I arrive back in Shotton on a damp and misty morning. I walk through the railway stations (both of them)…
… and have a little difficulty finding the correct path. It’s unsigned, at the end of a platform, and soon I’m walking down the remembered cycle way, hemmed in by metal fences…
… back to the banks of the Dee. No shortage of signage here. But instead of turning right towards Chester, today I’m going to cross the Hawarden Bridge.
I’m back on the National Cycle Network Route 5 , but not for long.
This next section of my trek has been a vague worry at the back of my mind for weeks. Because, after nearly two years of following a clearly waymarked trail (the Wales Coast Path), I’ve grown lazy. Now it’s back to reading the map and plotting my own route.
There is no footpath along the north bank of the Dee, according to my OS map, because it’s all marsh and reclaimed land, including a firing range. So I was anticipating walking a circuitous route inland along footpaths and roads, via the villages of Shotwick and Burton, until I reached Neston.
The beginning is not very promising. Fences with wasteland and industrial units beyond, hung with ‘Private’ signs and threats of surveillance cameras (just when I realise I need a wee!).
It’s the first week in August and there are plenty of wild flowers still in bloom. This turns what could have been a tedious trudge into a pleasant experience.
As usual, I take far too many photos. No wonder it takes me so long to get anywhere. [You can see a few of my flower photos on my Ruthless Ramblings site: here.]
I don’t meet any other walkers, just the occasional cyclist.
And then the cycle way joins a road. This is Deeside Industrial Park, but I’m walking along quite a pleasant tree-lined avenue.
I wonder if the trees were here first, or whether they’ve been planted. They look well-established. I pass a Toyota unit, with huge gates. I can’t see any cars. And then a Morrison’s Farmer’s Boy plant. Doesn’t look like a farm.
A flag reminds me I’m back in Wales. Originally I thought the River Dee was the border, but that’s not strictly true.
And, above a hedge, I spot a wind sock. It sits on the edge of a car park and is surrounded by buildings. Seems out-of-place. Why is it here?
Is it for aircraft? Maybe for helicopters? (I imagine rich bosses flying in to inspect their factories.) Or maybe for the benefit of high-sided HGV lorries?
I reach a T junction and check my Garmin. To my surprise, this road is called Tenth Avenue. (Cue Bruce Springsteen.) Now I have that tune playing in my head… but that’s fine. It’s a great track, and cheers up a not-so-great road.
As I leave the Deeside Industrial Park, I walk past a ‘Hazardous Area’. Beehives.
And then pass through a tunnel under the A548 – my old foe – I hate that road. I share the tunnel with the railway line, and some rather un-inspired graffiti.
Now it’s time to pass under the railway line. A sign with an arrow informs me this little road leads to the ‘Sealand Range’, the ‘Danger Area’ marked on my map. I think the sign looks surprisingly amateurish for an MOD firing range.
I follow the tarmac track.
On my left, across the fields, are the four towers of the Power Station, on the other side of the River Dee.
This track is called ‘Ralphs Way’. Why? Who was Ralph? [Later I search the Internet but can’t find the answer to this question. Does anyone know?]
On my right is a railway track and an old rail car. Love those old wagons.
No walkers here, but I meet several cyclists. Ahead is a crest of land. Once this area would have been under water. Would that hillock have been on the edge of the shore?
To my left is a panoramic view across green fields covered in sheep. The targets on the shooting range are visible beyond a bank. The Dee is invisible, but the power station still dominates the landscape.
Ahead is an official-looking signpost. ‘Welcome to England’.
Once again, I’m leaving Wales behind. This time for good.
[To be continued…]