Winter Draws On?

Forest Footprints Sunday November 14th 2010

12 people 18 miles Leaders : Norman Thomas & John Bullen

A midweek injury to Bob James (tripped jogging across the taproom) saw Norman and John leading this stunning walk. It was great to see Paul and Alison return to Sunday walking now that her feet are getting better and Kim’s lovely smile was welcomed back after a short break. Star debutant was Maggie from Chorley who soon showed that she can hold her own with Norman and give out as much leg pulling as she came in for from him.

The usual confusion at Frodsham railway station of which car park to use was soon cleared up and we were underway for about ten past nine. The route takes us out along the River Weaver, which was quite sedate on a cold Autumn morning, then south to the village of Kingsley where we had our morning break. At 11.00am we had a touchingly observed two minutes silence for Remembrance Day.

We pressed on into Delamere Forest making our presence known with the constant loud laughter, mainly inspired by Norman. Lunch was taken at the excellent Visitor Centre facility. From here John and Norman decided to take everyone on a circular route round the forest, back round the forest, down through the forest and up through the forest. Rumours that we were lost were quickly dispelled as it was explained that we were “exploring alternative routes”. Doubt however was cast on this when the correct route was regained and Norman was heard to exclaim ”Flippin’ ‘eck , fancy that!”

John had been promising afternoon tea and scones all day and he didn’t disappoint. Leaving the Forest we soon reached Manley Common and the lovely “Whendies” at Stone House Farm. Wendy being on holiday she drafted her friend in from north of the border, Fiona. She seemed to walk further than we had in carrying all the goodies out to our table. Tempting as it was to while away the rest of the daylight here John made us get under way again with the statement that the best part of the walk was yet to come.

This again proved to be true as the Sandstone Trail winds its way along Alvanley Cliff, Woodhouse Hill and finally Beacon Hill above Frodsham. The views here range a full 180 degrees from Snowdonia across to Winter Hill with The Wirral, Mersey Estuary, Liverpool and Runcorn in between. We were back at our cars, having only seen a short splattering of rain all day, by 4.30pm – just time for a quick pint, and more laughs, in the Bear’s Paw.

Weds November 17th. Rivers, Vales and Bogs. From Barton Grange Garden Centre, Brock. Start 10.15am, finish 4.15pm, 15.6 miles.

The weather forecast was horrendous; Cornwall was experiencing flash floods, the local forecast was for strong winds and rain all day. I fully expected to turn up at the start, see no-one was there,do a bit of xmas shopping and have a coffee before making my way home. It was not to be! 21 foolish er hardy people were willing to turn out on such a day! We did have a delayed start due to two intrepid venturers from the White Rose side of the country having sat. nav. problems but they turned up and off we went.

The first part of the walk was alongside the canal, eventually leaving to make our way over to Janet's Hill Wood. Here we stopped to pay our respects to a young Australian soldier who lost his life days before the end of the second world war. A Eucalyptus tree is planted there in his memory. We also remembered Reg Chapman from the LDWA whose funeral was being held today.

Continuing on we passed through several farms and made our way over to the small hamlet of Calder Vale. A covered passageway provided some shelter for lunch, a pallet served as seating for some. The last working cotton mill could be heard across the way. Bill had managed to forget his rucksack so he was fed and watered by those who felt sorry for him!

Leaving the village we made our way past the Church and school to climb up towards the fell road past Bleasdale Tower. Here the wind was very strong but the threatend rain still held off. Beacon fell and the Bleasdale fells were visible but not the coast on such a day.

After passing through Weaver's farm we started the return to Brock which was to follow the river all the way back. This meant a respite from the wind as the valley sheltered us. Afternoon tea was taken at the Waddecar scout camp where we managed to lose Bill, Pete and Tom for a while eventually finding them further down the valley.

Those who had walked the Thirlmere Way had a nostalgic moment as we found the Aquaduct and a gate. Brock Bottoms was deserted as we continued following the river, under the motorway and quickly crossing the West Coast mainline after looking at a pleasant planted area nearby.

Returning to the garden centre many took advantage of the lovely cafe for a welcome drink. The bog in the title of the walk was actually a reference to the Gents toilets here (if you don't know ask about the significance!) On the day it was an appropiate word as saturated ground did mean we had our fair share of bog underfoot. However we did not get wet! The rain held off in the main, a few spits and spots and it was agreed that it was a good day out. I only lost about 100 points!

Afternoon tea at Waddecar Along Brock Bottoms Along the canal Gathering at Barton Grange Lunch at Calder Vale Returning over the Brock