Mersey Walk

Over two and a half days in September 2016 the four Trustees at SCC are walking the River Mersey from Liverpool to Stockport to raise funds for the projects we support in Cambodia.
Please donate to help us reach our target.

Why the Mersey?
We've chosen this walk as we are from Liverpool and Manchester. 
The Mersey is 70 miles from the Pier Head (home to the Mersey Ferries Liverpool’s famous river crossing) to Stockport where the Mersey begins at the confluence of the Goyt and the Tame. We will be walking 50 miles as a large section of the Mersey is inaccessible so we will follow either the Trans Pennine cycle route or the Bridgewater Canal. 
We will pay all our own costs. Every penny received will go to front line services in Cambodia.

Why the Mersey? 
The River Mersey is 70 miles long. The source is in Stockport and its mouth in Liverpool Bay. The River passes through Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside.  
The Mekong River is the world’s 12th longest river. It is 2700 miles long. The source is in the Tibetan Plateau, its mouth is the Mekong Delta flowing into the South China Sea. The Mekong flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. 
The four Trustees at SCC can get neither the time off work nor the finances to walk the Mekong River!


Posted on September 22, 2016 .

Day One

Pier Head to Hale 12 miles (not including the 3.5 miles if you do not get the 82 bus)

This is a straight forward walk with little incline. However, do not do as I did which is to set off in summer walking shoes. The sole did not provide sufficient protection from the gravel cycle path. It is hard walking surface nearly the whole way and your feet take a real pounding. Be prepared!

•    At Pier Head turn left and start walking past the ferry terminal on the promenade
•    Enter the Albert Dock and make your way over the swing bridge to the river wall to start this walk. Turn left - south - and walk down the river wall. As you near the end of the Albert Dock buildings you see the Liverpool Echo Arena ahead. 
•    Continue along the riverside past the Arena. On your left you can see the two cathedrals, while breaking the skyline a little further is the prominent redbrick tower above Robert Cain's brewery. Continue towards Customs House. 
•    As you arrive in front of the Customs building you see that it straddles part of Queen's Dock. Past the Customs building is a watersports centre, 
•    Pass more residential developments and arrive, finally, at Brunswick: a real dock entrance.  This used to be the southernmost entrance for large vessels although it has been halved in width to minimise water loss as only small craft now pass through. Continue over this second blanked-off entrance and pass through steel gates ... 
•    Carry on past the former Herculaneum and Harrington dock entrances, with street furniture from when the docks were active. 
•    Head towards the Britannia Inn, a modern pub serving food, with tables outside offering river views. 

•    Continue south past the Britannia. We are now passing the site of the Liverpool Garden Festival along Otterspool Promenade. There is a large red Sitting bull statue. Eventually you reach a cast-iron fingerpost pointing inland to St Michael's station. 
•    St Michael's Hamlet is a historic village, now well inside Liverpool's boundary. The world's first cast-iron church is to be found here, 
•    The promenade ends with a path leading inland. We must take this though we will be reappearing on the promenade clearly visible a little further south, having walked through Grassendale.

•    Walk up into the trees and turn right at the road. 
•    Take the left at the next junction and continue until you come to a set of park gates on your right. 
•    Enter Grassendale Park here and head slightly downhill, back towards the river.
•    On reaching the river, turn left and admire the riverfront houses in this quiet park yet so close to Garston docks. 
•    Pass South Road towards a footpath. 
•    Enter Cressington Park. 
•    Turn up any of the three roads in the park, as they all lead to Cressington Park station and Aigburth Road (A561). Cross over the road from St Mary’s Church and you can get the number 82 bus to Estuary Business Park (20 minutes).
You could walk this section but its 3.5 miles along a dual carriageway with very little to see a part from partial views of Garston Docks. Friendly locals were happy to help us with directions and they all said get the 82 bus!!!

You will see the New Mersey Retail Park on you left and the Crown Plaza on your right. Get off the bus cross the road and turn right on to Estuary Boulevard. Walk straight down towards the river. Where the road turns right and becomes Garston Shore Road carry on across the grass on unmarked but worn paths. There did not appear to be any signs for the Mersey Way but walk towards the green fence on your left. Go through the break in the fence and continue right towards the river. You will see a small boat yard with a slipway. Go in front of this and turn left/east. 
Ignore the red lines which appear around this area as this is the Speke Garston Reserve circular walk which also goes through the grounds of Speke Hall. However you cannot see Speke Hall from the Mersey Way. If you can see it you have gone the wrong way. 
Walk east with the airport to you left and the river close on the right. Follow the Oglet shore parallel to the runways of John Lennon Airport. This path is in a poor state of repair. It is overgrown and it’s easier to get on to the sand to make quicker progress if the tide is out. The bad signage, the overgrown paths and the littered shore spoil what is essentially a rural area between the airport and the river. Turn left at Hale Head lighthouse (no longer operating as a lighthouse) going inland through Hale village in order to avoid Decoy Marsh.


Posted on September 22, 2016 .

Day Two

Hale to Altrincham 24 miles

Hale to Spike Island 4 miles
Follow the Trans-Pennine Trail (Route 62) rejoining the river at Pickering’s Pasture for the stretch up to Runcorn and Warrington.  Go under the Runcorn–Widnes Bridge to reach Spike Island and its marina. Historically an industrial area but between 1975 and 1982 it was reclaimed as wetlands. 

