I arrived at Adlington railway station, Cheshire, at around one in the afternoon. I was instantly struck by the tumbleweed-desolation of the place. I was the only person to have disembarked the southbound train. There was nobody on the other side of track. The station was unstaffed. I was totally alone.
Adlington is a small village near Macclesfield, close to the Peak District. It is best known for Adlington Hall, a 16th century stately home with scant visiting hours, and also, of course, for the Great Mango Chutney Spillage of 2008. The spillage occurred when a lorry splattered its eighteen-tonnes of mango chutney across the frontage of a local beauty salon. Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, a spokesman for the company which owns the lorry stated: ‘It was just one of those things’. Mango chutney spillages aside, Adlington is an ostensibly unremarkable place.
Lingering around the deserted train station, I attempted to get a cab. I tried to search for local cab companies on my phone but the top left corner of my screen read ‘No Service’. I had no time to wait for Boris Johnson to deliver highspeed internet to every corner of Britain, so I headed up the hill to the stone bridge, hoping to solicit the assistance of a local. There was no one in sight, but across the road I spotted a Toby Carvery, a kind of oasis. Great, I thought, I can head over there, ask for a cab number, and drink a pint while I wait. Thank God for Toby Carvery.
I was trying to get to an even smaller village named Pott Shrigley which sits just inside the borders of the Peak District National Park, one of the most beautiful regions of England. The area encompasses 555 square miles of countryside replete with rivers, hills, valleys, and a diverse array of fauna and flora. I’d already glimpsed the fringes of this beauty during my time in Adlington. Through the gaps in the buildings and over the trees I saw that expanse of nature, that unhindered greenery seldom seen by city-dwellers such as myself. Though I was not quite within the wildness of it yet.
I sat at the bar, drinking my pint, feeling awkwardly British. With the help of the friendly barman I’d managed to order a cab, but I soon received a message stating that my journey had been cancelled. There was no explanation – I guess it was just ‘one of those things’ – but I did receive a prompt follow-up message assuring me that another cab was on its way. I observed the people coming and going. The staff knew all the customers by name. I wondered what it would be like to live in a place like Adlington, but I soon became bored and decided to stare at the TV instead; the BBC news ticker was telling me something about a disgruntled prince.
My phone buzzed in my pocket. My taxi had arrived. I quickly finished my pint and headed outside where my cab was waiting. I hopped in, and within minutes I was riding through an arch of enormous trees, heading into the hills. Passing by a sign that read ‘Pott Shrigley’, I was amazed by how quickly I’d exited one village and entered another. I felt an aching blockage in my ears, but it was only when I emerged from the shade and stared across the windy valley that I realised how high up I was. The fields below looked like circuit boards in their various hues of gold and green. The hill climbed higher and higher. I saw a scattering of decrepit statues above, nude figures peering down from a sheer peak. The trees swayed. The sky was changing colour. I forgot where I was going, but the journey was spectacular.
Though I only spent a short time in Adlington, I can confirm that there are no ,remaining signs of the Great Mango Chutney Spillage; the scent of mango, the stickiness, and the inevitable infestation of ants all seem to have been sufficiently ameliorated. I would like to return one day. Adlington Hall opens for visitations in May, and I will be sure to stop off and get a reasonably-priced roast dinner at the Toby Carvery before I leave.