The early days of September 2011 have been to say the least very wet and at times windy.
I do not walk for the sake of walking — I want to see something of interest. I made the best of a bright spell and made my way to the village of Hale.
This stroll around Hale provides expansive views of the Mersey estuary. The Mersey is a giant of an estuary but the village has a giant of its own.
1.My reason for enjoying this walk because I was picking up a friend from the airport in the evening and so I arrived very early and spent the day in Hale.
I began at the Childe of Hale pub. The first question to be asked is who was this “Child” who lived from 1578 to 1623? This giant of a man stood 9ft 3in in height but John Middleston was no freak. He was both strong and agile.
He bacme a renowned wrestler and the Lord of the Manor at Hale who won Sir Gilbert Ireland many a bet, winning every wrestling contest.
In 1617 Sir Gilbert sent John off to London to match his giant against the champion of King James 1. John won easily and the King gave him the then-enormous sum of £20 plus a new suit of clothes. A life-sized portrait was painted and this now hangs in Brasenose College in Oxford. A copy is exhibited at nearby Speke Hall.
2.From the pub, follow Church Lane and pass a very solid-looking thatched cottage.
The big man was born in this little house. A small plaque indicates John Middleton’s birth but care should be taken to respect the privacy of those who now live there.
3.Continue along the road to reach St Mary’s Church on the left.
This is a delight and looks much older than the date of its construction or, should I say, reconstruction in 1977. This was essential following a massive fire.
There has been a parish church on this site since 1081. In the churchyard is John Middleton’s grave.
There is an inscription which marks out the height of the giant.
Children often stand by the grave and toss a coin through the grille which protects it and make a wish.
I decided to do the same and wished for some dry weather.
4.I followed the track along the line of the estuary and passed the still impressive but now redundant lighthouse.
The present light was built in 1906 and worked until 1958 when modern technology took over. It is now in the grounds of a house and must be the most impressive garden shed in the country.
5.Follow a well-trodden path between a couple of neat footbridges and cross streams. This is one of the best places to watch birds.
During the autumn migration this is one of the most impressive estuaries to be found anywhere in Britain. There are flocks of wading birds and wildfowl and there are constant changes and movements as the tide ebbs and flows.
6.Look out for a set of wooden steps and then continue through fields and see houses in the distance.
7.Turn right along Bailey’s Lane and return via Hale Road to the pub.
How to get there
Hale is reached via the M6, M58 and M57.
Follow the signs for the John Lennon (formerly Spekel) Airport.
Hale is 1½ miles from the airport and signed off the A562 between Liverpool and Wigan.
There is plenty of parking in the area.
Length of walk: 3½ miles