Sankey Valley

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This page last updated Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Sankey Valley Park - part of the Mersey Forest on the Trans Pennine Trail...

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During the summer of 2004 I walked through Sankey Valley Park from Callands to Fiddlers Ferry. On my journey I took more than 1,400 photographs over a period of 6 days, covering everything apart from human life. This page features just over 100 of those photos. One day I will photograph the rest of the valley! It is only a brief introduction to the delights of nature right here in the centre of Warrington!

Sankey Valley Park is a public park stretching from St Helens in the north via Warrington to Widnes in the south-west of the region. It occupies part of the Sankey Valley and the main section of the park in Warrington covers over 1 miles between Sankey Bridges in the south and Callands in the north. The valley follows the course of Sankey Brook and the now disused Sankey Canal.

The park is enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and anglers and the central section of the park is family orientated with children's play features, a maze and grass areas. Bewsey Old Hall sits on the edge of the central section of the park and the former RAF Burtonwood lies one mile (1.6 km) to the west. The Trans Pennine Trail passes around 500 yards (460 m) from the southern tip of the Warrington section.

Sankey Valley follows the course of England's first canal, Sankey Canal, and stretches for 15 miles (24 km) from St Helens through Warrington to Widnes. The canal was opened in 1757 (four years before the first section of the Bridgewater canal opened in 1761) to carry coal from the mines around the St Helens area to the markets of Liverpool and Cheshire; it pioneered the canal age. The canal was responsible for shaping the valley, its environment and development from the late 18th century to the early 20th century.

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The Act authorising the Sankey Brook Navigation, as the Sankey Canal was originally known, was passed in 1755. The engineer was Henry Berry who was the Liverpool's Second Dock Engineer. The canal was built for the Mersey flats, the sailing craft of the local rivers - the Mersey, Irwell and Weaver - and the Lancashire and North Wales coasts. To allow for the masts, all the roads in the canal's path had to be carried over swing bridges. The canal was originally used to carry coal from St Helens to Liverpool and in later years to carry sugar from Liverpool to Sankey Sugar Works at Earlestown. Like most of the country, the arrival of the railways saw the end of the canal system as a means of industrial transport. The canal was closed in 1963 and lay abandoned with parts filled in.

Sankey Valley Park was created between St Helens and Spike Island at Widnes (close to Runcorn-Widnes Bridge), via north and west Warrington (Winwick, Callands, Dallam, Bewsey, Sankey and Fiddlers Ferry). It opened on 25 July 1982 and forms part of the larger Mersey Forest and Trans Pennine Trail. The area around Callands was once woodland and formed part of the royal hunting forest of Henry I.

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Today the local authorities of Warrington, St Helens and Halton, along with the Sankey Canal Restoration Society, are developing the Sankey Canal Trail as a 15-mile (24 km) greenway, whilst working towards the restoration of a navigation route.

Follow my trail through the park. Maybe it will inspire you to have a day out there yourself
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> Stanners Pool v

Stanners Pool is named after Dave Stanner, a Dallam resident who is no longer with us. It is stocked with a variety of fish, including rudd, bream, carp, gudgeon and perch. In my senior school days in the second half of the 1970s, the canal banks formed part of our cross-country route from Bewsey Lock to what is now the A574 Cromwell Avenue near Callands, doubling back through Callands Farm fields and Bewsey Woods. It was all farmland in those days. Our games master always offered 2p to anybody who could beat him back to the school gym. Nobody got paid!

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v Callands < to Dallam <
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We had a shorter cross-country route around Bewsey Woods and this came to my advantage. It was a well-known fact at school that I was not a sporty kind of person (C- "far too timid, must try harder" was on one of my school reports!) So Sir must have been very surprised to find me asking to go on the cross-country run every lesson. What he didn't know was that I used to run out of school and off into the woods on the short route. Except my short route was even shorter than the official short route! As soon as I got out of site of the playing fields I used to stop in the woods for an hour before going back to school. He never did find out!

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> Bewsey Woods > > v

Close to Bewsey Woods and Callands at Westbrook is Gulliver's World Theme park, which opened in 1989. Bewsey Woods is managed by The Woodland Trust. On my school cross-country skives we were often accompanied by a dog through the woods. One friend said the dog would never get lost - he knows these woods like the back of his paw!
See his photo on the My Warrington page (the dog, not my friend!).

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Sankey Valley Park highlights one of the many advantages of living in Britain:
you don't have to travel very far to enjoy everything that nature has to offer.

An array of wildlife can be found in the park. Diurnal creatures include squirrels, swans, butterflies and woodland birds. Nocturnal inhabitants include foxes, owls, mice, hedgehogs and bats. More rarely seen species such as stoats and weasels, treecreepers, kingfishers, water voles and reed bunting have all been spotted in the park.

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Lady Isabella > Reflections v

Lady Isabella's statue can be found at the centre of the maze. Don't lose your way!

Bewsey (Old) Hall was the home to the lords of the manor of Warrington from the 13th century to the 17th. Prior to the Hall being built, a monastic grange existed on the site. A hall was first built on the site by William Fitz Almeric le Boteler. The current hall is a three-storey, mostly Jacobean building. It has distinctive chimneys and stone mullion windows, which are most likely the work of Sir Thomas Ireland and date back to around 1600. Sir Thomas was knighted at Bewsey by King James I in 1617. Later additions to the Hall include a farmhouse and kitchen, dating from the 18th century and 19th century with earlier foundations. The original 14th century moat only partly holds water today.

