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More canal, coast and the edge of Lakeland

The Lancaster canal has been our companion, on and off, for much of this week. This is a canal which was built to link the coalfields near Wigan with the limestone quarries at Lancaster and Kendal. Because of its cargoes, it became known as the black and white canal. It was designed by a man called John Rennie and has no locks at all between Tewitsfield (just north of Lancaster) and

Aqueduct over the River Lune
Aqueduct over the River Lune
Preston. This means that aqueducts carry the water across depressions in the land like the one caused by the River Lune. We followed the Lune to the aqueduct and then climbed up to view the river from the top. Most impressive.
Ashton Memorial in Lancaster
Ashton Memorial in Lancaster
Lancaster is also the home of the ‘centroid’ of the UK. This is the central point of our country (including all the islands and Northern Ireland) This point is very near to the Ashton Memorial, built by a wealthy industrial magnate in the Georgian era. From this high point, on a good day, you are supposed to be able to see Blackpool Tower. Its was very hazy when we were there – not really worth the photo from the top.
The canal took us to Hest Bank and the Lancashire coastal path.
On the Lancashire coastal path - Morecambe in the background
On the Lancashire coastal path – Morecambe in the background
This coastal path over looks the dangerous sands of Morecambe Bay where the unwary can be drowned in quicksands. Needless to say we did not venture forth.
Once we reached Tewitsfield, the canal could no longer be used by boats, but the tow path continues on and off all the way to Kendal. Waterfalls cascade down the locks, and further on, there
Lonely canal bridge
Lonely canal bridge
are lonely bridges shorn of their purpose. It seems odd to think of all that endeavour going into the canal, then the heyday, the decline and finally the land being re-used by sheep. There are plans afoot to reclaim the canal along this northern stretch, but it will take a lot of work and money.
So, canal walking is now at an end – the hills beckon!
On Easter day we were greatly welcomed to a beautifully decorated
St Mark's Natland
St Mark’s Natland
church of St Mark’s church Natland, They were most generous in their support. Thank you Angela their vicar (excellent Easter Day service) to Martin and Elspeth, who fed us sumptuously afterwards. Hello, too, to others who met us on our route and gave us their time and interest. Hi to Faith, met a Garstang; Deborah, Alison, Sophie, John and twins Sam and Ruby (also met a Garstang); Tim and Avril on their boat ‘Have Time’; Carol and David on their boat ‘No Problem’; Joe, Jane and Clare at the Stork Hotel near Glasson; Gemma and Cameron cycling on the path to Lancaster; Marion (who is looking for a challenge for her 60th birthday – do try a long distance path Marion- Kris (from Canada and Ruth met on the Lancashire Coastal path; Barry, Yvonne and Sonnie on the Lancaster Canal path; Bob who walked with us and Lesley his wife; David running; and Neil met by the River Kent in Kendal. Thank you all.
Nancy
This week’s statistics
Amount raised so far Online £785 Offline £2666.05 Total £3451.05
Miles walked this week 54 total so far 554.5
Kissing gates 6
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 1 John 2
Easter Eggs (John) 3 small ones
Cumberland ham and eggs 2 portions

Waterways in Merseyside, Lancashire and Greater Manchester

Our walking this week has been dominated by the water systems of what was once all Lancashire, but now has been divided into two metropolitan counties and one ‘normal’ county. We crossed over the Manchester Ship Canal last weekend and continued to try to work out which waterway we were following as we progressed sometimes north, sometimes east and sometimes west! As one of the heartlands of the Industrial Revolution, Lancashire became well endowed with canals to get raw materials to the factories, and manufactured goods to Liverpool for export. The paths alongside are flat and easy to walk along and not get lost, but the mind boggles at the amount of work they would have taken to construct and the devastation to the landscape they, and the industries they served, brought in their train.

