Sunday, June 22, 2008

High Winds and abrasive sand

On reflection our blog is turning into a collection of weather reports rather than a blog about our walks. However the forecast wasn't good and equiped with waterproofs we set off to Ainsdale where this weeks walk began.
For once the start wasn't even near a pub! We had decided to walk part of the Sefton Coastal Path going from Ainsdale towards Formby and the 'Fisherman's Path'. I decided, in view of the high winds, to walk back along the beach with the wind behind us. Oh how pleased we both were.
The start of the walk took us alonside the Liverpool-Southport Merseyrail line before cutting through the Merseyside Forest (Red Squirrel country; sadly we didn't see any. In fact we saw very little in the way of wildlife). The woodland protected us from the worst of the wind but the thuds of pine-cones hitting the ground made us think that hard-hats would have been a good idea.
Once on the beach the full force of the wind was felt. As already stated, we were so pleased the wind was at our backs. As can be seen, the moving sand looked almost like smoke hugging the ground.
Thank goodness for long trousers!
Dressed for high winds
Large container vessels struggled out of the Port of Liverpool, through the white horses, into Liverpool Bay and the Irish Sea; and yet on the beach little shells and other objects protected sand from erosion.
White Horses and Liverpool Bay
We made good time with the wind hastening our progress; both of us surprised that we had walked 7.2856 miles. If you want to walk in our footsteps the map of our route can be found at;
PS Check which way the wind is blowing before you decide which way round you complete the walk!
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cheshire's Castle Country

We seem to be revisiting parts of the Sandstone trail, that  Chris and I did four years ago, on a regular basis over the  last few weeks. However the motive this week was that we were off to see K.T. Tunstall in Delamere Forest later that evening.
What castles am I talking about, well Beeston Castle (built in the 13th century), and Peckforton Castle (a 19th Century imitation of a medieval fortress). Beeston wasn't involved in an real action until the English Civil War and was largely demolished in 1646 on Parliament's orders (poor winners who need to destroy something because it belonged to the loosers!)
There were evidence of other layers of history found on the walk; Coppermines lane, a reminder of an industrial element complete with a lone chimney marking the site of the old copper works.
The steep slope of Rawhead Hill,
Highest point on walk
took us to the highest part of the Sandstone Trail

and on to the impressive crags at Musket's Hole. The walk provided some great views but never a 360 degree panorama; fine vistas appear fleetingly which added interest to the walk. Woods, fields and quiet lanes, with dog roses
Past their best...
all adding to the overall enjoyment.
The National Trust-owned Bulkeley Hill Wood was a high point of the walk with a wide range of deciduous trees, including sweet chestnuts, with very little undergrowth on a broad shelf rimmed by low sandstone crags. Exposed Roots provided a network of links between the mature trunks of the woodland.
I've since discovered that the sweet chestnuts are not a native species; probably arrived with the Romans. They are not, to my surpise, closely related to the horse-chestnut either which I'm told gets its name from the chance resemblance of its fruit (conker). In fact, would you believe it, the sweet chestnut is closely related to the oaks.
I don't seem to have mentioned the start, and end, of our walk; It will be of no surprise to find out it was a pub! The Pheasant Inn in Higher Burwardsley, with excellent views, real ale (Cheshire Cat), and very good food indeed!
Any low points on the walk? Sadly yes! We came across a badger at the side of the road who appeared to have been hit by passing traffic.
Sadly not sleeping
If you want to do the same 5.9613 mile walk, the map can be viewed at By the way, K. T. Tunstall was excellent! All in all an excellent father's day.
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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Today the sun shone!

What a contrast, last week soaked, this week roasted; well not quite but the pint of Cheshire Cat at the Morris Dancers Pub was very welcome indeed!
Today we started at the village of Kelsall which, according to the guide, grew up where a gap in the Mid-Cheshire Ridge encouraged an early trading route to develop. For example carrying salt from the Cheshire salt field to Chester (Deva) in Roman times.
Apparently in medieval times, the development of the village was constrained by the surrounding Royal Forest of 'Mara et Mondrum', parts of which still survive today as Delamere Forest (where we are going to see K.T. Tunstall next Sunday; lets hope the weather is as good!)
The walk itself was varied climbing some 83 metres and walking along part of the Sandstone Trail that Chris and I did four years ago, before I started working for the RSC-Northwest (Based then in Blackpool).
Wild flowers were everywhere especially foxgloves...
Image of foxgloves in woodland
...within the woods and on the shady side of all hedgerows;
...and buttercups...
Image of buttercups in meadows
sprinkled (or should that be splashed) across meadows.
Dog Roses, elderflowers and many more were brightening our walk in the sunshine.
Shade was a bonus as, I'm sure you are now well aware, it was hot.
One particular stretch of shade was just after passing the earthworks of Kelsborrow Castle (The remains of an Iron-age hill-fort); known locally as Little Switzerland we decended into a valley before climbing again to join the Sandstone Trail.
Image of path through Little Switzerland
An ice-lolly was enjoyed at Summertrees Teahouse which was consumed as we walked along the Sandstone Trail; passed I may add by a number of horses. Nearing the end of the walk, we walked through several fields of fruit trees, which, for this part of the UK, is unusual.
We were both ready for a drink by the time we had completed the 7.0275miles; you can find the map at
Very enjoyable walk with fine views of the Dee Valley to the Welsh Hills.
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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Dolphin Inn

Although we didn't! Go in that is. Why? Because unusually we had rain. Believe it or not, it is very seldom that it rains when we walk on a Sunday; no more than a half-a-dozen times at most in a year.
This also explains why there are no pictures taken on this walk although I did take some when we were last here. That was at the start of the Ribble Way, which we must finish during the summer. A number of pictures stitched using AutoStitch resulted in this image of the Dolphin Inn, the start of our walk.
Still to be visited!
The pub stroll should have started at what was once the old 'Brick-works'; now reclaimed as a popular bird-rich nature reserve. We decided that starting half-way round, at the Dolphin would be a better bet and we could finish the walk with a pint and a bite to eat.
There was limited parking at the pub as half of Lancashire was shooting 'clays' at the clay-pigeon event behind the pub. I think Chis took the last space in the carpark.
The first part of the walk retraced our initial steps on the Ribble Way, walking from the Dolphin Inn, known locally as the 'Flying Fish', we headed towards the embankment, beyond which is nothing but tidal marsh and the estuary of the River Ribble.
After some discussion about which of the many routes to follow, the instructions were not clear, we turned away from the river through the traditional patchwork of hedges, fields and rural lanes.
A relatively new estate caused some thought when the 'kissing-gate' we were to go through was someone's front door ! We managed to get back on track but missed some of the lakes from the old brick-works. Returning to the Dolphin, along the flood bank, we were somewhat wet and, as already stated, decided to go home and get dry rather than have the pint and a snack we had promised ourselves.
Perhaps, a revisit is called for, in the not to distant future.
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