Wirral walk - Thornton Hough
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 March 2017
Take in the delights of Thornton Hough on this month’s easy rural ramble, writes Howard Bradbury.
I am embarrassed to admit that the one fact I always remember about the great Viscount Leverhulme is possibly the most trivial: he liked to sleep outdoors.
The great industrialist would happily bed down on the patio of his house in Bolton. He knocked the windows out of his Scottish castle to better enjoy the bracing breeze. And when he was adapting Thornton Manor on the Wirral to his needs, Lever added an outdoor bedroom, where he slept with only a glass canopy to keep the rain off.. Brrr!
We see Thornton Manor in the distance on this walk. It’s an easy ramble across flat fields, leaving you plenty of energy at either end to wander round Thornton Hough. And wander it, you should. Thornton Hough is the rural counterpart to the industrial model village of Port Sunlight. Much of it was built to the vision of Lever, remaining - with its village green, smithy, women’s institute and black-and-white buildings - the ideal of what an English village should be.
Lever was not the first to mould Thornton Hough into an idealistic vision, though. It was the Yorkshire industrialist Joseph Hirst who bought land here in the mid-19th century and built All Saints Church, a school, rectory and cottages in Wilshaw Terrace, recalling the name of his first model village in Holmfirth.
A few years after Hirst’s death, Lever came along in 1888 to create Thornton Hough’s other church, St George’s, and many more homes. More than 90 years after Lever’s death his vision endures in this pretty and unspoilt place.
1. Our walk begins from the car park off the B5136 Neston Road at the southern end of the green in Thornton Hough, postcode CH63 1JE. Head back up the road, in the vague direction of the spire of All Saints Church. You will pass, on your left, the black-and-white Village Smithy, the Post Office on your right, St George’s United Reformed Church on your left and the Seven Stars pub on your right. Just beyond the magnificent turreted building marked with the legend ‘The Store’, bear left, beside a white metal gate, along the footpath to Brimstage.
2. After a couple of minutes on this path, you reach a T-junction. Go right for a few yards and, just before a gate, take the footpath signed for Brimstage on the left, through a wooden gate and along the right hand edge of a field. Through the next gate, take the left hand field edge and follow the path across the middle of the next field to an old metal kissing gate. Cross over the avenue of trees to another metal kissing gate and cross the field (look to the left here and you see Thornton Manor, once the home of Viscount Leverhulme, now a conference, events and wedding venue. Through a wooden gate, you go along the right hand field edge to the next gate and continue straight on into a tree-lined path, ignoring a path going off to the right.
3. This bridleway emerges at a road. Go right along the pavement, continuing a few yards until a sharp left-hand bend where you take the footpath to the right, just between the two chevrons on the bend. The path, beside a field of maize, soon brings you to Brimstage Hall, which was built possibly as early as the 12th century - no-one knows for whom, or for what purpose - and is now home to a collection of independent shops. When the path reaches the car park, continue ahead, across the car park and down the road, passing the main entrance to Brimstage Hall and Courtyard (it’s worth taking a few minutes to look around here) until you reach the main road. Turn right along the pavement, following it until it turns to grass, then go right along the footpath marked for Thornton Hough.
4. The path comes to a farm track. Cross over and head slightly left towards a kissing gate. Through the gate, go along the left field edge, then cross over a rutted track, bearing slightly left to continue in much the same direction with the hedge now on your right. At the furthest corner of this field, bear right following a footpath sign, cross a tree-lined avenue and continue ahead along a footpath through the middle of a large field. Reaching an enclosed path, go left and, as the path widens and another track joins from the right continue straight ahead until you reach a crossroads of paths. Go straight across here towards a metal gate, passing beside it and taking a track which veers sharply right and on into a tree-lined path.
5. When you reach another metal gate, go straight ahead, ignoring the gate and path to the left, and a few yards later go right through a kissing gate and along a footpath on the left edge of a field. Keep going in the same direction as the power lines, and when they run out, go straight across the next field, passing the walls to the gardens of homes, until you reach a wooden gate. Go left up a track which brings you to the road. Cross and bear right up the pavement and you are soon back in Thornton Hough village.
Area of Walk: Thornton Hough, Wirral
Distance: 4 miles
Time to allow: 2 hours
Hazards: Cattle in some fields, possibly very muddy stretches
Map: OS Explorer 266
Refreshments: The Seven Stars, Church Road, Thornton Hough CH63 1JW; The Country Mouse, Brimstage Hall and Courtyard, Brimstage Road, Brimstage CH63 6JA.