members of the church at Aughton
members of the church at Aughton
On Sunday we received a wonderful welcome from Christchurch Aughton near Ormskirk. John knew Jeff from his scouting days and also the vicar Ross from school days. The congregation seemed to enjoy John’s Palm Sunday sermon illustrated with chocolate cake and the church were most supportive. Thank you Jeff and Ann for a lovely Sunday lunch and Ross and the church for all your encouragement.
On Monday we walked to Wigan – famous for its pier. On the way we
part of Pennington Flash
part of Pennington Flash
came through Pennington Flash. This was an area heavily mined for coal, so much so that the land subsided quite steeply on the south side of the canal. The hollows filled with water or ‘flash’. Now the mines have closed the lakes are now being reclaimed for nature and recreation and are extremely attractive. They are well used by the local population for walking and cycling as well as observing the birds
Lottie
Lottie
which have colonised the lakes. In the country park at Pennington Flash, we met Norman and his two dogs. One was called Lottie and she was remarkable. She could understand a number spoken to her between 5 and 10 and count by barking that number. She could also do other tricks and we were most entertained watching her.
After Pennington we joined the Leeds Liverpool canal path and walked along it to Wigan and saw the famous pier. It seemed very small, but information boards filled us in on the past workings of the bargemen, miners and the lasses. The canal has recovered from the devastation of the past and provides a most attractive way through to Burscough where the Rufford arm turned us north so we could follow the Douglas River as far as Tarleton, through the very flat farming countryside.
As always we have met some very interesting people who have shared something of their stories, or listened to some of ours or given us donations. So this weeks ‘Hellos!’ go to all those met in Pennington Flash country park – Norman, David, Beverley, Tony and Ryan; to David and Jenny walking by the Leeds Liverpool canal who described how it used to look, to Terry and Peter and Dawn and Gary met near Parbold, Janet and Granville at Lathom; Laurie and her story of perseverance and courage met near Much Hoole, Katrina on the Ribble Way; Tony met on the canal at Bilsborrow and Andrew and all the congregation met when we joined them for the Maundy Thursday service at St Andrew’s Longton especially all the
St Andrew's Longton
St Andrew’s Longton
Christian Aid committee members, treasurer Richard, Cath who made us most welcome and gave us a lovely tea (northern style) and her daughter Karen and granddaughters Elsa and Agatha. Thank you too to Elaine who runs the Martin Farm cottages and who did our washing in her machine. Martin Farm Burscough is a good place to stay. Thank you all for being a part of our journey.
Nancy

This week’s statistics
Amount raised so far Online £705 Offline £2193.05 Total £2898.05
Miles walked this week 60 total so far 500.5
Kissing gates 19
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 3 John 1
Lancashire cheese 300 g

Chester and Cheshire

This last week we have definitely moved region, heard the scouse accent lots of times and begin to feel we are in the North of

Part of the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge
Part of the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge
England. Our route through much of Cheshire has been along the Sandstone Trail. Cheshire is divided into east and west by a sandstone ridge. A trail along that ridge has been formed which runs for 34 miles from Whitchurch to Frodsham. The first third of the trail is fields leading up to the ridge, but the rest provides some magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. One high point is the peak of Old Pale. This is in the Delamere Forest. It has a modern stone circle denoting which counties can be seen from this
the top of Old Pale
the top of Old Pale
high point and how far away they are. Cheshire is given pride of place in the centre with the biggest stone – but the counties listed are Lancashire (9 miles) Yorkshire (40 miles) Derbyshire (28 miles) Staffs (17 miles) Shropshire (15 miles) Denbighshire (11 miles) Flintshire (10 miles). It was very exhilarating walking along with the Clwyddian hills and the Snowdon range on our left and the Pennine range on our left. The Dee estuary was prominent. Near the end of the walk, just above Frodsham is a wonderful view over the Mersey estuary – depicting all the industrial regions as well as the great expanse of estuary and countryside. Both Liverpool’s cathedrals were clearly visible. The path leading up to the view was also dramatic, weaving around great Old Red Sandstone outcrops.
Catchy Advertising
Catchy Advertising
In contrast to the ridge walking, we have also enjoyed the city of Chester. One of the street advertising boards drew in people laughing at the humour. Last Sunday, Wesley
Wesley Methodist church
Wesley Methodist church
Methodist church gave us a great welcome. We had time to talk to their young people’s group during the service, they really seemed to take on board just how difficult things can be for women in some parts of the world. Hello there to Mark, Andrew, Vicky, Luke, Rebecca, Catherine and Mikey. Thank you for your support for us.
Chester cathedral
Chester cathedral
Later in the week, Chester cathedral Evensong was our port of call with a visiting choir composed of Ruthin St Peter’s church and Dover Community church (the choir school having closed for the holidays). Thank you Edward, Canon Chris, Mary and Canon Peter and (who led the service) for your welcome and prayers – and to Chris and Barbara Humphries, who gave us great hospitality after the service.
Hello to Jean, the Triathlete looking very fit; to the United Utilities walking group; Irene (Christian Aid organiser) met in the Spar shop in Tarporley; to Gill and Hugo met near Fisher’s Green; the Wirral Ramblers on the Sandstone trail; Callum, Mikey and Grandad (not forgetting Rowley the dog); Mandy and Derek from Chester (hope we encouraged you to get long distance walking); the group from Whitchurch and Macclesfield; Ian from Frodsham who directed us most helpfully. Hi to Clifford (on holiday on a narrow boat); Janet and Tony (who offered us a lift – which we declined!); Irene from All Saints church Daresbury; Peter in the Ring o’Bells at Daresbury; Katy, Harriet and Lillian by the Bridgewater canal; Maura and Jim also by the canal; John at Stockton Heath; Elizabeth near Thelwall; Jonathon near Lymm training for the Mountain Marathon and Christine at the Warrington Interchange.
Nancy
This week’s statistics
Amount raised so far Online £665 Offline £1728.55 Total £2393.55
Miles walked this week 45.5 so far 440.5
Kissing gates 56
Trig points 1
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 0 John 3
Cheshire cheese 300 g

