Pex Hill Nature Reserve
Pex Hill Nature Reserve at Cronton, Widnes, is owned by United Utilities and forms part of the Mersey Forest. It consists of stunted oak woodland surrounded by heathland, with excellent views of the Mersey Estuary, Widnes-Runcorn bridge, Liverpool and the mountains of North Wales, (on a clear day both Tyfan and Snowdon can be discerned). The reserve also incorporates a disused quarry. On the top of the hill are reservoirs, which were built 1868. Today the Liverpool Astronomical Society has an Observatory, known as Leighton Observatory, on the summit of Pex Hill. It was formerly known as Pex Hill Observatory and Visitors' Centre.
Pex Hill which rises to 200 ft (61 metres) is part of a series of hills which runs north west to south east across the south west Lancashire and Cheshire plains. The sandstone which forms the hill dates to the Triassic period (205 - 250 million years ago).
Quarrying at Pex Hill began as early as the 16th century and continued until the late 1800s. During the Second World War the quarry on the reseve, particularly the Pisa Wall, was used as an area for target practice by the Home Guard. Nowadays the cliffs of the quarry are used by climbers for practice.
A walk from Pex Hill
Distance:- 3 miles (5km)
*Commencing at the car park by the observatory at the top of Pex Hill, exit the car park entrance and turn left to pass the reservoirs. Follow the lane to the right, then bear left when nearing the end of the reservoir and follow the track that descends the hill. Just before the path crosses a bridge over a stream, turn left through the hedge and contine along the right hand side of the field.
*The path curves to the right and becomes a broader track across fields. Turn left by a pylon along a narrower path, pass through a gate and some converted farm buildings to arrive at Hall Lane. Turn right and go straight ahead onto Penny Lane. Just before Tue Lane (marked as Penny Lane by the roadside), take the footpath which crosses the fields on the left signposted Cronton Road.
*Turn right at Cronton Road and almost immediately left into Lodge Lane. Go past the farm buildings and shortly after there is a clearly marked footpath on the left. Follow the footpath across fields, turn left and then right to arrive back on Cronton Road. Turn right onto Cronton Road and continue until about to exit the village, left into Hall Lane and then right into Mill Lane. At the end of the lane, keep straight ahead, pass through a gate and follow the path which leads back up Pex Hill.
*Enter Pex Hill Quarry at the top of the path and follow the clear path to the right, keeping to the edge of the quarry, on exiting the quarry, follow the path to the left to return to the car park.