St HelensNewton-le-Willows

Sthnew two
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By Hiking Historian on 25 Feb 2024







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Slight adjustment to correct footpath closure near sewage plant

Slight adjustment to correct footpath closure near sewage plant


This route has been reviewed by 2 people.

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Reviews - 2

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Is this route good enough? -  Yes (2)

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Geography information system (GIS) data

Total length

Maximum elevation

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Start and end points

St Helens
Grid Ref SJ5158295352
Lat / Lon 53.45270° / -2.73057°
Easting / Northing 351,582E / 395,352N
What3Words spines.shocking.amplifier
Grid Ref SJ5934695344
Lat / Lon 53.45329° / -2.61366°
Easting / Northing 359,346E / 395,344N

Sorry Land Cover data is not currently available for this route. Please check back later.



20 Apr 2024 Spring

A superb SlowWay, linking two sizeable towns.

Both ends of the route have multiple shops, pubs and eateries and are well connected by rail and bus, with sizeable car parks, free for rail users.

The impressive Sankey Viaduct was a personal highlight, with the abandoned canal infrastructure that it replaced a close second.

It is accessible to cycles - indeed, cycling is encouraged along the route - and is accessable to wheelchair users, subject to some width restricted barriers, a very minor diversion, and sometimes stony/muddy surfaces (see images). There are no steps along the route, and ramps are provided where a gradient requires ascending or descending. Train stations at either end, as well as Huyton (the station where a change of trains is required if travelling between the start and end points) have at the time of writing, working lifts to all platforms.

The only niggle was a very minor mapping issue around SJ544959. The map suggests taking a right of way to the south of the disused St Helens Canal, which whilst still showing signs of use was very overgrown. This is easily avoided by sticking to the path to the north (see images and map.)

All in all, this is an excellent route, and one I intend to walk again.

Hiking Historian

02 Mar 2024 Winter

A very pleasant wander, mostly along the historic St Helens/Sankey Canal, and also with a train theme: we walk between, past stations, over and under the railway at many points. Although most of the route is accessible, where we cross the railway at Earlestown isn't, unfortunately, so this is a foot-only route.

From St Helens Central, we're almost straight away onto the canal. A short section of pavement through a small industrial estate, and back onto the canal. The towpath is mostly tarmac or metalled earth, and there are a few road crossings, but eventually we're out into open country.

This is the best bit, and it's through some very peaceful countryside. The canal is a mixture of wet and dry, almost a long string of pools than a long water course. In other places, it vanishes altogether, but you can still see a shallow dip in the ground in amongst the nature-filled reed beds.

Another road crossing at Penkford Bridge, and we're into the Sankey Valley County Park, where the canal passes under its replacement: George Stephenson's monumental Sankey Viaduct, the first major railway bridge in the world. There's also a number of canal features we pass; a few now unused, or almost buried, former locks punctuate the route.

Just past the viaduct, we pass the Mucky Mountains, the vast toxic spoil of the vitriol works that once stood here, now reconquered by nature. Here we exit the canal, over a bridge, and take a somewhat steep tarmac footpath up to the industrial estate above. The pavements past the warehouses and depots are broad and good, and, once over a bridge, we arrive in Earlestown.

At the station, we cross the railway using the stepped footbridge, then along the platform to a footpath leading to another set of platforms; Earlestown is one of those rare stations with four platforms on two different lines. Once over the last footbridge, we exit the station and turn down onto a footpath that runs between the railway and the gardens of the estate. With only a couple of road crossings breaking the route, this footpath takes us straight to the Newton viaduct and, thus, to Newton-le-Willows station, the end of the route.

A medium length route through nice countryside along an old canal. Can't beat it! Loved every minute!.

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