Shropshire, the overlooked county

This week we have been walking through beautiful Shropshire using the Severn Way and the Shropshire Way. It is a quiet county, a well-kept secret, as more than one local have remarked. They are pleased to let people drive through on their way to climb the peaks of Snowdonia. We began the week in the town of Bridgnorth with its steep ‘Cartway’ leading up and down from the river. Bridgnorth

The Iron Bridge
The Iron Bridge
seemed a busy bustling town. The market was thriving. The Severn Gorge became steeper, the further north we got until we reached Ironbridge. Captain Matthew Webb (whose bust in Dover was our starting point) learnt to swim in the River Severn at this point. It did not tempt us! The Ironbridge area was the cradle
The Wrekin
The Wrekin
of the Industrial Revolution in this country. Abraham Darby in Coalbrookdale (a dale just off the main Severn Gorge) was the first person to smelt iron using coal. There are many Museums in this part of the world and all are worth seeing especially Enginuity – a ‘hands on’ ‘try it out’ museum. The walk up Coalbrookdale besides the brook is beautiful. On the same day we climbed the Wrekin. This is a famous Shropshire landmark which rises steeply (and descends even more steeply) We decided to adjust the route to climb it and take in the view. As this was one of the ‘Saharan dust pollution’ days the visibility sadly was not what it should have been. We ended the walk at Wroxeter. You can find it on a road atlas south-east of Shrewsbury. Its main feature is a Roman City owned by English Heritage. The ruins are quite extensive and there is a re-constructed Roman villa staffed by people in Roman costume.
Shrewsbury is full of history. It is the birthplace of Charles
Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Darwin and hosts his statue outside the main library, which used to be the school he attended. The town has a ‘Darwin trail’ which takes you to all the notable places in his life. Shrewsbury Abbey, to the east of the town, at one time made a
Shrewsbury Abbey
Shrewsbury Abbey
bid to become a cathedral with its own diocese, but this was blocked by the then Bishop of Durham, Hensley Henson. The abbey has its own shop and a display of its history and is most welcoming to visitors. A final, somewhat cryptic remark is to make sure that you visit the ‘Treacle Mine’ in Wem. Especially if you have a sweet tooth.
As each week progresses, the number of encouraging people we meet grows. Thank you to Sula and George in Meole Brace for a good stay with them and hello to Val, Rene, Andrea dn Vince from Fishguard whom we met on the Wrekin. Also Marie who was out training on that very steep hill. Hello to Mary, Andy and Emma met at Wroxeter Roman city, Dave (on his bike in Clive), Heather met in Wem car park, Rebecca, Gordon and Audrey at the Wem Treacle Mine, Louise with Nikki and Christopher (hope the chicken pox is better!), and Class
Mrs Foster
Mrs Foster
4 of Whixall CE Primary school with their teacher Mrs Foster, Bob the vicar, Sue (OLM) and the helpers. Many thanks to Amanda who helped us greatly on the A49, Bec, who gave us cake and tea at Duckington Grange farm, Peter Davies who welcomed us with wine and a lovely quirky flat called The Retreat in Chester, Kirsty from Holiday Inn in Chester who was really helpful to us over parking, Craig, Ian, Lizzy, Sam and Gavin at the pub near Watergate in Chester. Thank you to you all – good to meet you.
Another thanks to Alison of Worcester who emailed me the link of the Worcester News where we made the front page last Thursday.
Nancy
This week’s statistics
Total amount raised Online £625 Offline £1467.67 Total £2092.69
Miles walked this week 66 Total so far 395
Kissing gates 59
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 3 John 2
Simnel cake (for Mothering Sunday) 1 piece
Wroxeter Roman city white wine 1 bottle

Turning North and the River Severn

This week marks the ‘hinge’ point in our walk. Not only have we ceased to walk with a westerly direction, but we have also passed our halfway point. Monday saw us beginning at the pretty Cotswold village of Winchcombe and then coming down from the high ridge of the Cotswolds into the much flatter land next to the River Severn. Our first major town was Tewkesbury, which had mercifully dried out from the floods earlier this year.

