Another Wigg Island wander

Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here. One of our local walks is from home to Wigg Island and around the Country Park, then back home. It can get quite busy but, if you time it right, you can have the whole island to yourself. We have written a blog about the walk about a year ago but, rather than repost that one, we thought that we would write a new one. We walked through Stenhills and Stonehills befor crossing the ‘curly wurly’ footbridge, that led us to Astmoor. After a short walk we arrived at Old Quay Bridge, the Grade II Listed swingbridge, that crosses the Manchester Ship Canal to Wigg Island.

We could see a small ship in the distance, heading towards the bridge from the Warrington direction. We just made it across before the barriers descended, lights flashed a warning and the bridge started to swing open. After a few minutes of me wondering why we were standing still on the road exit from the bridge, the small fifty tonne cargo vessel passed along the canal. The big feller took his photographs and we walked down the road to the community park.

As the area was deserted, it was a good excuse for me to have a run off-lead. We walked past the small dock on the canal to walk along the seldom used road that runs parallel to the canal. I can always find some good sticks to carry along this road and some great puddles and mud to sprint through. The road used to feed the chemical plants that were built on the island in the 1860’s. Charles Wigg built the first factory on the site to produce alkali’s and to extract copper from its ore. Wigg Works was sold in 1890 to the United Alkali Company. It was sold to ICI in 1926 and soon closed to enable the construction of another factory. This factory was built by the Chemical and Metallurgical Corporation and then sold to ICI in 1933. This factory was called Wigg Works East and was a major producer of Mustard Gas for use in the Second World War. The name was changed to Randles and survived under the ICI banner until it was closed in the 1973. The area was already heavily polluted and continued to be a dump for ICI chemicals.

After a massive decontamination operation and the planting of trees, laying footpaths and creating meadows, the site was opened to the public. It was opened in 2002 by the local mayor and Bill Oddie and called Wigg Island Country Park.

Just as you enter the Country Park, it is worth taking a few moments to stand overlooking the River Mersey. The river is tidal at this point and at low tide the wreck of a few Mersey Flats can be seen in the mudflats. The area was used as a ‘graveyard’ for old barges where they were dismantled and salvaged. The Able Mersey Flat can be seen clearly when the water is low.

The park has a few large meadows that I love to run around. When I was a pup, this was where my human tried to train me to return to him when he called me. It took some time for me to return sometimes as I sprinted around and ran into the bushes. My human used to get really stressed at first. I always came back, eventually, when I was ready!

We followed the path that ran alongside the disused Runcorn and Latchford Canal and under the Mersey Gateway Bridge. Even the traffic on this day was quiet. It was turning out to be a very quiet day.

I tried to drink from the canal as my human was taking photographs, much to his disgust. At least I got to run around while he was looking at plants and flowers.

Everywhere we looked, we saw flowers or trees in bloom. My human seemed to be fascinated with them. I just used them to mark my territory, if you know what I mean!

We tend to zig zag and not follow a particular route when we are on the island. Sometimes we continue along the side of the Manchester Ship Canal to Moore Nature Reserve but, on this occasion we stayed in the Country Park. There is a small footpath through the trees that contains wood carvings. At the entrance is the Bug Bench where my human decided to rest his sore knee.

I was more concerned with choosing the right stick to carry. There was some huge ones that when I tried to pick them up, my dad said ‘are you having a laugh, Monkey?’ What does he know about sticks? Not once have I seen him with a branch in his mouth!

We saw a lot of bat boxes nailed to trees. My human said that we should visit when it is dusk one evening. I have never seen a bat but, I am sure that I could catch one!

The water fowl were elusive on this visit. Usually, they are on my side of the water but, this time they taunted me from the opposite bank. My dad wouldn’t let me swim in the water because it was ‘manky’ he said.

There were plenty of primroses under the trees, bathing in the sunlight. My human loves primroses and he shoo’s me away from them when I try to pee on them! He tells me to pee on a tree. I can’t see what his problem is!

There was a lot of colour on the island when we were there and we were on our own. I was thinking that my human should be singing ‘Perfect Day’ by Lou Reed but, he was silent. I think that I have got off lightly. Ha!

We spent about an hour and a half wandering around Wigg Island. Well, I spent most of the time sprinting around and sniffing in the undergrowth. My human said that we should head back home as there were a few black clouds heading towards us.

We headed back via a slightly different route, through the Irwell Lane area and along Heath Road. My dad said that he thought that we were ready to start hillwalking again as soon as the restrictions are lifted. So, till next time!

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