What led me to my decision to walk this particular route:
When I went to the gym on Saturday morning and used the treadmill it became apparent that I was struggling on any degree of ascent. I had planned to walk Winter Hill from Redmonds Edge and onto Rivington Pike via Two Lads this weekend but it didn’t look like righty (what do you call your right leg?) was going to hold out and might very well lead me into failing in my latest bid to get fit.
Thus, on Sunday morning I gazed out of the living room window to behold no inviting sun-drenched day (which the weather forecasters had predicted),this was the final nail in the coffin regarding any last remnants of plans that I had concerning a Winter Hill ramble – if the sun had been out I might have been tempted, but Spitler’s and Redmonds Edges in less than brilliant sunshine? No! I would stay local!
It was with delight almost relief (I didn’t have any hills to climb!) that I set off to Hesketh Park for a rehash of a wonderful walk through Churchtown Moss that I had completed in the height of Summer 2011, this time I would extend the walk to incorporate both Churchtown Moss and the Marshside Coastal paths. Regular readers of this walker’s blog will recall that I have a certain affection for the lovely path which runs from Hesketh Road up to Marshside Road, Southport. Recall also that I share the same sentiment for the extension of this rural route which leads from Marshside Road to join Coast Road at Banks. Upon completion of the Hesketh and Marshside sections of this route I would also include the golden path leading through Banks and onto Banks Road in order to meet up with Waters Lane (the main A565 road which links Southport with the A59 and thence the world!).
Here is the trip report:
I walked straight through Hesketh Park taking a northwesterly heading which brought me out onto Albert Road, I crossed here and after a few yards onto Brocklebank Road – I must confess that this particular road has had scant attention from me in my previous walks and I didn’t know at where it would terminate or continue. Fortunately, at the culmination of the road I turned left and onto Hesketh Road. As I had previously walked my intended paths then I was able to gauge how long it would be before the right hand turn-off for the rural path would be and as my toes were mildly irritated on this morning then this was a relief to me. Within a matter of a couple of minutes I was at the entrance to the first rural path – unfortunately I didn’t take a photograph of this!
Although the going was not as easy as it usually is (I have walked this path all of one time previously), it could certainly not be in any way classed as hard! The most difficult part was avoiding all of the dogs which seemed to be able to smell my almond flapjack securely zipped away in my pocket, one black Labrador with seemingly boundless energy; whom responded(!) to its’ owners cry of Cathy(???) had made a very definite bee-line for me. Thank heavens for pockets that zip as later on in the walk I would require those hundreds of calories in order to continue.
At no point in the walk would I say that the climate was hot, but I was. The atmosphere was slightly humid as I crossed Marshside Road and onto the second path. This is pretty much the same as the first but with slightly less sand and in one point a two-step stile to traverse -as this is a cycle and dog-walkers route then I am still at a loss to explain the reasoning behind the inclusion of the stile – there is no livestock to speak of – the odd Llama / Alpaca – it was too far to be able to define the last time that I saw it at dusk last summer, but nothing that one would worry about escaping. After a while (roughly half way) I did notice that the wind seemed to have picked up somewhat, in truth this section of the path is more exposed than the rest of it and directly faces Coast Road and the Irish Sea beyond that.
I have referred to this next path from the Coast Road to Banks Road as the “Golden” path, my photographs here dispute that claim but I hold fast to my own observations, this path is far more of a yellow colour – being made of small stones and sand on top of a layer of larger stones on top of yet another layer of even larger stones, this is all compacted to stop the structure from washing away during a good down-pouring of rain…or show! Owing to the nature of its’ components and its’ creation it is nothing short of a joy upon which to walk and served the purpose of being a treat-to-the-feet as I traversed this short segment of Banks and headed towards the mighty roundabout opposite “The Plough” public house on the border of Crossens and Banks. On Waters Lane the traffic noise was greatly increased by comparison to the rest of the route and it has to be said that getting across the busy A-road (4 lanes worth!) was potentially dangerous.
Careful timing enabled me to cross Waters Lane and I made my way towards the western entrance of Gravel Lane near Mere Brow. Gravel Lane is without being spectacular, a nice place to walk, possibly this was in part due to the former street being so loud. The lane is quiet, unremarkable but has an abundance of moderately desirable residences ranging from detached to semi-detached and a Caravan Park.
At the bottom of Gravel Lane I turned left. When I walked this path under the guidance of the Ordnance Survey last summer there was an indication that the path to the right (then left) was a way of crossing The Sluice and heading back to Churchtown – this is in fact an inaccuracy as the only means of crossing The Sluice at this point would involve a great deal of wading, even on a muggy day such as this, this was not an activity in which I wanted to engage.
Undeterred I pressed on for what seemed like a number of miles through the heart of Churchtown Moss encountering very few people and seemingly most of the time on the brink of over-heating, the day had by now become excessively muggy. It was with a great deal of delight that in the distance I spied buildings which hinted at the existence of the road back out to Churchtown. After passing a girl (my first on The Moss) as I passed Sluice Farm it was a matter of mere moments before I finally caught sight of Moss Lane which signified that I was now within fifteen minutes of the Spar shop at Churchtown where I could buy some of my favourite Red Apple flavoured water…no such luck, they just don’t seem to sell that flavour anymore! After drinking a full bottle of some lesser quality flavoured water I headed with gusto onto Roe Lane towards home. I turned right onto Hesketh Drive. Walking part of my usual training route but with far more speed than normal – well I was well warmed up by now, I made it from one end to the other in something like five minutes – a record for me. I turned left onto Cambridge Road soon Hesketh Park would be on my right hand side (across the road) and before too long I was back at the start point having spent four hours walking over a distance of roughly ten and a quarter miles (I really should convert to kilometres!).
I thoroughly enjoyed my walk – in spite of any early misgivings and even managed to get an hill en route – it’s in the middle of Hesketh Park, is unnamed and stands at a not-so-mighty four metres – or thereabouts (it’s the mound adjacent to the Observatory rise)! The next walk, weather permitting, should be a circuit of Winter Hill via Rivington Pike and Noon Hill.
The route on Google Maps:
View Sunday 11th March in a larger map