Ye Old Black Bear Tewkesbury
Ye Old Black Bear Tewkesbury
Tewkesbury is at the confluence of the River Severn and the Avon. It has the highest density of ancient buildings in England and, of course, a splendid Abbey. We joined the regular congregation, the celebrant Wendy and their vicar Paul in early communion, which was quiet and very meditative. The congregation were very supportive of our walk.

The River Severn was to be our constant companion for the rest of the week and indeed into the following week. As we walked along its banks we saw jetsam piled up against fences and kissing gates – but the river itself was serene. We passed through Upton with it’s ‘pepperpot’ tower, Stourport with its canal basin, Highley and its historic railway station, Bridgnorth with its steep climb to the upper town and bustling Saturday market. All had momentos of their past and a sense of making the most of their present.

In Worcester we joined the regular congregation at Evening Prayer and also called in at the Worcester Journal. They were most pleased and helpful to see us. Thank you receptionists Jo and Sarah. Their photographer (Nick) took our picture by the side of the River Severn, which marked our halfway point on the walk. Their journalist James interviewed and said he thought the article would appear in the issue on Monday. Halfway at Worcester Halfway at Worcester. Many supportive people stopped to chat with us on our way (– some despite a cold easterly wind). So hello and thank you David in Winchcombe; the unknown driver in Tewkesbury who gave us a donation as he waited at traffic lights, to Sr Fran from Tewkesbury hospital; Anne in high Street Tewkesbury; the congregation at Tewkesbury Abbey mid-week communion Paul (the vicar), Wendy (celebrant) Davids (X3), Francis, Sue, Tim, Philippa, Barbara and Claire (the administrator); John, Mavis and Sarah visiting Upton church in search of ancestors; the ladies in the Upton hospice shop (do you have pens yet?); Don and his dog from Kempsey; Barbara and her grandaughter enjoying an extra day off school in Kempsey; Jen and Charlie (who followed us through the mud on the river path in Worcester); the very warm welcomers at Worcester cathedral, Colin and Carol (vergers) Patricia (chaplain, Dean Peter Atkinson, new Precentor Michael, Roy in the congregation and Alison and Ruth who turned up specially to support us; Trevor and Justine and Arnie the dog in Highley, who warned us that the local buses were unreliable; Peter and Sally and Grahame and Jannie all four met on the Severn Way; James doing 10 Challenges for MIND and Tamlyn, very helpful at Bridgnorth TIC.

Today we have had a very warm welcome at Shrewsbury Abbey as we joined them in their Mothering Sunday worship. Thank you vicar Paul, Assistant priest Stephanie, and all the congregation and especially Wendy and Roger who are feeding us tonight!

 Nancy

This week’s statistics

Money raised so far   Online: £620.00       Offline: £1334.69   Total: £1954.69

Miles walked this week: 55 Total so far: 329

Kissing gates: 49

This week’s Scrabble Scores: Nancy  1 John 2

 

Cotswold walking

Early this week we ‘crossed over’ the route we took on our earlier walk from Land’s End to John o’Groats. (see LEJOG page)

