Maiden Castle & Bickerton – Dec 2019

It’s that time of year again, time to get out in the cold and mud for an end of year walk or two. This was an area that I’d made note of when I did my Sandstone Trail walk as the views were brilliant. It was also a chance to try out my new boots in a forgiving environment. You may have noticed my featured image has been updated with those self same boots … if not, focus readers, focus!

360° panoramic tease shot!
360° panoramic tease shot!

The walk I found online as a handy PDF file and was estimated at 3 miles (5 km) in length, taking 2 – 2 ½ hours and only a 35 minute drive away … bonus.

Route map
As ever, there’s a Google Earth kmz file here for anyone who wants to follow my wanderings.

The National Trust do a great job looking after sites like this so everyone can enjoy them. The only downside is that it makes them popular and hence busy. By the time I got back to the small, hardcore car park I might as well have been parked up at a supermarket! If you’ve not already worked out from my previous posts, I like a good amount of solitude when I’m walking … just me and nature where possible. Anyway, that aside, it was a pleasant walk and a few images follow for your perusal and enjoyment …

Malpas

Winter doesn’t provide many opportunities for walking in Britain … unless you’re very brave or simply crazy! One of the things I learned from this particular walk is that I need to invest in a quality pair of wellington boots if I plan to make winter walking a regular thing.

This was walk 11 taken from the excellent book “Circular Walks along the Sandstone Trail” and starting in the Cheshire village of Malpas was an 8 1/2 mile circular (the clue is in the book’s title!) route. It was undertaken in the period between Christmas and New Year 2018 … to be precise on the 27 Dec.

Malpas circular walk courtesy of ‘Circular walks along the Sandstone Trail’

Before the pictures I’d like to impart a piece of advice, don’t follow the route described in a book to the letter and don’t hang on to a barbed wire fence in a vain attempt to circumvent a water logged field, particularly if the hedge the barbed wire runs through is full of gorse bushes! To add insult to injury, when you look back and see some local dog walkers taking the route the other side of the hedge with no problems at all … well, you see what I mean …

Sandstone Trail Part III

And so to the final leg of my Sandstone Trail walk, from the Bickerton Poacher (between Bulkeley and Bickerton) down to Whitchurch. A distance of roughly 12 miles … though it felt a lot longer!

I’ve read that the Trail has been extended in the recent past so that it ends at a more convenient location with easier access to transport … that location being Whitchurch. If I’m honest I’d say it feels like it’s been tacked on, as the scenery is not a patch on what came before and walking 3 miles along the Llangollen canal seems like whoever added the extension became bored and went for the easy option. That being said, it was a wonderful walk and a great experience … I’m very pleased I took the plunge!

 

 

 

Sandstone Trail – prologue

That period between the end of the summer holidays and Christmas has always been a drag for me … the days get shorter, the clocks go back at the end of October and after the glorious riot of colour at the beginning of Autumn it just feels like a long slog to the end of the year. My employer has a fixed shutdown pattern that leaves a number of floating holidays which I always save to the end of the year. Two years ago I had the idea of combining items from my bucket list (in that first case a long weekend in the wonderful city of Edinburgh) with using up some of my holidays. I got to visit a place I’ve always wanted to go and break the monotony of year end … win win!

Since that first trip I try every year to think of somewhere I’ve never been or something I’ve never done and arrange at least one long weekend away. This year is no different and I have two trips lined up … the first being a walk along the Sandstone Trail.

I’ve walked a few sections of the Sandstone Trail over the years. It’s a sandstone ridge that runs for a total of 34 miles through the heart of Cheshire from Frodsham at its most Northern point to Whitchurch in the South … and I thought why not? I’ve never done a walk over multiple days before so now’s the time to give it a go. Beginning next Saturday morning I’ll be getting a taxi to the railway station and a train to Frodsham. From there I’ll walk 14 miles to Tarporley where I’ll stay over night. Sunday will be an 8 mile walk to Bulkeley where I’ll stop over again. Then Monday will be the final, 11 mile leg to Whitchurch where it’s time for another train and taxi ride home.

The route is described in the wonderful book by Tony Bowerman – Walking Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail, which is the official guide.

Sandstone Trail official guide book
Walking Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail – Tony Bowerman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll also be making use of a wonderful PDF guide which I stumbled across on the South Cheshire Harriers website. That’ll be the one that lives in the waterproof map bag should the heavens decide I need a shower or two! I live in hope that the weather is kind to me during the weekend and I’ll be able to post a few images after the walk. Wish me luck!

P.S. Things like this are also a big test of my anxiety as I can find myself trapped in thoughts of things going wrong … the usual “What if …?” thought patterns that so many people with anxiety suffer from. But they’re also an opportunity to push through the anxiety and come out the other side stronger and less willing to listen to that negative inner voice.