Today's Friday morning walk in sunny intervals saw six of us, Sue, Graeme, Carol, Keith, Jenny and me, setting off on a short circuit of Burtonwood, from the Mucky Mountains Nature Reserve car park. The walk was based on one in Jen Darling's 'More Pub Walks in Cheshire and Wirral' book, but we started from a different point than the one Jen describes - a good move, as you will see later.
This spot is on a favourite bike ride from home via Pennington Flash and continuing down the Sankey Valley to the Trans Pennine Trail and back home. I'm not so familiar with the footpaths though, and after scrutinising the information board (click on the image below to see it better), we crossed Sankey Brook and headed up an incline, away from the bike route.
A lane took us past Bradlegh Old Hall. Last time I was here, on 3 November 2017, we walked right past, but today we paused to admire the ancient gatehouse and the moat that surrounds the Old Hall. I wrote more about all this, and other points of interest, in my report on the slightly longer 2017 walk, here.
Field paths, thankfully pretty dry despite recent flooding, took us to Jen's start and finish point, the Fiddle i' th' Bag, an old inn whose name refers to a seed fiddle, used by farmers to sow corn. Apparently there's a seed fiddle in the bar, and it's depicted on the pub sign. I do hope that a future picture may show the place in a better light, but currently it's not a suitable starting point and Jen needs to adjust that to a suitable hostelry in Burtonwood village.
A short way down the road towards Winwick, some steep steps led down to a familiar cycleway near Sankey Brook.
Soon we were next to the remnants of the St Helens Canal, which was opened in 1757, England's first still-water canal, carrying coal from St Helens to Warrington. Now the canal is a series of intermittent ponds, home to Swans, Coots, Mallards and Moorhens, watched by anglers hoping to catch perch, tench, bream or roach.