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Thornton & Little Crosby Walk

Start: Old Stocks and Sundial, Thornton Village Centre, Thornton, Merseyside, L23 1TJ

Tel: +44 (0)1704 533333

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Sefton Church


Starting at the old stocks and sundial in Thornton village centre (OS ref: 333696), carefully cross Lydiate Lane towards the Nags Head pub. After 200 metres at the Gamekeeper’s Cottage turn right onto a cobbled track between hedges, which shortly turns left to cross the edge of a field leading to Back Lane. Turn left and after 50 metres the ‘Brooms Cross’ is reached.

This is another of the medieval wayside crosses on the ancient ‘corpseway’ from Hightown to Sefton Church, where traditionally bodies washed up on the coast were given a Christian burial.

Continuing on this pleasant byway, Gates Lane, look out for a footpath on your left, taking you alongside drainage ditches to reach Long Lane. In spring the surrounding fields are full of singing Skylarks and displaying Lapwings tumble around the sky calling ‘pee-wit’, which is their old country name.

Turn right at Long Lane to reach another footpath sign on the left after 250 metres. Follow this peaceful wooded lane, Little Lane, crossing Hunts Brook to reach Park Wall Road, where we turn left. In late summer the wall-side verge can be full of butterflies, including the less often seen Small Copper and Comma.

Ince Lane (A565) is reached at the splendid Lion Lodge Gates (see Ince Blundell Estate), where we very carefully cross this busy trunk road from Liverpool to Southport and turn right to join a track to the left after 200 metres. This track takes us to the lodge house at Back Lane. We carry straight on down Back Lane, where the buildings of Crosby Hall are seen on the left.

Part of the 15th century Great Barn, former stables and other buildings have been converted by the Crosby Hall Educational Trust (CHET), a charitable institution that promotes the personal development of children in need, by providing residential courses in the quiet countryside.

Beyond the Hall, which dates from around 1609, we soon reach West Lane House and St. Mary’s Church. West Lane House and Chapel was built in 1719 and was a place of worship before St. Mary’s was consecrated in 1847, after which it served as a Presbytery, convent and school. Built in early-decoratedGothic style, St Mary’s contains the works of Nicholas Blundell, artist and sculptor and many memorials to the Blundells of Little Crosby, who have been lords of the manor for over 700 years.

Four Lane Ends crossroads is reached after 100 metres. Delph Road to the right once led to a quarry (delph), which supplied the sandstone for all the local buildings from 1660 to 1890. Well worth a short detour is ‘The Courtyard’, 100 metres along Delph Road, which has an excellent tearoom, arts and crafts centre, pets corner and toilets.

Continuing along Little Crosby Road in the opposite direction we pass through Little Crosby village proper. The Well Cross is located at the site of the old village green, enclosed in 1857 and opposite is a memorial to Francis Nicholas Blundell, the local squire, erected by the villagers. The Little Crosby museum on the right, in the middle of the village, merits a visit and is open most weekends.

The cottages beyond the Well Cross are 17th century, built from the local sandstone and the white cottage, with prominent dormer windows, was once the home of Mr. Aldred, priest to the Blundell family. The last building on the right is the old smithy, built in 1713.

We leave the village with the Park Wall on our left and a cross set into the wall indicates the position of the old village cross, which was swallowed up by enclosure into the parkland in the early 19th century.

At the Liverpool Lodge Gates, topped by the rampant lions from the Blundells of Crosby family crest, we turn left through the metal kissing gate onto a footpath that follows the wall to reach Virgins Lane, where we turn right. We then turn left into Brook Road and right into Ince Road, then carefully cross the A565 again at the traffic lights and follow Green Lane past the Grapes pub to reach our starting point.

The walk described is 7.2 km (4.5 miles) in length and is generally level throughout. The stiles on the route are low and the easiest sections are on the surfaced footpaths around Little Crosby.


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