Monday, May 12, 2014

Cepaea hortensis everywhere

Well done if you guessed...Banded Snails!
The fact that we were recycling small electrical goods decided where we were going to start our walk today (12th May 2014).
Near the Tip is a small village called Sefton (The name adopted by the Metropolitan Borough) it was here that we started what turned out to be a 5.1227 miles route.
It's has been saved and can be seen at http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6303011
Parking outside St Helen's Church, we headed past the Punchbowl Public House turning right toward the woodland that covers what used to be a tip.
At the well marked paths

it was obvious that the overgrown footpath wasn't a real option, where as the road, just a bit further on, that ran parallel to it was the choice of all those we met walking (including ourselves).
As we are beginning to expect this Spring, there were a wide range of flowers to brighten our meander. Chris being the expert, naming them all as I pointed them out.

Although we had had quite a lot of rain over night bees, Bumble, Buff Tailed and Honey, were evident. This is good to see especially after all the articles I've read about decline in the number of bees.

The rain had also brought out the slugs as well.

Upon reaching the River Alt, we crossed via Showrick Bridge, noticing the work done to establish water meadows,

and across fields to the Cheshire Lines (Now part of the Trans Pennine Trail). Even more flowers were evident

including Red Hawthorn Blossom, 

which I find quite, I don't know if you agree, in your face compared to the usual white blossom.
Leaving the Cheshire lines we walked along the road, back towards Sefton Village, crossed Dover's Brook and then left into Jubilee Wood (a former landfill site) which is a 51 hectare site that's been planted with...
  • Scots pine, 
  • Corsican pine, 
  • larch, 
  • ash, 
  • rowan, 
  • willow, 
  • birch, 
  • hawthorn, 
  • guelder rose and 
  • dog rose. 
Paths, partly hard surfaced and partly mown, 

have been created in the shape of a barn owl through an area of 3.1 hectares, and a 3.5 metre high sculpture also of a barn owl has been carved from Birchover sandstone to represent the barn owls that have nested near the Sefton Meadows site. 
The barn owl was chosen by local school children as the symbol of the wood.
More bees were evident on the wild flowers.
It was along the paths, in Jubilee Wood, that it became almost impossible to avoid the Banded Snails.
Ranging from yellow through to quite heavily banded.

From Jubilee Wood, we headed towards the Northern Perimeter Road, where our planned route had to be abandoned due to the new road being built.
After our detour, we headed back to Sefton Village

emerging back onto Bridges Lane.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I know it's not March but they're so nice to see!

In fact we saw three!
What is he on about again?
Hares of course!

Not expected but, as with all meanders in the UK, there is usually something to bring a smile to your face.
This walk did have a specific aim however; to take the clockwork and battery powered feeders we used with Bournville (sadly passed away), to the Carla Lane Animal Sanctuary. 

Here they could be put to good use rather than taking up space in our kitchen cupboards.
Our 5.8357 miles meander can be seen at http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6300396

Earlier in the day we had decided to drop them off by car but the weather had changed from windy and showers to windy and sunny. So the meander was planned and off we set, both of us with a carrier bag in hand.
I'm pleased to say that for most of the initial part of the walk, the wind was at our backs. 
The initial part through housing estates was sheltered and gardens full of spring flowers, blossom and the usual garden visitors - sparrows, blackbirds etc.
Once we turned off School lane, we were out in the country and apart from the stench from the spray being applied to crops (as we approached the M58), the sweet smell from the abundant blossom, on hawthorn hedging, was very nice indeed.

Local farmers were also setting cabbage plants and the potatoes showing signs of emerging from their ridged homes.
Normally, on a Friday, the M58 would be used to travel to and from work -
video

now that only applies Monday to Wednesday, as a result of my "phased retirement".
It was along Giddygate Lane (quite an appropriate name - "Mad as a March Hare", just before the buildings where we turned left towards Prescot Road, that we saw Hare number one!
Then as we turned left, in the field on the right, that we saw a heron and the chasing / confrontation / jumping / scampering of a pair of hares.
Having watch them for a few minutes, we continued to our initial target the Carla Lane Animal Sanctuary; passing a fine weather vane on the roof of buildings on the right of Spurrier's Lane.

