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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.
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The mywarrington Radio Show every Friday lunchtime between 12 and 3 on Radio Warrington.

If a tree falls down in the woods and there is no one around to hear it, do the other trees laugh at it?

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This page last updated Monday, 13 July 2015
It's nature's way...

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Warrington Green profiles a selection of the nature
reserves, parks, gardens and open spaces in the town.
See also the complementary On The Waterfront section.

VisitWoods.org.uk  is a Woodland Trust website set up to encourage people to use green areas.

Three Warrington parks and green spaces were awarded the 2012 Green Flag Award. The three are Fox Covert Cemetery, Hollinfare Cemetery and Bewsey Park, which join Walton Hall Gardens, Lymm Dam, Alexandra Park in Stockton Heath, Risley Moss, St Peter's Park, Walton Crematorium, the Walton Lea Project and Burtonwood Cemetery, making 11 in total. Click here for details of the national scheme.

Featured on this page

Paddington Meadows

Sankey Valley Park

Victoria Park
Peel Hall Park Spud Wood Walton Hall & Gardens
Risley Moss Trans Pennine Trail Woolston Eyes
Rixton Claypits The Twiggeries Woolston Park
Life for a Life - Mersey Meadows/Lymm Other Green Areas Bank Park in Bloom
Bewsey Old Hall Warrington Not So Green

In Part 1 we look at Bewsey Meadows, Birchwood Forest Park, Black Bear Park, Burtonwood Nature Park,
Culcheth Linear Park, Lumb Brook Valley, Lymm Dam, Moore Nature Reserve and Orford Park

Information provided by Warrington Borough Council, except Life for a Life charity notes
Additional information, photos and captions Copyright © Gordon I Gandy

Please note that hyperlinks to the council's website are currently out of date
due to circumstances beyond my control. I will update them as soon as possible.

Information correct at time of publication (July 2007).
Please check with Network Warrington on 01925 634296 for bus times and with the Ranger Service
on the telephone number at the end of each section for details of special events.

Paddington Meadows       

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Paddington Meadows is a large area of open farmland close to the centre of Warrington. It is enclosed on three sides by a loop of the River Mersey and along the northern boundary by the disused New Cut Canal. The fields were gifted to the Council in 1995 on the condition that they would be managed as a nature reserve. This special site is an important part of Warrington’s heritage and is the last remaining waterside grassland in the town once typical of the whole river valley.  

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Hawthorn hedges, which are some of the oldest in Cheshire, mark the boundary. They are in full bloom in April and May and attract large numbers of berry-eating fieldfares and redwings in the winter months.  

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The Meadows have been farmed in the current field pattern for at least 200 years. The River Mersey (left) used to flood the area until the weirs at Howley and Woolston tamed it.

The land has been farmed by several generations of the Bennett family. The fields were regularly used to fatten up beef cattle and in recent years artificial fertiliser was applied to encourage grass growth. To allow wildflowers to grow, fertilisers are no longer used.  

The Meadows are isolated to a degree by the now disused New Cut Canal. This canal, built in 1821, was used as a short cut for boat traffic avoiding the severe bends of the river.

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The canal was abandoned in the 1950s but continued to supply water to the Black Bear Canal downstream, via an aqueduct over the river.

Salmon used to be netted in great numbers at this part of the River Mersey until the early 20th century when pollution from the Industrial Revolution brought that to an end. However, The twenty-five-year Mersey Basin Campaign, launched in 1986 to clean up the river, has greatly improved the water quality and certain species of fish are returning.  

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The wildflower meadow
is a protected area.

Boundaries are clearly
marked along the route.

Access for All

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Wheelchairs can access Paddington Meadows from Larkfield Avenue and follow the surfaced path round to the wildflower meadow. Access controls along the way are wheelchair friendly. The path around the riverside edge is not surfaced, uneven in places and unfortunately not suitable for wheelchairs. Pushchairs and buggies should find most of the site accessible with care. Seating is provided at regular Intervals. 

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Improvements have been made in recent years by volunteers from Pingot Conservation Group, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and Groundwork Mersey Valley. 

The Mersey Way New Cut Canal path from Kingsway to New Cut Lane is a public footpath. This path is level and well surfaced.  

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The site is a wonderful place to see nature at its best. On the day I visited, a fire had been started by vandals and in the
height of summer this is highly dangerous and so I called the fire brigade. They put the fire out and, of course, it attracted
a group of small children. When one of the girls saw the remains of the fire she said: "You've called the fire brigade out
for THAT?" But of course, big or small, fires are dangerous.

Directions

Paddington Meadows is close to Kingsway (A50) and Manchester Road (A57). There is no designated car park. Direct access to the riverside path is available from Paddington Bank, Kingsway North. Turn right off the main surfaced path and go through the gate. The riverside path and the New Cut Canal path meet to the right hand side of the Household Waste site at the end of New Cut Lane, Woolston. Alternatively there is access at the end of Larkfield Avenue, approx. 200 metres from Manchester Road. 

There is a frequent bus service (No 3) from Warrington town centre along Manchester Road. Ask for Larkfield Avenue.

How to Contact The Rangers

Please contact the Ranger Service at Woolston Park:
Ranger Centre, Woolston Park, off Somerset Way, Woolston, Warrington.  WA1 4LN.

Telephone/Fax 01925 824398
Email the Rangers  

Peel Hall Park                  

Peel Hall Park was opened in 1986 and was one of a number of parks created throughout Warrington by the New Town Development Corporation.
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Access to the park can be gained through gates off Blackbrook Avenue/Grasmere Avenue. Woodland Paths, meadows, several ponds and a multisport area provide a variety of habitats for wildlife and interest for all the family. Horse riders are welcome to ride in Peel Hall Park, keeping to sign-posted wood-chip paths. Access to the bridleway is off Radley Lane. Peel Hall Park is linked by footpaths and open spaces to the parks of Cinnamon Brow and by public footpath to the wider countryside around Winwick and Croft.
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The Woodland Trust (www.woodland-trust.org.uk) has created Radley Plantation in the north west of the park.  
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Radley Plantation, managed by The Woodland Trust.

Directions

The main car park at Peel Hall is situated close to the junction of Blackbrook Avenue and Capesthorne Road. From Blackbrook Avenue turn into Capesthorne Road and then next right into Greenwood Crescent. Turn right again into Grasmere Avenue and right once more into Foxfield Close. The car park is over a small bridge at the end of the Close.

