Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here. Me and my human have spent a lot of hours pounding the streets of Runcorn through the lockdown and since. We have also been checking out Runcorn’s woodland areas. I don’t know what percentage of the town is covered by trees but, if you look across the Mersey from Widnes, you will be amazed. This is our fifth blog about the town’s wooded areas, and we concentrated on the older parts of the town on this outing.
We walked from home for this little jaunt and we visited three areas of woodland. The first one that we walked to was the Town Hall Park, then onto Runcorn Hill and finally onto Beaconsfield Wood. The walk involved a fair amount of pavement pounding but, there were a few places on the way that I could have a sprint around off-lead. My human is a bit more trusting nowadays when he lets me run free. He says that my recall has improved so much over the past couple of years. I still get distracted by squirrels, ducks and cats but, I don’t run after them like I used to. He says that I am a good boy. Just wait until his back is turned!
TOWN HALL PARK
My dad said that he knew the Town Hall Park as The Grange or Little Park, when he was a nipper. The Town Hall was originally known as Halton Grange built in the 1850’s for Thomas Johnson, a local industrialist, as his mansion house. The gardens were designed by Edward Kemp who also designed the Grosvenor Park gardens in Chester. After changing owners a few times, the Runcorn Urban District Council bought the house and gardens in 1932 with the building being converted to the Town Hall the next year.
The grounds comprise of formal gardens, meadows and woodland. To the south and west aspects of the building is the woodland area with a small enclosed duck pond. The small area of woodland has an informal footpath running through the broadleaf trees. Horse Chestnut trees are numerous in the parkland making them very popular during conker season. The trees are a haven for wildlife with bats, grey squirrels and many birds. The most unusual creatures in the woodland is the flock of small parrots (yes, parrots) that can be heard squawking in the canopy.
We moved on up Heath Road, passing the fire station and turning right onto the playing fields of The Heath. My dad says that this is the Big Park or so he called it in the olden days. It was zoomies time for me as we walked across the football fields. We rounded the boating lake and crossed Highlands Road and into the woodland. The area of woodland is managed by Halton Borough Council and covers a hilly area of just over 10 acres. The area is a nature reserve that has been awarded a Green Flag Award. The site was, during the 18th century, a busy sandstone quarry that supplied rock to Liverpool Cathedral and to New York Harbour. Footpaths pass through and criss-cross the area and some of them were the original tramways that transported the stone.
Many of the trees were planted by local people in the 1920’s after the closure of the quarries. The variety of trees planted is considerable but, the hills are dominated by Oak and Birch. The variety of terrain and number of footpaths make this woodland popular with dog-walkers and young families. The view, especially from the Frog’s Mouth area, across the Mersey Estuary are extensive, making it a place to stand and stare. Well, that’s what my human did while I had a rummage and a sniff in the gorse bushes. You can’t beat a good rummage and a sniff!
We dropped down the footpath from the hills to Weston Road where we turned right to walk along the pavement. We soon came to the site of Beaconsfield House originally the home of Thomas Hazlehurst, a local soap and alkali manufacturer. He was known locally as the Chapel Builder due to his paying for the construction of 12 Methodist chapels. All that remains of the house are the stone gateposts on Weston Road. The woodland is the remainder of the grounds of Beaconsfield House. It is a small area of broadleaf woodland an has one short footpath leading through it to Westfield Road.
From here we had a 15 minute walk home through the streets of Higher Runcorn and past the cemetery before we reached home. My human said that he would love to know how many trees there are in Runcorn. I offered to help him count them by peeing on each one to mark it as counted. He said that I have peed on them all already as I seem to stop at each one. Cheek! Till next time!