Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday, 2 April 2021

Thursday 1 April 2021 - Around Thurstaston

With Lockdown restrictions having been relaxed this week to permit outdoor gatherings of up to six people, it was a pleasure today for Graeme and me to be joined by Sue and Jenny, and to be allowed to travel a little further from home - Thurstaston, so named by the Vikings.

After a long break, we could continue to carry out a recce for one of Jen Darling's walks in West Cheshire and Wirral. I'd visited the area before, most recently in June 2019 on another of Jen's routes.

This time we chose route 30, starting at the Wirral Way car park (£2) near the visitor centre down Station Road (SJ 239 834). We started walking from the Max Kirby Bridge, heading past the station platform beyond which we would have started from had we taken a left turn to park.

There's an information board that you should be able to read if you click on the image and magnify it. There's lots of information, including the fact that the Parkgate to West Kirby line was operative from 1886 to 1962, and Max Kirby was a past President of Wirral Footpath Society who died in 2014 at the age of 92.

We tried to visit the Visitor Centre, but it was shut. A lone coot provided the foreground to our view across the silted Dee estuary to the hills of North Wales.

We marched off, back to the well used disused railway line, heading towards Heswall.

Dungeon Bridge was soon reached. Jen notes that the brick bridge is good for echoes. She's right.

A left turn past cowslips then took us along a narrow path and up to some woodland that houses some caves and the only natural waterfall in the Wirral.

A bench at the high point of the dell ('Dungeon' means 'dell' in this instance) secures a view to the Point of Ayr lighthouse in Wales - indistinguishable in today's haze.

Here's a view of the dell from the top of the unremarkable waterfall.

Hardly a raging torrent!

We soon turned left towards Thurstaston and headed towards the spire of St Bartholmew's church, still with views over a hawthorn hedge and across the Dee estuary..

After a group photo, we passed the church, the third reincarnation of which was built relatively recently. The original Norman building (10th Century) has long gone, but the tower from a second church, most of which was demolished in the 19th Century, remains in the churchyard, as you can see below.

Just up the road from the church, the Cottage Loaf Inn would in normal times be a source of refreshment. Sadly not today.

Beyond the inn, a good path leads through Thurstaston Common to a trig point.

The path continues past an orientation point on a sandstone pillar. (Click on any of these pictures for a better version/slideshow.)

There are good views from here, towards the landmarks of Liverpool, as well as more local points of interest like the globe-topped column on Caldy Hill. Today the gorse was in full bloom, and we made our way through it accompanied by the scent of coconut.

A gap in a wall signifies progress from Thurstaston Common to Royden Park, where a luxury hotel, Hill Bark, stands. It's surrounded by a high fence, so I should have taken a photo from further away!

The building was constructed on Bidston Hill in 1891 for R W Hudson, a soap magnate. In 1931 it was moved, brick by brick, to its present location, and re-named Hill Bark.

Whilst we didn't see distressing amounts of litter today (not compared with West Sale, anyway), the path around the hotel did reveal some women with a large number of unruly dogs. "They are always here, they think they own the place" commented another lady with an obedient little companion.

We turned left down a forest ride, and before reaching a road, Montgomery Hill, we continued left along the ride, through an area of Scots pine, before reaching the road again and walking along the pavement back to where we had nearly reached the road a few minutes earlier.

Anyway, soon after this we turned left down a private road towards Birch Heys, passing Royden Manor and Birch House on the path towards Caldy.

After descending to Grange Cross Lane on a path I recognised from a previous visit, we took a delightful route through Stapleton Wood, an area of mixed woodland named after Olaf Stapleton, a local philosopher and science fiction author.

This brought us onto Caldy Road, for a short walk along the pavement into Caldy, which Greame surmised might be the 'Alderley Edge' of the Wirral. Apparently the village consisted of a few fishermen's huts and cottages until 1832, when a Manchester businessman, R W Barton, set about improving the village by constructing the red sandstone dwellings with black and white timberwork that you see today.

Primroses grow in the verges in this village.

Graeme, and the rest of us, found the sight of this 'neo-Alderley Edge' grotesque construction somewhat distressing, near another splendid but 'original' mansion where he has other memories.

Having had an elevenses break near the tapping woodpeckers of Royden Park some time earlier, we now re-joined the Wirral Way and broke our stroll along the old railway line, dodging bicycles and prams, by heading into Dawpool Nature Reserve for a lunch break.

Child labour was being deployed here for litter picking, but they seemed to be happy enough.

A short stroll returned us to the car park by Max Kirby Bridge, to conclude a most pleasant outing.

Jen reckons this walk is 11 km, but my GPS recorded 13 km, in a leisurely 4 hours including breaks.

Next week:
Friday 9 April - 10 km in Delamere Forest. Meet at Barnbridge Gates car park - SJ 542 716. Let me know if you plan to come, as the 'group of six' limit will still apply.

1 comment:

Sir Hugh said...

Worth the trip for that stunning gorse alone. It seems a strange shrub that flowers at random throughout the year, but obviously at its peak around now.