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Bewsey Lock
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Looking south < Bewsey Old Hall Bewsey Hall Lodge <
sankey_valley_park_041.JPG (56538 bytes)  The name Bewsey comes from 'beau see' meaning beautiful site.

The Old Hall district of Warrington is named after the hall. Over recent years many attempts have been made to create other uses for the ancient hall, including a youth centre and, more controversially, a hotel. The current building is about 400 years old. The cottage, Bewsey Hall Lodge, is a private dwelling. In the early 21st century the hall was turned into luxury apartments.

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> > > Trans-Pennine train v

In late spring, orchids can be found in the meadow, whilst a wealth of butterflies visit during the summer. Most of the mature woodlands within the valley are owned by the Woodland Trust who safeguard woods within the landscape, protect habitats for the benefit of wildlife and encourage public access and enjoyment. The woods are particularly picturesque around spring, when an assortment of wild flowers can be seen, and during the autumn leaf falls. A variety of water plants, animals and birds can be seen on or around the park's many ponds, Sankey Brook, the Wetland Nature Reserve or the canal.

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Wood carving
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Ship-shape < Wetland Nature Reserve area (platform by sculpture, right)
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You can access the area above from near Warrington Hospital on the east side
or from Hood Manor on the west of the park. The main car park is also close by.

Look out for the Wetland Nature Reserve, three quarters of a mile from
Bewsey Old Hall, over the footbridge near Whitecross Community Centre.
A display gives details of the kinds of creatures living in the park.

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> > > Spider's web v

Further along you could at one time find a play area with a ship and a spider's web, but these have since been removed.

The photos 'Ship-shape' and 'Spider's web' show how they used to look. Always very popular with the youngsters are the wood carvings along the route of the park.

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Peace Centre A57 looking east < < <
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The park is separated by the busy A57 dual carriageway, but you can cross safely via a footbridge. There are plenty of picnic areas and places to play ball games. Fishing is a very popular pastime.

The Peace Centre, visible from the footbridge, was set up after the Warrington Bomb of 1993.

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> > > > Mersey White Lead Co Ltd

As you approach old Liverpool Road further along by The Sloop Inn, take a slight walk to the left until you reach a stone bridge. It is called Sankey Mill Bridge, or is that Mill Sankey Bridge? If you look closely, it is both! Have a look on both sides of the road. The waterway below is the Sankey Brook. I wonder if they had some of that falling down water in The Sloop before they carved out the letters?

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Sankey Mill Bridge
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v Sankey Bridges < < Mill Sankey Bridge
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Back to the trail, we now approach an industrial area. First we pass the former premises of
the Mersey White Lead Company Limited, and then we cross the railway which used to run to
Manchester and Stockport via Bank Quay Low Level Station. Bygone stations also included Arpley, Latchford and Lymm. The line is still in use for transporting freight, in particular coal to Fiddler's Ferry Power Station. You are now at Sankey Bridges.

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> To Fiddlers Ferry > > v
The walk now takes us to Fiddlers Ferry and the Yacht Haven. One of the country's
largest electricity generating stations is located at Fiddlers Ferry, or to be more precise it is named Fiddler's Ferry, but is in fact at Cuerdley.
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v < < < <
sankey_valley_park_087.JPG (54400 bytes) Families of swans can be seen regularly in the area around Sankey Bridges.
As you walk through the park, make use of the information boards presented
by the Borough Council, Mersey Forest and the Countryside Commission.
Make hay...
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...while the sun shines Daresbury Lab Norton Water Tower > v
The Trans Pennine Trail runs from Hornsea on Humberside to Southport, Merseyside and is
207 miles in length. It is open for walking, cycling and horse riding, but not motorcycles.
Check out the official Trans Pennine Trail website.
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directions
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Sankey Canal River Mersey < < Ferry Tavern
sankey_valley_park_099.JPG (43962 bytes) Sankey Valley continues to Spike Island near the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge.
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Fiddlers Ferry Yacht Haven > To the Mersey <>

Warrington - A Town of Many Industries

mywarrington - created by Gordon I Gandy
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Local Radio - Local Issues - Local Presenters - Proud to be at the Heart of your Community.
Click the station banner, above, select 'Listen Live' and choose your media player.
Or install the TuneIn app on your smartphone or tablet and search for Radio Warrington
The mywarrington Radio Show every Friday lunchtime between 12 and 3 on Radio Warrington.

Home History Timeline Memory Lane Tour 1 Tour 2 Radio Warrington At The Flicks Mr Smith's Shop! Nineteen Nineties 19 Museum Street Legh Street Baths My Warrington RAF Burtonwood On The Waterfront 1 On The Waterfront 2 Warrington Green 1 Warrington Green 2 Sankey Valley On The Buses Peter's Gallery Walk Through Time Making Tracks 1 Making Tracks 2 Making Tracks 3 Warrington People Entertaining People Sporting People Warrington Wolves Warrington Market Classic Motor Shows Events On Top of the World The Bewsian Hamilton Street Golden Square Community Feedback