Another Cheshire walk……….the Rawhead Circuit

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I continue to explore the rural Cheshire countryside and to this end recently purchased the book “Easy Walks from the Sandstone Trail” by Tony Bowerman* to broaden my knowledge of the area.

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Having already completed several walks from the book, yesterday I decided on the “Rawhead circuit” walk, which offers panoramic views from the highest part of the sandstone ridge with rock platforms, cliffs, caves and copper mines.

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A quick thirty minute drive down the A49 (from Weaverham) and then onto the A534 then just after the village of Bulkeley a sharp right along a rather narrow lane to bring me to my parking spot.

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The walk is extremely rewarding with stunning views and once and for all puts to bed the myth that Cheshire is a “dull flat county”. This walk is uphill and down dale at times, passing through lush green “Amazonian” type forests and close encounters with some very large fearns. There are one or two fairly steep ascents / descents and the footing can be a bit uneven, but it is worth the effort, and after all, the walk is only three miles in length.

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As you descend part of the walk you are suddenly, unexpectedly, faced with a large rock escarpment which reminded me of some of my walks in the Peak District.

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On this particular walk I was stopping quite regularly to appreciate the views and scenery, and trying to catch the images with my camera. Visibility was not brilliant and there was a haze over the countryside, but you simply make the best of the conditions.

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On the final bit of the walk I came across a hedgerow of blackberries, which were ready for picking, the season must be about 3-4 weeks ahead of the normal blackberry picking season. I consumed them last night with a large bowl of raspberries, blueberries and Greek yoghurt! A good start to the season.

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Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

* Top 10 Walks, easy Walks from the Sandstone Trail – Tony Bowerman (Published by Northern Eye Books)

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Pontcysyllte Aqueduct……….”the canal in the sky”

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In my travels around Europe and the UK I have encountered many engineering and architectural wonders, the Ribblehead Viaduct, the Roman Aqueduct in Segovia, the Forth Bridge, the Oresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark and the magnificent Vasco de Gama Bridge in Lisbon to name just a few.

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Last week I took the opportunity to visit the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct near Llangollen in North Wales. Since moving to Cheshire last November a number of people have said you must go to see the “canal in the sky” as it is an engineering marvel and only about one hours drive from where you are now living.

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In 1805, architects Thomas Telford and William Jessop built Pontcysyllte’s cast iron aqueduct on 19 pillars over 100 feet (30 metres) above the River Dee, on the Welsh-English border. More than 200 years later, this vast landmark was named a World Heritage Site and it is now the longest navigable aqueduct in Great Britain and the highest in the world.

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So taking advantage of the beautiful weather and going mid week to avoid the hordes of tourists we set out to visit the aqueduct. Upon arrival we headed for “Jones the Boat” to book a trip on a narrow boat across the bridge and also take on light refreshments (the obligatory cappuccino).

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The very helpful young man pointed us in the direction of the aqueduct and suggested we walk across it before our boat trip. The first sight of it is a little unnerving as there is a narrow path at the side of a VERY narrow canal which crosses the aqueduct, however, the views from the path are quite spectacular, looking down to the River Dee which runs below and the Welsh hills in the near vicinity.

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I stood and watched a narrow boat come across the canal and on board was an elderly gentleman on the tiller whilst his wife stood at the front. As they reached the end of the aqueduct section, the woman smiled at me, breathed a sigh of relief and said, “I am glad that is over”.

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The boat trip across the aqueduct is wonderful if a little unsettling as on one side there is no barrier and just a straight drop to the ground one hundred feet below. I managed to get to the front of the boat along with several other keen photographers to start shooting the trip across. The trip lasts about forty-five minutes and it would be a crime not to experience it if you visit.

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We also took the opportunity to walk down to the foot of the aqueduct and it is from this vantage point that you can fully appreciate the immensity of the task they faced when constructing it. It also looks a damn site more than one hundred feet in height from the base.

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There is an excellent little visitor’s centre with very helpful staff and of course I succumbed and bought my grandson a badge and a key ring!

If you have never been to this wonderful place then put it down as a “must visit” place for the future. It is part of our proud industrial heritage and we should support it as much as possible.

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

 

 

 

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The Daniel Adamson…………tugboat on the River Weaver

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For the last week or so I have been making regular journeys to the M56 motorway which requires me to cross the River Weaver at the Acton Swing Bridge just three miles form my home. Each time I crossed the bridge I could see a rather large tugboat moored at the foot of the bridge, and I couldn’t help wondering what it was doing there.

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So yesterday, taking advantage of the lovely weather I drove down to the bridge and went to have a look at this impressive boat. As I approached I could see the boat was named “Daniel Adamson” but which meant nothing to me. So a little background to the boat and its history:-

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The Daniel Adamson is a remarkable survivor from the steam age and a most unusual vessel. A small but incredibly powerful canal tug, she was built to tow long strings of barges laden with goods from the inland towns of Cheshire and the Potteries to the great seaport of Liverpool. She made her appearance on the Mersey at a time when old-fashioned sailing ships still jostled for space on the Liverpool waterfront with the great steamships and ocean liners of the Edwardian era.

