My current series of Friday morning walks (there will now be a break until June due to other commitments) concluded with this pleasant stroll in the Sandstone area around Kelsall, easily reached in 45 minutes from Timperley.
Up at the tree line in the picture above, we passed a busy Great Spotted Woodpecker and arrived at the site of Kelsborrow Castle, a Bronze Age fort, pictured and described on the information board below.
Click on the image for a better view.
The Bronze Age lasted from around 3300BC to 1200BC, so it covers quite some period! There are a good number of such forts in this area.
A little further on, King’s Gate was passed. This provides a reminder of the rigid forest boundaries that applied from 1070 (William the Conqueror) until the reign of Charles 1 (1625-49), during the period when the Norman earls, then the Crown, ruled the forest that extended across much of Cheshire.
The Sandstone Trail long-distance (34 miles) footpath was soon joined. This led us past the gallops of the present ‘squire’ one Michael Owen, perhaps known better for his footballing exploits for Liverpool and other teams, as well as for playing in the senior England team in 1998, becoming England's youngest player and youngest goalscorer at the time.
Taken from the same spot in the other direction, today’s Top Team…
After crossing the busy A54 road, we left the Sandstone Trail at the sign pictured below, and headed past Hangingstone Hill, where deer thieves were reputedly hanged from a stone, to reach the course of the Watling Street, the Roman road linking Chester with Manchester.
Salt was sent along the Roman road from Northwich to the garrison at Chester. It was paid for in ‘salarium’ (salt money) – the origin of the word ‘salary’.
We left this ancient way before reaching Eddisbury Hill, a site of Iron Age and later forts. After passing a village school built on land given for the purpose by Queen Victoria, we found our way across the A556 and the A54 roads and walked across more of Mr Owen’s estate, here seemingly dedicated to ‘eventing’, with lots of scary jumps for the horses.
The next photo looks back along our path, and the one below shows loads of jump paraphernalia littered inside a large area bounded by the traditional ‘gallops’.
We pressed on over the undulations of Harrow Hill, beside woodland and cooled by a strong head wind. A welcome break provided the opportunity to devour our provisions, including my last packet of Korean seaweed.
A couple that we had passed earlier were puzzling over their Sandstone Trail guidebook outside Tirley Farm. This is some distance from the Sandstone Trail. They hadn’t been concentrating. We walked with them until our turn past Tirley Garth, pointing them along Tirley Lane in the direction of their ‘lost’ trail.
At the entry to Tirley Garth is a rather sad building of interesting design. A sort of gate house that has been left to rot.
Our route took us past some interesting and exclusive property in the vicinity of Bentley Wood, after which we rose above the Cheshire plain, with good views towards Beeston and Peckforton.
On re-joining the Sandstone Trail, the nature of the footpath leads to no doubt about the suitability of the route’s name.
After a very pleasant, albeit uphill, section past Willington Wood and Black Firs, Tirley Lane was briefly revisited before we turned down another lane to return to Boothsdale.
Turning right up Gooseberry Lane, we passed a cottage that apparently incorporates stonework from an old chapel. It’s proudly dated, but neither 1061 nor 1901 seems likely!
The Boot Inn served us with coffee before we dispersed. The inn was built as a dwelling house in 1815, and was acquired by Greenall Whitley in 1913. It’s currently both smart and welcoming, and if we’d had more time we would have enjoyed lunch here.
Here’s the route – 14 km with about 300 metres ascent. It took us about three hours at a respectable pace. Next time I’ll make time for lunch at the pub, and maybe park at one of the free parking spaces that we passed along the route.
The route was adapted from one in Jen Darling’s excellent book, ‘More Pub Walks in Cheshire and Wirral’.