The Mersey Forest: 01925 816217
Marshall's Arm is a loop of the old River Weaver which meandered towards Northwich until the early 1700s, when the growing salt trade led to demands for a canalised waterway to provide faster and cheaper transport. As the river was straightened into the Weaver Navigation, some of its meanders were cut off, including this 'arm' beside the Marshall family's Hartford Manor estate. The open water and wetlands teem with life, especially when the birds are nesting and fish are spawning. Families of swans, moorhens and coots live on the open water and you may spy a kingfisher darting along the banks. Water quality in the Arm is good, as biologists can tell from the presence of water scorpions and ram's horn snails that they gather from the pond dipping platforms. Insects and plants provide food for fish, making the Arm very popular with anglers. Local people remember learning to swim in Paddling Pool, below Pignut Hill, which became shallow after 1902 when the up-river entrance of the Arm was blocked off. You may see a kestrel or tawny owl hunting over Mousey 'Island' because so many mice, shrews and voles live there. In summer, dragonflies hunt over the long grasses for insects. Marshall's Arm has ten different species of dragonfly and damselfly, including the rare hairy dragonfly. Clough Wood and Greenbank Wood contain remnants of ancient forest, and are home to many beautiful flowers, birds and butterflies.
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