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Mow Cop ©Mick Forster

Walking Beyond a Submerged Conclusion

Mow Cop to Hilbre Island  13th - 18th April 2009

The pilgrimage for Easter 2009 crosses diagonally South West to North East through the varied landscape of Cheshire. The start - Mow Cop: a hill standing above the Cheshire Plain, is an outlier of the Pennines and forms a significant point being thus a boundary point, for Counties and regions and of consequence for social and religious history. The destination – Hilbre Island: a place beyond the shore, yet of the shore.

Mow Cop despite its accessibility stands, in its own way, as ‘beyond’ – and its history illustrates that sense. It draws the visitor and is a valuable point of departure– a good high point from which to start a journey to the Sands of the Dee. Hilbre remains a place only achievable by effort and planning being beyond accessible land with arrival dependent on tide and weather – failure to arrive is possible!

This route across Cheshire introduces a wide variety of historical, industrial, social and political contexts. In many ways the route represents a microcosm not just of Britain but also of Europe and the wider industrially ‘developed’ world. In some sense it is curious that this diverse social and cultural landscape is not more recognised and promoted by the agencies that presently represent it. ‘Cheshire’ is often regarded as the romantically rural county – black and white buildings and lush pastures. Yet the traditional county is so much more than this simplicity. The route of this walk reveals some of that diversity, including the sharp edged Pennine boundaries, the ‘salt plains’, the present ‘leisure centred landscape’ at the north end of the mid-Cheshire ridge and the highly important industrial and urban surroundings of the Wirral. In all the route demonstrates that there are now (as the local authority boundaries demonstrate) many ‘Cheshires’.

Hilbre Island ©Barney Finlayson

The final section of the walk, which can only be completed at low tide, involves crossing a section of the ‘sands of Dee’ to small rocky outcrops and Hilbre Island, once inhabited in turns by monks, traders & customs officers. Provided the weather is favourable the tidal flow will allow a crossing (and return!) to Hilbre and appropriate celebration on the morning of 18th April.

As ever with pilgrimage walks such as this, the participant is encouraged to deepen understanding of who and what we are by a developing sense of where we came from and of the diversity of the present. Accommodation remains, as ever, ‘deck’ based with meals and other issues a responsibility for the whole group.

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  It is not down in any map; true places never are.
Herman Melville