Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here to tell you about some of the places that we have visited lately in our local town of Runcorn in Cheshire. This is the second instalment of our Runcorn Woodland walks. Rather than report about one single walk, this blog is about a variety of walks that we have enjoyed on our wanderings. If you visit Spike Island in Widnes and look over the River Mersey toward Runcorn it is amazing how much of the town is dominated by trees and woodland. Me and my human love to walk amongst the trees especially in broadleaved woodland. Cultivated plantations of pines and firs are fun too but the diversity of natural and semi-natural woodland creates a doggy paradise for me. There are plenty of shrubs and bushes for me to sniff around and lots of wildlife for me to chase. So, we decided to check out all our local woodland and tell you all a bit about their flora and fauna and history. The Woodland Trust manage over twenty areas of woodland within the boundaries of Runcorn so, we decided to visit a few at a time and to write a few blogs, rather than one long one.
The second area that we explored was around Sandymoor, where there are a few sections of woodland for us to investigate. Sandymoor was originally designated as an industrial development under the Runcorn New Town plans but in 1975 the area was redesignated as a residential development. The area is still growing but has the feeling of space with plenty of areas to stroll within the trees and meadows.
Sandymoor Wood is surrounded by the relatively new development of Sandymoor, on the outskirts of Runcorn, approximately four miles from the town centre. On three sides, the wood is ringed by houses, and on the fourth side, by grassland. We parked by a small duck pond in Godstow, and crossed Pitts Heath Lane to enter the woodland. The wood is managed by the Woodland Trust and covers approximately 5.8 acres. The trees are mostly birch, oak and sycamore. Bramble and bracken are the groundcover between the rough footpaths. The woodland is boggy in places, with two ponds and numerous drainage ditches. The area has a high water-table and regularly floods when Keckwick Brook is in spate.
The wood was part of the Brooke Estate for four hundred years and was bought by the New Town Development in the 1970’s. Since that time the area of Sandymoor has expanded and the woods have become a popular area for a stroll and with dog walkers. My dog walker let me run off-lead for a while along the footpath as we were the woodlands only visitors at the time of our visit. I did ‘do a runner’ at one time while I was exploring the undergrowth and as usual my human went into a panic. I don’t understand why he does because I always come back to him. Why wouldn’t I? He is my chauffeur!
Dorchester Park is a woodland area a few hundred yards west of Sandymoor Wood. It is managed by Halton Borough Council. It is another broadleaf woodland and covers an area of 5.3 acres. To the south of the woodland is a fairly large pond, Sandymoor Pool. The 5.2 acre lake is popular with local anglers and is noted for its carp, roach and perch. The pool has three small islands and a footbridge over it.
A few footpaths run through the woods with a tarmac path running along its north edge. The vegetation is similar to that in Sandymoor Wood. I enjoyed running around the footpaths in this wood because, surprisingly, we were the only visitors again. Perhaps that was because everyone else knew that it was about to pour with rain. We got a soaking for the second successive day. I quite like the rain and I don’t understand why my dad tries to avoid it. He stands in the bathroom under a shower of warm rain every day by choice. Humans are strange creatures.
As we walked from Sandymoor School, along the footpath that runs along the side of Keckwick Brook, we came across a small area of woodland known as Brook Wood. There is one short length of footpath running north to south and a longer one that runs east to west and passes a pond. It is a 1.5 acre broadleaf wood with sycamore, oak, lime, alder, hornbeam and horse chestnut. The paths can be very muddy after rain, which suited me down to the ground. The woods are managed by the Woodland Trust and was, at one time, part of the Brooke Estate. As the surrounding area is still being developed the footpaths are well used by the local population.
A few hundred yards south of Brook Wood is a 7 acre patch of Woodland Trust managed woods. To reach it we followed the footpath alongside Keckwick Brook. It is another part of the original Brooke Estate. Ditches drain the area but, as the local water table is high, the area is almost continually wet. Keckwick Brook to the east and Sandymoor Brook to the north help to drain the area but also flood the area in times of heavy rain. Oak, sycamore, ash and silver birch dominate the woodland. Hazel, hawthorn and elder predominate at lower levels with bramble and bracken at ground level forming a dense area of woodland.
A laid footpath runs north to south through the woodland heading toward the Bridgewater Canal. There are a few wooden footbridges crossing ditches. On several occasions I managed to have a dip in the brook where the path ran closely to the water. The big feller nearly slipped on his backside on one occasion but, he managed to stay on his feet. I made sure that he got his legs covered in mud as I jumped up at him. He wasn’t happy about this. I don’t know why as the rain seemed to be washing the mud off him!
The Sandymoor area is a fairly quiet development with plenty of open spaces and patches of woodland. It is pleasant for dog walkers to take their pooches on long walks in pretty woodland. I think that we will be visiting the area again quite soon. Till next time!