Running parallel to the canal was a branch line of the North Staffordshire Railway, built in 1852. It was constructed to carry salt, limestone and chemicals from the industry around Wheelock and Sandbach to the potteries, returning with coal. This was the Wheelock Branch line, connecting with the NSR at Sandbach Station and running to Stoke on Trent. Passenger services were introduced in 1893, but the line reverted to goods-only in 1930, the branch itself closing in 1970.
The line has now been resurfaced for mixed use as a cycleway (part of SUSTRANS Route 55), footpath and bridleway. The route runs 4 miles from Alsager to Elwood, but has to use the canal towpath from the M6 crossing till just before Wheelock. The original route disappeared under the greens of Malkin’s Bank Golf Club for a mile.
With a good surface and a slight gradient it’s a good running track, and I wasn’t alone this morning using it for my morning training session. Then, after breakfast, Meg and I took a stroll along.
On the Salt Line
There’s also a network of footpaths to the north, recently opened up and called the Borrow Pit Meadows. With several streams running into the ponds, Meg enjoyed having a cool down.
Silvery coloured toadstools alongside the footpath
I think it might be the delightfully named Mealy Bigfoot Webcap (Cortinarius caerulescens), but don’t quote me on that…. and don’t eat it!
Hassall Green Church of St Phillip is of pink corrugated iron with a slate roof. An unusual design but I’ve seen another like it recently…. ah yes, Graham and Jill spotted one at Maesbury.
St Phillips at Hassall Green
The insistent buzz of traffic from the M6 was a bit intrusive at Hassall Green last night, especially with the windows and doors open in such fine weather. So we decided to move a bit further away, not too far, you understand.
The two Pierpoint Locks were just 10 minutes from Hassall Green, and we swapped locks with NB Soulbury coming down.
At some time the bridges have been renumbered, across the tail of L55 sits Bridge 145 by current numbering, but it was built as Bridge 143.
Stone set carrying the original bridge number on B 145
We pulled in only 5 minutes above the locks, on pins here rather than rings but it’s an awful lot quieter.
Locks 2, miles ¾