Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Friday 31 May 2019 - Around Appleton


 
This was the return of some Friday morning walks, on which I was pleased to be joined by Paul S, Paul and Jeanette B, Graeme J and Graham B.

It's a variant on the walk I did on 28 December last year for Jen Darling's third edition of 'Pub Walks in Cheshire'. In fact, it's the slightly longer route taken in her first edition, but using her new starting point, the London Bridge Inn, rather than the Cat and Lion which these days looks a less attractive waterhole.

Starting by taking to the Bridgewater Canal's towpath towards Lymm (no problems with dog walkers today!), we looked back to the London Bridge Inn (top picture), where we would later enjoy refreshments overlooking the canal. We were soon passed by a barge full of day trippers. They slowed down for a chat and we were able to inform them that the regular passenger boat service into Manchester ended in 1918, and we noted that the fare at that time was a penny (0.4p in today's parlance) a mile. Today's passengers admitted to paying rather more than that!

The passengers and their guide were also unaware that the tall spire they could see was that of Warrington parish church, St Elphin's, the third highest in England.

(They didn't have a copy of Jen's book.)

It wasn't long before our route left the canal, doubling back after crossing Lumb Brook Bridge, an aqueduct built by James Brindley. A record of road repairs to this bridge in 1737 records the expenditure of 3 shillings (15p).

Our route turned away from the canal and headed through The Dingle to Ford's Rough, a lovely section through mixed woodland and rhododendron bushes. We were a little late for the bluebells and primroses and had to make do with admiring the banks of herb robert.

Posh new housing was passed as we proceeded through curiously named Pewterspear, and a roundabout on the main A49 road was reached. A path then led, straight as a die, to St Matthew's Church in Stretton. Unsurprisingly, this is what is left of a Roman road, as evidenced by the statue of a soldier, shown in the second picture joining today's team and shaking hands with Graham.

As mentioned earlier, Jen's first edition suggests the nearby Cat and Lion as a refreshment point. Today we crossed the busy A49 and decided to give that hostelry a miss - it failed to entice us in.

The stroll along quiet Hatton Lane towards Hatton was the only bit of road walking on this outing. Then we turned right onto a field path, where at the first opportunity we paused for tea, coffee, bananas, brownies, cookies, etc. 

After this welcome break a series of very pleasant paths, overlooking Appleton Reservoir and the bridleways used on last Monday's bike ride, led to an overgrown passage over a small stream, rising to a gap in a hawthorn hedge near Bellfields Farm, which is the background to today's third picture. In the foreground is a sandstone pillar reputedly placed to mark the spot where Oliver Cromwell's horse was buried after being killed in a skirmish in 1648.

'Bellfields', the house in the background, was built around 1750 by a retired naval commander, Admiral Hoare, who fitted it out in a nautical manner and addressed his servants as if from the quarter deck. The next occupant was also a colourful character. Count Vittoria Alfieri got into trouble over a duel with a Legioner in 1771. This was an unsavoury matter, as was Alfieri's general conduct. He soon vanished from the area and was last seen living with the Countess of Albany, wife of Prince Charles Edward. 

After going a short way down a lane, we turned right along some lovely footpaths that led all the way to a large cemetery at Hillcliffe. En route we passed an area that turned out to be a duck farm. We think there were also partridges, but the latter were too young to be allowed to range freely.

Up at Hillcliffe we admired the views over the spires of Warrington to Winter Hill and Billinge Hill. There's a pretty black and white lychgate here - see bottom picture.

The map would suggest that a road walk is now needed to return to the start, but a series of narrow ginnels took us all the way down until we were within sight of the London Bridge Inn, where Paul S shot of home and the rest of us enjoyed coffees sitting outside the pub with the opposite view to that in the top picture.

Here's the route, note that a shorter version is available by turning right at the roundabout instead of going down the Roman Road to Stretton. Go to the south of Hillside Farm and rejoin today's route at Bellfields. (Click on the image for a clearer version.)
 
 
The next Friday walk is next week, Friday 7 June, around Werneth Low - see http://www.topwalks.com/summary.htm

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Wednesday 29 May 2019 – An Evening Walk Around Marple



Click on this and any other image for a better resolution version and slideshow























This was a walk with Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group (SWOG), in the company of twenty folk who braved the drizzle.

We started off along the Middlewood Way (above), from near Rose Hill station, before crossing a golf course to reach the towpath of the Macclesfield Canal, with Graham leading the way (below).


