Siding Lane Nature Reserve

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We met at the car park in Siding Lane, just off the Rainford By Pass. Sixteen walkers assembled under grey skies. Setting off uphill through woods, we followed an undulating path with steps cut in to help with the slopes. We came out of the woods into a clearing and picnic area where there were two concrete capped mineshafts. An information board told us that Siding Lane Local Nature Reserve was the site of an 1860s colliery owned initially by the Rainford Coal Company Ltd, and that following the 1926 miners’ strike, the colliery finally ceased production in 1928. We then re entered the woods and passed a small lake before taking a path along the edge of a field with the railway line hidden by trees on our left. Soon we climbed steps up to the railway line and although the trains are infrequent, we crossed with great care. It’s an unmanned crossing on the Kirkby to Manchester line with good sight lines. On the other side of the railway, we took a farm track with open fields on both sides. A spinney to our left, called Nursery Plantation (and hiding Dairy Farm) held off the breeze until we turned right along Dairy Farm Road. The road was as straight as an arrow and open on both sides at first. As we travelled along, trees began to line it until they formed a canopy. We then turned left into Lord Derby’s Old Coach Road. This was tree lined with the trees again arching over to form an attractive canopy. At the end of this canopy we had a group photo before taking a path to our left around a field known as Clare’s Moss Plantation. Here we were reminded of the song from the film Oklahoma, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” as the corn was as high as an elephant’s eye! A quad bike was soon hurtling towards us, but as we began to take avoiding action, the farmer slowed and moved to one side until we passed. A large stack of black plastic covered straw bales was pleasingly geometric as we passed Clare’s Wood. A large bird of prey appeared on the horizon – but it turned out to be someone flying a kite! Soon we reached Moss Nook Farm and emerged on to the busy Rainford By-Pass. We followed it northwards for about five hundred yards, passing the lavender fields at Inglenook Farm, before veering off on to a footpath through several fields. One of the fields was protected by an electric fence, but fortunately with gates for safe passage. Tractors were busy in the fields with one depositing “fertiliser”. Luckily, the wind was blowing away from us! At the end of the fields we reached Dairy Farm road again and crossed to retrace our steps to the railway crossing. Once safely across, we re-entered the woods and walked around the lake, through the clearing and back to our start point. A very interesting walk and happily, the rain held off.
Thanks to Ann and Peter for organising and leading the walk.

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