Tag Archives: England

Sandstone Trail, Cheshire, England – Part 2

In Late August 2017, I walked the Sandstone Trail in Cheshire Northern England. See here for part 1 of my walk.

Section 2 – Clotton to Hampton Grange 21.1km (13.2mi)

After a healthy breakfast at my B&B, I was dropped off back at the trail by my most insisting host. I headed out across fields that stunk of nearby farmyards. Then through a wheat field with the view of Beeston Crag ahead of me.

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For the next couple of kilometres, I marched across fields to eventually emerge onto the quiet Pudding Lane, named because someone on the road stole a large quantity of milk to be used to make pudding!? With Beeston Crag ever in front of me, I came down to a canal at Wharton’s Lock and crossed over on a stone bridge.

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And then soon after under a railway bridge.

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At the base of the crag, I followed a road up and around to the rebuilt entrance of the castle ruins.

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I paid to get in and entered to find a large open grassy section within the walls. There were plenty of people hanging around and eating lunch on the grass. I followed a wide path towards the upper section.

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I then came to another protective wall, this time the original, with its main section smashed in.

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Beyond that was another large grassy area surrounded by the walls. At the far end of the grassy area was the moat with a newly built bridge leading across and into the main castle ruins.

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The open area within the main castle grounds is quite large and the ground is very uneven. I sat and ate the lunch I’d brought with me enjoying the view. The views were almost 360º and definitely a good reason to visit. I can only imagine what the land would have looked like in the 1220s when the castle had been erected.

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Inside the main ruins, there is England’s deepest well.

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Beneath the castle crag, there are sets of caves that have long since been blocked off. After my visit, I left the crag and headed out to the south across fields and small roads heading towards the tree covered Peckfordton Hills. From within the trees, the top of Peckforton Castle could be seen although I was unable to get any closer. I later found out that some distant cousins had been married in this very castle not so long ago.

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The trail followed a road for a short distance before climbing around the back of the hills with a steep climb to the top. It climbs over to Hill Lane before heading south and across Bulkeley Hill where i passed several other walkers, both doing the hike and just casually walking their dogs. I stopped for a break at a viewpoint called Name Rock with many sets of initials scratched into them.

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I then climbed down the hill, crossed a small field then climbed up another hill, past an overgrown quarry and around the top of a cliff where smaller trails descended. Below there are a series of caves called Queen’s Parlour but as it is on private property it was not worth the climb to see it. I continued to a viewpoint and stopped for a look.

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I then headed up the trail to a monument with a very small viewpoint at a place called Rawhead, the highest point on the Sandstone Trail. At 227m, it’s not particularly high.

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I then crossed several fields belonging to Chiflik Farm and the associated animal dung that goes with it, until I reached the A534 highway and quickly crossed. For a short time, I walked along a road down past Bickerton Farm, on to Bickerton Church before beginning to climb Bickerton Hill. As I climbed I came to another viewpoint that looked out to the North…

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…then on past a place called Mad Allen’s Hole, where an old Hermit used to live. The trail then curved around to Kitty’s Stone. A memorial with poetry on it dedicated to someone named Kitty.

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The hill then dove down a dip before climbing the other side to Larkton Hill and another view point. The on to another Iron Age fort (there are six along the trail) called Maiden Castle, where again little more than the ramparts could be seen. The trail then headed down to a carpark where the Sandstone Ridgeline and the walk originally ended, although it is inaccessible if you don’t have a vehicle waiting for you. To make the trail more accessible, the end point was moved some 10 miles further south to Whitchurch, with its major train station. The trail continued around the base of the hill before crossing a field.
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The remaining 2 kilometres of the walk for the day I crossed the farm paddocks and walked around a race horse training centre before coming out on the road that would lead to my evening’s accommodation. While this B&B was accessible to the trail, it was some distance from anywhere to eat. I was able to borrow a bike and ride to the local pub 15 minutes ride away. While it seemed like a good idea, after a long day’s walk it was harder work than expected.

Part 3 – Hampton Grange to Whitchurch 12.9km (8mi)

The next morning, I set out from the B&B along the road to where the trail cut again across a series of wheat fields…

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And then again through a corn field where a hidden church could be seen above the corn.

