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Date: 23/08/09

Lost And Found

The weather was too nice yesterday afternoon to be sitting in the house or to be faffing about in the garden (leaving aside the fact that I haven't got any more room in my garden-waste bin), so I set out shortly after 1.30 with two possible targets. The first one was to see if there was anything remaining of the old Lodge Halt railway station, and the second was to see if I could find my grandparents' grave at St Paul's churchyard in Pentre Broughton.

I headed off down Blast Road and the Mount...oh, hold on, here's a map:

A map of a walk route

(The red dot at top left marks my start and finish point, and the blue arrows my route. If you have difficulty in seeing the arrows, try pressing 'Ctrl' and '+' (the one on the number pad) a couple of times - it should enlarge the image)

Heading down the New Road ('New' in the sense that it was new in about 1925, and these names tend to stick), I bumped into my nephew Gavin and we chatted for a few minutes - mostly about how our county councillor is a tool - before I set off down into The Lodge.

I got to the bus stop at the south end of The Lodge and turned up the footpath which leads up to the old railway line. This section of footpath seems to be well-maintained and clear, and I reached the level of the line without any problem. I looked around a bit, but there was nothing about which would have indicated the existence of any structure. This is what it looks like now:

Photo of a former railway line overgrown with trees

I had a choice here, and decided to turn right. After about thirty yards, I realised that this - unofficial - path was taking me away from the route I'd intended to take. So I doubled back on myself and headed back towards Brymbo. I clambered over a stile which had a sign indicating that the footpath led round to the right.

It was at this point that a problem arose. The path should have led up past a house and up a track to Long Lane, but it seemed to have been blocked by undergrowth (or, rather, overgrowth) and debris. Having not brought the map with me, I was left to try to guess how the field of grass and clover I was now standing in fitted on to the rest of the known universe.

I wandered around the eastern edge of the field, searching for some sign of an exit - a stile or a gate - with no success. I did find three rather bored-looking horses and - wading through the herbage - another group of slightly more engaged steeds in the small paddock to the north.

I started to imagine myself being stranded in this bloody pasture all day, and eventually resolved to get out by whatever means presented themselves. This turned out to be a rather tatty barbed-wire fence where the bored nags had been standing (they had now wandered off in search of interesting grass), and I insinuated myself through this and climbed the field up to the lane - where I was faced with negotiating another fence before I could emerge, sweating, on to Long Lane but not as far along it as I needed to be.

All this had meant that I was seriously behind schedule at this point. I never take a watch on these little expeditions because it tends to make me walk too fast and not stop and smell the roses, so I had no idea what time it was. My instincts prodded me to stride off down towards the junction of Long Lane and Cross Lane (which was also where the alleged footpath was supposed to have emerged).

I walked up Cross Lane rather warily, because the last time I had taken this route I was waylaid by a couple of crazed sheepdogs from the farm-cum-kennels at the top of the ridge. Mercifully, they weren't about on this occasion, and I dropped over the far side towards Pentre Broughton. As I did so, I got this view of Wrexham town centre:

Photo of Wrexham from three miles away

I headed down past the old Cross Keys pub and turned left on to the main road. I hadn't been through this part of Pentre Broughton for over a year; not since a road closure (of which more anon, dear reader) had led to a diversion on the bus route to and from work. Nothing seemed to have changed, and I turned right on to Bryn Y Gaer Road and headed towards the church.

St Paul's churchyard is a bit odd, in that there is little bit of cemetery on the first bend before you get near the church itself, and that this bit isn't connected to the rest of it, as I duly discovered, having once more had to retrace my steps back to the road.

I finally reached the main gate of St Paul's. Judging by the black Jaguar S-Type with the white ribbons parked outside, there was a wedding going on inside (inside the church, that is, not inside the Jag; although I daresay that adventurous couples have tried this somewhere). I walked down the front path and turned left in amongst the gravestones.

This is where I had another problem. I hadn't been here since my uncle Harry's funeral over twenty-five years ago, and couldn't remember where the grave (which he shares with my grandparents) actually was. I also remember that the grave was not conspicuously marked in any case, so I was on something of a hiding to nothing. I did manage to find where my aunt Hannah is buried, though; near the front of the church in the same grave as her brother and sister.

Wandering around somewhat aimlessly (although graveyards are so readable, aren't they?), I walked down the far side of the church to muffled organ music from within. The tune being essayed seemed strangely familiar, but I couldn't immediately identify it. It then came to me that it sounded uncannily like an adagio rendering of the theme from Bob The Builder, although this seemed too bizarre to be true. The only other alternative was Half Man Half Biscuit's Irk The Purists, which seemed an even more outlandish possibility. Perhaps if you were there you can tell me.

I gave up my grave-hunting after about twenty minutes and decided to head home. I climbed the steps opposite the churchyard and emerged back onto the main road which I climbed up to the top of Station Road.

Going down the other side, I came to the road closure I mentioned before. See this gallery page (especially the later entries) for the background to this. I now found that the tall metal fences which they have recently erected (because the earlier plastic, concrete or wire barriers previously in place had been moved out of the way by people desperate for a short cut - or just plain stupid) now blocked off even pedestrian access to the area of the landslip.

Photo of a road blocked by metal fences

Edging down Station Road alongside the fence, I got to the bottom and climbed slowly back up The Mount and got home shortly after 4.30.

And that was my Saturday.