What do you do on a day when the weather forecast was appalling and the rain fell in torrents? Go on a ramble of course! Setting off from our usual meeting place at the Baptist Church, numbers were severely depleted from previous walks but undaunted we travelled over the Mersey Gateway bridge ( did everyone remember to pay the tolls?) and set sail for Daresbury! The ideal mode of transport should have been boats, but by the time we reached the start point the torrents had lessened to a drizzle and spirits were raised. Todays ramble was following the Lewis Carroll trail around the Cheshire countryside which, according to the information would afford wonderful views of Winter Hill and the Clywdian mountain range. Maybe November was not the best day to undertake it.
Our first stop was at the Lewis Carroll Centre which ajoins Daresbury All Saints Parish Church. Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Revd Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was a child from Daresbury village. He lived here for the first 11 years of his life, from 1832 to 1843. He became the famous writer of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass when he was a lecturer at Oxford University. Visitors come from all over the world to see the famous Lewis Carroll window in the church. Today the centre had been taken over by local crafters who had a fine array of handmade crafts for sale, to raise funds for the continued upkeep of the church and the centre. Leaving the centre we continued down the lane and entered the first of many wet fields we would traverse today via a kissing gate. The grazing sheep were not amused to be disturbed by a group of ramblers and soon headed off to the far end of the field. Making our way over several fields we came to Warrington lane and then headed via the lane over the M56 motorway via Newton Village. At this point the rain had stopped and we were perhaps lulled into a false sense of security that the day would stay dry. Our next stop, where coffee and Eccles cakes were enjoyed, was at Lewis Carroll Birthplace site. It was on this site, now owned by the National Trust, that the parsonage where Charles was born stood. Today when visitors stroll up the narrow path, flanked by fields, they will see that all that remains is a ground level brick outline depicting where the original building once stood, as unfortunately the building was destroyed by fire over 100 years ago. Suitably refreshed we left the site at the opposite end and having passed Lewis Carroll wood, encountered what must be one of the worst stiles we have ever climbed on our walks. The stile led a footway over farm land and it appeared that the bottom part of the stile had been removed leaving just the bars. This led to great hilarity at the various styles used to get into the field. From here the routes became somewhat boggy, with long grass and flooded fields to be traversed.Some gateways were completely flooded resulting in shimmying tactics to get around gateposts. Unfortunately several of us found that having got safely around the gate we were then marooned on a tiny piece of dry ground and then had to literally take the plunge through the water to reach dry land again! However no one was grumpy and even though we then walked with wet feet there was banter aplenty. Particularly when Ann and I produced secateurs to remove part of the hedging which was blocking the stile, only to find that Nigel had undone the knotted rope on the gate and everyone else had walked through it! The final part of the walk took us in a circular route, through a working farm, under the motorway and back across more flooded fields. By this time the rain was bucketing down again which severely tested the waterproofness of the clothing, and an umbrella had to be employed by Peter who found that his jacket was no longer waterproof!. Our last hurdle before reaching the lane back into Daresbury village was an electric fence. Thankfully the farmer had placed a small sack over on portion of it which broke the circuit so we could get back onto terra firma once again. With the pub in sight the pace speeded up, and divested of sodden boots and muddy outer clothing we enjoyed a pleasant meal and drinks in the warmth. Thanks to Ken who did the recce with me a few weeks ago, and well done to all the ramblers who braved the weather today!
Our next ramble will be a joint one with the Easy walkers and will be a shortened walk from St Michaels to Sefton Park and back to Lark Lane for a Xmas meal. This will be on Thursday 5th December. Full details will be posted nearer the date.