High Summer in South Liverpool

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.

Beginning here. At All Hallows Church, Allerton.

Beginning here. At All Hallows Church, Allerton. Stained glass windows in there by Pre Raphaelites Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris

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.

Into Calderstones Park where the borders are in high summer flowering.

Into Calderstones Park where the borders are in their high summer flowering.

Checking on my bench in the English Garden as we pass.

Checking on my bench in the English Garden as we pass.

A present from Sarah thirteen birthdays ago.

A present from Sarah thirteen birthdays ago.

Crossing the park we’re looking for a narrow path.

A secret lane.

A secret lane.

Which leads to further hidden pathways.

Which leads to further hidden pathways.

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 house is called 'Allerton' - what's left of it.

The house is called ‘Allerton’ – what’s left of it.

The city council use it now as a grit store for icy winter days. A relatively noble ending really.

For a slave-trader's house.

For a slave-trader’s house.

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.

The house looks out on what was once its garden, now a golf course.

The house looks out on what was once its garden, now a golf course.

And we walk along the path where the carriages would come and go, centuries ago.

And we walk along the path where the carriages would come and go, centuries ago.

Out across what I believe id called a fairway.

Out across what I believe is called a fairway.

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.

Into these good wide lanes around another former grand estate.

Into these good wide lanes around another former grand estate.

Lanes that never, somehow, became roads.

Lanes that never, somehow, became roads.

At the top of the lane is the Lodge House of Allerton Towers.

At the top of the lane is the Lodge House of Allerton Towers.

We’ll be back later for a look at what there is left of this grand estate.

But crossing quiet Woolton Road we're through this gateway to what's now Clarke Gardens.

But crossing quiet Woolton Road we’re through this gateway to what’s now Clarke Gardens.

In fact the grounds of another grand estate.

In fact the grounds of another estate.

Here is the walled garden of William Roscoe.

Here is the walled garden of William Roscoe.

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.

Walking through the cemetery.

Walking through the cemetery.

And the Hebrew cemetery next door.

And the Hebrew cemetery next door.

And briefly along our only major road of the walk.

Though in high summer even Menlove Avenue looks relatively rural.

Though in high summer even Menlove Avenue looks relatively rural.

A green and pleasant land.

A green and pleasant land.

Crossing the road and through another little gateway.

Crossing the road and through another little gateway.

To yet more open land.

To yet more open land.

This is Camp Hill.

This is Camp Hill.

And the house of that name stood here.

And the house of that name stood here.

Looking back, this was their view.

Looking back, this was their view.

Down the hill, through the woodlands, across the retail park and warehouses, across the river, to the Wirral and Wales.

Down the hill, through the woodlands, across the retail park and warehouses, across the river, to the Wirral and Wales.

Through a gap in the walls of the Camp Hill estate we pass into the neighbouring estate of ‘Woolton’.

Peering through the gates of Woolton's walled garden.

Peering through the gates of Woolton’s walled garden.

Down the driveway of the Woolton estate we approach the village of Woolton.

Down the driveway of the Woolton estate we approach the village of Woolton.

More like a proper little town on the southern edge of Liverpool.

More like a proper little town on the southern edge of Liverpool.

In fact Woolton’s only been a part of Liverpool since 1913.

And retains a sense of place all of its own.

And retains a sense of place all of its own.

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.)

Our boys used to swim here.

Our boys used to swim here.

The Grapes, a picture perfect English pub.

The Grapes, a picture perfect English pub.

And up the road there is St Peter's Church.

Up the road there is St Peter’s Church.

And as any fule kno, the church féte there is where John Lennon met Paul McCartney one balmy summer’s day in 1957.

Crocosmia in Woolton Village.

Crocosmia in Woolton Village.

Time for a sit down and something to eat.

Here at Lodes Pond.

Here at Lodes Pond.

Not a pond these days, sadly. Though it might be amusing to fill it back up sometime?

Woolton. Proper urban streets. Like a real town.

Woolton. Proper urban streets. Like a real town.

Lots of quarrying went on round here. Quarrymen living in these cottages.

Lots of quarrying went on round here. Quarrymen and their families living in these cottages.

