Olsok08: Wirral-Chester Viking Churches Heritage
Saturday July 26th 2008
- in conjunction with Chester City Council, the
Ramblers Association, Wirral Borough Council, Ellesmere Port and Neston
District Council, The Wirhalh Skip Felag, St. Bridget’s Church, St. Olave’s
Church and the Municipality of Trondheim
This year’s Olsok Pilgrimage/
Viking Churches Heritage Walk to commemorate St. Olav Haraldsson,
patron saint of Norway and St. Olav’s Day went from from
St. Mary and St. Helen’s in Nesstún (Neston) to St. Olave’s in Chester (13 miles or 20km), starting at 9am: all
Previous walks: Sat.
July 27th 2007 - St. Bridget’s Vestri Kirkubyr (West Kirby) to
St. Mary and St. Helen’s Nesstún
Next years walk: Sat.
July 25th & Sunday 26th 2009 - St. Bridget’s Vestri
Kirkubyr (West Kirby) to St. Olave’s
The walk is approximately 20km (13 miles).
The walk starts at the St. Mary & Helens Church (9am start) and
makes its way along the coast via Denhall to Burton,
then Shotwick, joining the towpath of the Canal at Blacon and through to St Olave’s
Church in Chester.King Olaf Haraldsson
(995 – 1030) is credited with converting Norway to Christianity. In life he was
a typical Viking; he spent most of his life fighting, and he died in the Battle
of Stiklestad. However, his support for the new
religion meant that he was recognised as a saint soon after his death. His cult
spread quickly to other Scandinavian countries – which at that time included England - and in Chester St Olaves Church
was an early dedication by its Viking residents to the new saint. Throughout
the old Viking lands the festival of St Olav (the “Olsok”)
is still celebrated on the days near the anniversary of his death, 29th
The main Olsok Festival in Trondheim Norway is celebrated well into August and
includes a pilgrimage, which runs from Oslo to Trondheim, where he is
buried. The festival was recently revived
also in Wirral as part of the 1100th anniversary celebrations of
Vikings settling in Wirral, and culminated in a service led by the 2002 St. Olavspilgrimprest Kjell Skartseterhagen at St. Olave’s
(see the video links below which describe the background). From this sprung the idea of a Viking
Churches Heritage walk between St.
Bridget’s West Kirby (also founded by the Viking settlers coming to Wirral
from Dublin – St. Bridget is a patron saint of Ireland - and home of the famous hogback
tombstone) and St. Olave’s,
Chester. In between is the Church of St. Mary and St. Helen at Neston - St.
Helen is also associated with Norse settlers coming via Ireland - and houses
the famous fragments of some ring headed crosses recording events from the life
of a Viking couple.
Important Notice for Participants
last year, this year’s walk will require a reasonable level of fitness; please
make sure that you feel able to complete the distance: 13 miles or 20km is a
Make sure that you wear adequate footwear - this is particularly important for
this years walk from Neston to Chester
where there will be a stretch which has a sharp cinder surface, and the route
also passes through lanes and fields which may be muddy or waterlogged.
Make sure that you have adequate clothing, especially waterproofs (the forecast is for showers).
There are no shops along the route where refreshments can be bought, so please
bring your own supplies - in particular it is important that you bring
something to drink.
Toilet Facilities: There will be
some at the church at Neston, at the first stop in Burton,
the 2nd in Puddington and then no further facilities
until Telford’s Warehouse Pub at Chester
It is important that we know who is coming on the walk, we would
therefore greatly appreciate you emailing us on email@example.com
to confirm your participation by
Thursday 24th July.
We would like to make it clear that, in common with the
main Olsok Pilgrimage in Norway, although we provide a
guide, you come at your own risk and are responsible for yourselves. You are also responsible for making your own own transport arrangements from St. Olave’s
at the end of the walk. It may be
possible for groups to share a taxi back to Neston.
See you at Neston,
Saturday 26th July! … but please email
one of us first, Steve Harding, Dan Robinson
or Mike Morris
(organisers – addresses below)
Start 9am at St. Mary and St. Helen’s
Church, Neston. Then along the old coastline to Denhall
Then to Puddington
and Shotwick, to the Chester cycleway (mind the bikes!) and
joining the canal towpath at Blacon.
Along the towpath at Chester to the Castle Walls, then to St.
Johns Street, Wolfgate, Duke Street, then up Lower
Bridge Street a few metres to St. Olave’s.
St. Mary. St. Helen. Church Lane, Fork right, come to gate cross gate, across field (cinder track along a
road of trees to right. Left onto old railway line (or straight across and across a field then left onto Qld Quay land then right along track towards old quay) and
then after 30 yards branch off right on wiggly track , through some trees then
more trees on left down to the old quay and coastal track., after 100 yards
path become track and reaches road marked Quayside, carry along past Harp pub,
another 80 yarrds or so Denhall
Quay, 100 yards or so road peters out to a coastal path again, 250 yards
becomes Denhall Lane,
200 yards or so Denhall Farm on left with blueish roves, 250 yards becomes Station Road at T-junct,. (Denhall Lane goes off to
left, along coastal Statton Road for 150 yards then a
trangle fork left (still Station Road, 120 yards cross the old railway line, 100 yards STOP
POINT 1: Dovecote Nurseries (Toilets/Refreshments),
After 450 yards Neston road joins from left . 200
yards Station Road
becomes “The Village” with “The Rake” going off on left. 100 yards turn left, Puddington Lane. 250 yards do not take road going off to left.