By bus from Warrington Interchange to Greenwood Crescent (Service 25)

How to Contact The Rangers

Tel/Fax: 01925 658098
Email the Rangers

Ranger Cabin, Orford Park, Alder Lane, Orford, Warrington, WA2 8AG

Two other parks in this area are Enfield Park and Parkfields Park. 

Enfield Park

Enfield Park is located within the residential development of Cinnamon Brow. The main features of the park include a children's play area, a kickabout pitch and a pond. The footpath through the park is an attractive tree-lined walk. Bushy areas provide a habitat for many species of birds and mammals, such as bullfinches and hedgehogs.

The park is off Enfield Park Road in Cinnamon Brow (Service 25 from Network Warrington passes close by).

Parkfields Park

Parkfields Park has been designed to catch the imagination by the inclusion of standing stones, stone circles, longbarrows and a turf maze. Standing stones have long fascinated people because of their association with ancient tribes. Longbarrows were built as graves by our bronze age ancestors. Photos to follow...when I find them!

The park is located behind the Farmers Arms pub on Fearnhead Lane.

Risley Moss Local Nature Reserve   

"The surface, at a distance, looks black and dirty, and will bear neither horse nor man….. What nature meant by such a useless production ‘tis hard to imagine, but the land is entirely to waste".

So wrote Daniel DeFoe as he passed Risley Moss in 1724 on the road between Warrington and Manchester.

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Travellers, including the Romans, largely avoided this inhospitable area, but through centuries of human toil the forests were gradually cleared and the mossland reclaimed.

Whether you wish to walk on a short way-marked trail, climb the observation tower for a panoramic view of the mosslands, or feed the birds from the woodland hide, there is always something different to see and do at Risley Moss. In 2004 the Reserve achieved the Green Flag Award for its welcoming and friendly atmosphere and for its accessibility and community involvement.

Look out for squirrels, foxes, woodpeckers, nuthatches, blue tits, long-tailed tits, greenfinch, robins and many others birds, butterflies, dragonflies and other insects.

Sit around the ponds, quietly contemplating the beauty of nature looking out for frogs, newts and toads. See how many different types of trees you can identify (oak, ash, etc), as well as mushrooms and a large variety of flowers and other plants.

To explore further and learn more about the restoration project, join one of the Ranger-led guided walks held throughout the year. A huge wooden newt and carved beech pillars are just some of the inspiring natural sculptures created by artists and local people – you’ll find them dotted around the reserve close to the main paths.  

And that’s just to whet your appetite! Oh, and don’t forget to look out for Mother Earth on the way in.  

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Mother Earth. The observation tower. Visitor centre. Bird box.

History of the Moss

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Wild and mysterious even today, the 220 acres that make up Risley Moss are a last remnant of the boggy wastelands that once dotted much of the Mersey Valley. Shallow lakes created at the end of the last Ice Age gradually filled with layer upon layer of spongy sphagnum moss.  

Over many thousands of years, this waterlogged vegetation built up to form raised peat bogs – of which Risley Moss is now an important surviving example.

Although once described as 'useless', most of the Mersey mosses were eventually drained for agriculture. But, Risley Moss, which was wetter than the surrounding areas, remained an untouched wilderness until the early 1800’s. Then came the Industrial Revolution, creating the need for huge amounts of peat for horse and cattle bedding in the rapidly expanding towns. And so, at first by hand and then at an increasing rate by machines, the peat was stripped and the fragile mossland changed forever.

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The peat cart and others like it were used on Risley Moss until the 1940s. Peat was cut from the mosslands and then stacked and left to dry before being loaded onto the carts. The carts were pulled by horses along narrow gauge rails. These rails, a section of which you see the cart sitting on, were moveable so they could service different working areas. The peat carts delivered the cut peat to a peat milling factory that was located at the southern tip of the mossland. From here the milled peat could be loaded onto trains which took it to Liverpool and Manchester. The peat was used for horse stable bedding, fuel, horticulture and agriculture.

The Second World War brought further changes. The Risley Royal Ordnance Factory took shape on the edge of the bog, hidden from enemy bombers by mists off the Moss.

After the war was over, the site fell into dereliction. By the 1960’s the factory complex had been demolished to make way for new houses. Thankfully Risley Moss, and its high wildlife value, were recognised and today the moss is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a designated Local Nature Reserve. Read more about the munitions factory in Warrington Green 1, Birchwood Forest Park and also in RAF Burtonwood.

Link to the Warrington Borough Council website to read more and see a photo of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Risley.

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For the disabled visitor there are resting points at regular intervals around the Reserve along with wheelchair accessible picnic tables and two easy access bird hides. The Visitor Centre is also accessible for wheelchairs and there are disabled toilet facilities inside. A permanent exhibition awaits you.  

Opening Times

Winter            1st October- 31st March
Daily 9.00am   - 5.00pm 
Closed Fridays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day
 
Summer         1st April- 30th September
Weekdays 9.00am - 5.00pm (Closed Fridays)
Weekends 10.00am - 6.00pm
Bank Holidays (except Good Friday) 10.00am - 6.00pm 

Directions

From junction 11 of the M62 turn onto the A574 (Birchwood Way). Turn left onto Moss Gate and straight on at the next two roundabouts. Risley Moss is immediately after the second roundabout.

From Warrington Bus Station No.25, 26, 27 stop at Ordnance Ave and Moss Gate Avenue.

How to Contact The Rangers

Tel/Fax: 01925 824339 

Email the Rangers

Rangers Office, Risley Moss Local Nature Reserve, Ordnance Ave, Birchwood, Warrington, WA3 6QX 

Rixton Claypits Local Nature Reserve   

Rixton Claypits was once a clay quarry.
Following a number of studies S.S.S.I. (Site of Special Scientific Interest) status was given to area 3 in 1979, then areas 1 and 2 in 1990 due to the plant assemblage. More recently, areas outside the S.S.S.I. zones were given S.B.I. grade A status (Site of Biological Importance). This has now been changed to S.I.N.C. (Site of Importance for Nature Conservation).

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In 1996 the entire Reserve became an L.N.R. (Local Nature Reserve). During August 2000 it was declared a S.A.C. (Special Area of Conservation) site, which is a European designation due to the area's high great crested newt population. This is a rare and legally protected species. It is illegal to pond dip in those water bodies where this newt is found. One special pond has been allocated for pond dipping activities.

