Stormy Seas.

Stormy seas

It was wild and windy as I walked along the beach this morning.

It was high tide and as I approached the coastguard station the waves were crashing over onto the prom.

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Time to take a step back although it was wonderful to be out in the fresh air.

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A stroll through Rimrose Valley.

513 Rimrose Valley

I am continuing to find local walks and this one is just a mile from home.

This shallow valley which separates Crosby from Litherland features a variety of habitats, including Reed beds, damp meadow, dry grassland and willow-carr woodland. It is bordered on its eastern side by the Leeds – Liverpool canal.

I joined it from the Crosby side and walked along the main path towards Netherton. The reed beds were on my left with dry grassland to my right. After about a mile I reached the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool canal which I followed South towards Seaforth.

The section along the canal towpath was very interesting with lots of wild flowers and birdlife.

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I saw several species of butterfly and some dragonflies.

As I approached Seaforth I left the towpath to reach the main track through the valley to return to my starting point. A pleasant 3k stroll.

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Today down the beach.

After two days of rain and thunderstorms it is finally dry and I chanced a short walk down the beach. What would I find today?

I walked along the waters edge and saw many jellyfish that had been washed up.

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A few hundred yards on I found some Stone Art, a figure of a man. Someone had been having fun.

                                 8. Stone Art

The tide was coming in and soon I had to make my way up onto the promenade. Time to search for some wild flowers.

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I was just over a mile away from my car when it started to rain. Time to head back. It had been a pleasant hour and so good to get out. There is always something new to see.

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A stroll round Sefton and the meadows.

My walk today started from The Punch Bowl pub in Sefton village and took me along the bank of the River Alt and through the surrounding meadows.

Sefton is an historic village and its name is derived from the Old Norse. It meant, ‘the hamlet where the rushes/reeds grow’ It is mentioned in the Domesday Book where it is listed as ‘Sextone’

In the centre of the village is St Helen’s Church and across the road is the War Memorial.

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I walked down Lunt Road for a couple of hundred yards to reach a footpath sign on my right, but I paused to cross the road to see St Helen’s Well.

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The well has now been capped but in previous centuries it was an important source of clean drinking water. Apparently the water was icy cold and considered a cure for rheumatism, bruises and weaknesses of the nerves.

I then followed the footpath for 300 yards to enter some woodland and emerged on the banks of the River Alt. I walked along the river bank to reach Showricks Bridge.

339 Alongside the River Alt

343 Showricks Bridge

In the 18th century the bridge and surrounding area was known as ‘Showrick’ It is thought to be derived from ‘Schollerwyek’. The was the name used in Medieval times for this area, which formed the lower reaches of Maghull Brook. The river at that point in time was tidal and called ‘Dirt Alt’

I left the river here and descended some steps to walk along the edge of a field to reach a wooden bench. I nice place to pause for a rest. A lot of conservation work has been done in the area and some of the surrounding fields have been allowed to flood in winter.

I was now close to the nature Reserve at Lunt and could not resist a little detour.

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I will have to go back with a long lens.

Back on track I followed Moor Lane to the edge of the woodland and then turned left to follow Harrison Brook to meet my outward route.

348 Harrisin's Brook

It was only a short walk, just 3 miles but full of interest and local history. I had taken it slowly with plenty of stops to take pictures of the wild flowers.

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In the distance, over towards the village of Lunt. I had seen a field that shone brilliant white. What was in it? Was it flowers or perhaps plastic sheeting catching the sunlight. I decided to check. When I got there I found it was indeed a field full of white flowers

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They are a type of daisy, but I am not sure which one. Possibly Scented Mayweed.

It was a beautiful and peaceful scene and it made my day.

370 Field of white flowers

Posted in Local History, Natural History, Walks, Wild Flowers | 3 Comments

A walk round Thornton and Little Crosby.

The Thornton and Little Crosby Walk.

Together with my friend Chris I decided to do a short walk round Thornton and Crosby.

We parked at the Nag’s Head and walked along Rothwell Lane to cross the busy Brooms Cross Road to reach the ancient Brooms Cross, one of several wayside crosses on the old corpse road which ran from Hightown to Sefton Church.

