My “Contour” Road Book of England (Northern Division) arrived yesterday and was delivered by James in the evening. It describes the road from Warrington to Northwich that I was travelling today in the reverse direction as ‘Class II. The road has good surface but is slightly rough approaching Northwich’. Points of interest are: Manchester Ship Canal, Budworth, Budworth Mere and Northwich Salt Works’. Today was dry and warm but overcast and even a little misty to begin with. I left Lostock Gralam on the A559 Hall Lane. It passes Wincham Hall which is now a hotel and wedding venue. A little further on the road crosses the Wincham Brook.
At the Great Budworth Crossroads there is a small hut and I wondered what it was.
Looking inside, it is a well and used to be the only water supply for the village. My water bottle was still full at that point.
Further on, in Marston is the Lion Salt Works, down a side road, which is now a museum. The road continues to wind around through Antrobus and Lower Stretton. By the time I got to the A49/M56 interchange, I had done just over seven miles. In total I passed five pubs, one derelict and none of the others open for coffee. At least there was a bench just before the roundabout for a rest. I had left Vale Royal and was entering Warrington. Like many of our larger towns and cities the outer main roads are lined with 1930s houses. Car ownership had increased, and people moved further out. This is the case in Appleton. The road started to descend towards the Bridgewater Canal. It is part of the Cheshire Ring which is a 98 mile walk.
The A49 London Road here is on the route of a Roman Road but the current bridge dates from 1936. The sun was trying to get through, it was warming up, a canal side pub, The London Bridge was open, and a cold beer was needed. The bar staff were asking what I was doing and thought I was a bit daft but wished me luck and re-filled my water bottle.London road continues through Stockton Heath where the buildings are Victorian and crosses the Manchester Ship Canal with only one mile to go to the centre. I had my lunch near here and a mile further on, I crossed the River Mersey to Centre Park where my accommodation was.
I sat by the river for a while. Network Rail were repairing the rail bridge upstream. I heard lots of birds and bees were feeding on the clover but there was no wildlife on the water, just a plastic bottle floating downstream.
Total mileage today was 11.4 and after yesterday on the Cheshire Plain with altitudes less than the 86m above sea level we are at home, the highest point today was 106m.
We left Edinburgh and the haar behind this morning and by the time we reached a friend’s house between Pathhead and Lauder, it was warm and sunny enough to have our coffee outside in the garden. After that we scooted over the hill on a B road between Lauder and Stow to the A7. These cattle were hoping to get some shade from the heat by sitting under this tree but it was not yet in leaf. Highland Cattle with their heavy furry coats are not designed for hot weather.
All the way down the A7 the grass verges were full of dandelions in bloom and gorse in bloom on the hillside. There is a saying dating from some time from the 19th century that when gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of fashion. No worries about that today. We found a picnic spot just south of Langholm next to a path that led down to the River Esk. It is supposed to be a fishing spot but fish tend to hide in good weather so no-one was fishing today.
The motorway part of the drive was uneventful until we got closer to home when due to delays and accidents we got off and drove over the Manchester Ship Canal by the Warburton Bridge and very slowly towards home as the motorway was closed and the surrounding roads gridlocked.
The bridge always reminds me of some we crossed on Route 66 and maybe we will find some more on the Lincoln Highway in a few weeks time.
Yesterday was the day I decided to do my fund-raising venture and drive from Smallwood to Edinburgh via B roads rather than the usual motorway route. We left at 7am and the first few miles were towards Swettenham, a village with a great pub and a church the Choral Society used to sing in at Advent. However, on this occasion we passed it by and made our way towards the Warburton Toll Bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal. We paid our 12p toll and once across had to do a few miles on the A57 before picking our way through Winwick, Newton le Willows and Wigan. In Wigan, we had a brief stretch of the legs and bought the paper before carrying on towards and around Preston. Once past Preston it was much easier to head over to Longridge and Clitheroe where we had a coffee stop and short dog walk by the river. Our route continued through Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria passing many small towns and villages. One had a Passion Play in the town centre and we were listening to the Bishop of Bradford’s Good Friday message on the radio. In Cumbria the radio signal vanished so I put on my Easter music CD which started with Mascagni’s Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana which had sung in our last concert. Lunch was eaten beside Pendragon Castle near Kirby Stephen but unfortunately the castle was closed to the public as the building was deemed to be dangerous. We had to be content with a photograph. Under the blue sky the spring flowers were amazing. Sheep and lambs were sleeping in the sun in fields and on the hills. We crossed the border on the B6318 and were again on more familiar roads via Langholm, Eskdalemuir, Traquair, Peebles, West Linton and through Midlothian to Edinburgh. James calculated that we had completed the 310 miles with an average speed of around 33 miles per hour. We followed several tractors and farmers feeding their stock, waited for rabbits, pheasants and sheep to move from the road and even two Buddhist monks who were walking in the middle of the road at Eskdalemuir. We saw places we would love to revisit with more time to explore. Although I did not feel tired when driving and felt that I could have carried on further, as soon as I stopped, I felt quite exhausted.