The forecast was for cool and overcast weather but they got it wrong – it turned out to be sunny and warm, a bit too warm for us to be walking as far as we did. We started this fourth section of the Trans-Pennine Trail where we left off last time, at the north end of the Formby by-pass, where it joins Moor Lane. The old Cheshire Lines Railway, which closed in 1952, runs south from here across the fields of the Lancashire plain, with comparatively few easy access points to make the walk shorter.
There were Swallows on the wire in Plex Moss Lane, and horses in many of the paddocks. We had a close encounter with a horse and rider on a narrow section of the trail.
We lunched by the wayside at the junction with North Moss Lane. It was a surprisingly busy spot, with lots of bikes and walkers passing by. In this sunny corner there were lots of Speckled Woods, and one of the White butterflies. There was even a big dragonfly zooming about. It didn’t sit still at all, but we think it was an Emperor. The field behind us was streaked with red caused by large drifts of the plant called Redshank.
As we crossed the open plain we noticed that most of the grain crops seem to be in, and there were Crows and Wood Pigeons in the stubble. Lots of Starlings perched on telegraph wires, a big flock of Lapwings came up, and 20-odd Mallards flew over, heading north west towards Ainsdale. At the old railway bridge over Downholland Brook a Greenfinch came to a puddle to drink and the birds catching insects overhead were House Martins. Had they been nesting in the buildings of the Pumping Station? Right in the middle of the bridge was an old concrete pyramid, a left-over anti-tank defence from WWII.
There weren’t very many wildflowers by the wayside, perhaps because the path is so dry and open. The best display was of Yellow Toadflax. Margaret said she thought it was a common railway plant, so is it a relic from those days?
Near the Sewage Treatment plant there was a shadier, damper corner, full of Himalayan Balsam, Ragwort, Purple Loosestrife and Hemp Agrimony.
We came off the trail at New Carr Lane, walked a few hundred yards south along the tarmac of Acres Lane then turned into the field path which runs up to the back of Lydiate Hall farm. We flushed a Grey Partridge there, which exploded out of the undergrowth right in front of us. The Hayloft café was a welcome sight and we had time to sit down with a pot of tea before getting our bus home. We walked five and a quarter miles today, of which about four and a half was the Trans-Pennine Trail. We are now nine and three quarter miles from the start at Southport.
Public transport details: X2 bus at 10.15 from Queen Square, arriving Woodvale 11.05. Returned on the 300 bus at 3.21 from Our Lady’s RC church, Lydiate, arriving Liverpool 4.13.
Here is the plan for the next few Sundays:
31st Aug Taylor Park, St Helens – meet 10am Queen Square
7th Sep Trans-Pennine Trail 5, Lydiate to Maghull – meet 10am Queen Square
14th Sep Heritage Open Day – meet 10.30 Queen Square (Provisional route: St Anthony’s Scotland Road, Ullet Road Unitarian Church, Christ Church Toxteth, St Michael’s in the Hamlet)
21st Sep Visit to our friend Jackie. Meet 11am Liverpool ONE bus station or 12 noon at Jackie’s.
28th Sep New Lane – meet 10am Queen Square
5th Oct Port Sunlight River Park – meet 10am Sir Thomas Street
12th Oct Trans-Pennine Trail 6, Maghull to Old Roan – meet 10am Queen Square
19th Oct Ainsdale to Freshfield – meet 10am Central Station
26th Oct West Kirby – meet 10.15 Central Station
Anyone is welcome to come out with the Sunday Group. It is not strictly part of the MNA, although it has several overlapping members. We go out by public transport to local parks, woods and nature reserves all over Merseyside, and occasionally further afield. We are mostly pensioners, so the day is free on our bus passes, and we enjoy fresh air, a laugh and a joke, a slow amble in pleasant surroundings and sometimes we even look at the wildlife!
If you want to join a Sunday Group walk, pack lunch, a flask, waterproofs, binoculars if you have them, a waterproof pad to sit on if we have to have lunch on the grass, and wear stout shoes or walking boots. We are usually back in Liverpool City Centre by 4pm at the latest.
If you are interested in the wildlife of the north-west of England and would like to join the walks and coach trips run by the Merseyside Naturalists’ Association, see the main MNA website for details of our programme and how to join us.