Midge Walkers

Walk  No. 34

Much Hoole 22-04-12

The first thing to say about today’s walk is that we were graced with a beautiful sunny day for our Sunday afternoon stroll. As Rodney said: four miles as flat as flat can be – and this time he was right!

There were 14 and a half in the group – Alice was the half – but she can walk as well as any of us! And we met at St Michael’s Church in Hoole (built in 1628, it became the parish church in 1641: more about that later).

After a short walk along Liverpool Road (the A59) we turned off into real country- side and soon came across the tracks of the old West Lancashire Railway, one of the casualties of Dr Beeching’s report on British Railways in the 1960s. The route is clearly visible but the rails have been removed.

We had to negotiate stiles occasionally, but Rodney insisted that a stile was not a stile if it was alongside a gate – an opening gate, that is; if the gate could not be opened, then it was a stile! This made keeping the score rather difficult, as most gates can be opened if enough force is applied! I think we need to speak to our ‘stile expert’ for a precise definition, but Judy was not with us today.

The River Douglas is a very substantial tidal river, which connects to Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea. The banks are deep in mud, particularly when the tide is out but the path took us along dykes (our American friends would call it a levee) which gave us added height and a better view; the river is impressive. Eventually we came across the Hesketh Boat Yard and Tarleton Lock neither showing much activity on this Sunday afternoon.

So, that was it, a couple of hours of gentle exercise in pleasant company, and for me at least, discovering a part of Lancashire, almost on my doorstep, that I knew nothing at all about!

(St Michael’s Church is often linked to Jeremiah Horrocks who was born in 1618 and died at the young age of 23. He went to study at Emmanuel College in Cambridge at the age of 14 and became the greatest astronomer of his time. Against the theories of many other astronomers, he predicted that the Transit of Venus would occur in 1639 – and he was right! He carried out many of his observations from Carr House in Bretherton, but he has always been associated with St Michael’s Church.)

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