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I then continued across grassy paddocks to finally come out on a canal and Willeymoor Lock Tavern where I stopped for lunch.

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The remaining five miles was along the canal, which I marched double time, passing several sets of locks and canal boats before emerging into Whitchurch.

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I followed the trail through the streets to Jubilee Park and a Sandstone arch denoting the official end of the Trail.

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Overall

The Sandstone Trail is a great walk in Northern England, very accessible with great views of the land and of course, it’s central beacon the Beeston Crag and castle ruins.

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While it lacked easily accessible camping grounds, there were plenty of B&Bs to stay in and plentiful pubs and food opportunities along the way.

Until next time,

The Lone Trail Wanderer

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Sandstone Trail, Cheshire, England – Part 1

This month I walked in Cheshire, a fairly flat county in England that runs along the border of Wales and is just south of Liverpool in the Greater Manchester area.

The Sandstone Trail runs along a central Sandstone ridge above the Cheshire Plains and is said to be one of the first middle distance walks in England. It runs a total of 55km (34mi) from Frodsham in the north to Whitchurch to the south. I planned to do it over three days, staying in B&Bs along the way as camping grounds are fairly rare. The choice of this hike was because there is a major train station at both ends of the trail, so accessibility is easy.

Section 1 – Frodsham to Clotton 23.3km (14.5mi)

I left my B&B in Frodsham around 10AM and walked the short distance to the Bear’s Paw, the official northern Trailhead. It was once several miles to the south, but was moved to Frodsham to make it more accessible.

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I crossed the road and headed south past the train station. Unsure if there would be anywhere on the trail to stop for food, I stopped at an Australian cafe for a coffee and to buy a sandwich. I then continued along the road to an alleyway which had a moderately steep climb along it. Within five minutes of walking, I had already climbed more than during the entire Boudicca Way hike. At the end of the alley, I came out near the Overton Church.

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I continued up the hill passing houses until the trail led me onto the wooded slopes of Overton Hill and a steeper climb. I followed the switch back trail until I came out at a War Memorial.

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Beyond was a great view out across the Mersey Estuary with Liverpool in the distance. If the rest of the hike had similar views, I was going to enjoy this walk.

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After my brief photo stop, I continued on along the trail as it cut through the woods to the south. To my left was a fenced off golf course and to my right the occasional view out to Liverpool.

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The trail followed the edge of the golf course and descended on metal and wooden steps to a lower section of the woods. The trail followed a switchback along the cliff and past Jacob’s Ladder, a series of steps cut into the cliff that was the only way down a hundred or more years ago. As I walked I noted initials and dates cut into the cliff face, some going back as far as the early 1800s.

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The trail climbed again to arrive at another viewpoint looking West. I followed the trail further and saw story boards relating to an old Iron Age hill fort, so I followed a smaller trail up the hill to investigate. All that was left of this 3000-year-old village is its ramparts, a line of earth mounds in which a wooden wall had once been built.

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The trail continued, wending its way through the woods, up and down hills for some time through Snidley Moor Wood until it came out on a road. A hundred metres along the road the trail dove back into the woods and past a large clearing used for a scout camp.

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The trail then followed the base of a wooded cliff across grassy fields edged by nettles. Yes, I decided to wear my shorts again. I crossed roads and other fields, sometimes on wide grassy areas and sometimes on thick nettle covered paths. I followed a road for some time, walking along a footpath before it cut across another field to emerge near a B&B which had conveniently set up a little cafe on the grass. A great place for lunch. Then after a short walk through the village of Manley Common, I followed a path into Delaware Forest Park.

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The Forest Park is simply a forest with many dirt roads used mostly for cycling and horse riding. There are down hill cycling courses at various places and warnings to walk on the sides of the dirt roads. As it was summer holidays, there were plenty of families riding their bikes around.

