Hello people and pooches. It’s Joe the Cocker here again reporting on a local hike with my human dad. After what seemed an age my dad finally decided that we would stay fairly close to home today and ‘wing it’. It was a misty, chilly and very damp start to the day. The forecast was for an improvement later in the day but, we knew that everywhere would be muddy still as it has been raining since October (it’s January now). A short drive took us to Preston Brook where we parked close to the Bridgewater Canal. From there we headed along the towpath, passing a few houses on the left bank of the canal, towards Moore along the Bridgewater Way. Shortly, the peace and quiet was disturbed as we passed under the motorway bridge. As we walked on the peace was restored except for the odd bird call and the sound of gunshots in the distance. The path was muddy in places with some huge puddles. I had a thought that if I walked through the mud and puddles without looking at my dad and keeping my nose pointed forwards then he wouldn’t see me. This didn’t work and I soon sensed his eyes burning into the back of my neck. It was too late for him to scold me. The dirty deed was already done.
I love canal walks because I can lean towards the water and take a slurp every few yards. I get told off for doing this too. The overhanging trees dripped the morning’s drizzle onto our heads and into the canal forming ripples that fascinated me. The views of the surrounding farmland were invisible today due to the mist and so we concentrated on things nearby. A heron sat on the opposite side of the canal and each time we closed in on it off it went flying a hundred yards ahead of us. The silence was interrupted by the rush of an express train on the adjacent railway. We passed under a couple of hump-backed road bridges that spanned the Bridgewater Canal. The canal, allegedly England’s first, was built by Francis Bridgewater to transport coal from his mines to Manchester. On the opposite bank is the world-renowned Daresbury Laboratory with it’s huge Van der Graff Generator housed in the predominant tower. We couldn’t see much of it due to the mist but on a clearer day the skyline is dominated by the tower.
We continued along the towpath until we reached the village of Moore. Residential narrowboats lined the opposite bank as the canal ran parallel to the road. Swans, ducks and moorhens tempted me to chase them as they waded close to the exit from the Bridgewater Way to the roadside. We noticed the sign pointing to Port Warrington and to Moore Nature Reserve. So, we took a stroll down Moore Lane, the minor road on our left heading towards the Manchester Ship Canal. The ship canal was crossed by the swing bridge that was overdue a lick of paint. After passing through the small carpark we entered an enclosed field that is used predominately by dog walkers. It’s a favourite of mine. I usually have a hunt for moles in the multitude of mole hills. There are always birds to chase and sometimes other mad spaniels to play with.
We spent the next two hours investigating all the woodland paths in the nature reserve. The only sounds that could be heard were the chirping birds. The area is popular with bird watchers who can be seen with their ‘camo’ clothing and expensive cameras. The reserve is covers approximately 200 acres of woodland, wetlands, meadows and five lakes. There are bird hides nestled into the trees overlooking each of the lakes. We walked eastwards to the edge of the nature reserve where Eastford Lane is reached at the banks of the River Mersey. On turning back into the Nature Reserve we walked along the disused Runcorn & Latchford Canal. Through Lapwing Wood and onto a lap of Lapwing Lane before leaving the reserve at the swing bridge.
A right-hand turn was taken immediately after the swing bridge that took us along the edge of the Manchester Ship Canal. Just after the residential mobile home park we turned left onto Moss Lane. We followed this minor road through the village until we turned sharp left at the T junction and over the railway bridge. Immediately on our right was the Bridgewater Way leading back to the car. On the way back I almost caught a Robin. I was staring at it and creeping slowly towards it, Spaniel style, until my dad shouted ‘Joe!’. So unfair. We plodded on the last couple of miles to the car as the crunching of gravel under my dad’s boots turned to the roar of the motorway. We had covered approximately eleven miles and it seemed to be over in a blink of an eye. Although, for the most part, it was misty there had been plenty of distractions so we enjoyed it. I knew that I would be getting chauffeured home and then showered and fed. So, life is good. Till next time!