Stiles, gates and pubs

After a morning of chores and pottering I noticed that the weather was actually quite pleasant and I decided to go for a walk.  Leaving the house at 3pm I knew that the Seven Stars at Thornton Hough would give a meaningful aim to the walk but, beyond that, I had no plans.

Wirral Council has recently proudly announced that they’ve “improved” the peninsula’s footpath network by replacing 50 stiles.  I was worried that they may have destroyed one of my favourite stiles, so I was pleased to find it was still in place.

There’s nothing particularly interesting about this stile but I like to think about the generations of local people who’ve slowly worn down the sandstone over the years.

The hedgerows tell a story of the previous lie of the land.  I have no idea how to tell the age of a hedge, but there were regular reminders of how things used to be different.

Old sandstone gateposts near Storeton

I’ve seen this metal gate before and can’t work out why it used to be required:

An unusable gate near Brimstage

It has a padlock and seems firmly in place – although out of keeping with the wooden fence either side….. and protecting what?  It looks like the sort of gate that may lead to an electricity substation or some other national infrastructure building but there was no sign of anything like that in the field, and the sharp hawthorn discouraged me from looking more closely.  Maybe I’ll look at an old map when I get round to it.

Nearer to Brimstage there was evidence of the old, side-by-side with the new.

A new gate next to an old gatepost at Brimstage

Slightly further on there was a traditional wooden stile augmented with a few blocks of sandstone.

This next one, near Thornton Manor, was well-made and slightly unusual combining an old sandstone post, various wooden staves and several metres of nasty barbed wire.

Being so close to Thornton Manor, I was not surprised to cross a long, straight, treelined avenue.  Lord Leverhulme must’ve loved his boulevards as there are loads of them round here.

A typical Leverhulme avenue

After a quick half of Sandpiper in the Seven Stars’ beer garden I decided to extend my walk to Raby and Raby Mere.  I think this had always been my intention but the fine weather and the promise of another Real Ale pub just over 1km away helped me make up my mind.

I enjoyed a pint of Trapper’s Hat whilst sitting in the sun outside the Wheatsheaf.  Unfortunately, the sun then decided to go in and I had to put my kagoule on – but it had been nice while it lasted.

This sign seemed well-preserved if it was from the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak…….

…… and there was no antiseptic bath anyway.

The hedgerows on the approach to the bridge over the M53 were full of blossom.

Near Raby Mere there was another juxtaposition of old and new.

Gate, fence and old gatepost near Raby MereRaby Mere was quiet.  We used to come here to feed the ducks when I was a kid.  I seem to recall there used to be rowing boats for hire, but it was a long time ago and I could be mistaken.

It was now getting on towards 7pm and my thoughts were turning to my tea so I followed a mix of cyclepaths, footpaths and roads home.

Some roadside daffs

Total distance: about 11 miles.  Total ascent: not very much at all.

Sorry about the wishy-washy photos.  They were taken on my phone and the bright sun meant I just pointed it in roughly the right direction and hoped I got what I wanted in the frame.

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18 Responses to Stiles, gates and pubs

  1. AlanR says:

    A very stile-ish post.


  2. JohnBoy says:

    Takes me back, I used to cycle to the Wheatsheaf for a pint when I lived in Saughall. Lived in the area for 16 years when I worked at the Papermill over at Shotton. So handy for Snowdonia.


  3. louse4 says:

    Hmmm. I really should be making a bit more effort about now. I like your stile…


  4. Theo Fokker says:

    You really shouldn’t put these puzzles on the internet Judith. It took me over an hour to locate the iron gate opposite the farm at Brimsgate Lane. I think there has originally been a footpath running from Storeton to the gate before it was cut off by the M53.



  5. Theo Fokker says:

    The old 25k and historical map on Where’s the path shows the footpath turning ssw at a point where the M53 is nowadays so the gate doesn’t seem to be the start or end of a path. It’s however within several yards of what looks like a sort of borderline. A fat grey line (historical) and a dotted line (old 25k). It could have been an entrance gate at the south end of the Storeton area.



    • Judith says:

      You’re a Local History Sleuth, Theo!


      • Theo Fokker says:

        More history can be found at . The farm is called (Gate) Keepers Cottage (see Geograph) so there’ll probably have been a sort of road to Storeton Hall several centuries ago.



      • Judith says:

        Hi Theo. Yes, the (strange metal) gate is near Keepers Cottage but I had always thought that it was a Gamekeeper rather than a Gatekeeper. It does seem possible that the route from Keepers Cottage to Storeton Hall used to run in a straight line long before the motorway was there, but the gate is fairly modern – maybe only 30-40 years old – so it must have been put there since the motorway was opened (early 70s, I think). Thanks for starting my research for me!


  6. John J says:

    You can guestimate the age of a hedgerow by counting the number of woody species over 30 yards. The number of species is approximately equal to the age of the hedge in centuries.
    Hedgerows with only one species, eg hawthorn, were often planted as a result of the Enclosure Acts of the 18th Century.
    I nice walk by the way….and even nicer beer!


  7. Martin B says:

    Nice one Judith. Could the metal gate have been put there by a water company – might it follow the course of an aqueduct?
    Given your curiosity about hedges, can I recommend Roy Moxham’s wonderful little volume – ‘The Great Hedge of India’ – part history, part detective, part travel book – an excellent read.


    • Judith says:

      Hi Martin. The map shows a water course very close to that gate but I don’t recall seeing it on the ground. Thanks for the book tip. I shall add it to the list for when I finish “Map of a Nation: A biography of the OS”


  8. Gill says:

    At Raby Mere 40 years ago there were rowing boats for hire and by the white thatched cottage a mini fair of swing boats and very old penny machines to amuse …. nowadays its a boring fishery but entertaining ducks and seagulls and in the summer you can now purchase an icecream from the cottage =-)


    • Judith says:

      Hi Gill. I think I can remember rowing boats at Raby Mere but I have no memory of a mini fair. To me it was somewhere that we may go to on a Sunday to feed the ducks. Do kids still feed the ducks?


  9. Pingback: The Mystery of the Gate in the Hedgerow | Around the hills

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