The first walk of the Cheshire Challenge I didn’t complete as planned. It was a bright, warm sunny day with the promise of spring in the air, as I set out I was keen for a good walk; I knew I could walk 20km, the navigation would need some care as I know the Eddisbury Way is not well waymarked but everything was within my comfort zone. Any maybe that was the problem: it was all a bit, well, easy.
I set out through the forest, the sun had brought quite a few people out despite the lockdown but it wasn’t crowds and I would be soon away from the busier areas. The first sign that perhaps my heart was not fully in it was when I couldn’t see how to join the Eddisbury Way at Manley. I’d walked a short section of the Sandstone trail, too short to count this time as I know I will be back later, and was stood, map in one hand and phone with the OS app in the other pacing up and down for a stile that wasn’t there. After grumbling a bit I realised the basic error I had made and that the path I was looking for ran parallel to the one I was on, but on the other side of the hedge.
Once I had gotten over kicking myself, the walk to Kelsall was past familiar landmarks I would usually drive or cycle past. I like seeing these places from a totally different perspective. There is more detail to be seen with a slower pace and it doesn’t always show them in a better light: somethings are better for a glimpse at speed but others turn out to be more fascinating than I could have imagined. Around here, the fields are surrounded by huge, thick Leylandii hedges, I think there were once many orchards with the hedges there to protect the fruit trees from wind and create warm micro-climates for them.
There is only one really grim bit of this walk which is crossing the dual carriageway to get to Kelsall. It’s a very fast stretch of road and extreme care is needed to cross it. For me, Kelsall is the place where the nearest Co-op is so it was nice to walk through the village an see just how lovely it is. The experience was slightly spoilt by the huge crowds that were in the park I had to walk through, I hadn’t been near that many people since the summer and it felt pretty uncomfortable: though I suspect my underlying mardy mood had more to do with that than I’d admit at the time.
My pace had been slow and as I walked through the orchards around Weetwood thoughts of stopping arose. I only needed to walk the Eddisbury Way section, I have plans to walk the length of the Sandstone Trail over a weekend with a friend sometime so the short section I’d walk today would be repeated. But that would mean I’d given up. Let myself down. Failed. I chose to stop and sulked all the way home in the car after being picked up.
Hindsight being the leveller it often is, I know I didn’t fail. But I have reflected on why this walk just ‘didn’t do it for me’. It’s no one thing, but I think walks like this where there is nothing that really pushes me outside the comfort zone I much prefer to do with friends. And I’ve done a lot of comfort zone walking solo, I set this challenge because I couldn’t get to the wilder moors and mountains I love; I enjoy discovering these routes closer to home and not having to drive an hour to walk and its great training for Svalbard. But its not the same. I think lockdown 3 has finally gotten to me and I just need to be kind to myself. I’ve walked 320km over 16 walks since I started this challenge, missing a tad over 7km is hardly failing.
Video of the walk HERE
The route is available on the Ordnance Survey website HERE
|Cheshire Challenge distance||8km|
|Paths walked||Eddisbury Way|
|Total ascent||~ 300m|
|OS map||OS Explorer 267|
|Date walked||February 2021|
|Time taken||5.5 hours|
|Dance pose||Ballet barre|
|Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed||320km|