It has been a long, long time since I walked 20 km. Mentally this seemed like a huge challenge, although lockdown had meant I walked almost daily I had no idea if I could walk 20km in one go. I decided to do a solo linear walk with my husband dropping me off and collecting me: if I had to stop I could always call for an early pick-up. As I wanted to test my endurance and not my navigation, a canal walk seemed to fit the bill.
The Weaver Way runs from the top of Audlem locks on the Shropshire Union Canal, right on the southern edge of Cheshire, all the way to Frodsham broadly following the river Weaver. Its 64km long and the longest of the routes that is entirely within the county of Cheshire.
I started the walk at Audlem. This unfortunately meant I had to walk back up the 15 locks to the actual start of the Weaver Way, but it was a lovely day and the locks are lovely. After loitering long enough to look like I had intended to walk up the locks, I turned and headed north. The walk crosses the river Weaver twice on aqueducts, once north of Audlem where the Weaver is little more than a big stream and again just before Church Minshull by which time it has grown to a river. The stretch to Nantwich from Overwater marina is straight and surrounded by flat farmland. But it is far from dull, there was so much wildlife from geese grazing in the fields, moorhens dabbling along the towpath and juicy ripe blackberries too irresistible not to eat. At Nantwich there is the option to detour through the town, but I chose to stay on the towpath which was now busy with narrowboats. As the canal heads out of Nantwich it crosses the Chester Road on a short but impressive black and white painted aqueduct.
It was at this point I witness what was almost an incredible encounter. A man was busy, head down repairing his narrowboat. As I approached, a kingfisher flew out from the trees on the opposite bank went to land on his back, changed it’s mind at the last moment, briefly landed on the bow behind him and flew back into the trees. As I walked past him I said what had happened and we shared a moment of delight at such a beautiful bird.
Onward and I was soon at Hurleston Junction where the Llangollen Canal meets the Shropshire Union Canal, and a place I will visit at least twice more on the Cheshire Challenge. From here it was a few kilometres to the turning point at Barbridge Junction and along the grandly named Shropshire Union Canal Middlewich Branch. More winding and a little wilder than the main branch I recalled cycling down this towpath, chasing down a friend’s narrowboat a few years before. Weary legs carried me on and, 24km later (not counting the walk to the top of Audlem locks) I reached bridge 14 and the end of the walk.
Video of the walk HERE
The route is available on the Ordnance Survey website HERE
|Cheshire Challenge distance||24.5km|
|Path walked||Weaver Way|
|OS map||OS Landranger 257, 267|
|Date walked||26th July 2020|
|Time taken||5 hours 44 minutes|
|Dance pose||Ballet barre work|
|Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed||80.5km (1500km total)|