Saturday, 15 June 2019
Saturday, 6 April 2019
Up at the tree line in the picture above, we passed a busy Great Spotted Woodpecker and arrived at the site of Kelsborrow Castle, a Bronze Age fort, pictured and described on the information board below.
Click on the image for a better view.
The Bronze Age lasted from around 3300BC to 1200BC, so it covers quite some period! There are a good number of such forts in this area.
A little further on, King’s Gate was passed. This provides a reminder of the rigid forest boundaries that applied from 1070 (William the Conqueror) until the reign of Charles 1 (1625-49), during the period when the Norman earls, then the Crown, ruled the forest that extended across much of Cheshire.
The Sandstone Trail long-distance (34 miles) footpath was soon joined. This led us past the gallops of the present ‘squire’ one Michael Owen, perhaps known better for his footballing exploits for Liverpool and other teams, as well as for playing in the senior England team in 1998, becoming England's youngest player and youngest goalscorer at the time.
Taken from the same spot in the other direction, today’s Top Team…
After crossing the busy A54 road, we left the Sandstone Trail at the sign pictured below, and headed past Hangingstone Hill, where deer thieves were reputedly hanged from a stone, to reach the course of the Watling Street, the Roman road linking Chester with Manchester.
Salt was sent along the Roman road from Northwich to the garrison at Chester. It was paid for in ‘salarium’ (salt money) – the origin of the word ‘salary’.
We left this ancient way before reaching Eddisbury Hill, a site of Iron Age and later forts. After passing a village school built on land given for the purpose by Queen Victoria, we found our way across the A556 and the A54 roads and walked across more of Mr Owen’s estate, here seemingly dedicated to ‘eventing’, with lots of scary jumps for the horses.
The next photo looks back along our path, and the one below shows loads of jump paraphernalia littered inside a large area bounded by the traditional ‘gallops’.
We pressed on over the undulations of Harrow Hill, beside woodland and cooled by a strong head wind. A welcome break provided the opportunity to devour our provisions, including my last packet of Korean seaweed.
A couple that we had passed earlier were puzzling over their Sandstone Trail guidebook outside Tirley Farm. This is some distance from the Sandstone Trail. They hadn’t been concentrating. We walked with them until our turn past Tirley Garth, pointing them along Tirley Lane in the direction of their ‘lost’ trail.
At the entry to Tirley Garth is a rather sad building of interesting design. A sort of gate house that has been left to rot.
Our route took us past some interesting and exclusive property in the vicinity of Bentley Wood, after which we rose above the Cheshire plain, with good views towards Beeston and Peckforton.
On re-joining the Sandstone Trail, the nature of the footpath leads to no doubt about the suitability of the route’s name.
After a very pleasant, albeit uphill, section past Willington Wood and Black Firs, Tirley Lane was briefly revisited before we turned down another lane to return to Boothsdale.
Turning right up Gooseberry Lane, we passed a cottage that apparently incorporates stonework from an old chapel. It’s proudly dated, but neither 1061 nor 1901 seems likely!
The Boot Inn served us with coffee before we dispersed. The inn was built as a dwelling house in 1815, and was acquired by Greenall Whitley in 1913. It’s currently both smart and welcoming, and if we’d had more time we would have enjoyed lunch here.
Here’s the route – 14 km with about 300 metres ascent. It took us about three hours at a respectable pace. Next time I’ll make time for lunch at the pub, and maybe park at one of the free parking spaces that we passed along the route.
The route was adapted from one in Jen Darling’s excellent book, ‘More Pub Walks in Cheshire and Wirral’.
Friday, 16 November 2018
On our way home from Porthmadog we decided to recce another of Jen Darling’s routes, to provide feedback for the text of her new edition of ‘Pub Walks in Cheshire’.
After coffee and cake at the nearby Cheshire Workshops, we started outside the pub and headed off down the hill, past a small Methodist chapel.
Two estate cottages are named Meshach and Shadrach. I’ll leave the reader to contemplate the reason for this (to be explained in Jen’s book in due course).
The road is soon deserted in favour of a steep path up Willow Hill.
After we had met a couple of people with clacking sticks, and Sue had scrumped some apples which we later enjoyed for our dessert, we walked briefly along Sarra Lane and found the booty that resulted from the clacking and the distant gunshots.
The route now turned SSE across a field and past an electricity pole, before heading up fields to join the Sandstone Trail.
This is one of my favourite sections of the Sandstone Trail, as it heads along the top of the escarpment towards Raw Head.
En route, beside a rampant holly tree, a spring is encountered at the Dropping Stone.
