Pretty villages with stone buildings and scenic countryside views are dotted about in and around our region. A quick glance at stunning photos online could easily persuade you to leave city life behind and move further out from Manchester’s center for a more peaceful way of life.
Properties there usually come with more space and period charm, though it can also mean a higher price tag. But while the Greater Manchester average house price is currently £242,000, according to Rightmove, properties come up cheaper in a little picturesque village near Wigan.
On the border of Greater Manchester and West Lancashire, rural Appley Bridge is surrounded by open plains and woodland. It boasts canalside views and local beauty spots, including Fairy Glen.
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The Leeds and Liverpool Canal (the longest single canal in Britain) runs through its centre, parallel to the River Douglas, posing the opportunity for plenty of waterside strolls. A route favored by walkers is to climb the hill up to Ashurst Beacon, which was built during the Napoleonic Wars to warn of the threatened French invasion.
Nestled on the side of Parbold Hill is the village’s Fairy Glen – a serene forest with tree-shaded hiking trails and cascading streams with small waterfalls. Popular with visitors from all over Greater Manchester, the attraction boasts rich biodiversity and is listed as a Biological Heritage Site for its oak, birch, ash, and alder.
Depending on the season, the woodland floor may be covered with bluebells, wild garlic, ferns, and red campion. The village also houses urban legends told by generations of residents.
According to local historians, The Dicconson Arms pub, named after a local family, is better known as Dangerous Corner. The story is that a local farmer’s wife died, and as her coffin was being carried around the corner on a cart, it fell off and the corpse ‘awoke’, writes VisitorUK tourism site.
Years later when she finally did die, as the cortege approached the corner, the farmer shouted ‘Now take care lads, this is a very dangerous corner’ – hence the name. Meanwhile, in between Appley Lane North and Miles Lane is a road called Skull House Lane, which takes its name from a cottage known as Skull House, located halfway down.
A human skull is kept at the house there and the story goes that ill fortune will befall anyone who tries to remove it. There are various theories; that the skull belonged to a priest at the time of Oliver Cromwell, or that it was the skull of a knight who lived in the days of King Arthur, but medical evidence says that the skull is female.
The inhabitants of Appley Bridge tell that, throughout the history of the house, there have been many residents who have tried to get rid of the skull, and all have experienced disastrous results from doing so. According to one tale, one threw it into the River Douglas but shortly after, the skull returned to the house and the offending resident drowned in the river.
Over the last year, houses in Appley Bridge had an overall average price of £236,896 – less than the Greater Manchester average. The majority of sales were semi-detached properties, selling for an average price of £184,375.
Lee Reynolds, Area Director at Purplebricks said: “Appley Bridge is one of the most sought after areas in Wigan and is a great place to live. I would agree that it has more of a semi-rural feel to it, with quite a bit more greenery compared to other parts of Wigan.
“It’s good for local amenities, has a mini ‘village’ feel to it and is very convenient for the M6 motorway network for commuters. It definitely isn’t one of the more affordable areas in Wigan, quite the opposite as it’s very sought after , but it may very well be in comparison to other scenic areas in the country.”