It’s been a while since I have walked over 20km and was pleasantly surprised how little my body complained about this 30km walk. The route on the OS map puts it at 27.5km, but there were a few less obvious navigation points that were a little hidden and required a bit of back-tracking to be sure we were on course.
The first 7km of the walk was getting to the Shropshire Union canal from Hooton station. Most of the Cheshire Challenge walks have been rural or just passing through the outskirts of towns, this was much more urban and not the prettiest of walks with the busy M53 motorway, Stanlow refinery and warehouses contrasting with pasture, woodland and sandstone cottages. What I did find fascinating is passing landmarks I recognised from driving along the motorway but seeing them at a much slower pace and seeing more details, but it did mean the smell lasted longer too. Walks I have done so far on the Cheshire Challenge, especially those along the canals, have passed through industry from over a century ago which has lost its brutal edge and is painted, cared for and has become ‘heritage’. I wonder if the same nostalgia will ever placed on modern industrial buildings.
As always when I walk with Sarah Williams we talked pretty much the whole way; our conversations blend the deep and meaningful, planning future endeavours and plain silliness. I like walking and talking and it is true that walking brings clarity to thought. I often find that over a walk I’ve resolved issues that have been running round my head and, in today’s video call world, I find conversations with someone while not looking directly at them bring a deeper discussion. Add to that the steady pace of walking which is proven to help the brain process thoughts I definitely get more than just a good physical workout from walks. But the serious chat is balanced by a good dose of laughter, too.
We reached the ‘start’ of the walk at the boat museum at the Shopshire Union Canal, not yet open I got as close to the locks at the end of the canal as I could before back-tracking a short distance to walk along the canal. For a canal that passes some of the areas heaviest industry, there are pockets of tranquillity and plenty of wildlife. There are equally neglected areas too, often within a few minutes’ walk and though this could be quite depressing I take comfort in knowing that nature will thrive and reclaim what we humans leave behind. And there was a poignant moment too, a stark reminder of just how hard it has been for some with flowers laid remembering a life cut short too soon.
The walk did not stay on the canal for long and picked up the North Cheshire Way to weave back to Hooton for the next 14km. Spring was springing everywhere, this section of the walk was more rural along pastures and woodland, passing fields with calves, lambs and foals with blossom covered blackthorn and cherry trees along the hedges and gardens. Even the road sections seemed more pleasant than normal, its amazing how blue sky and sun can transform things.
Video of the walk HERE
The route is available on the Ordnance Survey website HERE
|Cheshire Challenge Distance||19.7km|
|Paths walked||Shropshire Union Canal & North Cheshire Way|
|Total distance walked||27.3km|
|OS map||OS Explorer 266|
|Date walked||April 2021|
|Time taken||7 hours|
|Cake||No cake but some very good gummy sweets!|
|Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed:||288km (1500km total)|