History of the Claypits

Until the 1920’s the area on which Rixton Claypits now stand was farmed for centuries. In the 1920’s clay extraction began leaving several deep pits in the process. In 1965 this work ceased and the area was left to mature.

For the last 25 years much controversy and debate has surrounded the pits. Ownership has changed hands a number of times as several applications for landfill were made and rejected.

Wildlife at the Claypits

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Plant life includes ferns, marsh orchids, yellow wort, white melilot, adders tongue, lesser marshwort, trifid bur-marigold, blue fleabane, creeping willow, lesser skullcap, slender spike rush, water figwort, perennial flax, biting stonecrop and Creeping Jenny. Others to look out for are feverfew, black horehound, bay willow, plicate sweet grass, common polypody, blunt-leaved pondweed and brooklime. I also spotted mint on my first visit – the aroma hit me before I saw it; spearmint and whorled mint are here - I don't know which I saw, but it certainly wasn't Polo! Recent additions to the continuously updated species include: kingcups, wavy hairgrass, green alkanet, lesser pondweed, haresfoot clover and squirrel tail fescue. Altogether about 50 species of moss have been identified along with a dozen or so liverworts including Metzgaria fruticolosa, a first for Warrington. Over 200 species of fungi have been identified so far, including two rarities - Leccinum holopus and Lyophyllum fumatofoetens.
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Insect life includes 21 species of butterfly identified on the Reserve, numbering in their thousands on hot August days. Recent arrivals are purple hairstreaks (1996), and holly blues (1998) - both of which now breed here. A huge population of dragonflies reside at the claypits and up to 18 species have so far been observed. They include beautiful demoiselle (2003), banded agrion (1996), broad-bodied chaser (1994), ruddy darter, black darter, and the largest British species, the Emperor, which now breeds here. Several rare beetles and a saucer bug have been discovered and survey work should reveal many more in the future.

Mammals. Twenty species have been recorded to date. All three species of shrew occur although the water shrew remains elusive. Pipistrelle, Daubenton's and noctule bats occur on most fine evenings throughout the Reserve. The brown hare is rarely seen, especially in recent years and the water vole also remains a rarity. Foxes and hedgehogs are frequent visitors as are both the stoat and weasel, although they remain shy and difficult to observe! The roe deer is seen occasionally throughout the year and Mink have also been recorded, though infrequently.

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Reptiles and amphibians. The only reptile recorded for the site is the slow worm, which was discovered as recently as summer 2004. The claypits are a great sanctuary for amphibians due to the large numbers and differing types of water bodies found at the Reserve. Four species occur here - great crested newt, smooth newt, common toad and common frog.

Birds. 130 species have been recorded over the years, but these have changed as habitats have themselves evolved. On a good day up to 50 species can be seen. Interesting species include water rail, jack snipe, song thrush, garden warbler, willow tit, linnet, bullfinch and reed bunting. Species relatively new to the site are green woodpecker, ruddy duck and nuthatch (1996). Rarities over the years have included golden oriole (1998), hobby, marsh harrier (1994, 2002), hawfinch (1997), green sandpiper, collared pratincole, red-backed shrike (2001), Mediterranean gull (2003) and black terns (1980s).

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Close to the reserve is a wildlife haven owned by Collier Industrial Waste Ltd (third image).

Conservation zones have been created to protect the claypits. Access is limited to ranger-led walks and for scientific or educational purposes. This is because as the site has become more popular, recreational pursuits are damaging the wildlife and plantlife which the staff are trying to protect. Please keep to designated paths in all other areas.

Angling

Warrington Anglers Association have the exclusive fishing rights to the north pool in area 1. Fishing is strictly forbidden elsewhere on the Reserve.

Directions

From Warrington: Follow Manchester Road (A57) out of Woolston, across both M6 roundabouts for approximately one mile. Continue past the transport cafe. About 400 yards on the left is a turning for the Visitor Centre, 120 yards further along on the left is the car park.

From Cadishead: Follow Liverpool Road (A57) through the traffic lights at Warburton Bridge and continue for another 420 metres. The car park is on the right just after Chapel Lane.

The No. 10 bus from Warrington stops on Manchester Road near Moat Lane.

How to Contact The Rangers

Tel/Fax: 0161 777 9726
Email the Rangers

Ranger Cabin, Rixton Claypits Local Nature Reserve, Moat Lane, Rixton, Warrington, WA3 6ED

Sankey Valley Park          

The historic 15 mile Sankey Valley follows the course of England's oldest canal since the Industrial Revolution, linking St. Helens with Warrington through to Widnes by footpath and cycleway. Walkers and cyclists can follow the Trans Pennine Trail or explore the footpath network. 

The permanent orienteering course offers a challenging way to discover the park. Suitable for people of all ages, capabilities and levels of experience, orienteering packs are available from the Rangers for a small charge.

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History of the Sankey Valley Park Area

Bewsey Old Hall

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Bewsey Old Hall was originally built by William Fitz Almeric le Boteler. The Hall and estate was home to the Lords of Warrington from the 13th century for many generations. Prior to the Hall, a monastic grange existed on the site. The current three-storey building is largely Jacobean, with its  distinctive chimneys and stone mullion windows. This is probably the work of Sir Thomas Ireland and dates from around 1600. Sir Thomas was knighted at Bewsey by King James I in 1617.

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Two views of the
hall on 16 Jun 2007.

Later additions to the Hall include a farmhouse and kitchen, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries with earlier foundations. The original 14th century moat only partly holds water today.
  
During archaeological excavations in the 1980s many artefacts were found, including a medieval leather shoe, pottery, coins and a seal die from the 14th century carrying the impression of a rabbit. A link with the past can be discovered in the yew maze where a statue of Lady Isabella, wife of the 12th Baron, can be found (see a photo on the Sankey Valley page). A mosaic effigy of her son, Sir John, lies nearby.
Bewsey Old Hall Conservation Project is a local community-led group which is seeking to develop this historically important site as a Heritage and Education Centre. However, Urban Splash, the current owners of the hall, have unveiled plans to convert the hall into 7 luxury apartments, with further residential apartments close by in the grounds. They have stated that they will include a history trail in the grounds to keep the memory of the hall alive, but this is not popular with people I have spoken to who say the history will be lost if members of the public are not allowed to see the inside of this most historic building. A concession of the annual Heritage Open Day in September each year would only provide limited access due to the privacy of the residents of the hall.

