After a few frosty days and nights, this morning it was just above freezing, with water in the puddles. From Rose Brow we walked through Gateacre Village, listening to the bell of the Unitarian chapel summoning their faithful to Sunday service. Then up Belle Vale Road and left through the Loop Line access gate, for a walk of about 3 miles northwards to Knotty Ash.
The Loop Line was once a railway, the Cheshire Lines’ North Liverpool Extension Line, which was abandoned by British Rail 1964. Plans for a walking and cycling route from Aintree to Halewood were drawn up in 1986 and the final part was opened 2000. It is part of the Trans-Pennine Trail, (Southport to Hornsea, 212 miles) and National Cycle Network route NCN 62. It wasn’t cold on the path, but it was damp and still, slightly misty. There were just a few icy patches where it wasn’t sheltered by overhanging trees, and which we negotiated gingerly.
There was very little to catch our eyes. No flowers have survived the cold snap, but the young shoots of Cow Parsley appeared unaffected. The only birds we saw were Robins, Blackbirds, a Mistle Thrush and Crows, and one Jay. The trees lining the path were mostly natives – Beech, Birch, Oak, Ash and Hawthorn, with a large London Plane at one junction. A tree laden with Ash “keys” attracted my attention. Have you ever wondered why some Ash trees seem to have large bunches of seeds and others don’t? I learned this week that they are very variable about their sexes (or is it genders?). Mitchell’s tree book says “Total sexual confusion: some trees all male, some all female, some male with one or more female branches, and vice versa, some branches male in one year, female the next, some with perfect flowers” (meaning flowers with both male and female parts). So now you know!
We arrived at Sainsbury’s supermarket a bit later than we usually stop, but there were no seats anywhere along the way. After a quick detour inside for their facilities we found it had started to rain gently, so we sat on a bench by the front entrance, under their canopy, to eat our lunches. Then, being so near a main bus route, we called it a day.
Public transport details: Bus 75 from Elliot Street at 10.04, arriving Rose Brow / Seafarer’s Drive at 10.30. Returned from Knotty Ash by various buses around 2pm.