Graham was quite justified in leading the way. He was tonight’s leader. Frequent pauses to allow ‘catch up’ were made. We re-grouped at a bridge where we left the security of the towpath.

 

Then we went through a field of buttercups to a stile that was a bit too much for a large, daft dog someone had brought along.


Deep wet grass put paid to many people’s hopes of keeping their feet dry, and a couple more stiles made life interesting for both walkers and the dog.

 
After passing what used to be the Romper pub at Ridge Fold, now a private house, we descended to the Peak Forest Canal. In good weather the views here are excellent. Today we had to make do with a misty look down to the canal.


Then it was a straightforward stroll along the towpath to Marple, passing a community of Canada Geese, with several groups of youngsters getting ready to nestle down for the night.


The Macclesfield Canal joins the Peak Forest Canal in Marple, and the Canal and River Trust has recently put up lots of new signage.



If you click on the last picture you’ll discern reference to a ‘horse tunnel’ under Stockport Road. My children used to enjoy playing here, miraculously never falling in! We have a picture of it in our living room. There’s a passage to the right of the tunnel that isn’t obvious in the picture, and where fields are shown it will be no surprise to know that houses now occupy much of that space.


Returning in the gloom along narrow paths beside allotments, we soon arrived back at Rose Hill, where the Railway pub provided a good choice of very welcome rehydration fluids.

Tonight’s route was about 8.5 km with 100 metres ascent, taking two hours. Here’s the route, kindly devised and led by Graham.



Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Monday 27 May 2019 – The Phoenix Park Circuit, a Bike Ride



Despite a showery start, Bank Holiday Monday saw a record turnout for a Monday morning bike ride, with Sue, Paul, Jeanette, Alastair, Richard and Jan all making it to the rendezvous point at Seamons Moss Bridge, albeit Jan was rather late having got lost in Timperley!

With Alastair and Jan normally having to work on a Monday, and Paul and Jeanette on child minding duty in the future, numbers are set to rapidly diminish.

I think it’s November since we last cycled this route (report here), though a shortened version with a café in Stockton Heath has been ridden a few times – see here.

Sue came as far as Grappenhall, so was included in the photo taken just as we joined the canal briefly in Lymm, where we received abuse from dog walkers despite being extremely courteous and doing no harm to the hard surface of the towpath. It has happened before; apparently there’s a ‘No cycling’ sign.

At Grappenhall we paused to show Jan the Cheshire Cat on St Wilfred’s church – see here, it’s obscured by the lamp in the next picture.

(Click on any picture for a better resolution image or a slideshow.)

 
We seemed to take different routes down the hill to Phoenix Park, and the others found their way to Norton Priory’s tearoom whilst I went up to Halton Castle. I soon returned to the tearoom. The coffee and cake had been demolished!

 
Then we went back to Halton Castle. It looks like I nearly got left behind again, as I seem to be leaving the tearoom without a bike. Duh.

 
The site of Halton Castle, at the top of a nearby hill, is accessed via The Castle Hotel pub, where the landlord unlocks a door to access the castle, which doubles as a beer garden. There are good views from here. Today’s visibility wasn’t brilliant, but we could see the old bridge, and the recently opened bridge that has relieved the traffic problems in the Runcorn area.



The narrowing of the River Mersey at Runcorn has provided a crossing point for centuries, with a regular ferry since the Norman Conquest, formally established in 1178 by John Fitz Richard, the 6th Baron of Halton.

There’s not a lot left of the castle. The information board shown below gives some idea…



For most of its life, the castle was used as a courthouse and prison. In 1737 the gatehouse was replaced by a new courthouse which is now the pub through which you enter the castle grounds.

From the raised area where the castle once stood, St Mary’s Church is overlooked, with the courthouse down to the left in the next picture.


The church dates from 1071, in the time of Nigel, 1st Baron of Halton. I don’t think what you can see now is quite that old! In fact, it’s a 19th century building.

Maybe I’ll visit this place again and delve a bit further into what must be a rich history.
 
 
We enjoyed cokes, etc (thanks Jan) before setting off back home by the usual route via Norton Priory and the Trans Pennine Trail.

As is normal on these rides, Richard got a puncture, Paul mended it, and the used inner tube (thorn removed) was passed to me to add to my collection of spare tubes.

 
Here’s the route I took. Others will be slightly different. My journey was 67 km with about 300 metres ascent, over a period of over 6 hours. We didn’t rush!



No ride for me next Monday as I have to take Dot to the eye hospital, but others are free to arrange something.