2012: Friday Walks, The far end

We thought we’d now walked all of Wirral’s Dee Estuary coastline. But on studying the map to see where to go this week, Sarah realised there was a section between Parkgate and the Old Quay, near Neston, that we hadn’t covered. So, ever the completists, we set off to do so.

And yes, I’m well aware that this is a ‘Friday Walk’ taking place on a Saturday. The weather yesterday had been forecast to be another one of those ‘end of the world’ torrential storms and floods weather days, like we’d had in Liverpool on Wednesday. It didn’t turn out that bad in the end. But we knew we wanted to walk out onto the marshland, and you can’t risk that if a torrential flood might be about.

Today, too, was that gloomy non-weather we’ve had so much of in England this summer. But we set off anyway. And as we emerged from the Wallasey tunnel the blue skies of the Wirral were there to greet us.

And arriving at Parkgate, we went to the ‘Far End’ of the village and set off ‘upstream’ into the marsh.

The green, high summer, long-grass marsh…

Like an emerald green ocean floor.

But all too soon, we came to a section that’s an impassable, up to our ankles in it swamp just now. There may have been drier paths further out, but we couldn’t find them in the lush summer growth.

And so were forced to detour through this. Why do people who live close to such wild magnificence, so often turn their settled backs on it like it’s not even there?

But phew, soon we’re back on our way into our friendly wild.

Squelching gloriously.

Such a beautiful day.

Beautiful marsh grass shining with life and inflorescence.

And…? A soft, thistely flower that Sarah has on her list to identify.

Passing signs of life here from long ago.

And life right now, bulrushes beautiful but not yet ripe.

On and on through a golden summer day…

Arriving at the beginning of something seriously old.

Crumbling now, but new in 1550. Then called the ‘New Quay’ – when the river still flowed here.

Crossing to the far side of the ‘New Quay’ we technically complete our walking of the whole of the Wirral side of the Dee coastline.

And arrive at a place we’ve been before. The place that’s been called the ‘Old Quay’ since only fifty years later, when the continuing silting up of this side of the river, meant it had already fallen into disuse and begun its long, slow crumbling. And Parkgate became, for a while, the area’s main port.

Sarah at the Old Quay. Yes, muddy trousers.

Not that far from where we walked last week, on the Welsh border.

Me at the Old Quay. Standing on a stile worn down by hundreds of years of boots.

Now it’s time to turn inland, the day still glorious.

Arriving at the cool shade and birdsong of the Wirral Way.

A disused railway line.

Arriving at Parkgate, where cricket is being played on a perfect summer evening.

And the thirsty walkers need a drink…

And of course…

5 thoughts on “2012: Friday Walks, The far end

  1. stan cotter

    Hi Ronnie and Sarah (I keep forgetting you Sarah), I’ve enjoyed your walk this week through Parkgate and across the marshes. It reminded of a poem from schooldays called
    Sands o’ Dee. I’ve forgotten it now, but your walk brings to mind. The days when people crossed the Dee on foot, herding their cattle or sheep for market.

    Keep it up folks. I really enjoy your jaunts each week and look forward to them very much,
    Best regards, Stan

      1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

        Got a poem comment on Twitter from ‘Kingsley Iball @Single Sphere’, who remembers ‘Mary come call the cattle home Across the sands of Dee.’

        Googling that, brings up this:

        ‘O Mary, go and call the cattle home,
        And call the cattle home,
        And call the cattle home,
        Across the sands o’ Dee !”
        The western wind was wild and dank with foam,
        And all alone went she.

        The creeping tide came up along the sand,
        And o’er and o’er the sand,
        And round and round the sand,
        As far as eye could see.
        The rolling mist came down and hid the land-
        And never home came she.

        “Oh, is it weed, or fish, or floating hair-
        A tress of golden hair,
        A drowned maiden’s hair,
        Above the nets at sea ?”
        Was never salmon yet that shone so fair
        Among the stakes on Dee.

        They brought her in across the rolling foam,
        The cruel crawling foam,
        The cruel hungry foam,
        To her grave beside the sea.
        But still the boatmen hear her call the cattle home,
        Across the sands o’ Dee.

        Charles Kingsley.


        So now we know. We thought we were just out on a walk.

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