Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here after a wander around Runcorn, our local town. Not one of our regular Runcorn walks but, one in and around areas that we don’t often visit. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon at the beginning of August with a just a few clouds and a refreshing breeze. We had been to the park in the morning and I had walked a few miles while my human threw a tennis ball for me to chase. My human suggested that we go for a ‘proper’ walk. We didn’t have a route planned but, my dad said that we should try to find some interesting ‘stuff’. So, off we went, from our front door with a bottle of water, for me, and a few treats for me and Mr. Hungry.
We headed up the Spur Road from home. After a few pee stops, for me, not my dad, we reached the footbridge leading into Sycamore Road. The Spur Road was built in the 1960’s as the approach road to the newly constructed Silver Jubilee bridge. It has since been reduced in width by the addition of a cycle lane which is part of the National Cycle Network, NCN 562.
On leaving the Spur Road we entered into Sycamore Road, part of the Grange Estate. We turned left into Beech Gardens until we reached Grangeway, with Halton Lodge Primary School in front of us. The sandstone gateposts that once stood at the entrance to Halton Lodge, a grand country house built for Charles Wigg. Wigg, came from Toxteth, in Liverpool, with his wife and ten children, after making his fortune in the Soap and Alkali manufacturing industries. He bought Grice’s Farm from the Johnson family after their business failed and had Halton Lodge built on the land. The house was demolished in the early 1960’s to make way for the building of the primary school.
Readers of our blog will already know that the big feller has an annoying habit of singing while we are on our little walks. This day was no different from the rest. ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ by Neil Young was todays little treat for my big floppy ears to endure. I think that I will be asking Santa Paws for earmuffs this Christmas. He actually thinks that he has a good voice. No, not true!
Our little jaunt took us past St. Chad’s Catholic and Church of England High School. The large modern school building houses almost 1000 pupils. On our left was Grangemoor, a housing estate that was built on the fields of Grice’s Farm. We walked past the YMCA housing development and past the site of the recently demolished Croft pub. After passing through a small copse we walked through the houses toward the footbridge that spans the Central Expressway.
We walked past the shoppers on their way to and from the Trident Retail Park before we walked under the Shopping City to Halton Hospital. Outside of the hospital and opposite the Brooker Centre we came to small angling pits that my dad thinks was once known as the Figure of Eight, from his childhood. This was a stopping off point from a walk from the edge of Runcorn, at Sycamore Road to Halton Village across the farm fields.
As we walked along the roadside, we met another black Cocker Spaniel. We were both on our leads and after some investigative sniffing, we both ended up in a tangle. My dad and the other person ended up getting me and the other dog in a right tangle. The more that he tried to untangle us the worse it became. Why he didn’t just unclip the lead I don’t know. He needs to get a grip!
With the sprawling hospital complex on our left, we headed toward The Glen, another housing estate. The footpath led us to the entrance to The Glen, the small valley that gave its name to the housing development. The metal kissing gate was overgrown with nettles and the big feller struggled to pass through it without oohing and aahing. He can be a bit of a baby at times. Once we had entered the broadleaved wooded valley, it soon became obvious that the area was neglected and in need of some TLC. The paths were overgrown, and flights of wooden steps were almost impassable due to overhanging and fallen branches. My dad said that he thought that it was a shame for this nice little wooded area to be left to become inaccessible.
We left The Glen to pass under a dark and dingy underpass leading to the Beechwood side of the expressway. We turned left to walk along the footpath between the expressway and the railway line before we turned right into Wood Lane. A short length of this disused road took us to a footpath on our right leading alongside the houses. On our right was a duck pond that, over the last few years, has become almost hidden by reeds. A heron was perched in a tree on the opposite bank waiting for his or her lunch to appear in the water.
After a few hundred yards, we entered into Flood Brook, along a muddy and recently fenced footpath. Oaks, sycamores, birches and beaches lined our way and gave us some shelter from the sun that was starting to fry us. This area of woodland is managed by the Woodland Trust and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Flood Brook runs along the bottom of a steep sided clough and is one of the best examples in Cheshire of clough woodland on keuper marl. Rare species of plant thrive in the valley, which is relatively undisturbed, as there are no footpaths in the lower section. A tunnel carries the brook along some of its length through the wood known as Beechwood. Flood Brook eventually leads into the Weaver Navigation close to the M56 motorway. We walked alongside the woodland as the footpath took us past the houses of Beechwood to Beechwood Avenue. At this point we weaved our way through the houses along the footpath leading to the Weston Link of the expressway.
We passed under the expressway bridge by the bus depot before reaching the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints in Clifton Road. This large building replaced a single storey church that was destroyed in an arson attack in 2007.
Our journey took us along Clifton Road and past the Runcorn Golf Club. On the opposite side of the road is the Ineos brine reservoir. The brine is pumped from the Northwich saltworks then onto the Ineos site at Weston Point to produce Chlorine. It looks more like a swimming pool in the bright sunlight, but its high sided fences would deter anyone from the temptation of taking a cooling dip.
Opposite the reservoir is part of the Heath playing fields. It was time for a run around for me in the large grassy open space. This section of the park was laid out in Victorian times with winding footpaths in formal gardens. Nowadays it is used as a football field.
We crossed Clifton Road at the traffic lights and headed down Heath Road past the fire station. This recently modernised building has housed the fire station was built on the corner of Lowlands Road in 1908. The first location of a fire station in Runcorn was by Delph Bridge, further down Heath Road. We crossed the railway bridge and then turned into Langdale Road. This led us past St. Edwards Roman Catholic Church and into Ivy Street.
A few minutes later we were back home. It was time for a quick dip in my paddling pool then time to chill in my bed. The end of another 8.5 mile walk around our town. Till next time!