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Urban Splash vision
for the future.

As the hall is set in the ancient boundary of Burtonwood, and with the RAF Burtonwood Heritage Centre being housed in a temporary facility near Gulliver's World theme park, many say that Bewsey Old Hall should have been used to house both the RAF collection AND maintain the history of the hall in one place. Urban Splash feel the Old Hall should be used for the very purpose it was built for - to be lived in. Another concern for locals is for the Sankey Valley Park itself. One lady said she moved from Liverpool purposely to live in the surroundings of a country park but feels it is slowly being eaten away with development. The extra traffic would be a burden for the area. Old Hall Road is busy enough now according to locals.

I personally feel that the hall should have been used for the general public as a heritage centre and museum. The RAF Burtonwood Heritage Centre, plus the history of the house and an education centre would be my preferred choice. I believe that because it was once living accommodation doesn't mean that it must always be living accommodation. You only have to travel across the town to see the number of new developments that remain empty. The council has already stated that there is an oversupply of new homes in Warrington, but it doesn't stop new ones going up. Bewsey Old Hall as a public amenity will be a sad loss to this ancient and historic town - but as the council doesn't own it, it is powerless to stop it.

Hulme Lock and The Sankey Canal - A Pioneering Waterway

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Running through the park is the historic Sankey Canal. Opened in 1757, it was the country's first true canal of the Industrial Revolution, and was originally built to carry coal from the mines around the St. Helens area to the markets of Liverpool and Cheshire. It pioneered the canal age.  

When the railways came, the canals went into a long decline and the Sankey Canal was officially closed in 1963. Today the local authorities of Warrington, St. Helens and Halton, along with the Sankey Canal Restoration Society (SCARS), are developing the Sankey Canal Trail as a 15-mile greenway, along with Hulme Lock, situated immediately south of the M62. The area around the lock was completely infilled in 1974.

SCARS, in partnership with the Ranger Service, have partially excavated the lock chamber; refurbished the dry dock and uncovered the foundations of the lock keepers cottage. The whole Hulme Lock site is being developed as a heritage feature, with regular workdays taking place.

If you are interested in the canal, or joining SCARS, further information is available at the Ranger's Office at Bewsey Old School. Click to link to the SCARS website. Also check out On The Waterfront for more on the history of the canal.

Burtonwood Air Base

Burtonwood Air Base opened in 1940, just in time to supply Spitfires for the Battle of Britain, and was probably the largest military base in Europe during the war.

With 18 miles of surface roadway and a peak of 18,063 personnel, this huge site had a massive impact on Warrington as a whole.

The Gate 4 entrance to the Base was situated near Bewsey Old Hall, adjacent to the black and white cottage.  The concrete base of the guard house, a small section of airbase fencing and a remnant of the camp road, complete with 'cats eyes' can still be seen at this point. Close to the maze are the remains of a blast.

Check out RAF Burtonwood for more and Peter's Gallery for photos of aircraft at Burtonwood.

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The entrances to
Burtonwood Air Base on
Burtonwood Road as it
appeared on 26 Feb 1996.

Wildlife and the Environment

Nocturnal foxes, owls, mice, hedgehogs and bats, complement the daytime inhabitants such as squirrels, swans, butterflies and woodland birds. Secretive species such as stoats and weasels, tree creepers, kingfishers, water voles and reed bunting are all there to be discovered.

Warrington Nature Conservation Forum is a community-based Local Agenda 21 initiative aimed at promoting nature conservation, undertaking wildlife surveys, protecting biodiversity and providing a focal point for interested people. If you would like to be involved please contact the Rangers for more information.

Woodland Trust

Most of the mature woodlands within the Valley are owned by the Woodland Trust, a charity concerned with the conservation of Britain's woodland heritage, safeguarding woods within the landscape, protecting habitats for the benefit of wildlife and encouraging public access and enjoyment. Their website is www.woodland-trust.org.uk.

Directions

The main car park is at Waterways, off Cromwell Avenue, with smaller car parks at Ledyard Close, North Park Brook Rd, St. David's Drive, Lodge Lane off Cromwell Avenue South and off Liverpool Rd, Sankey Bridges.

From Warrington Bus Station take bus No.18 to Callands or No.16 to Dallam.

How to Contact The Rangers

Tel/Fax: 01925 571836
Email the Rangers

Rangers Office, Bewsey Old Hall, Bewsey Farm Close, Old Hall, Warrington, WA5 5PB  

See also Sankey Valley page for photos of the Warrington section.

Spud Wood                      

My favourite place name in the whole of Warrington. Spud Wood is a new woodland planted on agricultural land in the village of Oughtrington, near Lymm, on the Bridgewater Canal. The 42 acre site was acquired by the Woodland Trust (www.woodland-trust.org.uk) in 1997 as part of the Woods on your Doorstep project, which aimed to create 200 new woods across England and Wales to celebrate the new millennium.

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One of many entrances is off Oughtrington Lane.

The fields were planted with potatoes at that time, hence the charming name, chosen by local people. The local community was heavily involved in raising money to buy the land, design the site and in planting the trees. It is truly a community woodland. Oughtrington's name is Old English and it is suggested the place existed over a thousand years ago.

The wood is being created by planting native trees and shrub species, which also give the greatest benefit to wildlife. The plants are quite small because the smaller they are the quicker they grow and are therefore the best value for money. Around 60% of the site will be covered by trees, with parts of the remainder being managed as a series of wildlife meadows.

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Over the years the
wood will expand.
This track leads to Burford
Lane and Mill Lane (B5159).
Grantham's Bridge over
the Bridgewater Canal.

The photos were all taken on 30 January 2007. I intent to revisit after a few years to see how the area develops.

Directions

The wood is located on Oughtrington Lane, ¾ of a mile from the main A56 (follow the turn off for Lymm High School) and ½ a mile from the A6144 out of Lymm (turn off at Sandy Lane and right into Oughtrington Lane at the bottom of the road and over the Bridgewater Canal at Lloyd Bridge). Bus service No 5 operates along the A6144 every 30 minutes during the day, Monday to Saturday (last bus to Warrington leaves Altrincham at 7:03 pm and Warburton at 7:20 pm). On Sundays, Services 38 follows the A6144 route and Service 38 travels along the A56, alternating hourly. Phone 0870 608 2 608 for further details.

