We woke early, due to a loud bang in nearby Irlam. A row of houses, wrecked by a gas explosion. Not good.
Rain was forecast, so it seemed unnecessary to drive anywhere when the main point of getting out was to try to break in some new heavy duty boots.
Setting off at 9.50, I wandered through Newton Park, crossed Washway Road and explored De Quincey Park. I’d not ventured into it before. It comes to a dead end, so whilst useful for pushchairs and dog walkers it was pretty useless for someone in search of a through route. So it was back to Washway Road and across Siddall’s Bridge – not an obvious landmark, but it does date from 1765 – and into Woodheys Park.
Past allotments and beside Sinderland Brook, I headed towards Carrington Moss. I met a chap assiduously taking photos of the brook and muttering about the inadequacies of the National Trust, who appear to have taken over certain custodial/maintenance functions from the Environment Agency. He explained that the brook used to run straight through this area, but following the development of a housing estate on National Trust land to the south of the brook, kinks and shrubs have been introduced. Unfortunately these have resulted in blockages, and the houses to the north of the brook are now in fear of flooding. This concerns me; a branch of the brook runs past the end of our own road, though I’ve not noticed any problem there.
Anyway, I left this concerned resident and the ugly new houses on the Stamford Brook estate and entered the wastes of Carrington Moss.
Altrincham’s ‘Household Waste Recycling Centre’ was my next landmark, beyond which I was pleased to turn right onto the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT). There are lots of stables, and a donkey sanctuary, around here. The quiet path leads north into the Moss. I was alone with magpies, wood pigeons, carrion crows, chaffinches and moorhens. Elevenses were taken near Ash Farm, by a bent TPT sign, with some spots of the overdue rain, and cyclists and walkers making use of the track.
From here, the TPT skirts through mixed woodland, neatly planted in rows in the not too distant past, certainly not sufficiently recent for the Ordnance Survey to have noticed them.
It was extremely gloomy, but somehow the rain held off as I strolled along, separated by a tall hedge from the A6144 ‘Carrington Spur’. A small footbridge over the River Mersey, home on this occasion to mallards and grebes, led to a short section along that river’s high retaining banks, before the TPT drifted down a surprisingly pleasant path by Kickety Brook that culminates in this fine new footbridge over the ring road.
An expensive alternative to a pedestrian crossing?
The berries by the bridge looked very juicy. No doubt the small birds that were harvesting these berries looked equally tasty to the kestrels that hovered overhead.
Luckily, the busy A56 road is negotiated via an underpass, after some more surprisingly pleasant woodland on the edge of Stretford. Barges on the Bridgewater Canal were soon in view, but my route didn’t join the canal just yet. The TPT heads under the canal, past an immense cemetery, and back to the banks of the Mersey.
Soon after that, I left the TPT, where it went off beside Chorlton Brook whilst I continued along the river bank, past a splendidly decorated brick building that houses the flood gate controls.
The TPT rejoins the river bank near Jackson’s Bridge, but I left it for good here, by crossing the bridge and returning from Lancashire back into Cheshire.
There has been a bridge here since 1816. At that time there was a halfpenny toll to cross it. The bridge was built to replace a local farmer (Jackson) and his boat who had provided a ferry service across the river. The boat was hauled from bank to bank by a chain fastened to posts on either side.
The bridge has recently acquired a two tone appearance, and lunchtime aromas nearly drew me into the old pub. This picture shows the view south into Cheshire, so it's a surprise to discover that the ancient Jackson's Boat pub is in Lancashire, apparently due to changes in the course of the river over the centuries!
From here, a pleasant path leads to Sale Water Park’s Visitor Centre, where I paused for lunch on a bench. Drizzle that accompanied me for the rest of the walk commenced here.
Rats, jays, blackbirds and thrushes were all to quick for me in the dim light as I approached reed beds at the end of the man-made lake. It was a gravel pit until its conversion in the 1970s. Today there’s a heronry in the Ees beyond the lake, and cormorants stand on the ski jump, drying their wings.
The ‘beach’ is populated by bickering Canadian geese and black-headed gulls, whilst young mallards frolic in the shallows.
Another splendid footbridge leads back across the ring road and into Priory Gardens, where today I disturbed a kestrel with its prey. A right turn up Dane Road leads to the canal bridge, where there’s access by The Bridge (a pub) to the familiar towpath of the Bridgewater Canal and an easy walk home in thickening rain.
Mr Naismith would have taken 4 hours 10 minutes over this little jaunt; it took me just 10 minutes longer than that for the 21 km circuit. But I’d had lots of photo stops despite the gloom, and hadn’t really hurried due to the heavy new boots, which luckily remained as comfy as when I’d set out.
The route is shown in blue below, and for anyone who may be interested, the full slide show is here.