A drive into central Warrington and a short bus journey drops me off at my last finishing point. Despite it being October the weather is good, and the Mersey is once more rural and peaceful after the rude interruption of the Ship Canal.
I pass a sign I don’t really understand
Much of the Mersey path is under development here, after my detour last time, I am pleased to be able to get near to the river (and indeed it was being in Warrington working a couple of years ago that I thought I would one day like to walk its length) but this means that I can’t exactly walk along the river, as the path is being built. I can however be smug in my realisation that future generations will have it easier to followthe trail )
That makes the walk through the centre a little tedious. I do cross a couple of bridges , and see the only sign I spot for the river itself in doing that (there’s not much call for knowing you are on the Mersey when you are walking along the banks, I guess they see it as a given.
Howley suspension bridge is quite pretty, it links the town with Victoria Park. It was built in 1912, and is second best for Warrington. The original plan was to have a roadbridge built by Thomas Telford for £12,000, the cost of this forced the council to reconsider and this was put in place for £600. I guess the ratepayers of the time had more clout with the council.
Warrington Bridge in the centre, is an important historical site. A bridge has been at this point since 1304. The third bridge on the site was built by the First Earl of Derby for King Henry VII’s visit to Knowsley in 1495. In 1648 the Duke Of Hamilton’s Army surrendered to Cromwell after the battle of Winwick., King Charles II and the Duke Of Buckingham fought here in 1651, The Earl Of Derby crossed this bridge on the way to his execution in Bolton the same year. In 1745 the central arches were destroyed to stop another army crossing the river.
After Warrington, the path goes down an industrial wasteland, which prevents me from getting any nearer to the Transporter Bridge, I do manage a glimpse of it in the distance.
It had a short life, being built in 1916, but has not been used since 1964. At this point, I start following the St Helen’s canal, which is disused
The canal was opened in 1757 and is the first canal of the modern age and industrial revolution. It was built to link St Helens with the Mersey at Spike Island (Widnes) and transport coal to the salt manufacturers of Cheshire. Thus was Sankey Brook made navigable. It was in use until 1963 , although there is an active society to reopen it. Let’s hope they have the same success as the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.
To my left I can see the Mersey and it has now become tidal
Fidler’s Ferry and its power station are ahead and my walk is over for the day. As the name suggests there was once a ferry here to Runcorn. However, the arrival of the ship canal saw that off. Day trippers once came here to enjoy the river, and there is a spur to the canal from here to the river. There was a station as well for them. So this once was a very busy tourist destination. Alas no more, doesn’t the pub looks inviting though?
Copyright 2018 Allan Russell