CLICK ON EMAIL OR FEMAIL TO CONTACT ME

Trans Pennine Trail         

Trans Pennine Trail - Gateway to the Countryside

The Trans Pennine Trail crosses northern England from the Mersey to the Humber running through the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull. It is a purpose-built route for walkers and cyclists with many miles available for horse riding and wheelchair access wherever possible.

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Mostly off-road, the TPT uses existing right of way, riverbank paths, canal towpaths and disused railway lines. With its robust surfaces and generally gentle gradients, it is suitable for people of all ages and capabilities.

Twenty-two local authorities and the Countryside Agency are partners in the project, and each authority is responsible for management of the Trail in its own area. The TPT is co-ordinated by a project officer based in Barnsley. The Trail offers a wide contrast of landscape from deep rural areas to river estuaries and towns and cities, where former industrial sites have become woodlands and nature reserves.

Signpost in Warrington.

Wild flowers are in abundance along the Trans Pennine Trail, particularly on the old railway section. Look out for impressive flowers such as ox-eye daisies, tree mallow, foxgloves and teasel, amongst many others.

For more information on the TPT or Euroroutes contact the Trans Pennine Trail Project Officer on 01226 772574, or Email Them.

The Trail can form the basis for a great many circular walks of varying lengths. For more details on the local rights of way network call into the Ranger Centre and pick up a 'Parish Paths' leaflet. Alternatively you could purchase OS Explorer Maps Nos. 275 and 276 which show all the rights of way leading from the Warrington Section of the Trail.

Disabled parking facilities are provided at the car park by the Ranger Centre on Statham Avenue in Lymm. Access to the Trail varies from section to section. For more detailed access information contact the Ranger Service as follows: 

TPT in West Warrington                 Sankey Valley Rangers on 01925 571836

TPT in Central Warrington              Black Bear Rangers on 01925 232184

TPT in East Warrington                  Lymm Rangers on 01925 758195

The Trail in Warrington

Take a trip along the Trans Pennine Trail in Warrington and you'll experience a cross section of the areas countryside and cultural heritage. From the Borough's western boundary the Trail follows the Sankey Canal towpath to Sankey Valley Park then crosses the River Mersey and Arpley Meadows.  

It then follows part of the Runcorn to Latchford (Old Quay) Canal, passes the former Warrington Dock and continues on through Wilderspool and Latchford (Black Bear Park) on the north bank of the Manchester Ship Canal. The Trail leaves the Ship Canal at Knutsford Road swing bridge.

From here you need to cross to the south side of the Canal and turn left along Thelwall New Road to Latchford Locks. 

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Direction posts near the
Manchester Ship Canal
alongside Walton Lock.

Opposite the Locks a right turn into Bradshaw Lane brings you to the next section of the Trail - the former Timperley-Garston Railway (Warrington to Stockport Railway - different names depending on when a section was added).

This 8-mile section of the Trail runs out of the urban fringe through Grappenhall, Thelwall and Lymm. East of Lymm the Trail runs into open countryside, crosses the Bollin Valley and continues on towards Altrincham.

At the end of the old railway line the route for walkers and cyclists splits. For more information on the route east of this point contact Trafford MBC on 0161 912 1212 or the Bollin Valley Rangers on 01625 534790.

There are four "Millennium Mileposts" along the Warrington section of the Trans Pennine Trail. Millennium Mileposts can be seen at many locations along the 6,500 miles of the National Cycle Network (of which the TPT is a part), which is being developed by Sustrans. Each milepost gives route information and incorporates a different theme within the sculpture.

History of the Trail in Warrington

Opened in 1757, the Sankey Canal was Britain's first true canal of the Industrial Revolution.  It ran from St. Helens through Warrington to Widnes and was originally built to carry coal from the mines in the St. Helens area to the markets of Liverpool and Cheshire.  The advent of the railways triggered the long decline of the canal, but it was not officially closed until 1963.

The Runcorn and Latchford Canal was opened in 1804 to avoid the awkward tidal section of the River Mersey between Warrington and Runcorn.  Most of the canal became disused when the Manchester Ship Canal opened, but a one-mile section from Stockton Heath to Latchford remained in use until the 1960s.

The Manchester Ship Canal's opening in 1894 was preceded by several years of fierce opposition from the railways and the Port of Liverpool.  Traffic on the canal thrived until the 1970s but has been in decline since.  Despite this the occasional tanker can sometimes be seen passing alongside the Trans Pennine Trail.

Timperley to Garston Railway - The Rails Fall Silent

The railway came to Lymm in 1853 and passenger services operated for just over 100 years.  By the early 1960s very few people used the line and in 1962 it was closed to passenger traffic.  Goods trains operated until the early 1980s, mainly taking coal to Fiddlers Ferry Power Station. The railway tracks east of Latchford were removed in 1985, but trains still travel to Fiddler's Ferry on the remaining section past Bank Quay.

Heatley Station

The remains of Heatley Station can still be seen just east of Mill Lane. Heatley was one of four stations along the section of the route that now forms part of the TPT. The others were Thelwall (Halfacre Lane), Lymm (Statham Ave - now the site of the Ranger Centre) and Dunham (Station Rd).

I hope to create a more detailed section on the trail in Warrington at a later date. In the meantime, see Making Tracks 3 for Bert Harris' photos and descriptions of the area.

How to Contact The Rangers

Tel/Fax: 01925 758195
Email the Rangers

Ranger Centre, TransPennine Trail, off Statham Ave, Lymm, Warrington, WA13 9NJ (Opposite the Lymm Hotel).

Life for a Life - Mersey Meadow/Lymm  

Information in this section provided by the charity itself.

On the Trans Pennine Trail in west Warrington you will come across a new memorial forest and gardens called Mersey Meadow, operated by 'Life for a Life'. Life for a Life is a NOT FOR PROFIT, NON-DENOMINATIONAL, registered charity (Reg No 1096422) that offers you the chance to commemorate your loved ones by planting memorial trees and installing memorial benches in one of thirty woodland locations across the United Kingdom. Four types of trees are planted: Silver Birch, Mountain Ash, Scots Pine and English Oak. The work supports hospices and other healthcare organisations nationwide. 

