Search

Black Pudding Gaiters

Hiking, travelling, gear

Tag

Cheshire

Lockdown, a year on.

It’s now been a year since all this Covid malarkey first really kicked in and a very strange year it’s been.

All the plans made in 2020 were cancelled or postponed and the most excitement has been a couple of camping trips and day walks in the summer.
On the one hand, I’m so glad I managed to get out on the few walks I did in the Clwydian hills and Snowdonia. On the other hand, I wish I’d done more.

Our freedom was short lived and so soon we found ourselves back under more stringent lockdown rules. Wales was closed to us once more.

Church in Neston

I’d been bimbling around, close to home. Watching the sunrise in the local woods and taking country lanes to see where I’d end up.
I did one such walk on a day off in November and, rather naughtily, I crossed the border in to Cheshire.
It was a painless experience and I found myself in Neston.
Despite being walking distance (ish) from home, I’d never been before. The closest I got was Ness Gardens where, as a kid on a school trip, I fell head first in to lake trying to catch tadpoles.

Neston is a nice enough place. The usual shops but with an old market town feel and plenty of little nooks and crannies to explore.
The walk round the back of the church is pleasant and leads on to the Wirral Way with great views over to the Welsh hills.

The Wirral Way would be a possibility to get home but my return leg was mostly on pavements alongside the roads.
I did manage to get off road for a shore while walking an extremely muddy bridleway.
Most of the quagmire had been caused by cyclists. I’ve been cursing them a lot this past year.

Those that would have been riding around the tracks of Delamere or Llandegla were now turning their attention to footpaths.
At best, you find a route unwalkable. Fat bike tyre marks cutting though narrow footpaths At worst, a Lycra clad granddad on an over specced and over priced bike comes hurtling downhill towards you and the old couple walking their dog and small grandchild….
…..but I digress.
I was on a bridle way so I can’t shout at them this time.

By December, things had eased a little and once again, we were allowed back across the border in to Wales.
As soon as the restrictions were lifted, I booked two days off work. Surely one of those days would have decent weather?
One did, the other was atrocious!

On the nicer of the two days, I went to one of my favourite spots, Moel Famau
I’d been here many, many times in the past but, after so few walks in 2020, it was so good to be back.
I parked up and spotted a large group of older people heading up the main path, I headed in the opposite direction.
My route took me around the hill, initially heading East, walking towards the little village of Cilcain.

The weather was beautifully sunny and I soon wishing I’d worn lighter layers but, the paths were very wet. Thick gloopy mud covered my boots and worked my way up my trousers. I did manage to wash much of the mud off as I waded through what used to be little brooks but were now quite fast moving streams.

This route is available to download as a GPX file.


We managed to have a fairly normal family Christmas day but by the new year we were back in lock down and walks were back to ‘roam from home’.
It’s tough to find the motivation especially on the cold, dark mornings. To give me an extra kick I signed up for the Lancaster 500k Challenge. This celebrated 80 years since the first flight of the Avro Lancaster. As a pilot myself, I’m keen to support such events. I managed to complete the challenge in 2 months, despite being stuck in Wirral. I’m feeling rather smug about that 🙂

I walked around the streets, woodland and country lanes a few miles from my font door.
Boots and hiking gear were the most commonly worn items on the local residential streets and most of us had become masters at zig zagging across the roads to avoid others, Unfortunately though, once again, I was sharing pavements and footpaths with cyclists.
On one occasion, I was about to unleash my wrath while pointing at the ‘No Cycling’ sign, or, more likely, shake my head and tut loudly but, as I approached the wooden post, I noticed the sign had been prised away. At this point, I was imagining the Lycra clad chapter of Hell’s Angels appearing in the dead of night, armed with tools from their puncture repair kits removing anything that may prevent them from riding wherever they fancied.
This particular cyclist continued his ride along the pavement towards a woman pushing a pram…

Generally though, early mornings were cyclist free and were a time to appreciate what was on my doorstep and explorer previously undiscovered spots.

There is some light at the end of the tunnel…maybe….

Lockdown!

My annual leave entitlement at work runs April to April which means in March, my entire team battle to claim days to use up their leave.
Being sneaky (some may say selfish!), in December I booked a week off in March before anyone else did.
I planned to buy a 4 in 8 Freedom of North West Rail Rover ticket which can be used for travel towards Chester to the south, Leeds to the east and Dumfries to the north.
Leeds was a definite, I’d not been before and I was keen to see the armouries, perhaps combine with another Yorkshire town.
Carlisle was tempting too. A walk along Hadrian’s wall, sneak in a spot of camping….
…..
…..then came Covid-19.

My football Sunday league games had already been cancelled, my football and fencing training sessions soon followed. My hotel in Crawly cancelled the booking I’d made for April as did the campsite in the Lake District.
Things were slowly getting ready for lock down.
My big plans for the week off were becoming smaller plans.

For the time being at least, walking/hiking was still allowed. One idea was to use the Chester to Manchester line, get off the train at Delamere, walk back to Chester then, take the Merseyrail train back home.

