This was supposed to be the day that Alistair and I headed up to Cross Fell, the highest point in England that Al has not yet visited.
He still hasn’t been there.
Events conspired to foil our plan – not least the fact that after a week ‘on the road’ and with a 5.30 am Monday morning train to catch, it was better that Al spend some time at home.
However, we did manage a brief saunter in North Cheshire, with the bonus of Sue feeling well enough to join us for the six mile outing.
It’s less than 30 minutes from home to junction 10 of the M56 and some minor roads to Hatton, where there’s a large car park opposite the local pub at SJ 599 824.
The pub was shut, but just along the road a garden sported a fine selection of ‘Christmas Toys’ whirring away and actually gyrating to the carols that were softly emanating from the various models. Very nice to see, in what is virtually a suburb of Liverpool that is therefore susceptible to the fly-tipping monsters from that city.
We waited in vain for glasses of mulled wine to appear on a conveyor belt.
It was cool, but thankfully ‘mainly dry’, and we soon found ourselves wandering through the bamboo forest otherwise known as Row’s Wood, where we encountered the Timberland Trail, previously seen on a wander around Lymm – must do it one day!
This emerged at Outer Wood, which we walked beside at the grand height of 60 metres, sufficient in these Flat Lands to afford fine views to the north, across Greater Manchester to the tall mast on Winter Hill that has recently been practicing a juggling act with our TV signals.
We didn’t venture into Outer Wood. We weren’t welcome there.
It looked as if we weren’t welcome here, either. Al and Sue tramped on whilst I observed the small print on the sign:
‘Score so far: Bull 2 – Ramblers 0’
Hello Big Boy!
After a bit of petting, the big soft lump calmed down.
Then she ‘enjoyed’ a tea break. “I’ve brought a flask, so you will drink the tea”, I insisted. “Wrap up warmer next time!”
We continued down the edge of another field, something of a feature of this route.
By and by we came to a plaque.
A photo of The Parsonage adorned an information board with a Japanese translation – we quickly looked around, but thankfully there was no tourist bus here today, just a swooping buzzard.
The site was caringly marked out, with brickwork showing the footprint of the old building, enabling one to stroll through the rooms and admire the well.
An island farm ‘mid seas of corn,
Swayed by the wandering breath of morn,
The happy spot where I was born.
Lewis Carroll was born at the above spot on 27 January 1832. He spent the first eleven years of his life here before going to Rugby school, then studying mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford, where he remained, teaching maths and experimenting with photography, for the rest of his life. There he met Alice, the Dean’s daughter, and the book ‘Alice in Wonderland’ evolved from a story told to Alice on a picnic in 1862.
Anyway, we retraced some steps and found some sunshine as we approached Queastybirch Hall Farm.
‘Queastybirch’ – I wonder how that name came about?
Here’s the route – 11 km with 100 metres ascent. It took us 2½ hours of gentle strolling. For anyone intent on following in our footsteps, I’ve set out some route directions below this image, which together with OS Explorer map number 275 should enable anyone to follow in our footsteps.
Start from the Hatton Arms, SJ 599 824.
Turn left out of the car park and walk along Warrington Road to the second footpath on the left (there’s just a short section without a pavement).
The path is to the right after crossing a ditch, and this leads to and through Row’s Wood (actually mainly following the left hand boundary of Row’s Wood), up to a signpost at the corner of Outer Wood. Turn left along the edge of this wood. On reaching the end of the short wood follow the fence left for 20 metres or so, then turn right to hug the field edge before coming upon the track that becomes Hall Lane.
Turn right down Daresbury Lane, towards Daresbury, leaving the road in favour of a footpath to the left, shortly before the church.
Head along this path for over 300 metres before taking a path to the right, back towards the road, before which you turn left again, along a thin path through a field. Head about 50 metres to the left of an oak tree, past which you aim for a stile in the field’s boundary.
Follow stiles and waymarks to Newton Lane, which you cross to take the track opposite, leading to Newton Bank Farm. Before that farm take a right turn along a footpath under the motorway and on up to Little Manor Farm.
Go straight on through the farm to reach Summer Lane. Turn left here and follow the road for about 500 metres until turning right just after passing a building on the left. Go down the lane leading to a fairly new barn conversion project, but where the lane turns right you continue straight on beside fields to reach more tarmac at Morphany Lane.
Turn right to visit Lewis Carroll’s birthplace, an open area with benches and plaques, about 500 metres down the lane.
Return to where you joined the lane, and continue along it to reach the junction with Newton Lane. Turn right, then left at Penkridge Lake Farm. Turn left by the farmhouse, going between cow byres, then turn right beside more cows and a hay store.
Negotiate mud and slurry (keep to the left) to climb a gate/stile to continue along the path, which runs to the left of a barbed wire fence to the next stile, then straight ahead across the middle of the next field to two stiles separated by a bridge in the facing hedge.
Go ahead again across the next field, turning right on reaching the hedge. Then turn left at the first opportunity and follow the field boundary to Queastybirch Hall Farm. Keep straight on through the farmyard and more stiles through what appears to be a front garden, to reach a cobbled track.
Turn left down the cobbled track, leaving it to continue straight on where the track bends left. Increasing traffic noise indicates a potentially formidable barrier, but after a flight of steps the route across the M56 reveals itself as being feasible without the need to dodge the motorway traffic.
Continue along Pillmoss Lane, past Queastybirch Lane, to turn left at the end of the lane and return to Hatton.
Acknowledgement: Based on a route described in Jen Darling’s book ‘Walks in North Cheshire’ – Alfresco Books, 1994.
[I wonder whether anyone will ever find this description and follow it, or am I doing such things purely ‘for the record’ to satisfy my sense of ‘compleation’ of projects so small as 11 km strolls?]