For thousands of years, Platts Lane and its hollow way was an ancient trackway for people and trade. Such tracks formed a network connecting many parts of Cheshire. Most were used on a local basis, others took on a more significant life, such as routes for packhorse trains and livestock drovers. The majority just allowed people to move between neighbouring villages, often ignoring the well-built Roman roads left centuries before. Today, the majority of these local trackways and paths have disappeared, are disused, or bridleways and public footpaths.
Hollow ways are basically sunken lanes set below the surrounding land. Some are clearly recognisable, others shallow paths through woodland, across upland slopes or part of farm tracks.
How they are formed is a matter of debate. I suggest the hollow way here is the result of a natural river valley widened by erosion and deepened by many centuries of human activity passing along it.
Been measuring again! No, it’s not a new found hobby, just necessary to see if my theory can be confirmed. Did a stream flow here and in so doing was it used for a purpose not recorded? And yes, there is a bigger discovery in the making.
The hollow way is not uniform in elevation or width. From the river Gowy it climbs 13m to the junction of Hockenhull Lane and Platts Lane. Beyond this point, Platts Lane reaches 31m(102ft) before gradually dropping away towards Duddon.
In terms of width, the holloway varies from 17m (55ft) to 4m(13ft) with a footpath of 1.4m (4.5ft). The enclosing field banks are about 2.5m (8ft) high at about midway, shelving each way to almost field level.
Moving eastwards, towards Hockenhull, the right-side margin is much wider and more complicated in structure. One section, below the path, of some 43m (143ft) long forms an almost level area with a winding, shallow ditch below the field bank.
Possible creation of the hollow way
The hollow way is not unique to Hockenhull. It does form one element inthe rich story of the Platts; one I will be returning to in full.