4 in 8 freedom rail rover ticket

The ticket is in two parts.
The bottom part can be read by ticket machines, the top part is for writing in the day and month the ticket is being used (click on the image to expand).

After a pleasant journey on an empty train, I got off at Delamere station.
From the station, it’s a short walk to the visitor centre (with it’s toilets!) and on to the Blakemere Moss lake.

Navigation is easy, follow the signs for the Delamere Way through the forest to the road running (almost) through the middle.

Unfortunately, this route does go along roads for a short while but they aren’t very busy.

I was now following the well signed Baker Way.
Just to the north of Ashton Hayes (which sounds more like a Hollywood actor than a village), I had a decision to make. I could continue on the Baker Way which lead to the south of Chester or I could turn right on to Gongar Lane. This would take me on the Longster Trail towards the north of Chester.
I decided on the Longster Trail.
This was a nice 12 mile walk, passing villages and crossing farmers fields before reaching the outskirts of Chester.
The route is available to download from ViewRanger.
Needless to say, I’ll be trying the other route when I can!

I did get to Leeds as planned, but now all the museums including the armouries were closed. As I sat alone in PieMinister, the annouoncement was made that all pubs and restaurants would close that night.
Total lock-down was imminent.
I made mu way very quickly to the station, I certainly wasn’t going to wait for the last train as more and more were cancelled.

I never managed to use the final day of my 4 day ticket.

I didn’t return to the office after my week off either.
I got a text message off a colleague saying that we would be working from home for the foreseeable future. Luckily I guessed this might happen. I had taken my laptop home and, more importantly, my stash of coffee.

Tree in the morning mist

Working from home wasn’t too bad.
The time I’d normally spend communing. I spent doing the government approved daily walk.
I would walk for a couple of minutes to the local woods then wander around discovering the various paths. For the most part, I was very lucky with the weather.
I’ll certainly miss these early morning strolls through when normality returns.

Eastham country park, Wirral


At the weekends, I’d get up early and head a little further down the road (still only about 5 minutes!) to the larger woods at Eastham Country park.
Leaving early mean I could easily follow the social distancing rules, only seeing the occasional early dog walking in the distance.

We work flexi time in my office, and I’d managed to build up enough hours to take a couple of days off.
When I booked them, I had planned a couple of days in the Welsh hills. When the time came, we were in full on lock down and were only allowed to go on one exercise a day.
The (short) list of permitted exercise included walking but only from where you live. I’m quite lucky, there’s several footpaths and quiet country lanes near my home. I drew up a couple of routes, both in a similar area. One 8 mile circular route from my house, the other about 10.5 miles.
I’ve added both to ViewRanger but tweaked both to start and end at the nearest train station.

Eastham Country Park Wirral

We’re now approaching the end of the third week of lock down.
Needless to say, we’re all missing seeing family and it’s tough missing usual activities…..but there’s quite a few walks and camping trips getting planned!!

Manchester Runway Trail

Today’s walk was something a little different, rather than majestic mountain ranges and vast vistas, the views would be of aircraft….lots of aircraft.

At 9.30am, I parked up in the Styal country park/Quarry bank mill car park. According to the website the car parking charges are £5*, however, when I arrived the booth was unmanned and I parked for free.

After a quick scout round in case there was a Pay and Display machine hidden away, I left  the car park the same way I drove in then, taking  a road to my left, headed North, with the Quarry Bank Apprentice House to the left.
IMG_1861I spent a little bit of time looking around this part of Styal which was built  in the late 1700s by  Samuel Greg for those working at his mill.

After passing the two churches,  I headed in to Styal Woods and on to  the North Cheshire Way.
I later discovered the North Cheshire Way is a Long Distance Path (71 miles) starting near my home in Wirral, past the airport and on to Disley Station in the Peak District. Might be one to complete in the future!

This part of the route is a pleasant woodland walk following and occasionally crossing the River Bollin. There is a fairly steep climb up the steps to cross the river at Giant’s Castle Bridge.
Emerging from the trees, passing a field of cows, I could here the distinctive noise of a couple of jet engines powering up. Up until now, it was difficult to visualise a large, international airport was just the other side of the trees.

I must admit my aviation nerdyness got the better of me and I did leave the path, waking up a grassy embankment to take a look over  Runway 2 05R/23L.  Unfortunately all aircraft movement was on the far runway, Runway 1, 05L/23R but I still got some great views of the departing aircraft (unfortunately, arriving aircraft were just a bit too far away).
Virgin 747 take off

Returning to the North Cheshire Way, I continued until I reached a roundabout.
To the right is a dual carriage way passing underneath the runway, however, the route continues almost straight across this fairly busy road.

Manchester Airport
The raised grass section just off the road looks over towards the airport and is a good spot for photos.
Continuing along part of the walk allows you to  get right up close to the runway, albeit from the other side of a high metal fence.
The path passes around one of the airport’s fire station and follows along the entire length of the runway.

