The Top Field, through the Willow Plantation, and The Grounds.
45 Minutes Approximately from the Childwall Lane Entrance.
Not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs from point 6 to 9, due to the path being soft and uneven.
During this walk, you will experience the vastly different environments of the woods and the fields, each encouraging its own particular flora and fauna.
You will need strong shoes to walk on the field during the winter and some of the springtime depending on the weather.
1 The Concrete Path
The walk begins at the Childwall Lane Entrance to the Fields and begins with the walk up the concrete path.
If you are new to this entrance you may wonder what this path is doing here. It is made from concrete blocks and is the only one like it on the site. However, if you know the history of the site you will know that Childwall Fields used to be called Childwall Park until it was used as a landfill site in the1960s. This path is a relic from the time when heavy lorries would travel up to the top to tip their load.
It makes hard walking but is perfect for buggies. Wheelchair users would find the entrance a problem as it is not very wide.
2 The Top Field.
At the top of the concrete path, the way forward narrows. Continue on up to the top field until the track branches. Take the track on your left along the edge of the field.
The fields have been used for many things through the years starting as a gentle grassy slope from Childwall Lane up to the grounds of Childwall Hall, as a golf course when leased to Childwall Golf Club, they have been used for growing vegetables during the WW2 and then, sadly, as a landfill site in the 60s. However, that changed in the 70s when the site was landscaped and capped with clay before being covered in topsoil. Then nature stepped in to take back these fields and is doing a brilliant job.
Lush and green in the summer the top field attracts many creatures including butterflies and birds
This is the perfect place to see some of the birds who live on the site. Our bird page will help you identify a few.
Although brambles can be a nuisance to walkers, they redeem themselves in the autumn with their gift of blackberries, and there are plenty here from July onwards.
Don’t forget to look to your left here
3 The Overlook
At this point, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view across Lancashire with some distinctive landmarks visible in the distance. A pair of binoculars is always useful here.
4. The Willow Plantation
Follow the path around the edge of the top field and you will find yourself entering the Willow Plantation’.
Here the path is narrow and edged both sides by trees, mostly Willow, that were planted sometime after the field was reclaimed. In summer it is shady and cool but in spring and in autumn it holds a few surprises.
Clouded Funnel (Clitocybe Nebularis) is a forest floor mushroom and seems to love our wooded areas in autumn, especially the Willow Plantation.
5 The Grounds to Childwall Hall.
The path through the plantation takes the walker on into what used to be known as The Grounds but is now Childwall Woods. Here it joins the main path.
Straight ahead at this junction is the site of the second Lodge that can be seen on maps as far back as 1849. There is little to show of that building these days except for a very low wall in the ground and an artist’s impression of what the Lodge looked like a hundred years ago. Kindly donated by Ray Lowe who’s father Billy was born in the lodge.
Turn right on the main path and follow it through the Beech Woods.
After a short walk, you will see a path on your right which will take you across the field towards the overlook. It is just before the old Beech tree where the path branches into 2. Do not take either of these paths by the tree but turn sharp right across the field.
6 The Wet area of the Top Field.
This path is quite rough and can be marshy due to the nature of the field here so be aware, it is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
To your left, you can see bullrushes in various stages of development according to the time of year. Autumn is the best time to see them.
The top field is a wonderful place to see wildflowers in the spring and summer, one of them is the Marsh Orchid, arguably one of the most beautiful flowers of all. It can be seen all over the wetter areas during May and June. A sight worth seeing.
7. The Dryer area of the Top Field.
On the right side of the top field in summer you will see a line of pink dividing the field from the woods. Rosebay Willowherb puts on this show each year, to delight the observant walker.
Irises brighten up this site in summer along with Michaelmas Daisies and many other beautiful wildflowers, many of them planted by Friends of Childwall Woods and Fields to bring in more butterflies and bees, the bottom rung of the food chain.
8 The Pond
Carry on down the field for another unique feature of the Top Field, the pond.
Dry for most of the summer months it still has water to up to late spring. Here is a rare picture of the pond in June 2019 with water.
The water is a great attraction for birds and it is common to see flocks of 20 Magpies in and around this feature.
Having walked down the centre of the field rejoin the main path at the overlook and turn sharp left. This will take you down towards the concrete path once more.
9. A Wildflower Area
As you walk back with the Poplar Trees on your right, look at the small patch of rough land on your left. In winter there’s is little here but in summer it is covered in yellow when the Ragwort appears.
This plant is not well-loved by people but seems very popular with butterflies, bees and caterpillars.
If you walk past this site in summer be sure to stop and take a closer look. You may be surprised by what you see there.
This will bring you to the top of the concrete path once more.
As you walk back down to the exit on Childwall Lane you might just reflect what a lovely walk this landfill site turned into.
Author: B Cameron
Photographs are the authors own unless otherwise stated.