Mersey Way & Hale Lighthouse

Hi people. Joe the Cocker here again. On a glorious winter’s morning like this we just had to be outdoors. Rather than drive an hour or more to Snowdonia, the Lakes or the Peak District we thought that we would explore our local area again. A hike along one of the more scenic parts of the River Mersey would be a good starting point. So, off to Pickerings Pasture at Halebank, near Widnes. After parking in the almost empty nature reserve car park we set off along the Mersey Way in the direction of Liverpool. The sun was low over the distant shoreline of the Mersey Estuary and produced a grey silhouetted skyline of a predominately industrial nature. The chemical works in Weston Point and the oil refinery at Ellesmere Port dominated the banks of the estuary with Frodsham and Helsby Hills rearing up behind them. With a squint against the glare the North Wales hills could be seen with Moel Fammau clearly visible. The Jubilee Bridge and Mersey Gateway Bridge along with Ethelfleda, the railway bridge, spanned the river where it narrowed further upstream. The path followed the shoreline with meadows and woodland to the right. We had the place to ourselves. So peaceful with the weather on our side for a change.

At the end of the Nature Reserve the path veered off into a patch of woodland before reaching a lane. At the end of the lane we turned left onto Hale Gate Road. This, in turn, became Town Lane as it entered Hale Village. Hale is a beautiful village with many thatched roofed houses. John Middleton, also known as the Childe of Hale, was the village’s most famous resident. He was, allegedly, nine foot three inches tall and a ‘life-sized’ statue of him can be found in Church Lane. As we walked along Church Lane, with the sun dazzling us, we passed St. Mary’s Church with it’s imposing fourteenth century tower. The lane becomes a single-track rough road and this was my first opportunity to run off-lead. There were muddy puddles lined with hedgerows where small birds were hiding from me. Fortunately, I can sniff them out. So, I ran wild. Unfortunately, my freedom came to an abrupt ending as we neared the lighthouse when my dad spotted the dreaded ‘Dogs must be on lead’ sign. Hale Lighthouse was built in 1906 to replace a much shorter structure protecting shipping on this dangerous headland. From this junction we followed the muddy Mersey Way along the shore towards Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

St. Mary’s Church
John Middleton, Childe of Hale
Hale Lighthouse

At this point we met a man walking his ‘Staffy’ puppy. Unbelievably, the man was whistling, quite loudly, ‘Jingle Bells’. My dad said that he was a month too late or maybe eleven months early. I dreaded my human dad starting to sing Christmas carols. To get this song out of his head he started to sing ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order, it being Blue Monday today, apparently. Annoying, but preferable to Christmas songs.

Mersey Estuary

The path was quite slippery and muddy all along the shoreline. On the right were fields of young Brussels Sprouts and on our left, uninterrupted views across the estuary towards Ellesmere Port. We passed through a small coppice and exited onto Dungeon Lane then turning left onto Oglet Lane. I was allowed to have a free run as there was no traffic along this quiet lane. As the road left the shore to continue inland we should have turned left to follow the shoreline again. Sadly, my dad wasn’t paying attention and we carried on along the lane. He said that there was no sign pointing to the Mersey Way. Schoolboy error! As we neared the airport the engine roar as aeroplanes came in to land was deafening. Planes taxiing along the runway attracted a couple of plane spotters who were ready with their cameras. The road abruptly ended by a large metal gate as we reached the air traffic control tower forcing us to beat a retreat. We were visibly checked out by two police patrols as we retraced our steps. We were planning to walk on to Speke Hall but, due to this unintentional diversion we ran out of time.

‘Enter’ landing
Aaaaaaagh!

When we reached the end of Oglet lane we turned into Dungeon Lane and then right onto Bailey’s Lane. Just as we did this a fighter jet roared over our heads. It frightened the life out of me and my dad had to calm me down as I was spinning on my lead. Shortly, we turned right onto Hale Road to head along the pavement towards Hale Village. This part of the village was lined with thatched houses. When we reached the The Green at the village centre we headed along Town Lane and later Hale Gate Road until we turned right towards the nature reserve. Once we returned to Pickerings Pasture we were shocked to see the number of cars and people that had turned up since we left a few hours ago. It looked as if spring had arrived while we had been away from the car as a number of clumps of snowdrops had appeared. I thought that we had only been away for a few hours! We were soon back at the car with me snoozing in my bed on the back seat. Maybe we will park in Hale Village soon and walk to Speke Hall. That is assuming that my dad can sort out his navigational issues! Till next time!

The local boozer
It’s spring

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