Monday, 17 May 2010

Bollin Valley

I had too much to do this weekend to be going far and wide. Original plan was to go wild camping in Snowdonia but after realising how many things I needed to do at home and the weather forecast which was for rain all Saturday night and showers Sunday I decided to stay closer to home and get my outdoor fix by going for a stroll down our local green belt land. Nicky went off to Uni for a lecture so I made myself a packed lunch, grabbed my small bag, camera and boots and went off for an easy walk in the sun. One objective was to discover the Bollin tributary where the local Otter is rumoured to be hanging out! The weather forecast did say sun for Saturday but getting cloudy during the evening leading to rain at night. The weather was glorious and I felt good bombing down a Cheshire country lane with its big skies, white metal fencing, open fields and me blaring out the Stone Roses Mersey Paradise through my stereo, the world felt good!

River Bollin
Ironic tune really as the River Bollin is of course one of the River Mersey's main tributaries itself, draining the Peak District's south western catchment areas above Macclesfield and beyond. I'm not sure what Mr Brown and Mr Squire were referring to as their Mersey Paradise. The obvious guess would be the Spike Island music festival that took place which they headlined on the banks of the Mersey Estuary many years ago. To me my own Mersey Paradise is the world I was brought up in, geographically speaking home to me is Greater Manchester, all of which is drained into the mighty Mersey Basin. As a child and also an adult there is nothing more intriguing to me than a brook, stream or river. I find the wildlife in them fascinating, they are ever changing and to me like the mountains they are nature itself in motion. All of the local streams and brooks I explored and played in as a child were part of the huge catchment of the River Mersey. Since 1985 the Mersey Basin Campaign has facilitated the clean up of the River Mersey and its tributaries, which includes the Manchester Ship Canal, check out their website. What a fantastic job they have done with our regions waterways!

Quiet wooded stream above the River Bollin
A few tributaries of the Mersey including the Bollin have in recent years re-attracted one of my all time favourite animals the Otter. I have seen several Otters whilst on holiday on the Isle of Mull in Scotland but still not seen one in England. One of these beautiful animals rumoured to be living on a tributary of the Bollin. So this was one of the objectives of my stroll, to sit patiently in the hope of seeing the wee thing. Whilst speaking to a few walkers in the past in the Bollin Valley, a few have mentioned sightings of a Kingfisher down there too. I got to the usual quiet layby car park and set off along the country lanes, as to my left the huge passenger jets flying out of Manchester Aiport flew in blue skies with fluffy white clouds over vast fields of bright yellow rape seed.  After reaching the edge of the first woodland area I sloped off down a quiet path into the woods. The scene was incredible with the suns rays beaming through the trees and lighting up hundreds of bluebells on the woodlands floor. Birds were singing from bushes and trees. Two blackbirds scampered around in the leaves to my left while a Great Tit watched me from a fallen tree trunk. It was like something out of a Disney movie!

Buzzard above the Bollin Valley
I got down to the banks of the River Bollin and just stood in awe of it. I love this river. It silently meanders through the fields and produces a sandy beach on the inner sides of its many bends, contrasted on the bends far sides by deep faster flowing water covered by hanging woodland. When it is sunny like this I cuold sit here for hours just listening to the birds and watching the river slowly pass by. Two Mallards were a little surprised to see me and flew off down stream. I was scouring the sandy muddy bank of the river for signs of animal prints and found plenty. I left this little heaven and headed back along the woodland path. I came across a huge bank of white flower which by the smell could only have been one thing, Wild Garlic. Using my Blackberry to verify this and check how it could be foraged and eaten, I then took it upon myself to dig out dozens of  bulbs and bagged them to take home for the kitchen. Just before I reached the footbridge from the Bowden Priory path I walked through the lushest woodland with massive green river weeds blanketing either side of a winding path, it was an incredible experience and the only thing I could compare it with is the virtual world of Pandora from the film Avatar. It really was unreal. Made all the more unreal when dozens of what I think were either Long Tailed Tits or Pied Wagtails were swarming over head.

Mayfly by Mobberley Brook / Blackburn's Brook
After leaving the river to join the farming fields I then followed the route of the Bollin Valley Way and set about finding this small tributary. On my way across one of the fields I looked up to find a Kestrel swooping and then flapping around above me and a huge Buzzard circling above the power lines. On reaching the tributary I decided to sit for an hour on the banks and eat my lunch. No Otter came unfortunately or Kingfisher but I did have the most relaxing hour I'd had all week! One thing that did make my day was a Mayfly which landed by me, I managed to pick it up and get a cracking close up using my cameras macro. I made my way back across the fields and then down to the river to take the same magical path back to the woodlands and then back along the country lanes to my car. Heading in a westerly direction now I could see the unique shape of Shutlingsloe on the far horizon. When I got home with dozens of bulbs of Wild Garlic I was forced into the kitchen by Nicky as the smell was extremely strong! That night saw a beautiful sunset which would have looked great from my tent at 3000 ft, but hey ho, one day I will learn not to take on fully what the weather man says and I had a great time down the by the Bollin anyway.

I have uploaded all of the photos from this walk here.

Route Map...

4 comments:

  1. Lovely report and memory jerk back to our days in Bowdon x

    ReplyDelete
  2. This report brought back some memories for me too. Must get over there again soon. The mayfly picture is superb too!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I was back in Bowdon this summer and I went down to the Bollin valley accessing it from the the bottom of Grange Road and from Sunnybank Road. I was saddened to see that large tracts of the riverbank were fenced off - these had been open to the public for as far as I could remember. To add insult to injury access to the fields near Sunnybank Road had been denied with threats of litigation in the event that anyone tried to enter. This in my opinion is totally unacceptable, and an order should be applied enforcing public access, as this is an area of outstanding natural beauty that should be available to all.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Colin Henshaw said...I was back in Bowdon this summer and I went down to the Bollin valley accessing it from the the bottom of Grange Road and from Sunnybank Road. I was saddened to see that large tracts of the riverbank were fenced off - these had been open to the public for as far as I could remember. To add insult to injury access to the fields near Sunnybank Road had been denied with threats of litigation in the event that anyone tried to enter. This in my opinion is totally unacceptable, and an order should be applied enforcing public access, as this is an area of outstanding natural beauty that should be available to all.

    ReplyDelete