This walk was to check out the accuracy of the description of walk number 15 in Jen Darling's book, 'Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral
I had the pleasure of Graeme and Paul S for company. There's room for about four cars in the lay-by from which the walk starts. Go past the impressive church in Davenham, drive over the A533 and park in the lay-by just before the impressive sandstone bridge over the River Dane.
A dew laden path immediately after the bridge led us to a lonely stile near a magnificent oak tree.
The 30 metre high church spire in Davenham stood out above the meadows.
We went wrong there, by heading up an enticing diagonal path rather than keeping on in the same direction, up the hill to a stile.
Anyway, after marching through a field of nettles near Park Farm, we soon reached the comfort of the Trent and Mersey Canal's towpath.
Jen's guide refers to Orchard Marina, but this now appears to be closed, with some sort of construction work taking place at the moment.
A smart bridge soon takes the walker over the access point to another marina, Park Farm Marina.
An iron milestone and stop-planks under a corrugated iron roof precede bridge number 181.
There was also a nice bench on which to enjoy our elevenses.
There's a request to limit the use of the towpath to local users during these times of Covid. You just can't get away from the pandemic.
'StayHomeSaveLives' remains the mantra here.
There was hardly anyone around, so we ignored the silly request.
That's bridge number 181, behind Paul and Graeme, and after passing Oakwood Marina (cafe, accessed over the bridge) we enjoyed the serenity of the towpath to bridge number 180, where the railway crosses the canal, which turns a sharp corner.
Oakwood Marina seems to occupy part of Billinge Green Flashes, formed due to subsidence caused by salt extraction, where Jen's book reports the rusting carcass of a narrowboat. We didn't notice any such carcasses today, but this is the former site of submerged wrecks of abandoned narrowboats, an inland waterway equivalent of Scapa Flow.
Many of the boats were brought here and sunk en masse in the 1950s. As controversial in canal terms as the scuttling of the German Fleet after WW1. British Waterways got rid of a surplus of narrowboats in several places, of which this was one. More recently, some of the wrecks have been raised and restored. As Paul's canal guide states: 'One generation's cast-offs can become the next generation's prized possessions'.
Beyond this railway bridge, the canal marches aimiably on to pass some giant beech trees (one having collapsed into the canal) before reaching the impressive black and white facades of the original lodges to Whatcroft Hall. Judging by the size of the lodges, the hall might be a massive place.
A notice at bridge number 179 informed us that the towpath from bridge 182, where we joined it, to this point (179) would be closed to pedestrians from 28 September 2020 for three months or until repair work on the railway bridge (180) has been completed. So we just about checked this route out in time!
We left the canal and followed a quiet lane to Riverside Organic Farm, which Jen's guide book optimistically proclaims sold ice creams in 2006.
The establishment appears to have flourished since then.
We enjoyed very efficiently socially distanced coffees and a long chat with fine views towards Davenham on a summery day.
We managed to spin out this 6.5 km, virtually flat, walk, to nearly four hours, of which my Garmin gadget recorded rather less than two hours of actual movement.
Graeme said he wanted a casual walk today, and he got one!
Here's the route.
NB Click on any of the images for better versions and a slideshow.
Well, this second attempt at using the new Blogger software has taken a little over an hour and a half, (excluding photo editing) so is a big improvement over yesterday. I really don't like it though, fitting the text to the pictures is really difficult..