The Grounds of Childwall Hall
1 hour Approximately
Not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs due to steps, and some uneven, narrow paths.
This walk will take you all around ‘The Grounds’ of Childwall Hall (no longer standing) on a circular route starting and ending at the Lodge on Childwall Abbey Road. There is a detour around the Folly with its unique rock structures and contorted trees and you will wander over a sunken carriageway and between veteran trees hundreds of years old, before returning back to the Lodge. For more information on the history of the site See the History page
You will need: A camera and strong shoes This walk will take you at least an hour depending on your speed but plan for longer as you will not want to rush around these wonderful grounds. All the paths are passable throughout the year but there will be muddy areas in winter especially around the folly and the end of the carriageway. During Spring to Autumn, it is firm underfoot. A buggy or wheelchair would be impractical in parts although fine on the main paths from 1 to 9.
1 The Main Path
Enter Childwall Woods through the Main Gates on Childwall Abbey Road next to the Lodge, and follow the path until it branches in 3 directions. Take the middle path. The path on the left is the one you will return by and the one on the right will take you down the carriageway (Walk 1). The middle path is the main path into the grounds and will be your main pathway during this walk.
2. The path through the Rhododendrons.
Follow the path straight ahead through the Rhododendrons on either side. Now overgrown and wild but once were trimmed and nurtured as ornate garden specimens belonging to the grand Childwall Hall.
Don’t be fooled by their winter colours. Spring dresses these old ladies in their Sunday best.
Follow the path past the large fallen branch at the side of the path and on to the small clearing with the old rotten tree. You never know what will be growing out of it year on year as it breaks down.
Here you will notice an old Yew tree standing as it has for centuries on the edge of the clearing. Walk underneath its branches to the steps further along the path.
3 A Detour to The Folly
On your left, you will notice a set of steps cut into the rock to take you down to The Folly. This is not a suitable route for a buggy or a wheelchair, but for most walkers it will be passable at all times of the year in strong waterproof shoes.
You can follow these steps down to another set of steps that will take you around The Folly, known locally as Monkey Island.
It is thought that the folly was built to impress visitors and for no practical purpose. When first created it would not have been shaded by large trees and Rhododendrons as it is today but would have been open and bright, a cool spot for an interesting afternoon walk. Which it still is today.
3a The Folly
The Folly is not an easy walk. It is a magical manmade feature of the site and well worth the extra effort to explore it.
Was it cut into the rock or built using huge slabs of sandstone? What do you think?
The path to the right is often the best and the driest way around while you explore the many interesting features
3b Unique features
There are some wonderful features in The Folly, besides those made by man.
The trees in the Folly are wonderfully strange and show how resilient nature can be establishing a foothold in an unlikely and unfriendly environment.
Walk straight through to the bridge on the other side.
4 The Path through the Rhododendrons
If you didn’t take the detour around the Folly carry straight on past the steps, along the wide path between the Folly and the Carriageway. You can look down into each one, the Folly on the left and the Carriageway on the right. A good view into each.
5 The Bridge over the Carriageway
Cross over the bridge taking in the view of the carriageway below.
Here the Bunter Sandstone is cut away to create a gentle curve round to the site of Childwall Hall. Cutting through the sandstone exposed millions of years of rock formation and this is recognised as a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS). Walk 1 will take you under the bridge
6 The Main Path through The Grounds
Follow the main path past the old wall at Countisbury Drive and through the veteran trees that shade it during the summer months. This path through the grounds can be seen on ancient maps and the trees on either side reflect its age.
7 The site of an ancient tree
Don’t forget to take in the sights along the way. This fallen tree is a lovely place to stop and rest, or to look for fungus if the time is right.
Depending on the season you may see Bluebells, Wood Anemone, Wild garlic or Lesser Calendine, mostly planted by Friends of Childwall Woods and Fields last autumn.
8 The Path to Woolton Road Gate
Take the path on the right to continue through ‘the grounds’ as the path on the left will take you down through the willow plantation or to the gate on Quickswood Close.
Follow the path through ‘the grounds’ to the gate on Woolton Road. As you pass along this path you will pass the ruins of the second Lodge that used to stand on the site and can still be found marked on the 1849 map, but you will be hard pushed to find any remains today.
An artists impression of the second lodge. Notice how the path goes through the middle. Not the path you are on today, that seems to have shifted slightly but with the turrets to reflect the character of Childwall Hall.
9 The Route Back
Continue to the west gate of Childwall Woods which takes you out onto Woolton Road. If you don’t want to leave the woods, make a left turn and walk back following the path to the right of this fallen branch.
This path is much narrower but will take you back through the woods on the opposite side, past the path down onto the top field and under some wonderful old trees.
Although well worn this path is not suitable for a wheelchair or a buggy. A safer way would be to turn and go back on the path you are on.
10.Through the trees
Follow the path around the south-west boundary of the woods next to the houses of Cabot Green. Spare a moment to look at the huge Beech trees in this section of the grounds, one at least over 5 meters around its trunk. Undoubtedly one of the original trees on the site, 200 -300 years ago.
Go straight ahead past the twisted tree until you meet the main path. This isn’t really a path through the trees, more of a track worn by hundreds of walkers through the years, but it can just be seen and is a good alternative route back. You will very soon meet the main path. Turn left and continue along the path until you reach the original path.
11 The Path by the Fields
Continue just a few metres along the main path until you reach the large Beech Tree with many old brackets on it. Take the track on the right.
This is a rough track along the side of the woods bordering onto the fields and it is lined with many large old trees dating back hundreds of years.
Look out for the many types of wood rot fungus that can be found most months of the year in Childwall Woods. The woods date back to the 1700s and there are many fallen trees and branches giving rise to the most interesting of fungi, from giant Artist Polypores to Hairy Curtain Crust. You will find some if you take your time.
12 Past Lime Pictures
Continue until you see the gates of Lime Pictures on your right. Imagine the impressive Childwall Hall standing there centuries ago surrounded by beautiful trees.
The hall is gone but the trees remain, huge and beautiful and the home for many living things from insects to fungi and birds. the twisted Sweet chestnut show many ancient characteristics.
If you are lucky enough to be in the woods in spring this is a good place to see English Bluebells, making the most of the sun before the leaves appear. And a favourite spot for woodpeckers too as soon as a walker has passed.
Walk on across the end of the carriageway and through the boarded pathway.
13 The old trees around the Hall
Walk forward, under the line of huge veteran Beech trees.
You can’t miss the old fallen tree with its ever changing outcrops of fungus, depending on the time of year of course.
Move on past the upturned tree on your right and you will join a narrower path lined by Yew trees, a reminder of the days when the Chapel was just off to the right of the path.
14 The Northern Perimeter Path
Follow this narrower path round through the Rhododendrons once again until it turns to run parallel with Childwall Abbey Road. Continue past the side gate and back to the main gate by the lodge.
Don’t forget to look left at the sea of daffodils in April or to catch the fragrance of the wild garlic as you pass. This Northernmost part of the grounds has some of the largest and oldest veteran Beech trees on the site lined up along the path to the Lodge.
Beautiful and sometimes edible fungus appears and disappears according to the time of year, but if the fungus isn’t there to catch your eye then maybe the Peacock butterflies will or the Speckled Wood varieties. Maybe it will be the blue of the Bluebells that will brighten your day, or the rapping of a woodpecker, or meeting a squirrel eye to eye.
There will be something unforgettable waiting to surprise you on your walk. An hour well spent taking in the sights, sounds, and beauty of Childwall Woods. Different every time.
Author: B Cameron
Photographs are the authors own unless otherwise stated.