After four weeks of walks from Graeme's house in Wilmslow, we decided to venture further today. I chose what I think will be one of the best walks from Jen Darling's 'Pub Walks in Cheshire' - third edition, when it is eventually published.
Jen will be pleased to hear that the London Bridge pub is well and truly open, as indicated by the signage in the following picture, by which my companions for today - Graeme, Bridget and Sue, lined up before setting of on our 10 km stroll.
Outside the pub, is the rounded flight of steps where people boarded passenger boats to Manchester when the fare was one penny a mile. The service finished in 1918, but it was apparently the last of its nature in England. The boat used - the Duchess Countess, had an S-shaped knife on her bow which was used to slice ruthlessly through any obstructions.
Our first kilometre was along the Bridgewater Canal towpath, where Salad Burnet currently graces the verges.
These swans and their seven offspring scooted across the canal towards us, but soon lost interest when we told them we weren't prepared to share our chocolate brownies.
After leaving the canal, our route headed south across three sections of the Lumb Brook Valley. First, the Millennium Green, created in 2000 and intended to be kept forever for the benefit of local residents and the wider community.
The 'Green' ends at a roadway with a cycle path, across which the narrow paths of The Dingle (pictured top, and below) provide a contrast to the Green's open spaces. A buzzard swished through the woodland above the brook.
After crossing another roadway, we entered the Ford's Rough section of the valley. I didn't take any pictures of the new housing estate that is springing up here. The path is fenced off from the housing, and passes an oak tree mentioned in Jen's description of the route. However, I didn't spot the pool that was another landmark mentioned by her.
On reaching Cann Lane, a right turn leads past Brook House. I think it's this property's distinctive tall chimneys that are pictured below.
Pewterspear Lane is soon reached. I'm trying to find details as to the origin of that name, currently without success. The entire area is rich with history from many different eras, with St Elphin's dating as a place of worship from 650AD. The current church was opened in 1867 and has the third highest spire of any parish church in England. It's visible from quite a few points along this walk.
Our path skirted several fields around Hillside Farm, with cereal crops flourishing and Scentless Mayweed adding a bit of colour (albeit white) to the verges.
By the time we reached 'Bellfields' we were ready to enjoy the contents of our flasks by the sandstone pillar that marks the spot where Oliver Cromwell's horse was killed in a skirmish in 1648, and to share the brownies. Here's what I've previously written about Bellfields:
'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.
Pleasant paths overlooking Warrington and the hills of the South Pennines, led past a partridge/chicken/duck farm. Free ranging, they looked happy enough.
The path then rose above a huge cemetery to reach a splendid lychgate, through which St Elphin's spire is clearly visible.
From here, it's downhill all the way, on a path between houses that is known as the Rabbit Run, where before the housing encroached, rabbits enjoyed the run of the once grassy slopes.
Here's our 10 km route. It can easily be shortened or extended.
I've looked for previous reports on this walk. Graeme didn't admit to having been here before, but judging by this report on our slightly extended version of the walk - undertaken on 31 May 2019 - he has definitely been here!
There are more photos and a bit of information in this report on a recce walk for Jen on 28 December 2018.
Well, with thanks to the rain for holding off, and to my companions for the morning, that was a most enjoyable and satisfying interlude. Lockdown is slowly easing...