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Forests aren’t my favourite places to hike as they tend to be wall to wall of trees with little else, and that is how I found Delamere Forest Park. Somewhere in the centre, there is Blackmere Moss, a flooded area like a small lake. However, there had been little rain over recent times, so it was not as flooded as I was hoping. I walked on to the south and crossed the Chester-Manchester railway line on a stonework bridge.

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A short distance later, the trail came out of the forest park onto a grassy field with another wood off to the right. After a couple of hundred metres, there is an alternative trail that leads up to the summit of a hill called Pale Heights, with great views in most directions.
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At the top, I took several panorama photos, from the Clwydian Range to the north, the Mersey to the east and the distant Pennines.

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I then headed south again through the woods and across the A54 highway. After a brief foray across more fields, I cut into the Primrosehill Wood, then out again and up a slight hill to the south.

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I cut along the top of the ridge and across some paddocks before coming over a stile in a field dotted with cow patties…

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…but there was a view I’d been waiting for all day for, my first sighting of the Beeston crag and the ruins of Beeston Castle.

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Much of the remainder of the day I crossed animal paddocks, where I avoided the ever-present cow paddies. Then, crossing a road, I was thrust into a corn field.

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Eventually after a long day of walking, I emerged at the A51 nearly Tarporley a short distance from my B&B. When I found it I headed inside and grabbed a shower before wandering down to the local pub for dinner and a well-deserved cider.

Next, Part 2 of my three day hike On the Sandstone Trail.

The Lone Trail Wanderer

Lands End, England – St. Ives to Penzance, Part 2

A four-day hike around the toe of England – Land’s End, Cornwall. See the first two days – St. Ives to St. Just.

Day 3 – St. Just to Treen – 18.5km (11.5 miles)
Stage 3 overall was moderate with only a couple of difficult climbs.

As we had walked a mile past St. Just the night before to the YHA, we were already a mile ahead of schedule for the day. After breakfast, we checked out and headed along the gully to Gribba Point with a view back along the coast to Cape Cornwall. Ahead of us, the coastline stretched away as the trail cut across the cliff tops and only descended into a river gully once.

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We climbed our way back up the cliff and around to the rocky Aire Point with White Sand Bay growing ever closer.

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Beyond Aire Point, the trail grew more sandy as we came down into Whitesand Bay with Sennon Cove settlement on the far side where we aimed to find lunch. We watched surfers in the bay as you crossed a small amount of sand before climbing around the cliffs towards the town. On arrival, I found a fish and chip shop and a pub to enjoy a relax and an ice cold cider.

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After lunch, we headed up the cliff and the final kilometre to Land’s End, the westernmost point of England’s mainland. We walked briefly through Legendary Land’s End, a tourist mall, before pushing on in the heat.

The way around the coast was mainly across the tops of the cliffs with only one climb down into Mill Bay and back up the other side. From here it was rolling hills all the way around to Gwennap Head, the southernmost point of the Land’s End peninsula.

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We stopped for a break at the lookout at Hella Point before climbing down into Porthgwarra, a small village with a beach nestled in the rocks.

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Further on we were warned of a cliff slide near St. Levan, so walked cautiously but found nothing of concern. We could soon see Logan Rock ahead, our end point for day 3.

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We came to the top of the cliff over looking Porthcurno beach where there is a natural Open Air Theatre, but after a long day in the sun, neither of us felt like paying the money and lugging out bags up and down the cliff to see it.

At the top of the cliff on the other side of the beach, it was only a fifteen-minute walk to our accommodation, Treen House B&B and its host, the lovely Claire.

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Treen House B&B is only 50 metres from the local pub, but up a hill. After the day’s walk, it was perhaps the hardest walk we had to make.

Day 4 – Treen to Penzance
The initial part is ‘difficult’, going quickly to moderate, before ending on an easy walk along roads.

We left the lush comfort of the Treen B&B and walked along the road down to Penberth. As it had for the previous three days, the sun beat down with only a soft breeze to cool us as we climbed one of the few cliffs left on this coastal adventure. We descended into a gully, ascended the other side to walk along the cliff and then down towards the community of St. Loy Farm, where we finally had some shelter from the sun through a small tree reserve.

Past the community, we had to for the first time rock hop along a beach for about fifty metres before heading up Boscawen cliff on the other side.

