6 Mar 2019 Goyt Valley Leader: Stephen, Length of walk: 9 miles, Driving Distance: 21 miles, Number walking: 13
Stephen was concerned earlier in the week that the forecast showed the day of his walk as the worst of the week. The pictures show how it turned out! Nevertheless it was a very good walk and not totally ruined by the rain.
Stephen was celebrating his birthday and brought cream cakes to share. There are no close-ups of the cakes because of the U3A policy on encouraging healthy eating. Instead we have a delightful picture of an Australian favourite, which Steve brought back. Who can resist a Vegemite and cheese biscuit in the shape of Australia?
20 Mar 2019 Mouldsworth Leader: Mike & Linda, Length of walk: 10 miles, Driving Distance: 20 miles, Number walking: 20
The last walk that Mike & Linda arranged started from the edge of an industrial area of Leek. What a contrast this time! The starting point was the car park of the Goshawk pub opposite Mouldsworth station in that part of Cheshire to the west of Delamere Forest that contains no large conurbations. The pre-walk description from Mike & Linda included the statement “we did the recce on that gloriously dry, sunny day in temperatures of 20 C + – but I somehow think we won’t be getting another of those for a while”. The forecast a couple of days before the walk suggested solid cloud; the conditions that actually featured were solid sunshine and no wind. It was hot and a combination of short trousers and rolled-up shirtsleeves meant the walkers did some serious topping up of their vitamin D levels.
The walk went south toward Ashton Hayes, which greets visitors with a sign announcing their aspiration to become England’s first carbon neutral village. The project started in January 2006 and since then they have already cut their carbon dioxide emissions significantly. The journey to neutrality continues and in 2018 they had visitors from Audlem hoping to follow their lead and in March 2019 a college in Georgia, USA sent 22 students with 2 professors to see how it’s going.
The road sign didn’t mention that the village used to be just Ashton but the residents (about 1,000 altogether) were fed up with being confused with other Ashtons e.g. Ashton in Makerfield, Ashton under Lyne. In 2004 they finally found out how to carry out this unusual action and changed the name to include an ancient area of the parish. Google doesn’t reveal if the confusion has ceased, but the new name does sound more upmarket.
The first field after leaving the road adjoined Ashton Brook, which was out of sight behind a levee resulting from the use of a digger to fay* the brook.
Part of the route coincided with the Longster trail as depicted by the waymark signs. Nobody had heard of this trail, which goes for 9.1 miles from Helsby Hill to Pipers Ash near Chester, and didn’t make the connection with the famous Frank Longster, who chaired the Mid-Cheshire Footpath Society until his death in 1974. Did Frank die in vain?
The next stage passed Peel Hall (a big farmhouse) then turned north at Swinford Mill, where there was no obvious milling powered by the Ashton Brook. Mike & Linda scheduled a coffee stop literally by the railway line on the steps that took the path over the line (with no safety protection at all!), but it was a pleasant spot to rest in the sun. On the way to the lunch stop by Alvanley Cliff the walkers passed under the remains of the Mouldsworth to Helsby railway. This ill-starred venture opened to goods traffic in 1869 and passengers in the next year, but the passenger service lasted only for five years before it was abandoned. The bridge has been stripped of its surface and fenced off.
The lunch stop was next to Austerson Old Hall, which was originally sited in Nantwich. Some of the people, who had experienced the February walk from Alvanley, realised that they had been in this area before. It is encouraging that some walkers are paying attention.
The stage up to Riley Bank included a high stile that led up to an area of churned up clay. This was most unpleasant and it was fortunate that nobody fell over in it.
The terrain at the northern extent of the route was rather hilly with plentiful sections of mud to negotiate and the effort exerted combined with the unexpected heat meant that the walkers gave a decisive answer when the leaders suggested cutting the walk short. The fact that the cars were in the Goshawk car park also influenced the decision, which left only two walkers taking the long route. Their names are withheld because nobody likes a showoff.
*FAY (also FEY) to clean out e.g. a ditch [3 letter Scrabble word]