This was the first in a series of Friday morning walks, the updated list of which is here, and the current programme is set out at the foot of this posting. All are welcome to come along.
The current batch of walks is based on selected routes from Jen Darling’s ‘Pub Walks in Cheshire’ (1990) and ‘Walks in North Cheshire’ (1994). Many of the walks from these books feature elsewhere in these pages under the ‘Cheshire’ label. If I have time I may add a ‘Jen Darling’ label.
Anyway, on a lovely sunny morning I was joined by Andrew J in the Leigh Arms car park next to the A49 by the River Weaver (SJ 602 760) at 10 am. Travel via M56 junction 10 > A49 > cross A533 > Leigh Arms, which is set back on the left, beyond a disused Bella Napoli building, as you reach the swing bridge over the River Weaver. The walk is described in detail on page 16 of Jen’s 1990 book, but would be pretty easy to follow from the map shown below, and my basic description of the route.
Across the minor road from the car park there is a footpath sign that leads beside The Paddock towards the Trent & Mersey Canal, which is soon reached. The top photo was taken shortly after joining the canal towpath.
Jen’s route soon leaves the canal in favour of field paths parallel with the canal, to the NE, but Andrew and I favoured a gentle amble along the towpath to re-join Jen’s route at bridge number 211, shown below.
Leaving the canal, we descended to the River Weaver after admiring the views over the Cheshire countryside. There are a few bright autumn colours, but in the main the views portray the aura of a rusty green late summer day, with temperature to match (in the upper teens ºC).
A right turn beside the Weaver took us to the view of a sluice across the river. This is a bridge like structure with at least seven pillars supporting a walkway, below which sluice gates control the flow of the river.
The river doubles as a canal, where in the past the busy waterway has been crowded with ships and barges transporting salt from Winsford to Liverpool and The World.
The towpath crosses the river to reach Dutton Lock, via which boats by-pass the sluice shown above.
This picture looks ahead to the walkways across the Lock, with the arches of Dutton viaduct beyond.
Looking back, the sad remains of Andrew’s holiday home provided the explanation for his planned trip to the Cotswolds.
After shedding a few tears in memory of a fine craft, we crossed the Lock and headed along a footpath signposted to Acton Bridge, soon turning right to pass Manor Farm, then after a short ginnel the track turned left past Weaver Holt and an area of house rebuilding. A right turn at a minor road took us downhill, under the railway, then left and right, up a hill to Acton Cliff. There are good views of the viaduct from the top of the hill, concealed behind us in the next picture.
The path leads down over a footbridge and onwards to Yew Tree Farm, to a left turn along Ainsworth Lane. After a few hundred metres a footpath goes left and right at a triangle of grass with a rock on which Andrew took a well earned rest and we enjoyed tea, cake and bananas. Continuing to a point where there’s a footbridge to the left, we turned right, up a hill, and continued along the track to turn left at Station Road. The road walk could have been reduced if a footpath across the fields hadn’t been ploughed up.
Anyway, we put up with the traffic, passing Ivy House and Birch House before taking a left turn towards Acton Mill. We soon came to this delightful scene where Acton Brook has been widened to make a large pond. A man was clearing foliage in an effort to enhance the view from The Big House.
On the home straight now, we hastened along the path to the railway, at which point Jen’s guide warns ‘cross it with care’. It’s a busy line and undoubtedly care would have been needed before the footbridge was installed. I wonder how many deaths were needed to trigger the bridge construction?
A good path leads to the houses of Acton Bridge, where the minor road is crossed by turning right then immediately left. The ongoing path is a little vague in places, and may on occasion be a bit boggy. Navigation is simple though – just head for the big white bridge.
This is the Acton swing bridge, built in 1933, which is, according to Jen, one of the oldest electric swing bridges in the world. It’s certainly distinctive.
It was a lovely day to admire the views from the bridge.
By now the Leigh Arms was open, and having used their car park we felt obliged to provide some custom. Soup for Andrew, whitebait for me, plus rehydration fluid to suit.
Actually, we were lucky that I’d planned the walk for this week, as it turns out that the pub will be closed for refurbishment from 26 October until sometime in December.
Here’s the route we took – about 10 km, with very little ascent, taking a leisurely 2.5 hours. A most enjoyable outing. Thanks for your company, Andrew.
Forthcoming Friday morning walks, as currently planned:
Friday 2 November
Around Alderley Edge. Meet at the NT Car Park by the Wizard (SJ 860 772) at 10 am for a 8 km amble. B5087 from Alderley Edge.
Friday 9 November
Around Rostherne. Meet in Rostherne village (SJ 744 833) at 10 am for a 11 km bimble.
Friday 23 November
Around Budworth Mere. Meet at the Anderton Boat Lift Visitor Centre (SJ 647 752) at 10 am for a fairly flat 12 km. A533 from Northwich.
Friday 30 November
Tegg's Nose and Lamaload Reservoir. Meet at Tegg's Nose Visitor Centre (SJ 950 733) at 10 am for a 9 km stroll to Lamaload Reservoir and back. A537 and Buxton Old Road from Macclesfield.
Friday 14 December
Around Grappenhall. Meet in Grappenhall village, car park at SJ 638 863, at 10 am for another 9 km outing. From Junction 20 on the M6, take the A50 towards Warrington. Turn left into Bellhouse Lane after crossing the Bridgewater Canal. Turn right into a car park immediately past the Ram's Head.
There will be more – see here.