300 yards fork off Puddington Lane at
Harding Farm. STOP POINT2 150 yards cut through another farmwith, pair of kissing gates and then at end of yard (after 30 yards)turn
left for 50 yards ,right for 30 yards and fork right back onto Puddington Lane again.
250 yards fork right (Chapel house lane). After
150 yards Chapel House Lane bends sharply to right – carry staright
on along a track, takes you round a factory to the right, then after 150 yards
turn left across that field for 100 yards, the cross field more or less
diagonally keeping to track and past the pylon behind the little ponds which
will be to your left, Across to the hedges and follow the hedges left for 180
yards until the field. Corner. Left through tress to
next field dogleg right 20 yards and left along the hedge/track for 200 yards
come to edge of Shotwick. Right onto Hall lane for
200 yards then right at T-junct with Shotwick Lane, past the church
after 100 yards then onto track , 250 yards cross brook (Welsh border),
250 yards come to Welsh Road.
Cross carefully onto Green Lane
East. After 700 yards join
cycleway, STOP POINT 3.
300 yards under Old Sealand Road. 900 yards back across border. 400 yards start to cut through Blacon. 900 yards (after under about 2 road bridges) enter
canal towpath. 500
yards the Basin. 300 yards wall surns 90deg
south. 350 yards lave wall (turn left for 20 yards then right onto St. Johns Street. 100 yards merges onto Little John Street as
we turn right, on the left after 30 yards you can see Souters
lane, 100 yards on right you can see Wolf gate STOP POINT 4. Down Volunteer Street
dogleg right then left bend left onto Albion
Street then right at Duke Street. At Lower Bridge Street turn right, St.Olave’s is on the right.
Start: Nesstún (Church
of St. Mary and St.
The Church is very close to Neston Railway Station At the Church of St. Mary and St. Helen
you will see fragments of the magnificient 10th
century Viking crosses at Neston depicting scenes in the life of a local Viking
couple, depicted here in this image reconstruction by Archaeologist Roger
Reconstruction of the 10th Century
Viking cross fragments at
the Church of St. Mary and St. Helen, Neston
Stage 1: Nesstún – Old Quay, Danirwella
Start St. Mary and St.
Helen Church at 9am.
Leave at the back of the Church and follow the pathway which leads
to the Old Quay.
Stage 2: Old Quay, Danirwella – Burton
□Stop point at Dovecote
Nurseries along Station Road
has toilet facilities and refreshments
Stage 3: Burton-Puddington-Shotvík
□Stop point Priest’s House, Puddington
Stage 4: Shotvík - Chester
Cycleway (disused railway) – Canal towpath at Blacon
needed around the A548/A550 (Welsh
Road), and mind the cyclists!
□Stop point where we
join the cycleway
□Stop point (start of Stage 5) where we leave the cycle way and
join the towpath
Stage 5: Saughall Road
Blacon – Canal Towpath – Northgate Locks
6: - Towpath-Northgate Street - Lower Bridge Street – St. Olave’s
Follow the walls round to the clock, then
go down to ground level and along St John Street via Wolf’s (Ulfhildr’s) Gate
(next to Gate) to enter Chester’s former Viking enclave, on to the top of Suter's (Sauturi’s) Lane and down to St. Olave’s.
Harding (firstname.lastname@example.org - tel 078110 90635), Dr. Dan Robinson (email@example.com)
or Dr. Mike Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Maps in stages 1-3 adapted from Carl Rogers book A Walker’s Guide to the Wirral Shore Way, Mara
Publications ISBN 0 9522409 0 4
Postscript: photographs from the event
18 Walkers/Pilgrims, made
the trip this year, including the Norwegian Consul of Liverpool
and his dog Morgan, under absolutely glorious conditions. After a demonstration of the Viking
stonework in the Church of St. Mary and St. Helen (Neston) the party moved on
with stops at Burton
(courtesy of Dovecote Nurseries) and Puddington
(courtesy of Michael and Sarah Groves).
After a stop at the Norman Church of St. Michaels at Shotwick we pushed
on across the Welsh Border and then onto the cycleway at Sealand
where Dan and Steve gave a talk about the Vikings and St. Olave. We then pressed on along the cycleway back
across the border again to the Canal towpath at Chester and the final stretch
down Northgate and Bridge Street with the weary walkers arriving at St. Olaves at 16.30… and then down to the Cross Keys Pub!
Hear this preview to the walk on CityTalk105.9 (Liverpool) recorded just before the walk started and this article in Wirral News appearing the
Here are some photographs,
courtesy of Dan! (click to download the high-res
If any walkers have their
own photographs they would like to add, please send to Steve.
Web link to ITV1 Granada, 20th July 2008
6pm (22min). LOST TREASURES: NEW BLOOD OF
Web link to ITV1 Granada, 31st August
2008, 5.30pm. FRED’S FAMILY WALKS,
Episode 3: Fred takes us for a walk in Little Scandinavia.
ITV Weatherman Fred Talbot walks through a corner of Viking Wirral. Low resolution version.
Olsok: St. Olaf's
pilgrimage in Norway produced by Trondheim Kommune
St. Olav’s Festival in Faroe Islands
Olsok Service at St. Olave’s Church,
Olsok Service at St. Olave’s Church,
and West Lancashire 1100th Viking anniversary Home Page.