This walk was on 30th September 2012.
I regularly drive past Helsby and Frodsham hills but I can’t recall if I’ve ever ventured off the M56 or A56 to take a look at what’s up there. Having spent the night nearby, it was a good opportunity for a walk taking in parts of the Sandstone Trail and the Weaver Navigation. It was also my first chance to use the Decathlon Quechua 5-litre bumbag which I’d bought, on a whim, a couple of months ago.
At 0945, the sky was dark and there was a constant threat of rain throughout the walk. Starting near the war memorial at SJ51767704 there was an excellent view of the chemical works and, beyond Runcorn, the Runcorn-Widnes bridge. More to the left, the famous Liverpool landmarks were clearly visible to the naked eye but didn’t turn out on my (mobile phone) photos. I spent a few minutes studying the toposcope but could only really pick out the landmarks I already knew.
Walking through woodland at first, I was disappointed not to have a clear view of the river to my right but I was impressed by the bright red sandstone which stood in huge walls to my left. I don’t know if I was walking through a man-made cutting or if this is a natural cliff. There was quite a bit of graffiti scratched into the stone – some of it quite ornate – but there was no way the camera on my phone would have done it justice in the poor light.
I took my time walking tracks and quiet lanes looking at the scenery.
Eventually I reached the Weaver Navigation, just as half a dozen boats came past one after the other. They seemed to be a mix of rowers and scullers; coxed and coxless. Presumably they were a club out on a training session as they didn’t seem to be racing each other.
The rain held off until I was about 5 minutes away from the car, but I could shelter under trees so didn’t get wet. The walk was just under 10 miles long and took me just over 4 hours.
The bumbag was comfortable to wear to the rear. I’ve looked on the Decathlon website and this model (Arpenaz 5 WB) doesn’t seem to be available anymore. I bought it a couple of months ago for about £8, I think. [Edit: I’ve now searched for the name of the bag and found it.] It’s described as having a 5 litre capacity, which was plenty big enough for my Paclite trousers and a few nibbles. I like the zipped compartment on the belt [righthand side of photo] as it is a good size for my Garmin Geko GPS and some sweets.
There is a net under the lid, which could be handy but wasn’t on this trip. It has a zipped pocket inside which would be useful for keeping money safe, and there is also an external zipped compartment in the padding which lies against your body when you’re wearing the bag. You’d only really want to keep documents or money in this compartment or you’d have things pressing into your back.
There is an elastic cord on the front which could be used to carry a thin fleece or windshirt.
One thing that could have been better is the elasticated pouch shown to the left of the photo. I used this pouch to carry a small (330ml) water bottle but it was a very loose fit and the bottle did fall out on a couple of occasions when I was either bending over to look at something or removing the bag.
Maybe a wider bottle would stay more securely in place, but a wider bottle would also be taller – so I’m not convinced. The bag does have a hydration sleeve and an opening for a drinking tube, but I doubt that my 1 litre Platypus would fit in it. Maybe you can buy diddy bladders that would fit?
At the pace I walk, a slightly wobbly water bottle was not a major concern but I’d need to experiment with bigger/wider bottles if, Heaven Forbid, I were to use it whilst running.
All things considered, I do like the bag and expect to use it quite often for shorter walks.