Continuing along a field side path with wild flowers on either side we followed Gates Lane for a few hundred yards before turning left alongside a drainage ditch to reach Long Lane where we turned right. After a couple of hundred yards we reached a footpath sign on our left which we followed along a narrow path to reach Park Wall Road.

The road runs beside the boundary wall of Ince Blundell Park. The wall was covered in wild flowers and I just had to stop to take photos of some Bindweed and some opportunistic poppies growing out of the top of the wall.

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We followed it to reach the busy A565 road at the Lion Lodge Gates with a lion and lioness on the top

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We crossed the busy trunk road and turned right to reach a footpath on our left. This quiet path led us to the Lodge House on Back Lane which we followed into the village of Little Crosby.

A little of the history of the area.

After the death of Alfred the Great c.AD 900, Vikings landed on the Lancashire coast and established a number of settlements in the area. One of these is in what is now known as Little Crosby. The name “Crosby” is derived from two Norse words, “Krossa” and “byr” and means “the settlement or village with Crosses”

Crosby appears in the Domesday Book where it is written as “Crossebi”. It refers to the Manor of Little Crosby which was held by a Saxon Thane called Uctred.

After the Norman Conquest the lands came into the hands of a Norman called William whilst Great Crosby remained in the hands of the King.

In the late 12th century, Prince John, Count of Mortain, who held Great Crosby for the King leased the Manor of Great Crosby to one of his foresters, Robert of Ainsdale. The Prince became King John in 1199.

By 1250, Adam, the son of Robert of Ainsdale was holding land in Little Crosby. He was succeeded by his son named Robert who had very blond hair. He was given the nickname “Blondel” or “Blundell”. This became the family name, the Blundell’s of Crosby.

Back to the present.

In the village we paused by St Mary’s Church which was consecrated in 1847.

The church was built in the early-decorated Gothic style and contains some of the works of Nicholas Blundell, an artist and sculptor.

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Opposite the church is Delph Lane which used to lead to a quarry which provided sandstone for the building of the local cottages.

We followed the boundary wall along Little Crosby Road admiring the local cottages. We reached a memorial to the local squire, Francis Nicholas Blundell and on the opposite side of the road was The Well Cross.

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The remaining cottages leading out of the village all date from the 17th century and are built from the local sandstone. The white cottage with the dormer windows ,was once the home of Mr Aldred, priest to Blundell family.

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The last building on the right as you leave the village is the old smithy, built in 1713.

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Visually, little seems to have changed in the village in the past century. No street lamps, just the occasional speed bump or television aerial to remind us that it is 2020.

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At the Liverpool Lodge gates we followed the wall reach Virgins Lane and back to our starting point.

Opposite the Nag’s Head we paused by Thornton Stocks and Sundial.

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The sundial stands on top of what once was an ancient cross, another of the wayside crosses on route to the church at Sefton. It was a place where mourners could rest and pray for the deceased. During the reformation in 1664, Laws were passed banning the display of any Catholic or Popish symbols such as crosses or angels. This lead to many crosses being converted into sundials. This one is believed to have been erected c. 1720.

The stocks were used in previous centuries to punish people for minor offences. Up to three people could be locked in. As was the custom in those days, rotten fruit was often thrown at them. It is believed that the stocks were last used in 1863.

Chris and I paused there. We were tired and weary travelers. We wished that ‘lockdown’ was over and we could go into the Nag’s Head. We needed a pint!

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A stroll through the meadow.

Yesterday I revisited Broom’s Cross but extended my walk through the flower meadows south of the village of Lunt.

Flower Meadows

There were lots of different wild flowers but one that fascinated me was Viper’s Bugloss, Echium vulgare, a member of the borage family.

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The flower spike grows up to 80cm in height and the stem has bristly hairs which act as a protection against predators who may wish to eat it.

Pink flowers

The flowers are red when in bud but then turn pink, changing to an intense blue when fully open. This transition is due to changes in the acid content of the flower cells.

The nectar is especially popular with bees.

Pollination

Bee searching for nectar

The long protruding stamens make this flower resemble a snake’s head, hence its common name.

