Yes, I know, it’s been three weeks since our last Friday Walk. The intervening two Fridays having been complete washouts.
But today was fine. A coolish but dry English summer’s day. And we picked an urban walk today. Along a new route for us, mapped out by me in a run of about 10k I did the week before last. You can’t take photographs on a run though, so this doubles up as a walk report and another ‘Running Free’ route.
This is one of Liverpool’s ‘secret’ lanes, like the ones around Allerton Towers. Ancient bridleways that have never been turned into modern roads.
Running time to here from our’s is about eight minutes.
Then we cross under Aigburth Road through a nasty 1960s subway.
Otterspool is the most mysterious of Liverpool’s parks. Little visited by most of us. A densely wooded valley for the first mile or so.
Before opening out to the former site of Otterspool House.
The house was demolished in 1931. And before Liverpool City Council turned the area into a park, it was used as the municipal dump for the next eighteen years! They also brought the rocks here from the Liverpool end of the Mersey Tunnel, that was being dug in the early thirties.
This might all sound a bit undignified for the land, but actually it was a piece of magnificent and far sighted municipal creativity. Because out of all that rock and rubbish, they made this:
Opened in 1950 and extended in the 1980s by the housing association I was working for then, Liverpool Housing Trust. You can now walk all the way along the promenade into the middle of Liverpool.
On the run I reached the front at Otterspool in 25min:47sec. Yes, I was surprised too.
Today we just go a mile or so along the prom to something sort of new.
I mentioned these a few weeks ago when we did our Docker’s Steps walk. They’re part of the 1984 International Garden Festival site, had been derelict for years, and frankly we weren’t holding out much hope for what might have been done to them now. But when I ran through them a couple of weeks ago, I got the fleeting but distinct impression that they are actually rather good.
Because that’s the great secret of this place. It’s seems new to us now. But in fact its plants have been maturing unobserved for nearly thirty years since the Garden Festival. Like a Secret Garden.
There’s also a fully restored Japanese Garden and woodland walks. And Sarah and Gemma will, I’m sure be coming back here to give you a much longer and more botanical look at the place over on Shine Like a Bee.
And there’s a bit of pure surrealism. The snack bar is a double-decker bus with café seats upstairs!
If you’ve read the comments on our Docker’s Steps blog post, you’ll know that one reader, Stan Cotter, contacted us with the news that ‘The Melly house in Aigburth, by the Dingle Field, my mother used to work there in service.’ So we are walking through part of Stan’s life story here.
(And by the way, the Melly family didn’t just produce George, the great raconteur, writer and jazz singer. There were many other significant Mellys in Liverpool’s history – and a walk around their Melly drinking fountains may one day be organised.)
Next it’s through St Michaels. And on the run I got to here after about forty minutes.
Note, there was no lunch stop on the run!
And no, the run didn’t end with me flat on my back in Greenbank Park. The 10k was completed in 58mins:08secs.