For several years we would walk every Friday and during 2012 we wrote about these walks every week for the whole year. Then this year they stopped, mainly because Sarah’s working pattern changed. As well as being part of ‘a sense of place’ she’s also now an independent funeral celebrant and therefore often needs to work on Fridays. So we have gone on walks, but not so regularly, fitting them in round both of our work.
Well I’ve missed the regularity, the rhythm and the ritual of the Friday Walks. So I’m starting them again. I don’t know if they’ll be every week, and Sarah will come on them only when and if she can. But I need to walk, for me.
Today’s walk is out on the Marshlands in the Dee Estuary. I’ve not done this particular walk on my own before but I’m always happy to spend time on my own. So let’s go.
Beginning at the long disused open air swimming pool near Parkgate, facing the coast of Wales.
It’s a cool and windy day.
Filled with autumn leaves.
And berries on the trees.
Up the ancient steps onto the old sea wall.
This far up, the Dee Estuary is long silted up now, (plus the river’s main channel was changed to run close to the opposite shore). But you can still imagine waves lapping here.
And ships sailing upstream to Parkgate and beyond.
Looking very hard you can just see Hilbre Island in the centre of the picture, out at the mouth of the Estuary.
And here’s an ancient slipway for launching craft out into the river.
There are lots of geese around, arriving from the far north for their version of a balmy winter.
As the sea wall ends it’s time to descend, out onto the Marshlands.
The channels out here still low, another 4 hours ’til the tide comes in, I have checked.
Muddy between the rushes, glad of my watertight boots, but I have known it much wetter than this.
And up ahead, a piece of might have been.
Gayton, might have been a holiday resort if the sea had stayed.
Late Georgian, early Victorian railings.
A slipway for taking those horse-drawn bathing huts out into the water. When the water was here.
I stop for my lunch and read about here even longer ago than that. Back 12,000 years to the last ice age when the whole of Northern Europe was covered by an extension of the polar ice cap. Ice sheets 3 to 4km thick pressing down on the underlying rocks and forming the river valleys we have today.
And I very quickly find out something I didn’t know.
I’d always assumed the ice flowed off the land into the sea, sort of downhill. Not so, the ice flowed from the north, from the pole.
I’m sure I’ll be writing more on here about what looks like a great book. But now it’s back out into the landscape he’s talking about.
And the day has turned sunny.
So layers are removed and the walking resumes.
This is a glorious place.
Full of pieces of its past.
Registered in Chester.
And now almost returned to the Earth.
As I sit in the boat I contemplate being returned to the Earth somewhere round here myself. This would seem right. I’ve always been so happy, so at home, out in this Estuary.
Before too long now the tide will flow back into the channel here and, well, float these boats.
But I don’t want to leave just yet, so I find a dry bit of Marsh and sit down for another read.
Then I walk on, turning off at Lower Heswall and leaving the Marshlands behind for a while.
Walking part of the way back along the disused railway line that is the Wirral Way.
Where it’s autumnal die-back time.
But colours continue too.
Then it’s back down for another bit of Marshland.
Upstream towards Parkgate.
When I get to Parkgate the day is once more cold and grey.
So were the proprieties complied with?
Of course they were!