Christchurch cathedral Oxford
Christchurch cathedral Oxford
This was Monday following an early morning Communion service at Christchurch cathedral Oxford. There is something very peaceful about early communion services and this was no exception. We then walked along the Thames path upstream doing about 4 miles of our other long walk only in the other direction.
Roman Villa, North Leigh
Roman Villa, North Leigh
The next day saw us beginning to see the lovely honey-coloured Cotswold limestone. One early visit was to the excavated site of a Roman villa at North Leigh. The villa must have been enormous with two wings and three bath houses. A fine mosaic pavement (now under cover from the elements for protection was also discovered. The River Evenlode was full after the floods, but in only a few places did we have boggy ground to contend with and only once had a ditch diverted itself along the path, giving us a choice between a wading exercise or negotiating brambles!
John’s geographical instincts were to the fore when we passed a
Field of Miscanthus
Field of Miscanthus
field of miscanthus. This is one of the crops used for bio-fuel for generating electricity. The farmer who planted the crop should have harvested it before Christmas but the flooding prevented this. He had been selling to Didcot Power station, but this has recently closed so we are not sure of what will happen to the crop.
Between some of the Cotswold villages runs a very special bus ‘The Villager’.
'The Villager' with driver Peter
‘The Villager’ with driver Peter
This is the epitome of the friendly local service. Driver Peter was most careful with his passengers, almost all regulars, helping them to the door with their shopping and going out of his way! It was an excellent service.
This weekend we worshipped with the congregation of St Mary
St Mary Magdalene Church, Knighton
St Mary Magdalene Church, Knighton
Magdalene Knighton and re-made some friendships there. We saw the pantomime ‘Dick Whittington’ by the Knighton Players. John preached and we got a great welcome and support there
We have met many supportive people this week, beginning with Canon Edmund Newey at Christchurch Cathedral Oxford; Paul, the manager of the Toll booth on Swinford bridge, Maureen, William and Janet in Eynsham; Arthur, lifetime resident of Eynsham; Harriett who cut my hair at La Diva in Eynsham; Alison at Stonesfield; very helpful assisants at Witney TIC Sharon and Lyndy; Simon a farmer from Chaddlington, Mandy and her dog Bramble at Ascott-under-Wychwood; Alan in Stow (thank you for taking the photo); Peter the drive of ‘The Villager’, John and Ros met in Lucy’s teashopp, Celia and Lucia in Lower Slaughter, Caroline and Chris on the footpath to Upper Slaughter, James on the bus from Winchcombe to Cheltenham, Robert and his dog who walked some of the way with us to Winchcombe. Special mention of Joanna at the Jewellers in Fosse Park. Good to meet you all and thank you for your encouragement.
249 miles walked at Stow-on-the-wold
249 miles walked at Stow-on-the-wold

Nancy

This week’s statistics
Miles walked this week 56 Total miles walked 264
Money raised so far Online £480 Offline £1033.69 Total £1513.69
Kissing gates 30
Trig points 1
This week’s Scrabble Scores Nancy 0 John 0 Draw 1

Walking through the Chilterns to Oxford

This week has been very different from last. We left the Thames and went for the higher land of the Chilterns. Chalkland walking is up and down whether it is in the North Downs, Yorkshire Wolds, or Chilterns, but because of the sunny weather it has been glorious.

Red Kite
Red Kite
The birds are now in song and we have had our Chiltern walking accompanied by soaring Red Kites – too many to count and put down in our
Hughenden Manor
Hughenden Manor
statistics. On Wednesday this week, our walk took us past once the home of Benjamin Disraeli and now under the guardianship of the National Trust. From there we walked through West Wycombe and viewed both the Caves which once held meetings of the ‘Hell Fire Club’ and the Mausoleum – now being restored- which towers above the village giving excellent views of the countryside.
misty path
misty path
The second half of the week has unfortunately been misty in the mornings, which rather restricted what we could see. Even a diagonal walk across a grassy field was tricky.
Wesley Chapel Oxford
Wesley Chapel Oxford
This Sunday we have joined Wesley Chapel Oxford in their worship. This chapel has historic links with Wesley and is important in the city. We received another great welcome and much support for our walk and the project in Afghanistan.
As always, the walk has been made by the people we have met en route. So Hello and thanks for your support to: Daisy walking her dog at Burnham Beeches; the Penn Tuesday walkers Mary, Sally, Jackie, Cynthia and Joy; Katherine and helpers at High Wycombe Museum; Ruth and Eddie at All Saints Church High Wycombe; Tara, Eva, Naila, Enzo, Carrie and Stella on the Bledlow Ridge; Nick the bus driver and Jeremy who kept me entertained!; Thanks too to Diane and Su at Wilkinson Sword House; Annette and Sam at Tiddington, Ray at the Tiddington bus stop and Elizabeth a Christian Aid supporter from Thame. Special thanks to Martin and the congregation at Wesley Chapel Oxford – and Roger and Karen being very hospitable to us in Eynsham.
Nancy
This Week’s Statistics
Miles Walked this week – 53 Total miles walked – 207
Money raised so far offline £886.18 online £430 Total £1131.18
Kissing Gates this week – 21
Scrabble Nancy 2 John 1