Sunday, March 16 – Eaton Hall and Cheshire in their prime

I had to meet Tom at that little canal bridge on the Chester road between Warrington and Daresbury at 10.30 this morning.  I started at 8.40, in fine form, and soon left Leigh and Lowton behind, reaching Warrington, and then the meeting place at five past ten.  Tom came five minutes later, and after a snack by the wayside, we carried on along the Chester road.  A steady, even pace soon took us through Frodsham and Helsby, reaching Chester at 12.15.  We were famished, but the ‘Olde Edgar’ in Bridge Street gave us a good lunch.  At 1.20 we were off again in bright sunshine, and crossing the old Dee bridge by the historic Dee Mills, we gained the Wrexham road.  Two miles further along, we turned left into the great approach of Eaton Hall, ‘Belgrave Avenue’.  Great trees line the road, giving access to the woods, which were alive with bird life, and rabbits scuttled away on our approach.

The road runs straight for one and a quarter miles to a huge monument, which bears on two sides the coat of arms of the Duke of Devonshire.  Facing us was the fine hall, the many towers and turrets gleaming in the sunshine.  We surveyed the fine place from the wrong side of the gates.  Then we pottered along a quiet, shady lane, coming to the bridge over the river Dee.  Again we stopped, now admiring the pretty, graceful river and its wooded banks.  Soon we reached Aldford, taking a byway to Bruera, where we explored the exterior of the small old church.  That simple little roadside war memorial took our eyes, so neat and small, yet effective it is.  Carrying on, we made via Saighton and Waverton to Huxley, with a tantalising view of the Peckforton Hills.  Now Beeston hove in sight, and as we drew nearer, it again exercised its old, magnetic attractions to me.

Running through Tiverton, we soon stood at the foot of the wooded slope, from which the coloured rock, golden, green, brown and black, rises rugged, sheer, the walls of the castle arising from the very edge.  We tore ourselves away with reluctance, and traversed some lovely lanes to Eaton, and I, who was leading Tom a new way, got lost.  It did not matter however, and after miles of winding roads, we reached Winsford.  Then Middlewich, and the Knutsford road took us to Byley for tea at 6pm.  At 7pm, with lamps lit, we sped along the 8 mile stretch through the Peovers to Knutsford, Tatton Mere, the haunt of wild ducks and herons, was passed, and at Stretford we parted, each satisfied with the days run in the brightest and prettiest parts of a glorious county.

At 10.15  I arrived home, having ‘knocked up’ my first century of the year.

108 miles