Spike Island to Wilderspool 7 miles
The next short section of the Trans-Pennine Trail is currently closed. During construction of the Mersey Gateway bridge there will be a three year diversion for Trail users Construction is anticipated until Autumn 2017. Follow the detour map from the carpark by the Catalyst Museum. It takes you along the road parallel to the St Helen’s Canal. 
You join the canal approx. 300 yards later than you should. There are bird watching stations set up all along this section of the route. The Fiddler’s Ferry Power station is clearly visible. Walk on past Fiddlers Ferry between the canal and the river. 

Behind Ferry Tavern is a marina. Boats can access the Mersey via Fiddlers Ferry lock The Ferry Tavern is one of Warrington’s oldest pubs. It has arguably the best setting in the town nestling on its own island between the River Mersey and the Sankey to St Helens canal. It is in a unique position situated on the Trans Pennine Trail attracting passing hikers and cyclists.
Cross the Mersey and go under the railway bridge. There is a slight detour here but clear signage takes you back onto the Trans-Pennine Trail (62). I didn’t see any clue as to how long this detour would be there. This is Wilderspool. 

Wilderspool to Thelwall 2 miles
Continue on the Trans-Pennine along Station Road. You come to a junction with Nutsford Road A5061 joining from the left. Turn right and cross the Manchester Ship Canal over the bridge here. Turn left along Thelwall New Road. Continue following the well signed route 62 turning right down Bradshaw Lane. The signs then point you to the left to take you away from the roads still on route 62. You go under the Stockport Road A56. Route 62 runs between Stockport Road and the Bridgewater canal on this section. When you reach Halfacre Lane turn right and join the Bridgewater Canal.  This is Thelwall


Bridgewater Canal Thelwall to Altrincham 11 miles
Turn right and walk east on the north bank of the canal. The canal side industries along the banks up to Lymm and beyond appear to be enterprises dedicated to supporting narrow boat pastimes. At Dunham Massey Park Lane you could choose to cross the bridge and walk down Park Lane to the Swan with Two Nicks pub. After refreshment you can either double back to rejoin canal where you left it on Park Lane or turn left out of pub, cross the bridge over River Bolin and go through Dunham Massey Park. 

Walk straight ahead with the estate, mill and café on your left straight on down tree lined Smithy Drive leaving the park at the gate on to Woodhouse Lane. Follow Woodhouse Lane around to the right until it becomes School Lane. Keep left down School Lane until you come to a bridge where you can rejoin the Bridgewater Canal down steps over the bridge on the right. Just before the bridge is the Chef and Brewer / Axe and Cleaver pub.

As you get closer to Altrincham the canal side scene gets more historically industrial interspersed with new apartment blocks. You can leave the canal on the Manchester Road A56 by the Old Packet House pub.

Posted on September 22, 2016 .

Day Three

Altrincham to Stockport via Sale Waterpark 14 miles

Altrincham to Sale Water Park 6 miles
The next section of the canal is built up on either side. The Metro is frequently visible on the opposite bank between Timperley and Sale.
After you walk under the Manchester Outer Ring Road M60 you will see the Mersey flow under the Bridgewater Canal stay on the canal path. Further on you will come to several canal crossings. Do not take the Trans Pennine route 62 take the first crossing which will take you back to the River Mersey on the opposite side of the Bridgewater canal. Do not cross the Mersey turn left and continue on towards Stockport.
Sale Lake was created in 1972 by the excavation of 35 acres of gravel, to a depth of 30 metres to create the foundations for the adjacent M60 (formerly M63) motorway, which opened in 1974. Today, the Water Park, which opened in 1980, occupies some 45 acres and provides facilities for fishing, birdwatching, water-skiing and other watersports. 

Sale Water Park to Stockport 8 miles
The only pub we found on the riverbank between Stockport and Sale is Jackson’s Boat.  At the end of the 18th century a local farmer named Jackson regularly ferried people across the river by boat, charging them a small fee. In 1814 the land came up for sale as ‘Jackson’s of the Boat’. The ferry was made redundant in 1816 when a wooden footbridge was built over the river and a halfpenny toll charged to cross it on foot or one penny with a bicycle. For many years the pub was known as the Bridge Inn. This bridge was washed away in a storm and was rebuilt in 1881 as an iron girder bridge which still stands today.

The riverbanks are raised along this section with concrete and rock levees to help protect the surrounding area against flooding. There are golf courses on the opposite bank which seem to go on for miles! Walk along several loops (oxbows) in the river under the M60 twice towards Didsbury. At the end of Ford Lane in Didsbury is Simon’s Bridge. This iron structure was built in 1901 and it enabled passage across the river from Didsbury to Northernden. 
Walk onwards to Heaton Mersey go under the A34 Kingsway. At the Waterside Hotel and Leisure Park you need to leave the river for a short distance re-joining it after Waterside carpark. The river continues alongside the Mersey Vale Nature Park and under the M60 again.

When you come up from the Mersey path you will see the Mersey Way shopping centre in front of you. Go through the shopping centre to the far end and you will find a wall surrounding a view of the Mersey passing under the Mersey Way shopping centre, outside The Entertainer shop. Thanks to the guy at the British Heart Foundation shop who could tell us where the river source is. Stockport does not seem to celebrate its location as the source of the River Mersey.

Carry on up the road to the traffic lights and turn left, behind the back of Sainsbury’s supermarket. Cross the road and you will see an inlet in the black metal fence. You can clearly see the confluence of the Rivers Goyt and Tame. Surrounded by concrete it is an auspicious start for such an iconic river. At the far side of this inlet is a wrought iron sculpture which states “Water is Life and Heaven’s Gift. Here Rivers Goyt and Tame become Mersey. Flowing Clear from Stockport to Sea”. 
The Mersey disappears beneath the shopping centre almost immediately and flows onward from whence we came.  


Posted on September 22, 2016 .