Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here. Humans are in lockdown again, due to the nasty virus thingy. This means that we have to stay local and exercise daily from home. My human says that it is becoming difficult to think of different areas and themes for our walks. So, if anyone has any ideas for us, I will let the big feller know. My dad said that I could decide where we would walk to on this cold January day. What he meant was that I could be on a slightly longer lead and he would follow me while I decided whether to turn left or right at junctions. This sounded like a great idea to me. Instead of walking around the flat streets I would drag him up a few hills!
I took him up Latham Avenue, left along Boston Avenue and uphill to Halton Village via Halton Brow. It was slippery under paw as the ice from overnight had not completely melted. My dad diverted me away from the patches of grit that had been thrown onto the footpaths so that my paws didn’t get burned. When we reached the top of the brow, I turned him right into the village. We had to stop for a minute or two while he had a good moan about his gammy knee. Then I took him along Main Street. At this juncture he suggested that we have a walk around Halton Castle. I thought that it was a good idea, as long as he could hobble up the hill.
My human spotted a flight of steps heading up the hill behind the houses that we have never noticed before. He slowly climbed the steps, uttering the odd profanity, as his knee pained him. Such a wimp! At the top of the steps, we entered a large green flat area, at the side of St. Mary’s church. After passing through a gap in a hedge, we were in front of The Castle, the pub that used to be the courthouse.
We decided to walk around the perimeter path that hugs the castle walls. Halton Castle interior is closed at the moment, due to Covid-19 restrictions but, the walk around the site is still worth doing. The views commanded from the path over the River Mersey are stunning. The site for the castle was obviously chosen to look out for an invasion along the river. On the day that we walked, unfortunately the distant views were in mist.
Halton Castle was originally a wooden motte and bailey structure, built in 1071. The current sandstone castle replaced this in the 13th century. It became the property of the Duchy of Lancaster and in Tudor times it was used mainly as a prison, courthouse and administrative centre. During the English Civil War, it was held by the Royalists but, it was attacked by the Roundheads. After a few weeks of fighting the Royalists surrendered. They later regained control but were beaten again by the Parliamentarians. Within a few years the castle was dismantled by Oliver Cromwell, after it was decided that it was not needed as a military stronghold. It was left to deteriorate except for the courthouse. In 1737 a new courthouse was built on the site of the gatehouse, the current pub. The court continued to hold sessions until 1908.
We continued on our walk while my human took a few photographs. It wasn’t the clearest of views but, we could see Halton Village, Castlefields, Runcorn, Widnes and the three bridges over the River Mersey. The Millennium Green and the Norton Arms pub were below us in the broken sunshine.
The ruins of the castle, built on the sandstone outcrop, were silhouetted against the sky as the sun dazzled us. Arrowslits, or loopholes, are clearly visible on the perimeter walls that provided protection for the archers within the castle fortifications. I had a run around the side of the hill while I chased squirrels and thrushes that were hiding in the bushes. One day I will be reporting on a successful chase and catch but, not on this day. We came across a couple of flights of steps that led down to the perimeter road but, we stayed on the higher path. It was peaceful as we were the only visitors on the day.
In 2015 an archaeological dig within the grounds of the castle uncovered the remains of a man and a woman that were buried over 400 years ago. There is no documented evidence of the burial and it remains a mystery to this date. It is extremely unusual to find burial sites within castle grounds in the UK.
We walked to the front entrance of the castle which is the entrance to the Castle pub nowadays. The pub is currently closed due to the lockdown so, sadly, no pint for the big feller. The courthouse coat of arms is still proudly displayed above the entrance door with a sandstone flight of steps leading to it.
We headed downhill along Castle Road. My human was leading the way back home because he doesn’t trust me to navigate. I think that he underestimates me. All I have to do is follow the scent marks that I had left every hundred yards or so! Till next time!