• Start: Moore Nature Reserve
  • End: Moore Nature Reserve
  • Country: England
  • County: Cheshire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: None on site but the Red Lion in Moore is open all day from noon
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 276 Bolton, Wigan and Warrington
  • Difficulty: Medium
Google Map


Keith Carter leads a walk around Moore Nature Reserve, near Warrington

Sandwiched between the Manchester Ship Canal and the River Mersey, Moore Nature Reserve was once sand and gravel quarries which when exhausted were landscaped and planted out and left for nature to take over. This was done rather well from the point of view of access, footpaths, bird hides and parking, although they economised when it came to signposting and I’m afraid get a D-minus in that department.

The reserve is rather surprisingly privately run which may account for the limited investment in evidence. The operator is FCC Environment, formerly the Waste Recycling Group, a company specialising in waste management much of which goes on at the controversial Arpley Landfill site just outside the boundary of the reserve and definitely Out of Bounds.

You don’t want a man in a high-visibility coat to tell you you’re trespassing and shoo you back inside the ‘safe’ area where walkers are allowed which happened to me, although I’ll admit that I was off the right of way. To my mind the reserve leaflet and map are misleading due to the choice of a green dotted line not for the footpath as normally used by the Ordnance Survey but to delineate the boundary of the reserve.

I am inclined to grade walks by category – the easiest is a stroll followed by a ramble then a walk then a hike and this one is definitely a stroll.
The reserve falls a bit short if you’re looking for a circular walk from the car without having to back-track over ground you’ve already walked. It becomes apparent that the area is quite limited, confined between the railway, the ship canal and the busy landfill site. You’re never far from industry in this part of the world.

In researching this walk I made two visits to the site, the doubt nagging in my mind that I had not seen the best of it. Sadly it rained on both my visits so I did not have the chance to see the reserve in sunshine.

1 We parked in Moore village at the Red Lion and turned right out of the pub car park to walk along Runcorn Road crossing the skew bridge over the railway and in 300 yards finding an opening on the right that leads onto the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal. Turn left onto the towpath and stay on it, the water on your right, until just opposite the village shop and post office we leave the canal and turn right on the road passing the converted Methodist Church on your left, now nicely turned into
three cottages.

Moore Lane is on the left and we take it, walking over two railway bridges and descending to Moore Lane Swing Bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal. There are likely to be some heavy lorries using this lane since it leads to a large transport depot run by the French firm Norbert Dentressangle.

2 Once over the bridge we come to a small crossroads and find ourselves at the entrance to Moore Nature Reserve. Keep ahead on a good path suitable for wheelchairs, passing through mixed woodland and wetlands that looks like the Everglades. On the left a bird hide overlooks Lapwing Lake where on my two visits there were no lapwings, only a few ducks that needed the field guide to identify.

We spoke to a ranger who told us that the operator of the landfill site has applied for permission to extend its use of the tip site which, if turned down, will mean the reserve will have to close. This would be a pity since in spite of a few shortcomings is a good habitat for wildlife.

As we proceed along the path we notice it is tending to curve gradually to the left and on reaching some houses at Moss Side we make an obvious left turn and realise we are on the return leg of our walk. A few cars use this track but it is not surfaced and in places has wide puddles in the wet. It leads back to the crossroads by the reserve entrance and we turn right to cross back over the swing bridge.

3 Head up the incline, ignore the first footpath and stile on the right and just past the gates to a horse farm look for a footpath sign and kissing gate on the right. The farm has gate posts topped with horses’ heads in case you are in any doubt. Enter a field and follow beside the hedge of a left hand boundary to reach a gate with a pond on the right.

Go forward along a further field edge with no margin and the posts of the rugby ground appear then the club house and car park. Cross to a kissing gate and a path takes us over the railway and leads to Moss Lane where we turn left to come out on Runcorn Road by the skewed railway bridge which we crossed on our outward walk. Turn right and the pub is a few
hundred yards on the left.

If you would like to see if there is anything interesting in the way of birds on Birchwood Pool leave the reserve car park by a kissing gate into a field of rough grass and walk parallel with the embankment before entering an area of young trees.

Coming out of it follow the path to where a metal gate with a signpost indicating Eastford Road admits us to a further area of mixed woodland with quite a good path, laid down when the reserve was created.

Birch Strip hide is the first one you come to and by continuing on the made path a little further on you come to the next hide with views over Pump House Pool.

To find a reserve cheek by jowl with industry and a massive landfill site, at least shows that people care about their surroundings and it’s nice to see that business has taken care to restore the land once it has finished exploiting it. Perhaps one day the whole area will be returned to nature for people to enjoy. Let’s hope so.

Compass points

Area of walk: Moore Nature Reserve, near Warrington

Distance: Four miles

Time to allow: Two hours

Map: OS Explorer 276 Bolton, Wigan and Warrington

Refreshments: None on site but the Red Lion in Moore is open all day from noon

Useful web site: www.fccenvironment/moorenaturereserve

Wheelchair access: Suitable for wheelchairs but on the return leg return on Moore Lane,
not taking the footpath past the horse farm

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