Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Friday, 19 September 2008

Thursday 18 September 2008 - Around Thelwall

Whilst Her Majesty is sunning herself in Sulawesi on the pretence of testing the waterproof cover for her Canon G9, I am left to stroll around in the Cheshire sunshine.  It's a pleasant diversion during one of those periods when illnesses and funerals of friends and relatives have been at the forefront of the mind.

This entry is a minor indulgence, so if you aren't interested in my rather mundane observations and very average images taken with the failing S70, you should skip this, though you will find a mouth watering kit summary somewhere below!

Let me take you on this short rural excursion:

We start in Highfield Road, Lymm (SJ 673 868), a 20 minute drive from Timperley.  A snicket opposite the junction with Hardy Road leads immediately into lush Cheshire countryside and a field of wheat.


Well, it was a field of wheat!1804combine

Reaching Booth's Lane we bear right to join Massey Brook Lane.  Heading left down here, we soon go under the M6.  The bridge frames the quiet Cheshire lane quite nicely.1805bridge

1806hbindweedPassing Massey Brook Farm and Thelwall Grange, we pause to admire the Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)  and the familiar fruit of the Bramble  with its succulent scientific name - Rubus fruticosus.


Highfields Farm is by the junction of Massey Brook Lane, Halfacre Lane and Weaste Lane.  We turn left down an unnamed bridleway that those 'in the know' call Cinder Lane.

1808coldoveA young collared dove coos from its overhead perch, reluctant to move from this sunny spot.




Cinder Lane is well named.1809cinderlane

After a while the main A50 road is reached.  Turning right down the welcome footpath, the view of this pond is much better than that of the road.  We look for servicemen, and weird people testing stoves, but they have not reached these parts yet.1810pond

One Big Disappointment today:
No butterflies!

After 10 minutes, well past some noisy kennels, a broken footpath sign points us right, beside a pleasant hedgerow.  There's some fading Meadow Thistle here, and the hedge is positively dripping with the bright red berries of Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna).1811hawthorn

1812hogweedPassing through another snicket between houses, we reach Weaste Lane, where we turn right for a few yards before going left to cross a field.   Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium) is still in full bloom here, as is White Dead-nettle and strongly scented Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).



After a few minutes Pickering's Bridge, spanning the Bridgewater Canal (a historic waterway dating from 1759), is reached.  Here's the view from the bridge - quite a few barges are on manoeuvres.1814canal

We've been walking for nearly an hour now.  The sun has been beating down (doesn't it always?) and some refreshment is needed.  Time to settle down for lunch.  Here's the kit:1815gear

A gear review won't go amiss here.  The base weight of all this kit is 1400 grammes, which is just about manageable.  In addition we have the weight of the butties (but not for long - if we don't eat them, the mallards will make short work of them).  We could of (sic) brought one of our 57 varieties of cooking stove, but the flask is quick and reliable, and eminently suitable for a stroll of this arduosity.  In today's heat, though, the tea takes rather longer than we would of (sic) liked to cool down to a drinkable temperature.  Perhaps we should of (sic) brought a case of beer instead, but carrying that without a Slow Man to act as a porter can be oh so exhausting!

The map and compass are there to keep us on the straight and narrow, and the whistle is for seeking help when we stray from that course.  When things get really bad, we can of course use the penknife to construct a shelter whilst we ponder 'why didn't we ever get one of those wonderful 'Spot' gadgets?'

The specs come out after the shelter has been constructed and usually give rise to a completely different interpretation of the map. This can be useful.

Since we may be misplaced for some time, and want to record images of our surroundings, the spare camera battery is obviously essential, as is the sun/rain hat which quadruples as a full set of waterproofs and, if darkness were to fall, a tarp.

All this fits neatly into the old MEC bag.

Anyway, if you've followed these route instructions, you shouldn't be lost.  This walk is actually suitable for novice hillwalkers, and with its altitude gain and loss of 50 metres (mainly crossing bridges) it is suitable for those from the Flat Lands to the south and the east.  So don't be put off by the long list of gear - it's due to our 'double safety margin' approach.