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The 109-year-old steam-powered tug was built at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead has spent the last year at the shipyard being lovingly restored by a band of volunteers*. The restoration work, part of a £3.8m Heritage Lottery Fund award and with support from the Mayor of Liverpool included refurbishing all the brass work and intricate woodwork including returning the saloons to the 1930s style.

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I walked alongside of the boat taking some photographs and was then encouraged to go on board to have a look around. Firstly I was taken to see the newly refurbished “art deco” saloons which had been done by the apprentices at Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, and what a job they have done, the craftsmanship is outstanding and the woodwork simply beautiful.

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A tour of the bridge was next with everything looking “as new”, I was particularly impressed with the brass footplates on the stairs down to the deck, wonderful pieces of craftsmanship (and they are the original ones on the ship).

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Next, I donned hard helmet and shoe covers and then down into the bowels of the tug to inspect the engines and boilers. The boilers were much larger than I anticipated and keeping them full of coal must be real hard graft when the tug is “full on”.

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Unfortunately, I cant remember the gentleman’s name who took me around but I would like to thank him for his patience and willingness to explain things in detail for me (and in simple terms as I am a non-techie). He also gave me a brief history of the docks in Liverpool where he worked as a tugman, it was absolutely fascinating.

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So my advice is take the time to visit this wonderful old boat, it is part of our industrial heritage and we should do as much as possible to support and preserve it.

  • Full details of the history of the boat can be found here https://www.thedanny.co.uk

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

 

 

 

Posted in Industrial Heritage, Lancashire, Liverpool, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Deer at Dunham……….up close and personal

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Last Sunday I went for a walk through the grounds at Dunham Park. It was early and so the place was relatively quiet (lots of fun runners about taking advantage of the nice weather though). Having parked the car I wandered past the lake and towards the front of the imposing country house, which attracts thousands of visitors every year. I have to confess however, that I am not a great fan of touring country houses so always give it a miss.

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I then noticed a young deer casually stood about six feet (sorry, but I don’t do foreign money) from me munching away at the grass. I stopped and then approached it a little closer but it just kept on eating, oblivious to my presence. This sometimes happens with the young deer, and indeed in the past I have seen young children holding their hands out for deer to come and eat some food on offer.

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Never one to miss an opportunity I took out my camera (still testing new my Canon EOS 200D) and started shooting.

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I continued my walk and encountered several groups of deer, some at distance but others very close to the pathways around the park. In the latter case I was again able to approach them and take some photographs without apparently causing them any distress or fear.

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They are beautiful animals and the fact I could get so close enabled me to see the lovely coats and markings. The deer were out in numbers so I made the most of my visit to take photographs, as it is not unusual to visit and never see one deer, let alone several groups of them.

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Add to all this, the wonderful birdlife to be seen as well as the numerous grey squirrels, the park provides a place of wildlife interest and stunning background scenery.

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Since moving to Cheshire, Dunham Park has been my regular place to visit for walks, seeing the wildlife and a wonderful place to take my four year old grandson who is obsessed with building dens near the “Logpile” (the children’s playground).

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As much as I like Dunham I don’t think it will ever replace the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at West Bretton in West Yorkshire in my affections, where I spent many days in all seasons photographing the best sculpture park in the world!

Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

 

Posted in Birds, blue sky, Dunham Massey, Flora and fauna, Uncategorized, Wildlife | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Sandstone Trail and over the “Old Pale”

 

IMG_0387.jpgMy ramblings though the Cheshire countryside continue with another early morning start and a projected distance of about 3.5 miles (sorry, but I don’t do this foreign money nonsense of kilometres). The walk was around Delameres hilltop medieval deer enclosure to the impressive ramparts of Eddisbury hill fort.

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This walk is part of Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail and is probably the most popular middle-distance walk in Northwest England. The Trail runs for 55 kilometres/34 miles along Cheshire’s beautiful and varied central sandstone ridge between Frodsham and Whitchurch, just over the border in Shropshire.

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The walk starts with a gradual climb to The Old Pale Hill at which rises to a height of 176 metres and is situated to the south of the area of Delamere forest. The hill forms the high point of the northern mass of the Mid Cheshire Ridge. The views as you ascend the hill are quite spectacular and upon reaching the summit there is a raised platform and  around the circumference of the platform there are topographical plaques pointing out all the surrounding summits and noteable features in view such as Moel Famau in the Clwydian Range and Shining Tor the highest point in Cheshire.

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Views from the summit include the forest, the Cheshire Plain, Frodsham and Helsby Hills, the Jodrell Bank Observatory , the Shropshire hills of Long Mynd and Wrekin, the Derbyshire hills and the Liverpool skyline. On a clear day views of seven counties unfold and it is possible to see Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Shropshire and Staffordshire in England, and Denbighshire and Flintshire in Wales.

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Walking on, the next place of interest is Eddisbury hill fort, situated further along the ridge, the largest and most complex of seven hill forts in Cheshire and dates back to the Iron Age.

