This month’s Jack’s Tracks visits Northwich, a place that today fits nicely into the pigeon-hole of genteel and leafy Cheshire, but it wasn’t always this way. Back in 1670, the Smith-Barry family of Marbury Hall were searching their land for evidence of coal which they could extract for commercial gain, but instead discovered huge resources of rock salt, a remnant from the Triassic period when seawater moved inland, creating shallow salt marshes.
By the 1830’s, the salt mining industry in Northwich had ceased and the industry moved to nearby Winsford, leaving behind a mass of industrial wasteland and collapsed pits. This easy four-mile walk demonstrates the amazing ability of Mother Nature to renew even the most scarred of landscapes.
Follow the brown signs to the Anderton Boat Lift (CW9 6FW) and park up in the pay and display car park. Take the path leading off from the centre of the car park, directly across from the pay machine. Go through the pretty butterfly barriers and then bear immediate left. At the next fork bear right and, just after the stone artwork a little further on, bear right once more and go past the wooden gate, heading downhill through a wooden area.
At the next fork, bear left towards Hyden Pool, and once you get past the next information board, you can take either fork to end up at a wooden bridge. Cross the bridge and carry on in the same direction until you arrive at another bridge by reed beds, cross here and, once again, go in the same direction.
After 750 yards on this path, which runs parallel to Witton Brook, you’ll arrive at the eastern entrance to Anderton Nature Park; turn right towards Marbury Park and a few yards later when you arrive on a single track road (Marbury Road), turn right and follow the road for almost 700 yards until you arrive at a collection of steel and wooden gates on your left.
Aim for the path that represents a 90 degree left turn from the road, so go through the gates and pick up this path. Follow this path for a further 700 yards, but whilst you’re on this path do take the chance to check out the bird hide.
Once you go through the steel gate at the end of the path, take the path on the left. Follow this path for approximately 200 yards, take the foot bridge on the right and you’ll eventually end up on the road, where you’ll arrive, 300 yards later, at the Salt Lion Works. You can walk through the Salt Lion Works to get to the Trent and Mersey Canal and then turn left down the towpath.
Follow the towpath for almost two miles, past tranquil Cheshire countryside and an attractive marina, passing the coffee boat and the fudge boat en-route, until you reach the Anderton Boat Lift and its car park from where you started the walk.