Aston, Sutton Weaver, Preston Brook, Preston-on-the-Hill, Dutton

Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker hereafter me and my human have been exploring the outskirts of our town, Runcorn in Cheshire. It was a grey and overcast late June morning with showers forecast. The big feller, my human dad, suggested that we go for a long walk around some of the lanes and villages to the east of town. The route that we would be walking would take in Aston, Sutton Weaver, Preston Brook, Preston on the Hill, Dutton and back to Aston. He planned this walk as a pavement or road walk. I think that he wants to combine walking with trimming my nails. The cheapskate doesn’t want to pay a groomer! It would probably be a hike of around seven or eight miles which would take around three hours, with the odd photo stop. He reckons that I stop more frequently than he does because I am always sniffing or peeing. The nerve of him. He stops to look at nearly every building that we pass so, he is definitely the slow coach. Anyway, we drove to Aston, also known as Aston-by-Sutton, near Whitehouse and parked up on the roadside and began our walk.

Top Lodge

Ok, the first stop was for me to have a pee but, he was taking photographs at the time. We had parked opposite Top Lodge, which was the lodge to the former Aston Old Hall. It was built around 1790 and along with the gates and railings, are Grade II listed structures. There are a few listed buildings in the small village but most of the listed structures are tombs in St. Peter graveyard and I am not allowed to walk around graveyards. I wouldn’t mind if I liked to gnaw on bones but, I don’t. Give me a Yak Milk Chew any day of the week.

Aston Cross -remains of!

A short distance from the Top Lodge is Aston Cross, a 17th century sandstone structure that appears to be incomplete and partly dislodged from its triangular base. A wee bit further along Aston Lane we passed a bright red wall mounted George VI post box, which are quite rare nowadays. We passed Aston Lodge and Garden, with its large 18th century brick wall surround, to keep out prying eyes.

King George VI post box
Derelict house
To the rear of Aston Lodge

Soon, we came to a small triangular green with a partly cobbled lane surround, where the War Memorial stands. Erected in 1920 to commemorate the local lives lost in WWI, it also has the names of those lost in WWII inscribed in the sandstone column.

War Memorial

Next to the memorial stands the only Grade I listed building in the village, the Church of St. Peter. The Georgian style building has parts dating back to 1695 and has had many alterations made to it since that date. It was badly damaged by a land mine in 1940 during WWII and was subsequently repaired and sections rebuilt. Many of the Listed structures are grave and tombstones along with the century old lychgate. Commonwealth WWI Graves can be found in the churchyard. One grave of interest was that of ‘Cloe Gambia’ a black slave who was a servant in Aston Hall and eventually became the housekeeper. She lived in the hall for seventy years until she died of breast cancer in 1838 at the age of, approximately, 77 years.

St. Peter Church
Rear of the church
Lychgate and churchyard

We left the village as we passed the village school and passed by Chapel Wood and Beckett’s Wood, on our left, with farm fields on our right. Beckett’s Wood is allegedly the haunt of the ‘Bunny Man’, who was said to be a deformed and devilish character, in the 1930’s, who frightened the life out of children who played or visited the area. It is the last time that we are walking through those woods, especially at night, as we have in the past. This is when my human started to annoy me with his singing, again! ‘The Cutter’ by Echo and the Bunnymen was the days little ditty. He thinks that he has a good singing voice. Boy, have I got news for him!

Across the fields
Toward Frodsham Hill

Soon there were expansive views, across the fields on our left, to Frodsham Hill and beyond. At the end of Aston Lane, we entered Sutton Weaver, as we rounded the corner onto the A56. This was once the main road from Chester to Manchester, before the construction of the M56 motorway. Nowadays, the road is fairly quiet, as it runs through the village. We passed a beautiful thatched cottage as we headed over the bridge that spans the motorway. The village shop used to be on the right, opposite Station Road but is long gone, as is the railway station on the Crewe – Liverpool line, that closed in the 1930’s.

A Sutton Weaver cottage
Rose Cottage??

The next section of the walk was largely uninspiring as we left the village and turned toward Whitehouse Industrial Estate. We walked along the pavement and downhill toward Preston Brook. Soon we passed the Beefeater pub and Capita call centre before we arrived at the bridge spanning the Bridgewater Canal. On one side of the canal, away from the road, is the Grade II Listed former New Stafford Warehouse built in 1772, that has been converted into a residential building. For some time, the building was used as a restaurant known as Neptune’s Landing. It was later converted into a nightclub called the Old No. 1, or the ‘Neppy’ as it was known locally. On the other side of the canal there is a pretty row of canalside cottages. Further along the canal, under the A56, is Brook House, an 18th century Gothic style cottage, on the side of the slipway to the canal towpath. We had a good mooch around the canal area and I had a run along the canal towpath off-lead, before we headed up the hill to Preston-on-the-Hill.

