Wednesday, May 7 – Delamere Forest

I was off again this morning along that well-used road through Atherton and Glazebury and over Chat Moss.  These roads, wearisome as a rule, yet at present seem fresh in their new Spring garb, lead to others, old – but new.  I was keen on seeing the woodland glades of Delamere at this belated season.  At Warburton, I struck a real April shower, rain and hail, which beat a hard tattoo on my bare head, and made my face and hands smart.  When I was nicely soaked – I was travelling capeless – I found shelter beneath that narrow canal bridge, on the road from Heatley to Broom Edge.  An old chap – a road mender – also sheltering, made very pleasant company for ten minutes, until it blew over.  At Broom Edge I struck sunshine once more.  Half a mile from High Legh, I took a muddy path which ran under a line of shady trees to the old church, near where it regained the road.  The Great Budworth road was next, for three miles to an old fashioned signpost, from where I took a gated road to Arley Green, Mill and Mere.  Though I have often passed so near, this is the first time I have ever seen this old-world spot.  What a subject for a camera or sketch book!  The old cottages, the ancient, half timbered mill worked by a water wheel, and the pretty mere, made the divergence well worthwhile.  A footpath lined with brambles and bracken apparently led to nowhere, so I had to return to Arley Green, after partaking of a light lunch.  During a cigarette break, I heard clearly for ten minutes on end, the first cuckoo I have heard this season.

Returning to the Budworth road, I trekked along to the village, then Comberbach, Little Leigh, and another quiet footpath to Acton Bridge in the Weaver Valley.  Then up the steep hill on the other side, up to Milton and Crowton.  Bearing left, climbing all the while, to Norley, Hatchmere and then the switchback through the forest of Delamere.  The abundance of golden bracken and dead leaves, and the tender blades of new grass with the bright, newly washed leaves, seemed to combine Spring with Autumn.  All too soon I reached Mouldsworth, and traversed the cinder road to Manley.  Here I got some good views of the Wirral, the river Dee, the level plain around Chester, and the Welsh mountains crowned by blunt, tower topped Moel Fammau, some of the lesser peaks, rocky, and ridges like a savage, toothed saw.  Continuing, I climbed Frodsham Lordship, from where the Mersey and the flat lands around lay like a huge plan before me.  Then I flew downhill through Overton to Frodsham, and Chester road to Sutton Weaver.  To rid myself of this main road, I turned for Northwich to Whitley, and the Tarporley road to Stretton.  A bylane led me by Appleton, swooping me down to Grappenhall and Thelwall Brook for tea.  When I was comfortably enclosed inside, a storm broke with great fury.  Thunder rolled and lightening played, everything going dark.   But before I was ready to leave, the sun was shining again.  I took the bylane to Lymm, then Heatley, and the usual route over Warburton Bridge to Rixton, Chat Moss to Glazebury, Leigh, Atherton and home in another storm.                                                                                       80 miles