Hello again humans. It’s Joe the Cocker reporting on a saunter on a winter midweek afternoon. My dad had already taken me to the park in the morning so that I could blow off some steam. We spent an hour chasing my big red ball until the rain stopped play. So, back to the house we drove. My dad was feeling a bit restless and he said that he had itchy feet. I thought that he should apply some cream to them but he said that he didn’t mean that. After he had stuffed his face with sausage and bacon sarnies he said ‘Joe, should we go for another walk?’ Well, you know me. I would never say no to the opportunity of getting outside for a bit of exercise. He suggested that we google trails in Delamere Forest. He found one that we had not walked before. The Whitemoor Trail was the choice for the day which is an easy seven mile jaunt. It is a mountain bike trail and follows forestry tracks with good compacted surfaces throughout. At some stage we have walked all the hiking trails in the forest and they all follow forestry tracks. My dad also wanted to try his new trail shoes out. They were an updated version of his previous shoes which had sprung a leak after only five months of abuse.
There was only four hours of daylight left so we quickly jumped into the car and drove the short distance to Delamere. We parked in a layby off Ashton Road just outside of Hatchmere where the trail crosses the road. On a Tuesday in January this is an ideal parking spot as it was relatively devoid of parked cars. It would be a different scenario at the weekend especially in the summer. An added bonus is that the parking is free as opposed to £4 for three hours or £6 for the day at the visitor centre.
It was an overcast grey day but mild in temperature with a light breeze. Rain wasn’t forecast for the day so, we didn’t need our waterproofs. We set off on a north westerly bearing to walk the trail in an anti-clockwise direction. The trail is easily followed due to plenty of waymarks pointing out all the available routes. It shares some stretches with the Sandstone Trail, The Delamere Way, The Baker Way, The Delamere Loop (bridleway) and other Delamere Forest walking trails. No sooner had we set off than my dad wanted to take a photograph of the two of us to show off the t-shirt that I had just bought for him. I am not sure whether he has actually read what it says on it. He is a big dope at times. Photoshoot completed we set off along the wide and compacted track.
His song today was ‘Forest’ by the Cure. A lot of humming interspersed with monotonous singing of his own version of the lyrics. It kept him amused while I concentrated on grey squirrels and tweeting birds. That’s not birds communicating on Twitter by the way. My other hobby is peeing on trees and so being in a forest is my idea of bliss.
The trail turned left and right and left and right again until we walked south to meet the road that we had crossed initially when we set off from the car. Delamere Forest is the largest area of woodland in the country and is interspersed with wetlands. This makes for a fantastic playground for me. There’s plenty of water, trees and wildlife to occupy me while we we’re walking. We passed a couple of small ponds and because I could hear ducks and geese on them I tried so hard to drag my dad over to there. I was scolded for pulling on my lead. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to run off-lead because I have history in these woods. Once I ran after a squirrel and I couldn’t find my way back to my dad for what seemed an age. It was probably only a few minutes in reality but, he was not amused when I returned.
We plodded on following the meandering track until we came across the Mid-Cheshire railway line. We walked parallel to it for a few hundred metres until we crossed it by an old stone bridge. The trail swung around to cross the railway again shortly after passing Black Lake. This is a quaking bog with the vegetation visible on the surface floating rather than rooted to the ground. I saw another grey squirrel running away from me and climbing an oak tree. My dad shouted me to stop and come back to him. I did this but somehow, I managed to get my lead and myself tangled up in the bracken and brambles. It took some time to free me and to pull off all the undergrowth that was attached to my fur.
After a short while we approached the Visitor Centre with the construction work for the new centre opposite. We stopped at the café while my dad grabbed a coffee and a Danish pastry. He dined al fresco in the damp picnic area. We had this area all to ourselves. Wow, it was quiet. My dad surprised me as he had a pocket full of treats for me. Soon we set off retracing our steps for a few hundred metres until the trail headed north towards Blakemere Moss.
Blakemere Moss was a body of water originally until it was drained in 1815 and planted with oak. The area was clear felled in the 1990’s and then refilled by damming the drainage points. I think that my dad has been doing some research! I could hear geese again and it was driving me crazy. We continued along the northern banks of the lake until the trail veered off to the left. In a few minutes we were back at the car. Considering that we had not planned to go out it had been a good stretch of the legs. No rain and the wind had only picked up in the last ten minutes. I think that I will be getting a shower when we get back home though as I had got surprisingly muddy. I don’t know how that had happened. Till next time!