Brook House, Preston Brook
Bridgewater Canal
New Stafford Warehouse
Canal cottages
The Wharf
From the Waterfront
The A56 road bridge
From the Waterfront

At the bottom of the hill is the converted Methodist Church, which stands opposite the site of the original church. However, the most unusual church that was once in the area, was a converted canal boat that travelled the canal in the 1840’s. It was later lifted from the canal but, remained on the canal side, and used as a church. Charles Dodgson, the father of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson or Lewis Carroll of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ fame, who he is more familiarly known as, held services on the boat. It became known as the Watermen’s Church.

Converted Methodist Church

Preston-on-the Hill consists of one through road, lined with old terraced farm buildings and detatched houses. A nicely restored water pump is set back from the main road. It is a lovely thing to pee on if you are a Cocker Spaniel but, as usual, I was not allowed to. We turned right at the top of the hill to follow Barker’s Hollow Road. This was a fairly long road walk, down a quiet winding lane. We had good views across the fields to the Whitehouse Industrial Estate with its Guinness packing plant, Wincanton (previously Bass Brewery) and S. Gobain factory.

Presto-on-the-Hill
Water pump

At the end of the lane there is a small wall-enclosed housing development on the site of the Runcorn Union Workhouse. Workhouses were constructed to house and employ people who were destitute and unable to support themselves. In 1857 this workhouse had 200 inmates. It was later extended, and a large infirmary added. A nurses’ home was constructed in 1906 and later, in 1948, became Dutton Hospital for the chronically sick. The institution closed in 1966 and was later demolished with three houses built within the exterior walls.

Site of the Workhouse

We turned right along Northwich Road passing the Tunnel Top pub, which is now permanently closed. Previously known as the Talbot Arms the building is being refurbished but, is unlikely to return to being a public house. We plodded on through part of the industrial estate until we turned left along Aston Lane. It was a short walk through the fields after passing a few cottages and farm buildings until we were back at the car.

The Tunnel Top ex-pub
‘It’s Good for You!’

We had walked for about 7.5 miles and we were both ready for a drink and some treats. I love going for long walks but this one was mostly on-lead. As I am now three years old (21 in human years) I prefer to walk off-lead. I can’t complain because the big feller does let me run free when we are in the countryside away from livestock. I just wish that he wouldn’t sing when I am close to him. It sets my teeth on edge! So, into the car we jumped, and we were back home in ten minutes. Till next time!

10 thoughts on “Aston, Sutton Weaver, Preston Brook, Preston-on-the-Hill, Dutton

  1. Loved reading this. We walked from Norton Crossing along the canal to Preston Brook tunnel a while ago, so reading about some of the places we were so close to, some of which we did see, but others we missed, has made us interested in following your route the next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for a fantastic walk.I didn’t even have to leave my chair..!!!!!!have. Done part of that walk through Ashton village down to the weaver.. keep up the good work…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I lived 20 years in Aston, so I really enjoyed this wonderful walk . I used to have a Jack Russell at the time , and believe it or not , with his human and my brother , he saw the blue lady standing on the side of Top lodge, also called the Monkey lodge …I was told that his hair stood on end and growled at her … well you would , wouldn’t you ??
    Thank you so much for taking no back to this sleepy old village.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Many thanks for bringing back memories of the days between 1949 & 1953 when I used to walk to and from Aston School from Sutton Weaver. During autumn we would walk home through the roadside woods, grazing on the chestnuts and blackberries whilst collecting conkers, whilst in hard winters the snow drifts would be up to the tops of the hedges, but everyone still went to school.
    One minor point, the station on Station Rd., Sutton Weaver, was on the Crewe to Liverpool line and closed in the 1930’s. Halton Station, just off the A56 by the old smithy was on the Chester to Manchester line. This remained open for passenger traffic until the 1950’s and for goods traffic until the 1960’s, with a branch line going down to serve factories on the Weaver Navigation.
    I haven’t been to Aston or Sutton Weaver since the 1970’s and it is good to see that a few familiar bits still survive.
    Thanks again for a very interesting article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comments. I will amend the points that you made. I hate getting the history wrong. Thank you for pointing the errors out. Glad you enjoyed reading the blog. It’s a lovely area 🐾🐾👍

      Like

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