Hello everyone, it’s Joe the Cocker here. This week we decided to take it easy. Our hike was a simple one. We walked the Whitegate Way, out and back. That’s approximately twelve and a half miles on an easy path. It is on a disused railway line and so it is more or less flat and straight. The line was once used to transport salt. The track is now a multi use trail that is used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. It’s not a boring route even though it sounds like it is. It is, however, very quiet during the week at this time of year. The weather forecast was looking a bit more promising than the last few days. It was supposed to be chilly with the odd shower. The day before was very wild and windy and the day after was forecast to be a very rainy day so we took advantage of the short break in the bad weather. With this trail being in the heart of Cheshire and near to Delamere Forest it is only a short drive for us. So, with rucksack packed we jumped into the car and I fell asleep immediately on the back seat of the car while the big fellah drove us there. When we arrived my dad had to be a prat and he got me to pose for photographs.
We chose to park at the Whitegate Station carpark which is roughly the mid point on the trail. The carpark is free to use and there is a recently renovated café that was once the railway station building. The plan was to walk from the station to the Cuddington end of the trail and then turn around to retrace our steps and on to Winsford. From the Winsford terminus we would about turn and walk back to the station carpark. This was so that we could simply get outside for a few hours and get some mileage under our belts on a gentle path. It’s not our usual type of hike but they say variety is the spice of life. It was a collar and lead day for me rather than my harness and a trail shoe for my dad rather than his boots. It had rained quite a lot lately so there was still plenty of puddles for me to splash through. It had been windy too so there was plenty of sticks on the track. Most of the path was fenced on either side so I was allowed to run free off my lead for quite a bit. A lot of the route passed through trees and bushes so there was a lot of wild birds and squirrels to occupy me. It all looked promising for me.
Off we set turning north west towards Cuddington. I couldn’t believe my luck as I soon found a drainage ditch along the side of the path. I was straight into it and I got completely soaked and muddy. My dad gave me the look as he shook his head. Too late for him to do anything about it as I had already managed to get filthy. I think that he took his revenge on me by starting his annoying singing. ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ was going to be the day’s repetitive mantra. ‘Feed the World’ over and over again. Why is it never a song that he knows all the lyrics to? I decided to run ahead and explore the bushes. I was just out of earshot, thankfully, but he did keep shouting for me to ‘Wait’, which I did because he gets annoyed when I ignore him (or pretend to not hear him!).
Anyway, back to the trail. We passed a caravan site on our left and then a short distance further on was a bench overlooking a small lake. I asked my dad in my usual way if he wanted to sit there. He said no because we had only just set off and it was starting to drizzle with rain. As we walked on we passed what appeared to be a camping area for groups of children in the forested area. We passed a lovely pond with the name of Reeking Hole. Charming! We passed under two noisy road bridges that disturbed the otherwise peaceful surroundings. There was still plenty of puddles to run through but I have recently been to the groomers and my fur is quite a bit shorter and doesn’t get as badly caked in mud. Not that I am bothered by that because my dad will be the one who has to shower me. It’s about time that he paid a visit to his groomers. He is starting to look like Captain Birdseye! And that bob hat! It makes him look like Compo off Last of the Summer Wine. It’s sheep poo green but he says that it is waterproof and he loves it. I hope that the fashion police don’t see him. We soon stopped at a picnic bench where we had a short break. I ate my breakfast while he ate four, yes four, Melton Mowbray pies. So much for his healthy eating regime.
We set off again and soon arrived at the turn around point and headed back down the trail. We were caught in a short downpour but all around the sky was blue so we didn’t bother with our waterproofs. My dad has started to call me Herman lately. This is because someone on facebook asked if I was a Munsterlander. Ok, I do look a bit like one but I am definitely a Cocker Spaniel. Herman the Munsterlander! How rude! Anyway, we retraced our steps and I chased a few birds as usual. We walked on passing the car at the station carpark. The track was raised above the surrounding farmland on an embankment for some way after we left the woodland behind. We had good views across the fields as we stretched out on the deserted trail. Eventually, we entered into another small wooded area as we headed along the right fork in the path towards Winsford.
The path soon ended at the Bradford Road end of the Whitegate Way on the outskirts of Winsford. We had a short break as my dad sat on a tree stump while I had a few treats and a drink of water. All we had to do next was to retrace our steps back to the car which was about three miles away. We had walked quite quickly and managed to complete the twelve miles in four hours including breaks. That is quite quick for us but it was a very flat walk. My dad said that it made a nice change. There was no navigating to do. It was quiet and flat and I had a good run around off-lead. He said that it wasn’t the most inspiring walk but we had a good Dad and Lad day out. All that was left to do was for me to sleep on the back seat of the car while my dad drove us home. When we arrived home I sprinted upstairs and stood in the shower cubicle ready for my dad to clean the mud off me. I really have got him just where I want him. It’s a hard life being me!