Woolton Library, also sadly closed.

Woolton Library, also sadly closed.

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.

In the dip there, a dairy and a meadow full of cows.

In the dip there, a dairy and a meadow full of cows.

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.

Back across Menlove Avenue we're back in time to a different avenue.

Back across Menlove Avenue we’re back in time to a different avenue.

We're back at Allerton Towers.

We’re back at Allerton Towers.

Another slave-trader’s house, information and ranting here, but today let’s just look.

Another perfect high summer border.

Another perfect high summer border.

A secret garden.

A secret garden.

And oh look, one of the most beautiful things in all of Liverpool.

The Orangery, Allerton Towers.

The Orangery, Allerton Towers.

Along the side of where the house used to be.

Along the side of where the house used to be.

I am drawn constantly to this place.

I am drawn constantly to this place.

More beautiful in its slow crumbling.

More beautiful in its slow crumbling.

Then when it was the show off place of horticulture.

Then when it was the show off place of horticulture.

For a family of evil bastards.

For a family of evil bastards.

Now this land, like almost everywhere we've walked today, is public. Owned and  cared for by us, the people of Liverpool.

Now this land, like almost everywhere we’ve walked today, is public. Owned and cared for by us, the people of Liverpool.

Sorry about the ranting. Couldn’t help it.

Out of the back gate of Allerton Towers.

Anyway, out of the back gate of Allerton Towers.

Into the hidden lanes once more, walk nearly over.

Into the hidden lanes once more, walk nearly over.

Back across the golf course.

Back across the golf course. Men wondering what the little hole in the grass is for.

Indian Balsam, looking beautiful.

Along the lane, Indian Balsam, looking beautiful.

'It's a rabid and invasive weed!' snaps a passing Sarah as she sees me writing this.

‘It’s a rabid and invasive weed!’ snaps a passing Sarah as she sees me writing this.

Back to the long straight secret lane.

Back to the long straight secret lane.

And once again into Calderstones Park.

And once again into Calderstones Park.

Where the Reader Organisation have taken over the running of the Mansion House.

Where the Reader Organisation have taken over the running of the Mansion House.

Formerly the home of the McIver family, who owned Cunard.

The Reader Organisation have also opened this splendid café too.

The Reader Organisation have also opened this splendid café too.

Time for a cup of tea, a piece of cake, a sit and a good long read.

Time for a cup of tea, a piece of cake, a sit and a good long read.

Time passes, in high summer England.

Time passes happily, in high summer England.

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.

In their recently refurbished home.

In their recently refurbished home.

Liverpool's late neolithic treasure, 5 to 6,000 years old.

Liverpool’s late neolithic treasure, 5 to 6,000 years old.

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.

Along Allerton Road. Recognisably back in Liverpool.

Along Allerton Road. Recognisably back in Liverpool.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “High Summer in South Liverpool

  1. john appleby

    Thanks for posting. My old stomping ground.In fact was married in All Hallows church in 73 but have lived in North Wales since 77. I rarely get the chance to get back to South Liverpool now, having no family left in the area. Your photos certainly make me want to spend a day there, following in your footsteps and showing my Midlander partner that Liverpool is not the back to back terraces and bomb sites that the London media would have the public believe. Regards John

    Reply
  2. Maureen

    Wonderful images of places I know so well having lived in Woolton before moving to Australia. I have a few old photographs of the Calder Stones when they were in their original place. There’s no place for me to add a photo here otherwise I would have done so. Thank you for the memories.

    Reply
  3. Paul Crookall

    There are walking tours in the City centre – which has, admittedly, the greatest concentration of Listed Buildings outside of London – but there are walks both healthier, because unpolluted, and of greater interest historically (taking in the old borough boundary stones in Rose Lane and Green Lane) out in the suburbs.

    Since the 1960s, people who came to Liverpool as students have stayed on for life – because they are masochistic perverts who wallow in living In Our Liverpool Slums and Will Never Get a Job? Of course not. Glasgow also suffers from worn-out stereotyping. It still comes as a shock to visitors when they discover that Liverpool has the greatest percentage of urban parklands of any major city in Europe. Given the competition, that is a magnificent boast.

    Reply

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