Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here reporting on an area that is relatively local to us, that we haven’t visited before. Thank you to Dill the Springer on Facebook for highlighting the area for us. We wanted to do a short walk of about 3 hours, so that the big feller could clear his muddled head. The weather was reasonably good, for early September, with no rain forecast. So, off we went to Collier’s Moss Common, on the outskirts of St. Helens. My dad found a walk, on the Merseyforest.org.uk website, that was a 4.3 mile circuit of the area. We planned to do this walk as a guide to learning about the area. We would be going off-piste when we spotted any interesting side paths so, a 7 mile walk would satisfy our appetite for a short hike.
The country park is on, what was once, one of the most industrialised parts of the country. It has been created on the spoil and waste of, the now demolished, Bold Colliery and Power Station. The area contains a widespread network of footpaths, cycleways and bridleways. Mossland, wetlands, lakes and woodland make the area attractive to visitors. However, on the day of our visit, it was peacefully empty. We spotted the odd mountain biker zooming down the hills, one or two maggot drowners on the lake, one lone twitcher and a couple of elderly ladies out for a stroll.
We parked in a quiet side street, near to the railway station, at Sutton Junction. The station car park has one small sign stating that parking is free for rail users but, my human could not find a parking meter to pay, as we were not using the train. We headed toward Bold Road where we turned left, passing the converted Sutton Oak pub, until we turned off the pavement immediately next to an electricity sub-station. The footpath skirts a stream before heading uphill at a fork in the path.
The footpath wound its way through a dense wooded area where I found plenty of sticks to carry and to chew. Some were huge, almost a branch of a young oak, which I struggled determinedly with. Others were smaller but, just as much fun to run with. The woods had some great muddy puddles too for me to splash around in and get generally caked in yuk, as my dad calls it. We were quite close to the railway along this stretch of the footpath and each train passing gave me the fright of my life. Why is it that humans have to create such noisy scary things? And they complain when we bark!
We deviated from our planned route a few times in this area, as we explored the footpaths, that took us close to two small lakes, that we could see through the trees and the rushes. I found some more bigger puddles that I had a spell of the zoomies in. I sprinted around picking up and dropping sticks as the big feller gave me the evil eye! I found a discarded plastic water bottle that I threw into the air and dropped into the puddles. This place is Cocker heaven!
The path brought us to a large roundabout of footpaths where we headed toward the big blue Colliers Wheel Memorial. The wheel was taken from the nearby Bickershaw colliery in 1993. Footpaths through the site are named after coal seams at Ashton’s Green and Bold Colliery and marker plaques can be seen, by the eagle-eyed visitor, every so often along the way. The woodland was planted in the 1990’s and consist of rowan, alder, birch, willow and maple. Wildflowers, grasses and heathers were also introduced at ground level. At its peak Bold Colliery produced over 700,000 tons of coal per year. The associated spoil had to be disposed of somehow close by. From 1955 to 1978 spoil from the colliery was dumped in the area creating incredible environmental damage. The soil has been heavily worked to produce an environment for the vegetation to thrive. The work on the site has produced a green and beautiful place for all to enjoy.
As we headed east through the country park, we found a small hill with a spectacular 360 degree viewpoint, on the top. My human tried to race me to the top. Ha! No competition. I was there well before him while he was puffing and panting, as he tried to sprint to the top. We could see St. Helens town centre, Fiddler’s Ferry power station, Dream and the hills beyond. We spent a few minutes soaking up the atmosphere, before we headed off toward the large lagoon, just before Burtonwood Brewery. A couple of anglers were sat at the lakeside, enjoying the tranquility of the spot. It is a nice place to sit and relax, according to the big feller.
We walked around the perimeter of the woodland before we headed along the footpath, passing close to the side of the Liverpool to Manchester railway line. The path took us back to the large roundabout of footpaths. We crossed the Millennium footbridge over the railway to reach the northern section of Collier’s Moss. The wide track followed the side of the railway until it veered left along a straight section, lined on one side with woodland and on the other by reeds and grasses.
It was my turn to decide which footpaths we would take. My dad left me to my own devices. By devices I mean, to follow my nose and chose my own way, not like him with his devices. Phone navigation, GPS device and smart watch, how can we ever get lost? And then he has a paper map and a walk leaflet so, why does he have to keep stopping to work out which way we should go? Then, when we start walking, he often says ‘Joe, turn around, it’s the other way!’ Why doesn’t he mark his territory like I do? That way it is easy to find your way back. Humans!
We hunted out the Amphitheatre which has been used as a small entertainment area but, is now sadly looking a bit neglected and overgrown. This area has many footpaths, winding through the woodland and around the large wetland. We spent a while investigating and exploring the footpaths, until we left the woodland, to walk along a rough lane and past a scrapyard. A few minutes later, after we had walked along a few pavements of Moss Nook, we arrived back at the car.
It had been a pleasant few hours, out in a new area to us. Plenty of sniffing, playing with sticks and running through muddy puddles. That will do me, as they say! Till next time!