Hello people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here again. It was a midweek evening and I was starting to stare at my human. Six o’clock marks the time that I get restless because I know that is the time of my evening walk. The big feller said that he was restless too and fancied an evening walk with a difference. He suggested that we find some local hills to hike up. Where we live is relatively flat so, instead of walking from the front door, we had to jump into the car and drive a few miles. He suggested that we drive to Delamere Forest and walk up Old Pale Hill and then on to Eddisbury Hill. My attitude is let’s just get out in the countryside where I can chase stuff and sniff for other stuff. I love stuff!
When we arrived at Delamere Forest Visitor Centre car park my dad said that it was due to close at 8PM. This was too early for us so we drove to a layby on Stoney Lane just off the A556 Chester Road. We headed north along the lane and then turned along Eddisbury Hill lane at the junction. After we came to a crest in the road, past a few cottages, we turned left onto the footpath at the bottom of the hill. It was only a short grassy slope to the site of the hillfort entrance at the top of the hill.
Eddisbury hill fort, sometimes called Castle Ditch, on the summit of Eddisbury and Merrick’s Hill, dates from the Iron Age. It was a major burh, or fort, constructed by Aethelflaed, the Lady of Mercia and daughter of Alfred the Great, in 914 to protect the Mercian border. The eastern entrance to the fort has been reconstructed and information boards show how the site must have looked at the time. The view across Cheshire is vast from this point and the most northern burh would have been visible at Castle Rock in Runkhorn, or Runcorn, when it was built a short time later. Invading Vikings could be clearly seen from this viewpoint.
My dad said that he had never felt the presence of the past so strongly as he did in this place. He was imagining lookouts gazing into the distance, ready to shout warnings about marauding enemies. All I wanted to do was to find a good rock to pee on. I am more concerned with the present than the future and I needed a pee. My dad told me to pee on the grass away from the hill fort entrance, just as I had found the perfect spot. Killjoy!
After we had a good mooch around the site, we retraced our steps to the junction of Stoney Lane and Eddisbury Hill lane. Instead of heading back to the car we walked west along a footpath along the side of a field. Old Pale Heights was visible across the field under the increasingly menacing sky. I was running off-lead at this point as there wasn’t any livestock in the fields at the time. We did get a visit from some young cattle in an adjacent field as they came hurtling toward us. Thankfully, there was a sturdy wire fence keeping them in.
We walked on as I was nosing the undergrowth and having a thoroughly good sniff about. Rabbit droppings were everywhere so, I was rushing around trying to hunt them out. I had a sniff of a dead rat but, my human ushered me away. After we passed through a couple of kissing gates, we started to climb the slopes toward Old Pale Heights. Also known as Hangingstone Hill, Old Pale was the site of another hill fort, this being an Iron Age settlement. It was also used as a signalling point during the Roman invasion. Old Pale is the highest point of the Cheshire sandstone ridge and the 360 degree views from the summit are sensational. There is a central standing stone, with an information plaque telling the history and geology of the hill, surrounded by seven other standing stones pointing to the seven different counties visible from the hilltop. Plaques on the ground show what can be seen also in the distance such as Jodrell Bank, Shining Tor and Moel Famau. It is a fabulous spot to stand and gaze into the distance and to spot the landmarks both near and far. Old Pale Hill is dominated by large communication masts and a fenced covered reservoir that, unfortunately tend to spoil the atmosphere of the viewpoint.
We turned back as the sky was starting to fill with, ever expanding, black rain clouds. It looked as if we might have been caught in a downpour but, fortunately the few large drops of rain did not develop into the deluge that was probably dumped somewhere else local to us. We walked through Nettleford Woods, with its cawing crows, before we joined the path through the farm fields that we had walked earlier. After we passed a couple of sandstone outcrops, we were back on the flat. I could see more rabbits bobbing around in the fields but, I managed to control my urges to chase them. I never catch them anyway. The car was only a few hundred yards from the crossroads at The Paddock, Stoney Lane, also known as Speakers Corner, according to the slate sign.
It had been a few hours in the countryside instead of a park walk chasing a ball so, it had made a pleasant change. After fifteen minutes we were back home. I had a good slurp of cold water, while my human opened a bottle of grape juice, well Merlot, to quench our thirsts. Till next time!