Walk of Thursday 14th July: Churchtown Moss

The sun was out, the sky was blue, I had a day off from work and I simply didn’t feel like yomping over Belmont…so I did a walk of a route that I cycled some five years earlier…The Northern Moss at Southport into Banks.

The walk started at the corner of Leyland Road and Roe Lane and for the next mile would be a very urban stroll along one of Southport’s widest roads – it’s hard to believe that it isn’t a dual carriageway! After roughly a mile I called in at the Churchtown Spar at the roundabout junction with the A6257 and Moss Lane, for supplies that I knew would be needed to get me along on this ten miles walk in very warm conditions. [mappress mapid=”3″] The supplies were two bottles of the scrumptious Spar Red Apple flavoured water, one Mars Bar and a caramel Aero.

"No apples or carrots?"
“No apples or carrots?”
Can you see me?
Can you see me?

Next it was onto Moss Lane, in essence I would stay on this physical road for the next few miles whilst staying in the same district. After 3/4 of a mile (according to Google Maps!) I reached the little road and footbridge that facilitates travel over “Three Pools Waterway”. This is a contributory of the River Ribble where excess water is gathered and transported from this large flat expanse of land. I happened to catch sight of a very cute pair of Shetland Ponies (anyone that has read my post in January re: “Spence Where?” will know that I have something of a fondness for these charming little animals. I spent about five minutes taking photographs and apologising to the little ponies for not having any nibbles for them, then set off on the rest of my journey. For the next few miles the roads became narrower. I must admit that the last time that I completed this circuit I was on my mountain bike and a couple of stones lighter.

However, the weather was spirit-lifting and I was making good progress in no small way aided by the red apple water and the chocolate – I did have a gel bar with me …just in case but never did the need arise to consume it. There are a number of farm access roads that if the grumpy sods would open up to the public would have probably taken a number of miles off the walk – but as it was such a nice day and my next three peaks adventure is drawing ever nearer; I didn’t complain even under my breath. At what I assumed to be “Common Lane” having walked along “Long Meanygate” for some distance I turned left and was immediately joined by a mountain bike rider with whom I spent in the region of ten minutes talking about walks and walking in Lancashire in general…and getting route advice from him. I was assured that my target of “Gravel Lane” was around the corner – a long corner; but relatively near all the same, it’s nice to know that you haven’t gone wrong! Having rounded one corner I was next walking towards a distant farm estate when I noticed a large group of individuals in one field all heading back towards a minibus, I deduced that they must be hired hands to help with crop harvesting or planting or some other farm task. I didn’t take a photograph of the group in case they were illegal immigrants or some other weird plot twist – they weren’t spoiling my walk in the slightest so I carried on my way.
Next I headed off in what I hoped would be the direction of one of the many roads in this area named “Gravel Lane”. The temperature by now felt at its’ hottest of the day and it was with some relief that I spied a sign indicating a public footpath off to the left. Indeed, instead of simply staying on my path that would lead me directly to Gravel Lane I headed for five minutes down this said public footpath which did lead me to the sluice – this is a waterway that is at least twice as wide as any canal that I can recall encountering! In times of extreme drought I dare say that it might be possible to cross into Churchtown this way, but for the none-amphibious amongst us this meant turning 180 degrees around and heading off back to my original path to Gravel Lane.

I veered left; and as the traffic was very light this afternoon walked straight up the road and joined the A565 west-bound towards Southport. It was with a certain sense of “I thought so” that I looked across the visible stretch of “The Sluice” that can be viewed from Water Lane (the A565) to witness the only structure spanning this body of water was an encased pipe the access to which was severely restricted, in short, there is no dry way of crossing “The Sluice” by feet alone. I walked along the cycle path (well, they don’t use it much!) towards The Plough – a pub on the border of Banks and Crossens where I then turned left onto Ruford Road which after some distance changes name to Bankfield Lane as Crossens becomes Churchtown. Before this there is something of a minor hill to ascend I ascend the road-bridge and gain an altitude of something in the region of another five meters! The downhill part is as untaxing on the knees as the uphill was untaxing on the calf muscles which after seven and an half miles is something of a relief!  Now the road flattens out and I passed the Botanic Gardens. Here there is a left hand turn which passes through a dozen or so quaint little shops set in a Victorian fashion…Ye Olde Mobile Phone shop does not exist here…yet!

Another left hand turn puts me onto Botanic Road but I am heading east not west on Mill Lane towards the mini precinct with a tanning salon, hairdressers and a private dentistry. At this point I am now (at last) back on Roe Lane heading south west towards the right hand turn off that is Hesketh Drive – one of my most-walked streets in Southport. Again there is another minor ascension here as I crossed over the railway bridge that takes me over the now defunct and dismantled Southport to Preston line – if only the finances could be found to reinstate this line!

Ultimately the final section of the walk is an oft-repeated pavement bash along Cambridge Road with the delightful Hesketh Park on the right hand side as the road name changes to Park Crescent and then Queens Road with the now impressive McColl’s newsagents and Hair By Alison Salon also on the right hand side. Finally I turn left onto Leyland Road and my journey sadly ends having taken four and a quarter hours (including shop and chat breaks). I look forward to doing this route in reverse one day and perhaps even extending the northern Moss section to wander over to Scarisbrick!

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