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For the rest of the morning, we walked along the tops of the cliffs on a fairly easy route towards Lamorna where we came around the cliff to find a cosy little village nestled into an inlet. The heat was pretty sweltering, so we stopped off for lunch and a cold drink. We then continued around a rocky cliff, up Kemyel Cliff and passed alongside the Kenyel Crease Nature Reserve where we started to see more civilisation.

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We hit roads not long after at the township of Mousehole only a handful of miles around the coast from Penzance. The remainder of the walk had us following the main highway along the coast. We stopped for an ice-block to cool us down before pushing on. Many people catch a taxi or bus from Mousehole as it is all road walking, but we decided to finish on foot. The concrete under our feet was hot, and you could feel it through your boots as we pounded the pavement.

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After an hour on the road, we finally made it back to our accommodation in Penzance and dropping out bags off at the car, we headed to the local pub for a well-deserved cider.

Overall
The four-day hike from St. Ives to Penzance is an excellent and moderately difficult walk, made harder by the beating sun at this time of the year. It’s an experience and finding the little hidden away golden beaches and peacefulness of the trail, it was overall a good time. At no point would I have considered it severe difficulty as I have seen mentioned online, and only barely strenuous because of the constant heat.

The Trail Wanderer

Lands End, England – St. Ives to St. Just, Part 1

It’s been some time since I’ve put on a pack and headed out on the trail. I’m now living in London in the UK and decided to get out and see what England had to offer.
After some deliberation, my brother and I settled on a four-day hike around the toe of England in Cornwall, called Land’s End.

This is my first full coastal hike on what I’m told is the best scenic hike in England. At 66km or approximately 43.5 miles, I  split it over 4 days, plus a day to get to and from Penzance, our starting point.

Transport
Land’s End is around 300 miles from London. To get two of us down there by plane or train is very expensive, and we didn’t fancy 9 hours on a bus. This time it turned out far cheaper to hire a car.

Accommodation
There are camping grounds around Land’s End, but we decided to go ‘glamping’. So we booked backpackers and B&Bs to ensure we got a hot shower and soft bed after each day of walking. If you do this, it is best to book a fair time ahead to ensure you get a room, especially in summer when it’s most popular. Also note, most accommodations have late checkout and 5 pm check-ins, forcing hikers to walk during the hottest part of the day.

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The day before our walk, we drove down from London, a five-hour trip. We stayed the night before the hike in Penzance and would be staying at the same place at the end of the hike. This was so we could leave the car securely parked for the duration of the walk.

Day 1 – Penzance to Zennor – 11.5km (7 miles)
This first stage of the hike was the hardest but thankfully the shortest. While it is listed as ‘severe’ and ‘strenuous’, I would consider it closer to ‘difficult’, especially in mid-summer under the constant sun.

We left the car outside out accommodation and bought train tickets to St.Ives, taking only 10 minutes and delivering us to the trailhead in style.

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On arrival in St. Ives we found the small town to be set between picturesque gold sand beaches, something not normally associated with the UK. In the blue skies and hot sun of mid-summer, tourists and beach goers swarmed the small town.

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We started the walk with a tour of ‘The Island’ on St. Ives Head giving the above views out across the town and beaches. On ‘The Island’, St. Nicholas Chapel, also gave a picturesque view.

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We walked around The Island and then along Porthmeor beach on what was to be the easiest walk of the day. Then, a short climb around the cliffs as he headed towards Clodgy Point.

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The initially wide sandy trail weaved through long grasses and short bushes that did nothing to protect us from the constant sun. While there was a very light cool breeze, it did little to alleviate the heat.

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The trail crossed the top of the cliffs, ascending and descending through rocky gullies that lead down to precarious crags. As we headed towards Pen Enys Point, we left the sandy beaches long behind us.

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This section of the coast is perhaps the most desolate part of the region except for the occasional Foxglove flower dotted here and there. After two hours, we’d left the touristic day walkers behind leaving only the occasional other hikers.

