Offlist Walk: Halsall-Aughton-Downholland

21 06 2010
21st June 2010
8.8 miles
Explorer 285 (Southport & Chorley)
Sunny and hot

Mere Lane Bridge, Halsall

I learned an important lesson today: if you’re planning a walk just from a map (ie: no walking guide) always measure how long it is before setting off!

Due to the World Cup I decided I was only doing a short walk, and I couldn’t face an early start, this combination ruled out any of the remaining short walks in the book due to driving time, so I decided to walk in farmland in the triangle between Southport, Ormskirk, and Maghull; this is a part of the world that I drive through on my daily commute, and although I have previously walked on the coastal path, and along Cheshire Lines, I’ve not walked along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal or the land to the east.

I parked up right by the canal near the Saracan’s Head pub in Halsall at 10 am, and I foolishly expected to be back for 12, instead I got back at 1:30! The first section of the walk was a stroll down the towpath in a southerly direction to the next bridge (Mere Lane) where I crossed the canal and headed across two fields towards Bangor’s Farm where I joined Narrow Lane which took me gently uphill past a number of lovely properties. It was already starting to heat up as I wiggled around Narrow Lane as it turns into Cut Lane until I found a track heading south east across fields and eventually through a small wood and up onto some common land. I then headed up a narrow path between two fences, this was a mistake as the vegetation was quite thick, and there were midges aplenty. The path stretched all the way up ‘Devil’s Wall’  up the side and across the top of Gorse Hill reservoirs. At the top of the hill I met a friendly old gentleman and his dog (Harvey) and we consulted the map together, it was only as we spoke that I began to realise that it had gone 11, and there was no way I was getting back by 12. I then descended the hill on the other side of the reservoir, this path in contrast the the one I ascended is open, with good views of Aughton’s Christ Church. The path passes Holly House farm where there are a number of mares and very young foals.

The next section of walk is a descent to Clieves Hill, it involves a series of paths downhill through fields then walking along roads that run across the hill before finding another path to descend. Eventually I reach Clieves Hill and I have to decided whether to head straight back to the car by joining the canal at Haskayne, or completing the walk as originally intended, I plump for the latter.

Clieves Hill Lane has some lovely cottages on it, and a decent viewing point (for the rather flat Lancashire plain at least). It descends past some kennels onto Formby Lane, a road I often drive along. I cross the lane and head up a wide track towards Walsh Hall, the horses in the fields as I approach the hall look very expensive indeed, when I get to the hall the buildings are not particularly interesting, and it looks as if the site is run as stables or a stud. Eventually I manage to find the path shown on the map that exits Walh Hall to the west, I had to ask a stable girl who told me it was hidden behind a JCB! The path continues across fields containing one or two very nice looking horses, then across a brook and into a massive field of wheat. I couldn’t find the path as described on the map so I walked the length of this very long field down the centre in the tractor tracks. I may have had to trample a bit of the farmers crops, but I tried to do so as little as possible, I wouldn’t have trampled any if the path had existed.

Rosemary Lane Bridge by The Ship Inn

Now I come to the Leeds-Liverpool canal where Green’s Lane becomes Eager Lane, and straight-away I meet a young guy with a bike. His name is John and he’s just started off from Litherland on a 3 or 4 day ride along the length of the canal to Leeds. He said that he knows he has missed out the Liverpool to Litherland section so he’ll do that at the end when the train from Leeds arrives back in Liverpool. We have a really good chat, and then I take a photo for him, of him standing against the Leeds-Liverpool sign. I then start the trudge back up the canal towards Halsall; I pass some nice canalside cottages, the Scarisbrick Arms at Downholland Cross, the Ship Inn at Haskayne, and the site of the start of work on this section of canal at Halsall.

I get back to Halsall very hot and tired, but not too tired to make a note that the Saracen’s Head looks like it’s had a really good refit (I later learn this was done in 2008), and make a mental note to visit for lunch sometime.

The Saracen's Head, Halsall



2 responses

21 08 2010

I’ve since been to the Saracen’s Head for lunch – it was very good, I’ll be going again some time.

22 04 2011
Offlist Walk: Haskayne Circular « New Lancs Walker

[…] This walk around the West Lancashire plain is only a slight variation on one I did during the World … […]

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