Monday, December 31, 2007

Haskayne, Clieves Hill (Ormskirk) and the Canal

Back to normal! Today we walked 6.2 miles close to home.

Clieves Hill, just outside Ormskirk, is one of a line of low hills that look west across the Lancashire Plain and have much more distant views than you would expect. The Welsh Hills are frequently in sight, as are the Lake District, Trough of Bowland and Winter Hill. The walk was about one-third arable field-paths, one-third quiet lanes and one-third canal towpath. The walk starts near the Ship Inn at Haskayne, which is easily accessible and has a very attractive setting. Chris and I have frequented this establishment on a number of Wednesday nights after shopping. Good food and local beer. Highlights of the walk, those that made me get out the camera, included a 17th Century House, three horses who were expecting mints, apples or carrots (none of which we had) a minature set of standing stones and the first snowdrops!
All of which I've included in the collage below.
Collage from the walk
Nature seems confused to say the least, rooks are starting to nest and spring flowers out before the end of the year.
Further research tells me that Haskayne (origin, the village where hazel trees grow) has several cruck-framed thatched cottages, a post office-cum-store and a furniture manufacturer, plus its two pubs. Of these, the Ship is reputed to be the oldest on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, since this section was the first to be constructed in 1770. It is the longest canal in Britain at 127 miles and remains the only navigable canal across the Pennines.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas at Keldy

We were together again! Ben back from the USA, Melanie, Mandy, Dave, Chris an I spent Christmas together in Keldy Cabins.
The cabin and table tennis
It is only when you produce collages, like the one above and the one below, that you realise that ther are no photographs of yourself.
Our Cabin and surroundings
The 'Hot Tub' was a big hit and various members of the family were found in it at various time throughout the day and night.
Rub a dub dub
Ben, I think, spent most time in it but on one occasion we were all in it together; plus glasses of champagne of course!
I can only talk for myself but the few days we spent together were precious from dawn...
Sun Rising over the ridge
...until dusk...
Setting sun
We had many visitors, of wildlife, including squirrels, pheasants, robins, rabbits, tits of various types, tree-creepers, nuthatches to name but a few. Ben was exceptionally lucky when he saw, and photographed a Roe Deer.
Roe Deer
We did hear the deer barking, yes I did say barking, when we went on a dusk/evening walk with the Site Ranger. An informative and pleasant walk. Chris an I completed the Blue and Red Walks and Melanie joined us for the walk to the Bird Hide.
Ben, Mandy and Dave completed the white cycle ride and managed to cover themselves in mud.
Chris, Melanie and I drove to Whitby one afternoon and Chris and I climbed the steps to the Abbey...
Looking back towards the harbour
...walked out along the harbour wall...
North Harbour Wall
and took many more pictures than I've included in this blog. If you want to see more, including the steam bus, polar bear and seagull then go to
and view the slide show.
A meal in the local pub, on the final evening, finished off what was a complete break for us all.
It will take us a long time to forget Ben, chief fire officer, blowing at regular intervals on the logs, the many games of Quiddler and the visits of wildlife throughout our stay.
I wonder where we will all be next Christmas?

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Kingsley, Dutton Locks and the River Weaver

(better late than never)
This walk allowed Chris and I to explore the peaceful countryside along the terraces above the River Weaver and beside the river itself. There were good views up to the sandstone ridge on one side and the Pennines on the other. Very wet in some places, we encountered a herd of Long-horn cattle while making our way through a particularly muddy patch.
Long Horn Cow
Chris liked the way their horns were on upside down! She was also pleased they watched rather than come closer to see why we were behaving in such an odd way.
The next encounter was that of monkeys!
No puzzle for these monkeys
Someone was having a laugh! The 'monkey puzzle tree' had many residents like the one in the image above.

As the valley was approached, the massive Dutton Viaduct came in sight and trains were seen crossing it every few minutes.
Dutton Viaduct
We walked past the lock before...
Dutton Locks
...the chance to admire the scale of the viaduct as the path passed directly under it. Following a brief encounter with human habitation, the route passes through the most remote part of the lower Weaver Valley.
Apparently, the River Weaver was a working river thirty years ago, with 1,000-ton coasters plying between Liverpool and the former ICI works at Winnington and Wallerscote near Northwich. Salt came by river from the works at Winsford to be transshipped at Liverpool to West Africa and other deep-water destinations. Canalisation of the Weaver in the early 18th Century reduced transport costs and thus enabled Cheshire salt to dominate the UK market for this essential commodity. Further information on Dutton Locks and the Weaver as a working river can be found at

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Monday, December 03, 2007

And the rain came tumbling down!

"Here's a man who holding with a smile
Something that he'd wanted for a while
Clasping tight, to lose it in a day
And the rain came tumbling down."
It is the first time that we have walked near reservoirs and found them "Full"; in fact some of the paths near the edge of the reservoirs were under two to three feet of water.
An still more was being added from surrounding streams.

Apart from the rain and floods, the walk around the Turton & Entwistle and Wayoh Reservoirs was excellent under foot. The now relatively bare hedges and trees make it so much easier to see birds, which in turn adds to the walks enjoyment.
We past the Strawberry Duck twice; yes I did say past! The first time was too early and the second was out of consideration for the landlord/lady; we were very wet! We both remember how we had sat outside in the sunshine when we had walked in this area earlier in the year! Mmmm sunshine!
A number of 'fly-fishermen' were plying their hobby, without any apparent success, as we skirted the reservoirs. At least when walking you can get warm but standing in waders in a reservoir, in the rain, with a cold wind gusting, is not my idea of fun!
As already mentioned, a number of detours had to be made to skirt flooded paths but we made good speed on the excellent pathways passing two "green" celebrations of the Christmas holidays to come.

I wonder if the decorators will return in January (On Plough Monday perhaps) and remove the garlands? I hope so.
Next to one of the decorated Christmas Trees was a wood carving...

Apparently one of a number of carvings to be found in this area. Sadly this was the only one we found. Perhaps another visit is called for when it isn't so cold and wet!

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