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We pushed on in the heat, following the South West Coast trail around cliffs that just didn’t seem to end. As we made our way past Mussel Point, we found a lone park bench sitting in a short bend on the trail. After hours of hard climbing in the sun, we sat down for a well deserved 30-minute lunch.

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For the rest of the afternoon, we slogged on, climbing across various rocky outcrops until Zennor Head came into view. From here the climbs became longer and steeper until we came over a ridge to see a farm building on the edge of the village of Zennor.

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This announced the end of the first day. We headed along a road towards the small village where we could finally down packs and enjoy some shade. We found our way to the Tinner’s Arms, the only pub in the village, and relaxed on the grass under umbrellas enjoying cold drinks until our accommodation, Zennor Chapel B&B opened.

Day 2 – Zennor to St. Just – 18.5km (11.5 miles)
Stage 2 had some difficult parts but was overall fairly moderate.

From the window of our room, we could look out to the coast and even watch a family of rabbits play on the lawn. After a refreshing night’s sleep in comfortable beds, we went down for breakfast and picked up our prearranged packed lunch.

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We walked out of Zennor in the late morning. The weather was similar to the day before, cloudless blue skies with only the slightest breeze. Without even that slight breeze, the day would have been a lot harder.

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We set out along Carnelloe Cliff with the memories of the previous day still heavy in our minds. But unlike the end of the first day’s with its constant ascents and descents began fairly flat and skirted around the tops of the cliffs. Today we started to see more nettles on the trail and as we both wore shorts we were forced to get used to that constant stinging sensation. We could have worn long pants to avoid this, but in the heat, no thanks!

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Out first distant target was a jutting set of rocks known as Gurnard’s Head. As we walked towards it, the climbs began in the heat of the day. After an hour we walked past the rocky peninsula and climbed the Treen Cliff on the far side. We found a set of rocks on the far side with a luxurious cool breeze and stopped for a break.

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A distance marker pointed us to Pendeen Watch, a lighthouse atop Pendeen New Cliff. We set that as our lunch break point and marched on. The trail, in general, became smoother with less climbing as we followed the clifftops, but the nagging sting of nettles continued. Early in the afternoon, we crossed the Tregaminion Cliff to see the golden sands of Portheras Cove below us. On the other side, we could see Pendeen New Cliff, although no lighthouse yet.

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But as we neared the beach, Pendeen Watch did became apparent. We descended into the cove and walked briefly on the sand before climbing the other side. Near the top, a switchback trail descended the hill to a road which climbed again to the lighthouse. We stopped for a well-deserved rest and to eat the rather abundant lunch we’d been provided.

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From the lighthouse we could see chimneys further along the trail, marking the entrance of the Levant Mining area. The afternoon sun beat down on us for perhaps the hottest day of our walk. As we entered the mining area, there were far less grassy trails and more gravel. This didn’t help with the heat.

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We struggled on as the water in my pack began to grow warm. We were able to find a small shop as part of a museum in the ruins of Britain’s largest tin mine. We purchased a bottle of cold water each and drained them in seconds.

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Feeling a little more refreshed, we pushed on along the cliffs to Kenidjack Castle ruins where we got a view of Cape Cornwall and the edge of St Just, our stopping place for the end of day 2.

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With our target in sight, our strength’s began to wane, and we staggered into central St. Just, a thriving town which after a couple of days in the ‘wilderness’, had far too much traffic. On arrival, we discovered our accommodation was a mile further on from the town. We rested for ten minutes before pushing on to the YHA Land’s End and a welcome shower.

Next, the final two days of our hike, St. Just to Penzance.

The Trail Wanderer

Manchester, England – Impressions

Manchester is an industrial city in northern England. The Greater Manchester region boasts the second largest population for an urban area in the United Kingdom.

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With the city’s recorded history beginning in 79AD by the Roman Empire, the city is famous for being the first industrialised city in the world. The term Manchester is used by many countries in the southern hemisphere to refer to the textiles manufactures in the city during the industrial revolution. Manchester is also famous for having the world’s first railway station and the oldest public library. It is also the location where the atom was first split and where the concepts of both communism and capitalism were created.

