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Mersey Valley Timberland Trail & Dunham 2 days / 27 miles (44km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

MVTT - Mersey Forest website Woodland pitch Date: 16 Aug 2023
Start: Runcorn station/ Finish: Altrincham.
Maps: Explorer 267, 275, 276, 268.

Day 1Runcorn to Appleton11.6 miles (18.7km)
Day 2Appleton to Altrincham15.1miles (24.4km)

Mersey Forest logo A few photos from a 2-day walk of the Mersey Valley Timberland Trail (MVTT), a route of ~21m (~34km) from Runcorn Hill to Oughtrington near Lymm, extended to start at Runcorn station and continue from Oughtrington to Altrincham.

Note:- On Hall Lane east of Daresbury, the public footpath was closed and barred at SJ 58676 83101, an attached notice of dry council-speak giving the details for those with the patience to read it, but no suggested diversion or map. We backtracked to the B5356 and walked eastwards towards Hatton and northwards to rejoin the route just south of Hatton Lodge. The OS map above shows the official trail route.

The trail is very sparsely waymarked as such in the eastern half and not at all in the west, as far as we could tell, though some faded illegible waymarks might have done so. The actual route sometimes varies in minor detail from the line shown on OS mapping, our map above shows these small deviations as accurately as we can remember them.

With a mixed weather forecast of sunshine and occasional showers, we dusted off this local trail from our bottom drawer of factory seconds, a route of variable character that starts at a small green high oasis in urban Runcorn and passes through town parks to more rural Cheshire countryside and ending near Lymm, the highlights being the fine woodlands, some managed by the Woodland Trust. The weather was much better than expected with no rain and quite hot on the second day.

Pitching on this type of low level trail is often hit and miss, the possibilities appearing very grim for a while in the evening, but we eventually found an excellent woodland pitch, albeit a dark one - this was the first time we needed head torches to pitch with the sun still shining.

Day 1 - Runcorn to Appleton

From the station we ascended Balfour Street towards Runcorn Hill and the start of the trail. This is a small attractive area that has a car park and a maze of paths, little hope of finding a marked start point - we just walked around the southern end for a good view westwards and past a sandstone cliff to descend, crossing our ascent route to head eastwards towards Stenhills.

View from Runcorn Hill
View from Runcorn Hill (16 Aug 2023__13:26:31)
View from Runcorn Hill
View from Runcorn Hill (16 Aug 2023__13:29:56)
Sandstone cliff on Runcorn Hill
Sandstone cliff on Runcorn Hill (16 Aug 2023__13:34:31)
Ascending Stenhills
Ascending Stenhills (16 Aug 2023__14:12:12)

Following a cycleway through Town Park we reached more rural walking at Windmill Hill wood, the Bridgewater canal and the woodlands of Daresbury Firs (Keckwick Hill).

A lovely warm setting awaited us at Appleton lake for evening eats, sitting on the shoreline with a pleasing sky in the company of a pair of dozing mallards. We pressed on quickly as prospects for a secluded pitch were running very thin, but a bold venture yielded a superb woodland spot invisible from paths, just big enough for the tent and adequate room for entry and exit. The photo makes it look a lot brighter than it was, but after a bit of clearance work it was highly comfortable and flat without any pegs. Of course we had Mrs. Tawny Owl occasionally screeching in the night (and the odd earwig etc.)

Windmill Hill wood
Windmill Hill wood (16 Aug 2023__15:30:54)
Bridgewater Canal at Norton Bridge
Bridgewater Canal at Norton Bridge (16 Aug 2023__15:58:11)
Appleton reservoir
Appleton reservoir (16 Aug 2023__18:43:59)
Evening eats at Appleton reservoir
Evening eats at Appleton reservoir (16 Aug 2023__19:12:12)
Woodland pitch
Woodland pitch (16 Aug 2023__20:18:58)

Day 2 - Appleton to Oughtrington & Altrincham

We broke camp early for a slightly elevated view westwards and resumed the trek eastwards towards Lumb Brook Valley and The Dingle, a lovely wooded ravine and locally very popular with some early visitors already.

Early view from Hill Cliffe
Early view from Hill Cliffe (17 Aug 2023__07:08:27)
Entering Lumb Brook valley
Entering Lumb Brook valley (17 Aug 2023__07:45:35)
Lumb Brook valley woodland
Lumb Brook valley woodland (17 Aug 2023__07:49:56)
Bridge on Lumb Brook
Bridge on Lumb Brook (17 Aug 2023__07:54:40)
Early light penetrates Lumb Brook valley
Early light penetrates Lumb Brook valley (17 Aug 2023__08:03:55)

Next are the Grappenhall woodlands: Grappenhall Heys and Grappenhall Wood, both managed by the Woodland Trust.

A section of the Bridgewater Canal leads to a zigzag ascent of Booths Hill and the top of Lymm Dam, a honeypot area with many walkers and strollers enjoying the fine woodland paths leading down to Lymm village.

The last section heads eastwards along Pepper Street to rejoin the canal and pass through Spud Wood, surprisingly popular despite its very small size with various paths that lead to Grantham Bridge and the trail finish.

We continued along the canal to very familiar local territory at Dunham and walked through the golf course to Altrincham.

Grappenhall Heys woodland
Grappenhall Heys woodland (17 Aug 2023__08:32:31)
Grappenhall Heys pool
Grappenhall Heys pool (17 Aug 2023__08:36:39)
Entering Lymm Dam woodland
Entering Lymm Dam woodland (17 Aug 2023__11:03:21)
Lymm Dam
Lymm Dam (17 Aug 2023__11:08:19)