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Mersey Meadow is located near Gatewarth Industrial Estate off Liverpool Road, and was opened on 6 February 2004 by the Duke of Westminster. The charity works with local councils, and national utility companies, to help protect Britain's woodlands. Patrons include the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and Cherie Booth (Blair) QC.  
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Mersey Meadow is one of two locations in Warrington - the other one is at Lymm adjacent to the Trans Pennine Trail. The Memorial Forest is directly adjacent to Sow Brook and the Trans Pennine Trail and shares borders with Lymm Golf Club.
The Lymm Memorial Forest offers an ideal habitat for wildlife and many species of migrant birds. The species of trees that Life for a Life have introduced to this site are all very well suited to the soil in the area. This spot is an ideal and peaceful setting for the planting of a Memorial Tree. There has also been many benches and picnic tables donated by Life for a Life clients for all to enjoy.

For more details on the charity's work, telephone 0161 624 2299, or click their website link below.

www.lifeforalife.org.uk

The Twiggeries                

The Twiggeries is a small wetland situated to the south of Warrington Cemetery, which can be accessed from Farrell Street, opposite the ambulance station.

The Twiggeries was once a willow coppice for a thriving basket making industry in the 19th century.

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Willow baskets were supplied to the tannery industry at Howley for the transportation of hides. As hide demand lessened so the site became derelict.

The willow coppice has become a dense almost impenetrable woodland. Together with areas of wetland, scrub and grassland it now provides a variety of habitats that support a range of wildlife. 

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It now houses a unique wildlife community within the centre of the town, and is a good site to see warblers from Africa singing in spring, as well as other birds which can be seen and heard. Adjacent to the Twiggeries and across Padgate Brook is a fine reed bed created by the Environment Agency.

Six species of warblers breed there, including good populations of Reed and Sedge Warblers ,as well as the occasional pair of Grasshopper Warblers.

Dragonflies and Damselflies are frequently seen and wildflowers abound along Padgate Brook.  Grid Ref : SJ 623884.

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One of my favourite sections is the wooden pathway trail shown here, bottom right.

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Victoria Park                  

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Victoria Park makes a great place to get away from it all, and close to the town centre. 

The town’s premiere site for sport, its 67 acres provides a wide range of facilities set in pleasant parkland. Centrepiece is an eight-lane running track with a floodlit pitch. The arena’s stand seats 250 and houses toilets, changing rooms, a kitchen and community room.  

Skatepark

Opened in November 2003, this purpose-built, world class, exciting and imaginative concrete skatepark is provided for skateboarders, BMX riders, rollerbladers and in-line skaters. Users are advised to wear appropriate protective clothing.

Playzone
A wide range of play equipment and attractions for children and young people are now on offer. The Playzone boasts some new play features to Warrington parks, including a unique six-metre high 'alien' play module and a challenging zip-wire ride. This £108,000 project has been achieved with funding support from external grants, contributions from the park’s project partners and a Landfill Tax Grant of £85,000 from Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd. 

The project is part of the Communities Vision Project for the redevelopment of Victoria Park. The Victoria Park Steering Group is currently progressing with a range of other projects including improved park lighting, a new park café and activity centre, and the launch of the Community Garden Project.   

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Victoria Park is home to Warrington Athletic Club who meet on a Monday and Wednesday (6.00 – 9.00pm) and Thursday (6.30 – 8.30pm). For further information contact the Warrington Athletic Club Chairman on 01244 336762.

Bowlers are well catered for with two crown bowling greens – one of which is floodlit, and a pavilion complete with toilet and kitchen facilities.

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Eight football pitches and two rugby pitches, along with a floodlit training area, are well used by northwest teams while the park also hosts many events from cross-country competitions to pop concerts and rallies.

Victoria Park’s wide range of facilities, including two indoor community rooms, are available for hire. Please contact the Outdoor Facilities Section on 01925 442727 for more information.

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Large open spaces.

Nature in harmony.

Day Ticket Fishing

In 1993 Warrington Anglers acquired three sections of the river to the east of Warrington town centre, which are now available for day ticket fishing. The sections run from Victoria Park down towards Woolston New Cut with various access and parking points along its length. Click the link to go to the Warrington Anglers website. 

Back in Time  

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Originally the Old Warps Estate was farmland, which was purchased by the Warrington Corporation in 1897 to improve the health and well-being of Warrington’s working class. It was renamed Victoria Park to mark the Queen's jubilee year.

Close to Black Bear Bridge is the site of the ancient ford over the River Mersey.

Used since about 8000 BC, it remained the only major crossing of the river until the middle of the 13th century. The first bridge was in use by 1285.

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The park driveway.

Old maternity home,
now a restaurant.

In the early 18th century a large area of the park was under water forming part of the notorious ‘hell hole’ - a river loop subject to severe silting causing many boats to run aground, and dangerous even at high tide.

In 1724 a series of weirs were built on the Mersey, the ‘hell hole’ was lost and over the next 100 years the ox bow that was left was filled in and became part of the Old Warps Estate.

In 1819 the oldest horse in the world retired to the Estate. Born in 1760, Billy worked for the Mersey and Irwell Navigation Company until 1819. Old Billy was 62 years old when he died on 27 November 1822.

In 1912 a suspension bridge was built from Howley across to Victoria Park. It should have been a 60-foot wide bridge to relieve traffic at Bridge Foot but insufficient funds meant that only the footbridge we see today was constructed. The area’s first municipal bowling green was opened in 1905 and the first public tennis court in 1920. The photo, right, shows the approach to the bridge from Victoria Park.

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Running alongside Victoria Park is Black Bear Park, featured in Warrington Green 1.

Directions

Victoria Park is easily accessible from Warrington town centre on the A50 Knutsford Road.

There is a large hard standing car park with ample room for coach parking.

Level surfaced paths give easy access to the bowling greens and arena. A lift is available in the arena stand along with disabled toilet facilities. There is also a disabled toilet in the outside toilet block which is accessible with a RADAR key.

How to Contact The Rangers

Phone 01925 442731 
Fax 01925 442771 
Email

Warrington Borough Council, Environment and Regeneration Department, Outdoor Facilities Section, New Town House, Buttermarket Street, Warrington, WA1 2NH. 