The contrast of colours at this time of year, especially with oil-seed rape in flower, makes the views even more engaging.

Butterflies, as with our last Meander, were everywhere especially when we turned off Spurrier's Lane towards the wood we could see ahead.
Buttercups being the prominent flower along this stretch, if you don't count the Dead-white nettle.

At the junction 

we chose to head towards the wood rather than the Indian Restaurant (that used to be the Hen & Chickens Pub)

and then towards the Farm. Here we had the strong aroma, and bright colours of lilac bushes.

It was then time to recross the M58
A text message from our eldest, re: meeting that night for a meal pre-theatre, gave Chris a chance to have a sit down, albeit short. 

It was then off towards Cunscough Lane and on to Prescot Road again.
Here, and in many other hedge rows, were Comfrey plants 

important herbs in organic gardening. Comfrey is used as a fertilizer and as an herbal medicine. 
Pausing briefly when we crossed Cunscough Brook

we walked up to and turned left down Butcher's Lane.
This was probably the worst part of the walk as we were walking straight into the wind. Although still sunny the wind was very cold!
The Liverpool - Ormskirk Merseyrail train crossed Butcher's Lane

 just before we went unted the bridge. The coldest part of the walk as the wind was funnelled through the narrow opening.
Just after completing 5 miles of our walk, we turned up Millbank Lane, back across Cunscough Brook and onwards to home.
Another very enjoyable walk which, again for us, had an interesting twist!
Near the end of Millbank Lane we saw a single Californian Poppy

Why was that an interesting twist? Well on Sunday our Son and family are visiting from California
Smiles all round!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Normally over the top! Today under and along...

When I say "over the top", I don't mean too much! 
What I'm referencing is my journey to work, at Lancaster University, takes me over the top of the Douglas Valley on the M6; with Colin and Anita.
video

Today Chris and I walked under the M6, in the Douglas Valley on our Saturday Meander. 
Yes I know, "what are we doing walking on a Saturday?
Perhaps, in part, due to now only working 3 days a week.
Our 3.9095 miles route, walked today, can be seen at http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6292417
Didn't quite make the 4 mile mark but a very enjoyable walk.
Starting from Gathurst Station... 

...we headed down towards the B5206 and turned left under the Southport - Wigan Railway line.

From here it was across the road and along the lane under the M6 and along side the River Douglas and the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

As expected, the entrance to Dean Wood was muddy; due mainly to activity of local horse riders. Well their horses,not them.
Once past the muddy entrance we were able to enjoy the spring flowers,

the birds, in particular Lesser spotted woodpeckers...

and nuthatches, 

and the relaxing sound of water and bird song.
video

Young leaves I also find have their own attraction;colour, shape and/or softness.

Reaching the end of the Dean Wood part of our walk we headed up and out of the wood. 

Here we crossed meadows and it was nice to see the swallows flying low across the grass, resting every now and then on telegraph wires.

Out onto the B5206 (Gathurst Road), we turned left and then right onto Spring Road towards the Heinz Factory.
When we had gone under the M6 again(much lower bridge this time), we turned left and walked along the side of the M6


until we emerged onto Gathurst Road  again, at the entrance to the Golf Club.
Just after St John Rigby College we turned right down a Private Road (don't worry it's a public footpath), and on through Porter's Wood alongside Ackhurst Brook.
Here we saw some early impressive tree routes and apple blossom.


Soon we joined Ackhurst Lane, where we could see Ackhurst Hall

and followed this down to the bridge over the railway line.

A short cut we didn't expect completed our meander as we returned to Gathurst Station.
Sadly the bar wasn't open - so much for walking on a Saturday, we still missed out on a pint.
Message to self - "better timing needed
P.S. Did you see the Wood pecker and the Nuthatch? No? Well take another look,they're there!