A little further on, the summit of Raw Head has a trig point and a bench conveniently placed nearby. We enjoyed our lunch there.
Normally there are good views from the escarpment over the Cheshire plain to Liverpool, and to the hills of North Wales. I think the Shropshire hills can also be seen. However, today it was misty. At least it wasn’t raining, and the autumn colours were still pleasing to the eye.
Soon after leaving the trig point, Musket’s Hole is traversed. Looking back at the deep gully you can admire the eroded sandstone, before heading onwards to Chiflik Farm.
After passing Chiflik Farm, signs to Coppermine Lane are followed. The sole remnant of the copper mine, apart from some mineshafts, is a lone chimney which appears to be dated 1856.
Once we were on Coppermine Lane, Jen’s description said ‘turn right between two gates’. We thought she meant here:
She didn’t. We soon found the gates, and in gathering gloom, although it was only mid afternoon, we continued – now back on the Sandstone Trail – over Bulkeley Hill and back to the Pheasant Inn.
This was another very pleasant ‘Pub Walk’ in a lovely area. Here’s the route, which without any diversions is about 9.2 km (5.75 miles), with about 250 metres of ascent. It took us 2.5 hours plus stops.
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Keith had kindly arranged a walk a little closer to home than this group’s usual territory, so Sue, Susan and I enjoyed a leisurely drive to the Candle Workshops at Burwardsley, from where we were soon marched off towards Beeston Castle.
David and I got a bit left behind. Here’s our view of the group of thirteen people ahead of us, with Beeston Castle somewhat obscured by trees in the background.
If the others are somewhere in that picture, I can’t see them and neither could David. Eventually we met them coming the other way near the castle entrance by this smart house. I think they all thought that we’d gone ahead!
We nearly got some ice creams, but the shop was full, so we pressed on to elevenses on some wet grass.
We walk these paths more often in winter, when they are less overgrown and are more muddy. Here’s Andrew, stalking through the long grass, wishing he’d taken a lower dose of shrinking powder.
Peckforton Castle, a Victorian country house built in the style of a medieval castle (unlike Beeston Castle, which dates from the 1220s) invites people to ‘Come in and see this hidden gem’. Keith’s pace hardly faltered as he rushed us past. Another time, perhaps.
The Sandstone Trail that we were following may have petered out here (below), much to the confusion of those with maps, but once Graham had studied Keith’s scratchings the route was retrieved and progress was furthered. To be honest, I don’t really know what was going on. If you blow this picture up and study the expressions you might conclude that I wasn’t alone….
More fields were encountered as we steadily conquered the gradient up to the Peckforton escarpment. Andrew was now back to normal, having taken an antidote to combat his shrinkage. Sue’s CCS.
We expected to find AlanR rummaging around here in his private playground.
He needs to take more care of his exhibits!
This restored classic whizzed past, being driven by a gas tank with flat arms. Weird!
A nearby relic needed a bit of work, but….
… this one has been fully restored – very shiny…
The lunchtime view, once the toes of a toppled tree had been photoshopped out, was one of expansive views over Cheshire and into Staffordshire.
Lunch was duly consumed on a soily plateau, then the team marched off once again.
“They’re an ugly lot”, observed Richard, “so the silhouette works well.”
Near the ‘Poacher’, a fine hostelry that Keith declined to visit, a large stone obelisk rises like a giant phallic carbuncle.
An elite group, the ‘Famous Five’ plus Susan, split off near here in a bid to get home before darkness fell and Jenny suffered nervous convulsions. We paused briefly to admire the vista towards Liverpool and towards the Clwyd Hills where we’d been three weeks earlier. Unfortunately the image captured by my Lumix FT4 isn’t perfect.
There’s a trig point marking the 227 metre summit of Rawhead. It’s decorated with an item of great historical significance. The audience (including two strange women out of shot) was rapt as Richard expounded on the remarkable events that took place here. Jenny cried, as did the two onlookers.
From that great height we hastened down loosely carpeted paths, back to the candle workshops, where Martin and Andrew were rewarded with ice creams as compensation for having to put up with Richard’s tall stories, and a quick exit was made before Jenny could be trampled by a cow in the dark.
It was a pleasant enough route along the weak and twisted backbone of the Peckforton Hills, much of it on the Sandstone Trail footpath – about 16 km with around 500 metres ascent, taking 5.25 hours. The other nine went a bit further. But they haven’t been seen since, though four of them may soon resurface in Newtonmore, where they could be held over for ‘bagging’ offences.
Thanks Keith, for organising this walk.