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Black Pudding Gaiters

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delamere

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 soon!

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 me 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!!

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

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