Today we had planned to stroll from Bury to Ramsbottom along the route that we abandoned (without setting off) last Thursday evening due to a monsoon hitting north Manchester.
But the local Metro tram was out of order, so we headed out to junction 11 on the M56 in less time than it would have taken to pick up the Metro in Old Trafford.
Turning right from the motorway, we headed north towards Daresbury for a mile before turning left opposite the turn to the village and left twice again to double back to a dead end. We could have parked in Daresbury, perhaps at the Ring o’Bells (SJ 579 829), but we weren’t in need of sustenance.
After a reasonable amount of recent rain, the hedgerows are lush with growth just now, with lots of yellow and purple flowers.
A short way down the lane a timber-lined entrance led left up steps onto Keckwick Hill. Amidst all the bracken are a few picnic tables.
It was a sunny afternoon, with light shining prettily through the canopy.
The lush deep greens of late summer have been joined by the succulent clumps of berries that are the precursors of Autumn.
Various signs direct you to a viewpoint where an information board, as part of the Timberland Trail initiative (the trail passes through this area) describes the view, which today was obscured to some extent by summer foliage. There was a good view of the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge, though.
Retracing our steps from the viewpoint, after a few metres a left turn took us down to Delph Lane, after passing through the area known as the Daresbury Firs, a fairly recent fir plantation, the original one having been felled shortly after WW2.
Our route turned left up Delph Lane, passing a new house on the left which could well be owned by a footballer. No doubt a fine old house has been demolished to make way for this slatey monster (you’ll have to go there to see it for yourselves).
We took the first right, along a track to Crow’s Nest Farm, which could probably do with some attention. At least the slatey house was in pristine condition. A left turn in the farmyard led to a field path (below), following stiles and waymarks, and peering in at workers in an office complex, to Red Brow Lane.
Turning right down the lane, we soon dropped steeply through a gorge, where the damp walls were covered with mosses, liverworts, ferns and lichens.
After passing under the Bridgewater Canal, a right turn led up steps onto the towpath, where we turned right again.
More lush vegetation adorned the towpath.
Damp berries drooped from heavily laden branches.
A barge full of youths being educated steamed past.
We strolled on, towards the M56 motorway, turning right just before the motorway bridge, across the old wharf to the Marina Village.
This is ‘Bridgewater Way’ country, and its signs can be followed. Basically, a right turn leads through a new housing estate, from where a further right turn leads back to the canal edge opposite the Marina.
The Bridgewater Canal, after it has deserted the main ‘Cheshire Ring’ route, continues on towards Runcorn. A bridge leads over the canal and the towpath continues on the right hand side.
A heron was fishing, and a mallard family were sunbathing, as we progressed along the towpath, under a couple of bridges, to Norton Town Bridge (the first bridge after a railway bridge).
The sky had been darkening, despite the sunshine. Now the buzzards buzzed off and it started to leak. Turning right at Norton Bridge, a footpath along a farm track passes much ‘Private Land’ before passing under two railway lines on its way to rejoin the canal.
The distinctive flower heads of the Tansy filled the soggy undergrowth in the vicinity of the canal.
A left turn, and we were on the last lap, heading along the towpath towards Keckwick in the drizzle. On the other side, various picnic benches and a covered area in the grounds of Daresbury Laboratory filled our view, beyond which the next bridge provided our exit from the canal and the road back up to the car, past the nuclear physics research laboratory, the first part of which was opened by Harold Wilson in 1967.
Most of the buildings look much newer than that, and the huge concrete tower, built much to the disgust of the locals, dates from 1975.
This is a 2 hour walk of 8 km (5 miles) with 120 metres ascent. It passes through a nice selection of countryside and is easily reached within 30 minutes from Timperley, so is a good venue for a short jaunt from south Manchester.