It also led to its use in medicine. In the 17th century the English herbalist William Coles recommended Viper’s Bugloss as an antidote to snake poison.

In Central Europe the dried root was used as a cure for epilepsy and to treat slow healing wounds.

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The weather was dull with hardly any wind but I had expected to see lots of butterflies. In fact I saw only one, but managed to grab a photo.

Speckled Wood

I think it is a Speckled Wood.

I wonder what I might find tomorrow?

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A Wayside Cross.

Yesterday I set out on my local walk but instead of walking along the coast I headed  inland. Looking at my OS map I saw ‘ Broom’s Cross’ marked. It was just a couple of miles from home but I had never been there. Time to investigate.

Brooms Cross

It is one of several wayside crosses in the Sefton area and is thought to date back to AD 1300.

Wayside crosses are one of several types of Christian cross erected during the medieval period. They were used to reinforce the Christian faith amongst those who passed by and to reassure the traveller. They also had the role of waymarkers especially over difficult terrain.

This one probably marked the route of the ancient ‘corpseway’ from Hightown to Sefton Church, where traditionally bodies washed up on the coast were given a Christian burial.

The surrounding fields were full of wild flowers. I must go back there soon with my camera.

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Let’s go fly a kite.

Let's go fly a kite

Superb conditions down the coast this afternoon.

A strong steady breeze. Ideal for kite flying.

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Sea Bindweed.

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Yesterday I went for my usual walk but could not walk along the beach. The tide was in and waves were crashing over the promenade. I decided to walk through the Hightown dunes and meadows to see what I could find. I was fortunate to spot just one clump of Sea Bindweed.

Sea Bindweed, Convolvulus soldanella, is a species of bindweed that grows on beach sand and other coastal habitats.

The plant bears fleshy stems and kidney shaped leaves. The flowers have corollas that are pink with five narrow white bands.

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The plant is also known as beach morning glory and seashore false bindweed.

It is also known as the ‘Princes Flower’ after Prince Charles Edward Stuart sowed some on the Island of Eriskay, Scotland, when he landed there in 1745 to lead the Jacobite rising.

Only a short walk, but its not how far you travel, its what you find along the way.

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Exploring the coastline

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Monday June 1st. Today I decided to leave the Iron Men standing tall and head further along the coast. From the coastguard station I walked along the combined footpath /cycleway towards Hightown. Leaving the tarmac I followed the occasional white topped posts which indicated the route of the Sefton Coastal Footpath.

Dune slack

I came to a couple of the dune slacks. These are the breeding ground of the rare Natterjack Toad. They spawn in these shallow pools in April and May. In the evenings the males congregate and call loudly to attract females. The noise can be quite loud and on a still night can be heard up to a mile away. It is known locally as the ‘ Birkdale Nightingale’ or the ‘Bootle Organ’

The path brought me out at the rear of the Sailing Club. On the far side of the car park there was a notice board giving details of the Prehistoric Ancient Trackway.

A few years ago the remains of a Neolithic trackway were discovered on Hightown beach. It consisted of a latticework of roundwood branches woven together and up to 30 cm deep. It was composed mainly of Alder and Oak but also some ash, elm and lime tree.

The earliest inhabitants were from about 6000 years ago in the Mesolithic period. They were hunter gatherers who sought food and shelter from the sea and woodlands along the coast. A few miles further north at Formby Point prehistoric footprints and animal tracks can sometimes be seen in the mudflats exposed by the tide.

I made my way down onto the beach at Altmouth where there are the remains of the submerged Forest.

408 Submerged Forest

It was fascinating to walk along this section. Was that a piece of the submerged forest, or just a piece of driftwood ?

The ground was parched but left some interesting patterns.

Parched

I followed the river Alt into Hightown until I came to the barrier at the Altcar Rifle Range where I had to turn back.

I wandered slowly back along the beach pausing for a rest on a bench near the sailing club. It had been so quiet and peaceful. I had the place almost to myself. Just one other person in sight, a woman in a red dress. Can you spot her ?

Looking Back

A lovely couple of hours. Far from the maddening crowd.

Posted in Local History, Sefton Coastline | 5 Comments