Despite wet weather it was a jolly bunch of 17 walkers that set out soon after 10am from Dunham Massey under Peter’s brisk leadership.
He assured us that the Dunham Ripper would indeed be found.
The group turned out to be dominated by early retirees who get very regular exercise – the pace was certainly more than reasonable (if reputedly much slower than on their longer weekend walks).
The forecast of worsening weather proved inaccurate; it was one of those days when overtrousers donned at the start stayed on, but those left in bags stayed in, if you can follow that. (The weather actually improved significantly during the course of the day.)
We zoomed off past a herd of fallow deer before crossing an area of lush green grass and randomly placed sand dunes where we were sternly paused by some gaudily dressed gents chasing a small white object.
Soon afterwards Peter wanted to show us an ancient school but was foiled by the adjacent roadworks; John wanted to visit the nearby micro-brewery to sample the ‘Deer Beer’ but was foiled by Peter’s feigned deafness.
John and I seemed to be lagging behind by the time we reached the Bridgewater Canal for the second time, at Agden Bridge.Bombing on at a rapid pace we left the canal at the bridge at Oughtrington and headed through woods then suburban streets to reach the centre of Lymm, where one of the group demanded to be placed in custody as he was feeling a bit tired.
After marking down the leader for going too fast, the throng proceeded to lunch at 12.15 (a bit early?!) by the well fed Mallard population of Lymm Dam. 20 minutes was all we got, before rushing off down ‘The Bongs’, by the waters of Lymm Dam where a cormorant was enjoying a thorough wash, in a southerly direction, to be halted only by the thick blue line of the M56 motorway.
Luckily Peter had reccied the route and managed to avoid the ankle deep slurry in which the track past Broad Heyes Farm immerses unwary victims.
Having lost more points due to the bogginess of his route (rather unfair, I thought, as the slurry had been cleverly by-passed), Peter then imposed a ‘single file’ restriction at frequent intervals during the walk across fields which returned us to a selection of canalside hostelries, all of which were ignored.
His ‘leader’s score rating’ had now been reduced to nil, so he tried to bribe the throng into recognising that he had some skills by producing a large packet of liquorice allsorts and sundry other goodies. Very nice, but, he was told, only a pot of tea for 17 on his tab at the end of the walk would remedy the position. He responded by threatening to use his ‘delete’ button on any troublemakers, in his role of Membership Secretary of the LDWA.
We continued, in sunny weather, striding on past flapping lapwings to complete the circuit.
And where was the Dunham Ripper?
At least Peter found that, just around the corner from where the walk had started 5 hours earlier; he had the last laugh as it seemed that he had taken us by rather a roundabout route.
Here it is, a frame saw that has been ripping into tree trunks and converting them to planks since around 1860. It’s powered by a waterwheel below, through a series of belts and shafts, and is still in fine working order.
And so we adjourned to the same excellent tea shop that Sue and I enjoyed following our return from New Zealand nearly 2 weeks ago, for more of the same, before admiring the National Trust property and returning homewards.
The route is shown below. It’s 23 km with only 177 metres of ascent, and took us a brisk 5 hours, including stops.
An excellent day out. Thank you John for letting me know about it.