From today’s Friday Walk I want to show you somewhere that might surprise you. A land of leafy hidden lanes, shaded woodlands, rolling valleys, ancient houses, charming villages and verdant parkland. We will walk round a large area of a major city and be mostly well away from major roads. Welcome to South Liverpool.
Years ago when a Dutch friend came to stay we walked along here. And as soon as we got to here she exclaimed ‘Now I am in England. This is exactly how I pictured it would look!’
Yes, England, that land we Scousers like to say we’re not a part of. That Tory Euro sceptic immigrant hating not in my back yard curtain twitching country we so despise. Because we’re an independent city-state, looking proudly and enterprisingly out at the world. At places like Hamburg, New York, San Francisco and Shanghai. Places much more like us than poxy lost in its past England.
Well yes, all admirable and some of it even true. But come with me now and I’ll walk you through a picture perfect vision of England in high summer. And in all of the walk our footsteps will never leave Liverpool.
Crossing the park we’re looking for a narrow path.
Getting to here we’re having our first meeting of the day with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. These paths in and around and across a golf course were the route they’d take from John’s house to Paul’s house, making up their first songs together, back in the late 1950s.
Walking along the lane by municipal Allerton golf course, the first of the houses always comes as a bit of a surprise.
The city council use it now as a grit store for icy winter days. A relatively noble ending really.
Which is all I’ll say about slavery today, for once. I’ve written about another version of this walk before, ‘Lost Liverpool’ – and that contains all the full references and rantings you’ll need. So I won’t repeat myself.
I’ve never understood golf. A so called sport that seems to involve very little exercise. Indeed some of its participants can be seen driving themselves around the course in little carriages. And it’s a pastime that requires large areas of countryside to be obsessively manicured and managed well beyond being of any use to any wildlife whatsoever.
Having said that, at least this is a municipal course and the, mostly, blokes mooching around it have always seemed like decent types. They’re not toffs and it’s not private. Which means of course that its currently being threatened by ‘austerity’ politics.
Let’s walk on.
We’ll be back later for a look at what there is left of this grand estate.
Returning gently to the earth now. Unlike the great abolitionist’s house Allerton Hall (yes, sorry these places have all got more or less the same name – not much creativity going round in the 18th century), which we won’t visit today. The Hall is now a thriving pub, a specialist venue for the after-funerals trade.
And briefly along our only major road of the walk.
Through a gap in the walls of the Camp Hill estate we pass into the neighbouring estate of ‘Woolton’.
In fact Woolton’s only been a part of Liverpool since 1913.
Sadly the public baths there is closed at the moment. But local people are working hard to get them fixed and reopened. (Find out much more here from the Woolton Village Residents Association.)
And as any fule kno, the church féte there is where John Lennon met Paul McCartney one balmy summer’s day in 1957.
Time for a sit down and something to eat.
Not a pond these days, sadly. Though it might be amusing to fill it back up sometime?
So, a lovely place, clearly having some troubles, but with locals working hard to fix them. I’ll be back for a more detailed look around one day.
But before leaving Woolton, let’s go and look at one more thing.
Yes, even I can see it’s a Tesco now. But before this it was a Bear Brand tights factory. And before that it was the dairy farm run by John Lennon’s Uncle George. Husband of the redoubtable Aunt Mimi who brought our John up.
Walking through history. One of my favourite occupations.
Another slave-trader’s house, information and ranting here, but today let’s just look.
And oh look, one of the most beautiful things in all of Liverpool.
Sorry about the ranting. Couldn’t help it.
Formerly the home of the McIver family, who owned Cunard.
Finishing the great Hackney book I recommended the other day.
See, I told you it would be a gorgeous walk. Typical, picture book English summer. And all in Liverpool.
Before we leave the park let’s have a look at the Calderstones.
Around about 2,000 years older than Stonehenge, in case you were wondering.
And that’s it. Home again now after a beautiful summer walk through rolling England.