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The walk then enters pastoral mode as you wander through leafy lanes, open fields and woods that offer some protection from the sun. The flora and fauna on display at present is utterly compelling and in particular two fields that looked like a “sea of yellow.” Wildlife is in abundance including Buzzards, Swallows, Goldfinches, Robins, Hedge Sparrows and numerous Rabbits skipping along the lanes and fields.

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The walk is circular in nature, so handily gets you back to your starting point after about a couple of hours leisurely walking. Full details of the walk can be found in Top10 Walks, Easy Walks from the Sandstone Trail by Tony Bowerman, published by Northern Eye Books (this was Walk No. 3 in the book).

All photographs featured were taken on the walk today, (c) Kindadukish 2018.

 

 

 

 

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Toledo, Corpus Christie and the Hanging Lights

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Last week I made my third trip to Madrid for a short visit and took the opportunity of revisiting Toledo which is about thirty minutes away by train. I had visited the city last year but on arrival found that it was Corpus Christie Day and the city celebrated the day by a four-hour procession through the old city square. The consequence of this was I did not get to see much of the city primarily because of the massive number of visitors / tourists that day.

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I arrived at Toledo Station, surely one of the finest stations in Europe from an architectural point of view, and then watched most of the visitors jump on a tourist bus or into a taxi to travel up to the old walled city. This is a shame because a 10 minute walk takes you along the road to the “moving staircases” which transport you to the top of the hill and into the city. Moreover, you get fantastic views of the city across the river from the bridge, an ideal spot for all aspiring photographers (such as myself).

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As I walked into the city square I could see the banners draped over the front of apartments in readiness for the approaching Corpus Christie Day 1918. The main building was awash with colours of the Spanish national flag.

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As I wandered down street after street I looked up at the hanging covers suspended above the streets and more spectacularly where the various lights along each street. beautiful in construction and impressive in looks, they were worth the trip alone.

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I traversed around the back of the cathedral to be greeted by masses of Japanese tourists who seemed intent on photographing everything that moved, and indeed, everything that didn’t move. Their propensity for taking “selfies” was both staggering and highly amusing (well, to me it was).

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I  visited the cathedral cloisters (free entry) to view several tombs and some lovely frescoes which appear in a state of renovation, the little dome itself was exquisite and the colours simply breathtaking.

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After a disappointing lunch ( it was allegedly paella, but it was more a case of “spot anything amongst the lukewarm rice”  and I sent it back once!) I slowly made my way back to the station to catch my train back to Madrid. It is worth mentioning that the trains are extremely comfortable with tons of leg room………..British train companies take notice, as they seem to be going the way of the likes of Ryanair and EasyJet in trying to pack as many in as possible and bugger the comfort of the passengers

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If you are visiting Madrid do take a detour and get down to Toledo, but a word of advice, book your ticket on-line in advance, rather than deal with the complexities of Spanish booking offices and ticket machines!

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Photographs (c) Kindadukish 2018

 

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A Visit to Lyme Hall……………..

As I continue my wanderings and exploration of Cheshire (and continue to get lost on a regular basis as all the lanes in rural Cheshire look exactly the same) I decided to visit Lyme Hall, just off the A6 south of Stockport.

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I knew nothing about the place but did a little research beforehand. So a little background, Lyme Park was begun in the Tudor period but the present house was transformed by the architect Leoni into an ornate Italian palace in the 1720s. Within the house traces of the Elizabethan core remain, providing a contrast with Leoni’s work.

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In 1898 he second Lord Newton decided to remove many of Leoni’s Palladian features and return the house to its Elizabethan roots. The 18th century colours on walls and doors were painted over, and chimney pieces removed. The 3rd Lord Newton tried to keep the house together as the 20th century rumbled on, but in 1946 he gave up and granted the house and estate to the National Trust. The trust, thankfully, restored the Palladian decor, so that now Lyme Park is a very pleasing mix of Tudor, Georgian, and Victorian.

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The setting of the house is quite stunning and the surrounding grounds and countryside are a delight for anyone who enjoys the beauty of the Britain’s “green and pleasant land.” It is very popular with the public and the car park was rapidly filling up when we arrived at about 9,45am.

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After a re-fuelling stop for cappuccino in the café, we set off up the hill behind the main house and were greeted with the most stunning views across Merseyside, Manchester, the Welsh Mountains and the Pennine Hills of North East Lancashire. It was a hard slog up the hill but was worth all the effort as the visibility was so clear, I could see the planes landing and taking off at Manchester airport.

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A circular walk through a small wood (we were not where we thought we were!) provided views of the Peak District in Derbyshire until we started the descent of a rather steep hill, but with a magnificent view of the most obvious structure in the park, other than the house, which is a tower called the Cage which stands on a hill to the east of the approach road to the house It was originally a hunting lodge and was later used as a park-keeper’s cottage and as a lock-up for prisoners.

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We only covered a very small part of the estate so a return visit(s) will be in order to explore the rest of the grounds, and not least the house and gardens (I really must get around to joining the National Trust at some stage!).

Photographs © Kindadukish 2018

I am grateful to Wikipedia and Britainexpress.com for some of the history of the hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Architecture, British, History, Lancashire, Landscape, Lyme Park, Nature / Flowers, Peak District, Pennine hills | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment