Saturday 9 September 2023

History and Heritage

September rolls around again, and this time we had an unseasonably hot spell, which had already lasted about a week.  12 ladies arrived at the cafe, and after a chat, sign ins and a coffee, photos outside and we set off in two equal groups.

As I have said in previous years, September is a 'back to school' month, and I always think it is like a mini new year, so we plan an easier ride out to encourage newbies.  This year I thought we could head to Ellesmere Port and the Boat Museum, as we can follow the canal all the way.

I was aware that we have had some new resurfacing along the towpath in the past eighteen months, but some path was still very rough.  I took my group through  the Zoo, and we joined the canal at 'Pretty Bridge'.  It was just lovely, although the hedges are a little overgrown.  At Stoak, I highlighted that I knew it was going to be a little more rough under wheel, but we agreed to press on.  In all about a mile is quite broken up and potholey, but as you get nearer to Ellesmere Port the path became a much better surface.

I also explained that as we get nearer to Ellesmere Port, you will see evidence of the industrial past.  I suggested we think of it as Heritage and History, as you pass factories and old iron bridges.  We spotted our first heron in a field near Stoak, and someone else noted on one a fabulous old rusty structure.

The canal is also full of Pennywort, in big floating clumps.  During lockdown I recall this invasive weed filled the canal for several miles, although I had never seen it before.  you can read more about this and the problems it causes here.

We also noted some notable autumnal colouring to the trees, even with crispy brown leaves all over the path.

Before too long we crossed under the motorways and main roads in Ellesmere port, and came out at the boat museum.  This is where the Shropshire Union Canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey, and was a 'transhipment dock'.  The cafe is free to use (you do not need to pay entry) and today was a lovely calm place, with a gentle breeze, just perfect.

In order to avoid hills in the heat, we returned along the canal path as far as Croughton, and a short climb to Wervin gave us the flat route then back to Kingsway.  A grand 14 miles!!

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