Walton Hall & Gardens    

Walton Hall Gardens was originally part of a much larger country estate purchased in 1812 by the Greenall family, famous for their success in the brewing industry. The Estate was bought by Warrington Borough Council in 1941 and has been enjoyed as a park since 1945.

History of Walton Hall

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The mansion is Elizabethan in style, but was actually built in the 1830s, as the family home of Gilbert Greenall and designed by Edmund Sharpe of Lancaster, who later became famous for the Gothic revival in architecture. 

Here, the Warrington brewer adopted the lifestyle of a country squire with great success and earned the title of Lord Daresbury. 

Lewis Carroll is believed to be one of the early visitors. 

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The main hall.

Memorial to Bubbles, a
horse buried in the grounds.

Today the hall and thirty acres of surrounding parkland is widely used for wedding parties, business functions and family celebrations. Walton Hall is owned and maintained by Warrington Borough Council. In mid September 1994, the Council completed a lengthy programme of refurbishment, restoring much of the original splendour and incorporating modern facilities - including a bar on both floors.

The interior is breathtaking. Time has mellowed the oak panelling and elaborate mahogany fireplace in the hall. Stained glass panelled windows light up the impressive collection of Victorian paintings lining the staircase. For information on the available facilities and hiring of the hall please visit the Venues for Hire page of the Warrington Borough Council website located in the Business & Economy section.

In 2014 the hall was used as a filming location for the six-part BBC drama Our Zoo, which follows the true story of the Mottershead family who, in the face of staunch opposition and huge personal sacrifice, founded Chester Zoo in the 1930s.

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My thanks to www.djkennylive.me.uk for supplying mywarrington with these exclusive photos from behind the scenes of the shoot at Walton Hall earlier in 2014.

The Park Today

The park is the ideal place for a family day out with spacious lawns, picnic areas and play areas.

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You can see squirrels, woodland birds such as nuthatches, tree creepers and woodpeckers. Evening visitors include bats, foxes and owls. You may even be lucky enough to spot a weasel.

The gardens are an ideal starting point for country walks. Footpaths are waymarked to local beauty spots such as Hill Cliffe, Appleton Reservoir and the Bridgewater Canal. Those wishing to explore further will find OS Explorer maps 275 and 276 useful. The Rangers lead regular walks throughout the year.  

Outdoor games include bowling, golf and crazy golf.
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Each year Walton Hall Gardens plays host to the Annual Disability Awareness Day where information can be found on all aspects of living with disability.  For further information please contact the Warrington Disability Information Service on 01925 240852.          

Access for All

Disabled parking areas are provided in the main car park (free for orange badge holders), as well as disabled toilets (using RADAR key) with baby changing area, lifts in the Hall, which also features a disabled toilet and with many paths surfaced by tarmac, the grounds are accessible to all. You are now able to request online the free use of a wheelchair for your visit to Walton Gardens.  

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Other activities and events at the gardens include the Animal Adoption Scheme, Friends of Walton Estate and Friends of Walton Hall Music Society.

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The Heritage Centre, which is situated in the old stable yard, shows what life was like in the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as a small Lewis Carroll exhibition.

Also, visit the Cycle Museum which is housed in the grounds. See Events page for more information about its exhibits.

A coffee shop and gift shop is incorporated into the Centre.

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Children's Zoo, moved
from Bank Park.

Visitor centre and Lewis
Carroll exhibition.

Pottery in the Park

Pottery in the park is a "hands on" pottery experience for all ages based in the picturesque surroundings of Walton Hall Gardens.

Between Easter and the end of September they are situated in The Heritage Yard where they provide pottery activities at weekends and during school holidays. The pottery and all its facilities can be booked at times to suit you by prior arrangement.

Several nurseries and schools in the area have incorporated their activities with a visit to the park. No child is too young to succeed (with help) to actually throw a recognisable pot. The items made or painted are gleefully taken home as a lasting souvenir.

For more information, have a look at their website.

Directions

From Warrington town centre take the A56 or J11 off the M56, following the A56 towards Warrington and turn off by the traffic lights at the Walton Arms pub.

How to Contact The Rangers

Rangers and general info  Tel: 01925 601617

Hall enquiries / bookings  Tel: 01925 263797     Fax: 01925 210988

Heritage Centre                Tel: 01925 602336

General Fax No.                01925 861868

E-Mail                               waltonhall

Walton Hall Gardens, Walton Lea Rd, Higher Walton, Warrington, WA4 6SN

Woolston Eyes                

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Woolston Eyes covers an area of 220 hectares, and is composed of four large deposit grounds, one to the east and three to the west of the Thelwall Viaduct. It has been used for many years by the Manchester Ship Canal Company for depositing dredgings from the Ship Canal, although now only one is in regular use. The site is excellent for passage migrants. Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin and Hobby are recorded annually. There are large numbers of Teal (up to 3,000), Tufted Duck (up to 700) and Pochard (regularly up to 750) in the winter and a Black-headed Gull colony with an estimated population of 4,000 birds in spring.

The ‘jewels in the crown’ are the Black-Necked Grebes as the site is currently the most important in the UK for this species. There are probably no more than 50 pairs breed in the whole of the country.
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You can reach the Eyes via Thelwall Lane, Latchford or by
crossing Woolston Weir. You do, however, require a permit and
key to gain access to the sensitive No 3 bed. Grid Ref : SJ 649883.

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Close by is Thelwall Eye Nature Reserve which covers an area
near to the M6 motorway at Thelwall Viaduct (images left and right)

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Woolston Park               

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Woolston Park covers an area of 56 acres and was officially opened in 1977. It was created from neglected farmland to provide a valuable refuge for people and wildlife amongst the rapidly expanding local community. Thousands of tonnes of soil were used to create the park's open spaces and sports pitches. There are three main habitat types on the park – wetland, woodland and grassland.

Spittle Brook forms the backbone of the park. Its steep banks are the result of engineering works carried out to reduce the threat of flooding to local housing.

The park is home to small mammals, such as the endangered water vole, and kingfishers can sometimes be seen. You might spot a grebe in the winter. Celandines offer a first sign of spring, while late spring sees the arrival of Sedge Warblers from Africa. Spittle Brook, the wildfowl pond and the fenced wildlife pond, along with seasonal wet areas, form the main wetland areas.
The wildfowl pond was excavated in 1997 to provide a habitat for dragonflies and amphibians. Trees were planted to form the woodlands we see today. It is home to a breeding pair of swans, mallards and moorhens. Stands of willow provide a link with the area's agricultural past, when vegetables were grown on the peaty soils of Woolston Moss. Farmers carried their produce to market in wicker baskets made from willow grown on the wetter parts of the farm, with many areas along Spittle Brook being used as willow beds.

