DREAMY canals doused in mottled sunlight. Sullen mills and welcoming pubs. Woodsmoke drifting over the rooftops.

Tight hilly streets lined with stone cottages.

These are the sights familiar to Bollington, arguably Cheshire’s most distinctive village.

Etched into the rising hills on the edge of The Peak District, Bollington remains a proud feature of the county although it often seems more evocative of Derbyshire, which it borders.

Blessed with rolling hills and gentle misty afternoons, it is easy to forget that it is situated a mere two miles away from Prestbury and Cheshire’s infamous ‘golden triangle’.

Walkers adore Bollington and it is easy to see why.

The hills that gather around the town always appear to be beckoning you and none are more forceful than Kerridge Edge, which divides the village from the sprawl of Macclesfield.

On the southern tip of the edge – on Kerridge Hill in fact – stands White Nancy.

Commanding and omnipresent, she is the 15ft iconic landmark of the village and, should you waver from the waymarked walk around Bollington and the Peak District foothills, she always seems to be in view, guiding you home like some mysterious siren.

White Nancy was initially built by the Gaskell family as a summerhouse around 1815, but now seems more content as a local beacon.

The walk begins – as all Bollington walks seem to begin – at a point where you cast adoring upward glances to Nancy. You will be standing outside the Red Bull pub, at the junction of High Street and Chancery Lane.

From here, turn left along Chancery Lane until you reach the end of the row of terraced cottages.

Turn right and a gate will beckon you onto open fields...and the steeply rising Kerridge Hill.

It looks daunting but is easily defeated. Just follow the footstones to the left edge of the field, one by one and cross the central pathway.

Set your focus on Nancy, and continue upwards.

Once there, ignore the hoodie couple who sit oblivious and mid-snog at Nancy’s feet (This has been going on for generations, I am told) turn left and follow the line of the ridge, initially to the right of the wall then across the beckoning stile.

To your right, the entire Cheshire plain stretches towards the distant grey hills of Shropshire and Clywd. Alderley Edge cuts through this expanse and, gleaming beyond, the unmistakable bowl of Jodrell Bank.

My guide book told me that this was the highest point in Cheshire but, as a further hill rises directly beyond the stile, I doubt the authenticity of this. (It is not much to shout about anyway, is it?).

(Occasionally, I detour down the Bollington side of the ridge here. Unless you are as ludicrously fixated as myself, you will not think this worth the excursion, but at the side of bluebell wood can be found an enclosure full of Indian Runner Ducks, who are, to a duck, the most comical birds I have ever encountered. Worth a gander, I thought).

Over the stile, the path is not so well defined so a vague trudge to the peak of the hill is the way forward and, once at the summit, you will see Rainow complete with evocative church and, ever present it seems, those coils of woodsmoke.

From here the path descends, initially through gorse-covered dunes before eventually diving into a gently wooded area. If you had taken the duck viewing option, you could rejoin the path here.

It is a rustic, dung-ishly aromatic path, which one can only adore.

Soon it winds through a gate through which you reach the Rainow – Macclesfield Road.

Turn left here and follow the road along and into Rainow village.

It is utterly charming – complete with village notice boards – and has recently become one of the most prestigious addresses in the Macclesfield area.

A feat it has attained without gaining the pretentious nature of some of the villages in the heart of Cheshire.

People smile in Rainow as they sprinkle water over potted plants and thrust trowels into flowerbeds.

Soak it in as you drift through and try to contain your mild envy. Occasionally the scene is crudely snapped by an arrogant Porsche, thrusting through the village heart. Ignore it.

By the time you reach the end of the road, turn left onto the farm trek just as Nancy will reappear before your eyes.

Whichever path you decide upon, and there are several, you will be taken across the valley and right towards Bollington.

My choice is usually the central path which carries you over an unexpected hillock, before allowing you the option to turn right at the stile, through two fields and down into a further wooded area.

I feel I ought to add a slight warning here, for there be bullocks in the meadow.

However, I have skirted their ranks on a number of occasions and, despite the devilish curiosity in their eyes, none have lumbered menacingly towards me as yet.

Those nervous of the untethered bullock, might prefer to remain on the farm track. Either way, you will find yourself skirting the valley before turning right You are now beneath Kerridge Edge and, again, options vary as a variety of paths ring the hillside.

Stay on the valley floor and you will skirt the evocative and dilapidated mill buildings to emerge on Smithy Brow, between pond and town houses.

The pub, The Church House, is highly recommended and my research here has been nothing if not indepth.

Turn left onto Lord Street and climb steeply to, once again, reach Chancery Road and your start point.

Although a short walk – just two hours – it affords a series of dramatic and ever-changing views (and ducks).

A nice half extension can be added by retracing your steps at the start of the walk at the gate next to the Chancery Lane Cottages.

Instead of climbing to Nancy this time, turn right at the first major pathway.

This carried you along to Jacksons Lane and, turning right by the raised row of cottages, then right again, reach the top end of Chancery Lane.

A short, sweet extension which is particularly appealing if the village is swathed in the lovely blue haze of cloud and woodsmoke.