I left the North Cheshire Way at the end of the runway, taking a right to towards the landing lights. Manchester airport landing lights

The path swings round to the opposite side of the runway. There are no views of the runway on this part of the walk but you do have departing aircraft fying just a few feet over head at the location marked ‘1’ on my  route map

The path  joins a quiet road which continues in the direction of the runway before crossing the River Bollin. I took a  right,  following the river through the tunnel , beneath the runway.
This brought me out near the fire station and I retraced my steps back towards the roundabout on the main road, however, rather than return following the river  I stayed closer to the perimeter fence, climbing an embankment to look right across the airport.

 

The runway path stopped at Altrincham Road which I followed in to Styal, a picturesque village with thatched cottages and cosy pubs.
After taking a right on to Styal Road, I took the footpath at the end of Holts Lane back to Quarry Bank Mill.

The GPX file for this 9.5 mile/15km walk is available to download

 

* Prices August 2016

Delamere to Kelsall

Early April and it’s beginning to feel like Spring, the warmer weather is on the way!  It seems a lot of people had the same idea as me and headed to the main car park in Delamere Forest. Luckily, it doesn’t take long to leave the crowds behind.

I left the car park, passing the cafe and Go Ape, towards  the lake at Blakemere Moss, going around around it in a clockwise direction.
Muddy pathAt the end of the lake I continued West following the Delamere Way, an easy to follow path but very muddy in places!

Where the path reaches  the road, I took the road to the left, passing under the railway and turning left at the road junction near Brine’s Brow. As the road bends round to the left, the Eddisbury Way path continues straight on.

CropsPassing through treelined farmers fields, the route pops out onto another road which I took South  for a short distance. The path leaves the road to the left passing Dodd’s Rough and fields full of crops.
At the bottom end of the final field is the A54. Care is needed as this dual carriage must be crossed to reach the footpath to Kelsall Hall opposite. Luckily there is a small space to wait in the middle of the road.

Local eggsA path leads to Broom’s Lane, keep an eye out here for eggs. I paid £1 (put in to the honesty box) for 6 very tasty eggs. The location is marked  on the downloadable route.

In the village, take a right on to Broom’s Lane, a left on  Dutton’s Lane then a right at the end on to Old Coach Road. Head towards the Lord Binning pub on Chester Road, passing through the pub car park towards a children’s play ground. Cross Flat Lane then follow the signs for the Edisbury Way, heading south to Willington Road.
When reaching Willington Road, turn left and follow it, leaving the Eddisbury Way.
Unfortunately, this route follows the road for some distance passing through a village, fortunately it’s a quiet route and the village itself is worth a visit.
Go straight across at the first road junction the, shortly after passing the fruit farmshop  take the road to the right, the footpath is on the left near Summertrees.

The route now follows the Sandstone Trail through Urchins Kitchen. Ignore any signs to ‘Delamere’, the signs you’ll need are to the Sandstone Trail towards Delamere Forest’
Take care crossing the A54 again, passing the lodge and continue North before taking a right at Eddisbury Lodge. This leads back to the car park at Delamere Forest.

Download the gpx of this 10 mile route

Candles and Canals

It was a chilly buy sunny day in mid-February, a nice change from the storms that had been battering the UK for much of the year. With a day off work, it could only mean another walk!

Waterfall near canal, CheshireThis walk started in the Cheshire Workshops in Burwardsley where there is plenty of space in their free car park.
After a quick visit to use their ‘facilities’, we headed out of the car park taking a left on to Barracks Lane passing  the Pheasant Inn pub
Staying on this road, we walked about 400 meters to join the Eddisbury Way path on the left, continuing until it reached another road, we take a right around the side of Outlanes farm  before continuing on the Eddisbury Way, heading North East.

Eventually the path comes out on to another road, Wood Lane. Walking up this road, we passed several orchards before taking a left then immediate right at the end of the road.
Muddy footpath The Eddisbury Way path continues to the right after about 100 metres.
The route passed under the busy railway line, we then followed the path heading North, ignoring right hand track.

We somehow managed to miss the path we wanted leading on to the canal and remained on the Eddisbury Way, hence the detour which can be seen on the route map.
We’ll put this mistake down to all the mud covering the paths!

After that slight change to the route, we eventually reached the Shropshire Union Canal, taking the tow path heading East.
We took Dale’s Bridge over the water which provided a good sheltered, sunny spot to fire up the meths burner for a nice warming coffee.
Continuing East along the side of canal, we past the  Shady Oak pub. I can imagine the beer garden here being very tempting on a summer’s day!

Shropshire Union CanalAt Wharton’s Lock, we took a right, joining the Sandstone Trail to the South, crossing back under the railway line.
The path  joins the road around Beeston Castle. If time allows, the castle is worth a visit. Built in 1220, a lot of the ruins remain intact and, on a clear day, climb to the top of the castle for some great views over to the Pennines and the Welsh hills.
We followed the road around the castle clockwise, taking the Sand Stone trail which continues on the left hand side, just after the second road junction.
The navigation gets a lot easier here as the route is very well signed.

Following the path South, we reached the grounds of Peckforton Castle, now a hotel and wedding venue.
We took a right to go around the extensive grounds before joining the road back past the Pheasant Inn to the Cheshire Workshops.
After this 8.6 mile walk, I think we earned the coffee back at the Workshops!

View a map and download the GPX of this walk

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