Replete from lunch (there is a bench about 200 metres down the canal to the west) we continue along the path after crossing the bridge, and after a few yards reach the Warrington-Altrincham rail link.  This dates from 1853 but now has no trains, so it is safe to turn right down the wheelchair ramp (yes, this walk is - mostly - suitable for wheelchair users) onto the path known as the Trans Pennine Trail that links Southport with Hornsea.1816railway 1817sign

The trees today are laden with lush green leaves, so the path is dark under this late summer canopy.  Jays flutter in the branches, wood pigeons clatter around, and kestrels hover over nearby fields.  Huge wands of berry laden branches strive to get a view of the bright sunshine.1818berries

Others have given up that quest and are tinged with the first signs of autumn.1819bush

Red Clover lines the track, and the hedges are filled with dark red rose hips.  Here's a particularly succulent specimen.1820rose

Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is abundant around here.1821comragwort 1823cragwort

There's a huge thistle, over two metres high, perhaps a Globe Thistle (Echinops sphaerocephalus).1824thistle Correction: Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) - thanks Mark.1825thistlehead

Most people who have listened to motorway traffic news will have heard of the dreaded 'Thelwall Viaduct' on the M6.  It's about 400 metres away at this point, but largely unseen and unheard.  A minor road does pass over our path though.  Local people hereabouts are quite 'horsey', and have wisely provided a headache avoidance kit.1826lowbridge

Whilst Hawkweed is also abundant beside the old railway, and Himalayan Balsam is rampant in the wet woodland below the embankments, Rosebay Willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium) reigns supreme today, with silky plumes attached to its seeds, ready to spread its influence far and wide.1827rbwh1

Some is still in flower.1828rbwh2

Having walked under the M6, we leave the quiet sanctity of the old railway at the first footbridge.  A left turn to a hostelry may be your choice at this point, but today we turn right over the bridge and take a last glance at the old trackless track - trying to conjure images of steamy, whistling engines from the past.1829railway

The path bends tightly in front of some pretty cottages before leading back to the canal, whence a right turn leads to a cobbled ramp up to the main A56 road.  Turn left, cross with care, and Highfield Road is the second turn on the right.  The car should have been safe up here, whilst we enjoyed the 7.5 km stroll, which has  taken us 1.5 to 2 hours. 

Here's the route, courtesy of Jen Darling's book, 'Walks in North Cheshire':1802map

Then, back at home, it's time to raid the apple tree1830apples

and thrash Helen...1899scrabble


Alan Sloman said...

I don't know!

No proper brew-up. Your poor navigation meant that you missed the pub, and only then do you hanker after the missing case of beer.

Just as well you were near the M6: you could walk towards the nose to find yourselves again.

I think you are pining for Sue. Your posts are becoming increasingly spikey! She needs to be there at your side to smoothe your ruffled feathers.

(By the way - ditch the 'tarp hat'. You need the 'tent hat' far safer for only a few more grams...

Phreerunner said...

Trouble is, Alan, the 'Tent Hat' has holes in it, so it's more leaky, so I think I'll stick to the Tarp for now. I've heard they are very good. And yes, I should have gone to the pub, even if I was on just a quick lunchtime stroll. I knew you'd pick me up on that, and I nearly went back, but given my other comments I thought I'd leave you an open goal.
BTW, if you go to near the bottom of the entry, you'll see that I've now found a train!
'Spikey'? Didn't you recognise the mixture of the styles of two far more eminent bloggers than me? I'll revert back to my own style now.
I promise!
The sun is shining so it's time to go!

Alan Sloman said...

Well, it wasn't difficult to spot wd, but who is the second mystery blogger then?

Could it be PW, with the annotated pictures and flower pictures?

Can I claim my "Crackerjack!" pencil?

Phreerunner said...

Too 'spikey' for PW alone - but there could have been a subconscious influence from that direction, masking the intended style.

Alan Sloman said...

No - You have me baffled there I am pleased to say! WD was 'of' course obvious.

Last guess: Beating the Bounds?

You will have to tell me I am afraid! Doh!

Phreerunner said...

Very impressive photos from BTB. I wish I could match them. I obviously failed abysmally to parody your style, and got BTB and PW's included in the mix. Perhaps I wasn't 'spikey' enough? Ha! Will try harder next time.
And I am missing my chef. I managed to poison myself the other day. With cheese on toast!

Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, Could the giant thistles be Teasels?
On the subject of resolution of photos, I'm not remotely technical, but all of my pictures are loaded to flickr and then I 'copy image location' when I add photos to Live Writer. I have no idea whether that would work equally well on Blogger?
Are Blog parodies safe? It seems a lot of spleen has been vented of late in the Blogosphere. The woods round here are full of overweight tarp users hiding out while the witchhunt dies down.
Let's hope this weather continues.

Phreerunner said...

Yes, I think you are correct Mark - it's Teasel. Thanks for that. My Blog parody was really just WD, who has a GSOH, in an effort to brighten up this posting. But then I referred to 'two' bloggers by mistake - it baffled me as much as Alan, actually!
I don't know about tarps, but last time I did the 'Wells of Silverdale' walk in the dark there was a memorable 'bouncy campervan' incident!