Cheshire walk - Moore Nature Reserve, Warrington

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 August 2020

One of the pools on the walk Photo: Paul Taylor

One of the pools on the walk Photo: Paul Taylor

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A walk to get you twitching... and itching, because there are birds and bugs galore to be seen.

The path beside the overgrown Runcorn and Latchford Canal Photo: Paul TaylorThe path beside the overgrown Runcorn and Latchford Canal Photo: Paul Taylor

“Just the little one today,” the passing photographer quipped when I raised an admiring eyebrow at the immense camouflage-coloured camera lens, slung across his chest like a rocket launcher.

This was a piece of kit that would capture every gossamer detail of a dragonfly’s wings at a thousand paces, every filament of a great crested grebe’s punky ‘hairdo’ from the other side of a lake. Yes, Moore Nature Reserve is the habitat of serious wildlife snappers, and I felt a twinge of lens envy.

Next day, I was feeling a twinge of something more tangible – a livid crop of itchy, weeping insect bites up both arms. I would advise long sleeves and a dab of insect repellent if you venture here.

Nature has done a very good job of reclaiming these 186 acres beside the Manchester Ship Canal. This land was once used for farming and quarrying. Through the middle of the reserve runs the vestiges of what was once the Runcorn and Latchford Canal – now a dried-up profusion of vegetation, in which the cut is only just discernible.

Lapwing Lake  Photo: Paul TaylorLapwing Lake Photo: Paul Taylor

The reserve is home to three types of woodpecker – lesser spotted, green and greater spotted – various owls, sundry warblers and a host of waterfowl, plus, in the Eastern Reedbeds, the elusive bittern. A raptor viewpoint, looking over the treetops of what was Hillcrest Quarry, holds the promise of buzzards, kestrels, sparrowhawks and peregrines, even the odd osprey and red kite. Sadly, our visit proved raptor-free.

More abundant were the dragonflies, little slivers of iridescent blue hovering in the line of sight as we gazed over the reserve’s various pools from the many bird hides.

The walk is an easy four miles over firm level paths in an extended figure 8 route.

Just don’t let the bugs bite.

1. We start from the car park where Moore Lane and Lapwing Lane meet, just north of the Manchester Ship Canal, postcode WA4 6XE. If the car park is not open, there is plenty of on-street parking nearby. Take the footpath that runs off to the right as you enter the car park, alongside banking bordering the road. It becomes a gravel path heading into woodland.

2. Steps bring you down to a gate. Turn right here, following the sign for Pump House Pool and Eastern Reedbed. You will see Birchwood Pool on your left and pass the first of many bird hides on this walk. Continue in the same direction, passing Pump House Pool on your left too. Steps bring you up to a wider track. Head left along it and you will see Acton Grange railway viaduct to your right. Continue in this direction for some time, ignoring the first sign for Colin’s Hide.

A wooded path at Moore Nature reserve Photo: Paul TaylorA wooded path at Moore Nature reserve Photo: Paul Taylor

3. When you reach a signpost on the left announcing the Trans Pennine Trail, turn sharp left and follow this sign for Colin’s Hide. You will be following the line of the old Runcorn and Latchford Canal. now dry – at least it was on our visit – and extremely overgrown. After a long stretch, steps bring you up to a wide track. Go left here towards Colin’s Hide. You will pass a hide with a view of the viaduct and end up at a T-junction with the path you were on at the start of stage 2.

4. Go right and retrace your steps, passing the fenced off brick building marked as a ‘deep borehole’ and then right down the steps. Reaching the gate at the end of Birchwood Pool, head right on a grassy path following the sign for the Runcorn and Latchford Canal.

The view across a pool with Acton Grange railway viaduct in the distance Photo: Paul TaylorThe view across a pool with Acton Grange railway viaduct in the distance Photo: Paul Taylor

5. The path goes into trees, crosses a couple of short boardwalks and then veers left along the line of the old canal again. Keep going straight on until the path meets Lapwing Lane, then cross over and take the path ahead.

6. A long straight stretch takes you past Lapwing Lake on your left. Go left at the sign for Raptor Watch viewpoint, up some steps, then right to the viewpoint. After looking out over the treetops for buzzards, continue along the same path and turn left following the sign for Lapwing Lane car park, crossing a grassy area and descending steps to arrive back at the start point.

Compass points

Area of walk: Moore Country Park, Warrington

Distance: 4 miles

Time to allow: 2 hours

Map: OS Explorer 276

Refreshments: Red Lion, 119 Runcorn Road, Moore WA4 6UD

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