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If you go down to the woods today…

December 1, 2013

…you'll be walking down memory lane.

Or at least I was, yesterday, when for the first time in probably 35 years I went to Crow Wood, Culcheth- the village where I grew up, and where my father still lives.

Entering Crow Wood


My younger daughter, our dog Charlie, and I went to visit my Dad, who was out when we arrived at his bungalow. So we decided to take Charlie for a walk in the hope that by the time we returned, dad would be back (and he was).

So, for something different, we walked out of the village and took the track to Crow Wood. A lot had changed- a new school has been built, plenty of new houses, an old farm which I always feared (running the gauntlet of farmyard dogs) is now a plush private residence, but when you leave the built up area, the track was still the same, and I entered the wood with massive emotions.

As a child from around the age of 8 or 9 into my teens, I spent a fair amount of time in the wood, often biking round the circular, bumpy, up and down path, in dens, exploring…..without any notion whatsoever that it might be dangerous (think several ponds, with marshy areas, think secluded); I doubt my parents knew where I was, nor worried. Today, as a parent, no such freedom would be possible. Have we gained or lost?

The wood was smaller than I remember, but that is probably a reflection of childhood blinkers; but it was large enough to be a perfect size for Charlie to run around, chasing again and again the squirrels [he never learns- for four and half years it has been Squirrel 1, Charlie 0].


In the middle of the wood, we found a rope which, forty years ago I might have used to swing on, never having heard of health and safety.



Later, we walked a bit further, to the extreme point of where I used to play, marked by a railway bridge. We stopped, and whilst we were looking at Winter Hill in the distance, an old man came up on his bike, and also stopped. We exchanged pleasantries, and I mentioned I was walking down memory lane, so we chatted further, and I took a 50:50 guess and asked him if by chance he remembered my late mother- 50:50 because she was the receptionist for one of the two village doctors' practices. 'Of course I did, and my wife knew her well', and another trip into the past, tinged with both happiness and sadness, started.

Probably the best dog walk of my life.



  1. Allan Openshaw permalink

    Hi: That’s a lovely post (sorry I’m 7 years late!), but are you sure that is Crow Wood? It looks and sounds like Hitchfield Wood. (Crow Wood is off Holcroft Lane, and there is no railway line near it). Growing up in the 70’s, me & my friends all played in “Crow Wood”, but I went back this summer – after nearly 40 years – and I have discovered that that it is actually Hitchfield Wood! (The real Crow Wood is now on my “to do” list).

    • Well, Allan (two Allan’s) I don’t know. All I know is that as a child we all called it Crow Wood. I have tried to google it, without success. The wood is behind the senior school, past the farm(s). And…I grew up in Culcheth in the 1970s and played with my friend in ‘Crow Wood’.

  2. Allan Openshaw permalink

    Hi Allan, yes that is what I also knew as Crow Wood in the 70’s, but it is actually Hitchfield Wood. If you have a PC then on Google maps find that wood (in Satellite View), then zoom in, then left click and it says “Hitchfield Wood”. If you then – on Google Maps – go down Holcroft lane, the first left you come to leads to a farm and adjoining that farm is Crow Wood (again, Google Maps in Satellite View will confirm that if you click on it). I have checked both Woods on OS Maps too, and they say the same thing, so that appears to confirm the authenticity. I don’t know how the confusion came about, but all of my family and friends who live in Glazebury or Culcheth all know the ‘fake’ Crow Wood but none of them know the real one!

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