishes of Wilmslow, and of the adjacent Lindow Moss, much of which is covered in an ancient peat bog. It was at Lindow Moss that a bog body, Lindow Man, was discovered in 1983. Lindow Man is now on display at the British Museum.

H – But the borough has more than just British hot spots on offer – Tatton Park, in Knutsford, is home to the finest Japanese Garden in all of the UK and Ireland. Featuring a Tudor Old Hall, built around 1520, and covering a whopping 1,000 acres, both fallow and larger red deer amble across the land – an impressive sight during rutting season. The garden is one of the largest in the north of England, featuring a fernery, an orangery, a tower garden, a pinetum, and the famous Japanese feature. There is also a maze, an arboretum, a kitchen garden and an Italian garden. And for twitchers, the lakes, Tatton Mere and Melchet Mere, offer a diverse range of birdlife, including – if you look hard enough – Europe’s smallest species, the Goldcrest.

I – And to gain a stunning bird’s eye view of the region, visit Tegg’s Nose Country Park. Lying high above the plain just east of Macclesfield, on the gritstone trail route, the beautiful vista is well worth the walk to the top, where you can look out across the Pennines, Macclesfield Forest and the Upper Bollin Valley.

J – And if that panorama gives you a taste for more, beauty spot junkies can climb to Shuttlingsloe – the “Matterhorn” of Cheshire – to which walkers set out from the forest park in the woods above Langley – and one of many reasons why Macclesfield has such pride of place in the region.

All people need to do is cast their vote by going onto the MBC website, and clicking onto the “Pride of Place” icon. Voting runs until Friday, November 30 and the winning location will be announced on December 3.

Part of the government’s “Connect to your Council” campaign, the poll aims to encourage people across England to access their local authority services online any time, anywhere.

The Pride of Place poll is part of a nationwide initiative, and can be accessed until November 30, 2007, after which the results will be released.

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