During the two months I spent in Manchester waiting for a work permit, I made the most of my time getting to know the city without spending too much money. Over the course of several days, I explored the central city and enjoyed some of the architecture I found there.

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During my wanderings I located one of the city’s original roman sites, a the roman granary near the site of the roman fort Castlefield, which is now little more than a plot of land.

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Like London, Manchester has embraced a more modern style of building, including the One Angel Square building completed this year.

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Culturally, Manchester has plenty to offer such as the National Football Museum…

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…or Manchester United Stadium, if soccer is your thing…

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There this is the Museum of Science and Industry, which is spread over several huge warehouses.

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Then there is the neo-Gothic Central Library.

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One cannot come to Manchester without at least acknowledging it as the home of Coronation Street. The street itself is fictitious and is housed inside ITV studios.

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Going a little further afield I found a local collector showing off his cars. With vehicles from the past fifty years on show…

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Air shows are plentiful around the United Kingdom and I had the pleasure to see one of them at a local air field, featuring displays from many different aircraft including many ageing airplanes and helicopters.

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Lastly, I took in a canal cruise for a day, travelling along the extensive canals of northwest England out to the sea.

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The canal system was very important to the shipping of goods in the industrial era and is still put to good use. There are many bridges over the river canal, most swinging to the side to let the ship through, while others lift high into the air. The cruise finished in Liverpool, 53 kilometres away.

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Overall, Manchester was a relaxed place to spend time a couple of months and far cheaper than the more multi-cultural London. Although with the vast numbers of pregnant women and newborn children, I began to wonder if there was something in the water. Because of that I’ve labeled Manchester the breeding capital of England.

The World Wanderer

London, England – Impressions

It’s no secret that London is the capital of England, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Empire. It’s less known that London is a leading global metropolis, is one of the world’s leading financial centres and is one of the most expensive cities in the world.

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After sixteen months of travelling, I’ve stopped off in the United Kingdom to rest and work for six months before I embark on a trip through Asia. But one cannot come to London without taking in some of the city’s sights. And with the most efficient public transport system I’ve come across, including The Tubes – the oldest and second longest underground rail system in the world – it’s easy to get around.

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During my time here I’ve explored many places and have come to enjoy London’s quaint and stunning architecture. Even the basic streets with their signature english brickwork are something to behold.

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Then there are the many prominent buildings such as Saint Paul’s Cathedral, which has been rebuilt four times since it’s original construction in 604 A.D.

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Westminster Abbey, site of many royal weddings…

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Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the Queen of England…

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The castle that is The Tower of London, built almost 950 years ago and used primary as a prison for much of that time…

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The Tower Bridge, often mistakenly called London Bridge, which is the name of the next bridge along the River Thames…

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Big Ben, the nickname of the Palace of Westminster’s clock tower, renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012…

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The other end of the Palace of Westminster, commonly known as the House of Parliament…

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and the Royal Albert Hall…

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Modern London is not just a city of venerable architecture but a fusion of old and new with structures such as The Shard…

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The Gherkin…

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O2, originally known as The Millennium Dome…

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And of course the London Eye…

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While the weather in London isn’t always the best, when the sun does come out the parks throughout the city are busy with people taking in every bit of sunlight on rentable deck chairs. This is seen in all three of the central city’s major parks: Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Regent’s Park.

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It’s easy to get sucked into life in London and it’s no wonder many who come here find it difficult to leave. The cultural scene is huge, with dozens of high-end stage productions showing at any given time, famous bands playing somewhere in the city every other night, and the many famous art galleries and museums scattered throughout the city. Including the National Art Gallery with its giant blue cock.

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With the world’s largest airport system, London is reportedly the world’s most visited city. And with the diverse societies of Europe and North-Africa on its doorstep, it’s not surprising that the city is a jumping off point, something I intend to explore in the future.

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There are many facets of life in London with so many nationalities represented here, although it’s difficult to find the actual british people among the crowds of foreigners. This makes the city a cultural melting pot and adding to its appeal.

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Finally, nothing reeks London more than a red double-decker bus with a Doctor Who advert on the side.

Next I head north to Manchester.

The World Wanderer