Today. we’re going for a walk along one of my very favourite paths. Each to his or her own, but I think that this former industrial area has become a place of tranquil beauty. This isn’t as close to where I live now as many of the routes that we’ve followed, but, from the early 1940s until I left home in 1966, this was my neighbourhood and playground. It’s changed a lot since then: trees that weren’t even there in 1966 are now strong mature trees that hide some of the views I loved as a child.
I parked my car in one of the spaces at the Ranger Centre. A dozen paces or so take us to the footpath entrance and to the Blackbrook branch of the Sankey Canal. This is, effectively, a stop end. At this point there is an overflow into the main branch, just beneath the main road. That branch would take us all the way through Warrington as far as Widnes, where it meets the River Mersey. For 90 per cent of the way, it is no longer navigable – though it used to be. At this basin goods were unloaded and re-loaded for transport elsewhere. Now, ducks and swans use it. The Blackbrook branch travels for half a mile or so until it reaches a stop-end at another basin where goods were loaded onto barges for the short distance to where we are now. About a third of the way along it is now partially silted-up. It was completely clear when I was a child.
Taking a short diversion, we encounter this reminder of the area’s industrial past.
I’ll let the visitor display tell you about the area’s history and about the nature of the wheels in the previous photograph.
Returning to the main footpath, we follow its route towards Carr Mill and, along the way we meet walkers, fellow dog-walkers and wildlife photographers hoping to see a goldcrest or kingfisher.
The water in the stream is running quite fast today. Other than by an overflow at Carr Mill dam ahead, it is fed by natural drainage from the woodland beside us and by a smaller stream from the iron works mentioned on the display board.
As it bends, the stream passes below a bridge at this point.
Bends are certainly a feature of the stream.
This is the place where the lesser stream, from the long-disappeared iron works, joins the main stream. It’s reddish colour reveals the presence of iron still.
Above, you see Carr Mill Dam – and beyond it, in the distance, Billinge Hill – the highest point in Merseyside. The Dam is used by anglers and by Lancashire Power-Boat club for racing.
Above, you see the Dam overflow that feeds the stream.
We’re on our way back now – we’ll follow the same path, though it will look different – as you’ll see shortly.
We’re back at that bridge, but look at the light now – a glimpse of what is to come.
Here, the stream is joined by an overflow from the canal – now seldom needed. We’ve still got that beautiful light – here and in my closing images. I’ll say no more about them, but let them speak for themselves.
Our walk ends here, back at the basin near the Ranger Centre. The ironwork is a reminder of the unloading that once took place here. I hope that you enjoyed the walk. Tomorrow , we’ll be going somewhere quite different – Spike Island, Widnes – the other end of the Sankey Canal, where it joins the River Mersey.
The photo of the day is one I took on our return journey – another example of the gorgeous light – plus a bonus sunstar.
EXIF data were: I used my Fujifilm X-T4 26 MP cropped sensor mirrorless camera with a Fujinon 16-55 mm f/3.5 -5.6 lens. The shutter speed was 1/80 seconds @ f/14 and 50 mm. The ISO was 1,000.