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Woodlands

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The woodlands provide food and shelter for many creatures and are colourful in the autumn. Woodland birds include bullfinches and jays.

Take the path through Meadow Wood or visit the Hazel Coppice. This area, close to the Community Garden is managed to produce long, straight poles for craftwork and to benefit wildlife. Also, don’t forget to visit Jubilee garden.

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Grassland

Some grass is kept short for sport and informal games but in many areas of the park the grass is allowed to grow long. This is to encourage many plants to flourish and benefits insects and small mammals. Look out for the cornfield in the summer, which is planted near the wildlife pond and the wildflower meadow, close to Meadow Wood, attracting many butterflies.

Picnic areas are provided close to the children’s play areas. For further information on the sports facilities available, or to book a football or cricket pitch, contact the Outdoor Facilities team on 01925 442727 or email them.

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Friends of Woolston Park

The ‘Friends’ are local people with a common interest. They meet once a month to discuss park issues and plan practical tasks which will keep Woolston Park looking good, well maintained and beneficial for wildlife. The Friends also help at Ranger Service events, help plan the annual Woolston Show and arrange social and fundraising events. New members are always welcome. If you would like to know more please contact the Rangers.

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Further Afield

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Woolston Park makes an excellent base from which to explore the local countryside and rights of way network, including Birchwood Forest Park, Risley Moss Local Nature Reserve, Paddington Meadows or Woolston Eyes Nature Reserve via paths along the New Cut Canal and River Mersey or go further afield to Rixton Claypits or Black Bear Park. You could even link up with the Trans Pennine Trail and come back on the penny ferry. Grey Mist fishing pool is accessed from New Cut Lane off Manchester Road (A57).

Grey Mist fishing pool.

Directions

Take the A57 (Manchester Road) from Warrington to Holes Lane traffic lights, sign-posted Padgate. Turn right at the mini-roundabout into Hillock Lane, first left into Somerset Way and then immediately right into the drive to the car park. There are numerous pedestrian entrances.

From Warrington Bus Station, take the No.3 to the Dog & Partridge on Manchester Road or, Monday to Saturday, the No.4 or No.104 to Green Lane or Hillock Lane.

Padgate and Birchwood stations are within a mile of the park. From Padgate follow Green Lane into the park. Blue road signs link the way from Birchwood Station to the park.

There is designated parking for orange badge holders within the car park. The park is mainly level with a good network of bitmac paths to the east of the brook. There are regular resting points and a wheelchair accessible picnic area just off the car park.

How to Contact The Rangers

Tel/Fax: 01925 824398 
Email the Rangers

Ranger Centre, Woolston Park, off Somerset Way, Woolston, Warrington, WA1 4LN.

Other Green Areas          

Fiddler’s Ferries Lagoons

This site is situated between Warrington and Widnes with the main interest centred on four large sludge lagoons built on salt marsh on the north bank of the River Mersey. Access is by permit only and is restricted to the ‘Bird Hide Trail’ which runs through the station, between the lagoons to a bird hide overlooking one of the lagoons and the nearby river. There is bird interest throughout the year, but is especially good in winter for wildfowl and waders as well as occasional rare gulls such as Glaucous and Iceland. Grid Ref : SJ 549853.

Houghton Green Pool

This site has been created as a result of flooding of a deep depression created through the removal of soil to build up the embankments of the M62. As ground-water levels have risen generally in this area over the last 20 years, the pool has increased in size and is now a lake. It is adjacent to the M6 motorway and can be viewed from Delph Lane, south of Winwick or from a footpath from Delph Lane to Croft. It has waterfowl throughout the year but has most in winter, when several species of duck can be seen, including large numbers of Wigeon, and up to 30 Great Crested Grebe. In recent years, there have been sightings of Black-Necked Grebe, which appear to be dispersing to this site from their Woolston Eyes nesting ground. Grid Ref : SJ 622927.

Appleton Reservoir SJ 602842. Large open water area in beautiful settings. Excellent for waterfowl. Do not swim in the water though. It might look inviting, but it is very dangerous.

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Appleton Reservoir.

Gatewarth Tip & Richmond Bank SJ 57-87-. Situated on the north bank of the River Mersey below Penketh, Gatewarth Tip is a disused landfill site now being developed as a nature reserve. The nearby sewage works has several pools which are overlooked from this site. Richmond Bank is a large mud-flat in the river.

Grappenhall Heys SJ 631855. Mature woodland, ponds and parkland supporting a diverse range of plants and animals.

Ladies Walk Wood SJ 585900. Irregular shaped broadleaved woodland and ponds with good wildlife interest.

St Helens Canal SJ 548858. A length of disused canal which has established dense reed-beds excellent for bird life. The canal towpath forms part of the Trans Pennine Trail. See On The Waterfront for more.

Walton Locks SJ 607864. A disused man-made lagoon between the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey. The banks are clothed in reed and willow scrub which provides habitat for reed bunting and warblers. See On The Waterfront for more.

There is much more information on the Warrington Borough Council website.

Bank Park in Bloom

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Bewsey Woods, Autumn 2012

Warrington Not So Green

Sadly, there is a down side to walking through nature. On a Sunday afternoon walk on 8 February 2015, my neighbour pointed out the disgraceful sight at Callands that confronted him. Hundreds of beer cans strewn all over the side of the path. Not only is it unsightly, it is dangerous to animals and children exploring nature. Chatting to people on Facebook, one answer is education. Until everybody is brought up to respect the world around us, we will always have this problem. And all the council can really do is remove the litter, and if the police could catch the culprits then maybe a fine or even imprisonment might help. the site was eventually cleared, so thanks to the council clean-up team.

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A gentle stroll, and everything seems OK, until you go off the gravel path and onto the grass track to
find the horror of  hundreds of drinks cans scattered everywhere. See the video I did on my Facebook page.

Click here for Part 1

Warrington - A Town of Many Industries

mywarrington - created by Gordon I Gandy
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The mywarrington Radio Show every Friday lunchtime between 12 and 3 on Radio Warrington.

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