Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Two Bits of Jazz, some National Trust, and a Book

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Busy busy. We enjoyed The Harlem Hot Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club on Monday evening, and even managed to get home before they closed the M60 motorway!

On Tuesday Sue demanded a shopping trip for some boots that she apparently needs for work. Can you identify the venue?

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Later, we attended a family gathering that took a stroll from a National Trust property, Packwood House. The pace was brisk, albeit Sue’s mum turned up in what we thought were her pyjamas. “No”, she explained, “they were curtains!”

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The family (some of them, anyway) are religious, so I took them through a pleasant churchyard. Nice stained glass windows. Apparently 800 years old.

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Here’s the 5 km route, easily extended to the east to the towpath of the Grand Union Canal.

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I noticed a copy of a book lying around – self published by one of Sue’s cousins. A tricky subject on which Jonathan is passionate. Well done to him for putting this together and self-publishing. It’s a huge task. We will get a copy (from here).

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Sadly our motorway luck ran out on the way home, the M6 being closed at junction 18, which made us a bit late (and extremely cross with a juggernaut that was tailgating us as we proceeded through country lanes in a long line of traffic).

On Wednesday the short motorway journey to and from Hazel Grove Civic Centre was thankfully free from the road closures which appear to have become the norm for late evening travellers around Manchester. That journey to the weekly SWOG presentation was most worthwhile. The speaker, a 78 year old musician who plays in numerous jazz bands and also on his own as a busker, was Eric Newton from Stoke-on-Trent. He spliced his life story with a few familiar tunes on his clarinet. It was a wonderful tale. We came away with a CD, and we will keep an eye out for him as he busks in places like Stone and Nantwich as well as other parts of the Potteries. Dot may have encountered him, or have heard of him. He has run 38 marathons, all whilst playing his clarinet, raising over £60,000 for charity and setting a record of 648 plays of ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’ during the course of one marathon run.

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Monday, 15 October 2018

Sunday 14 October 2018 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon (Number 20)

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It’s that time of year again. My 16th appearance at this event which started in 1999. Only Brian Jennings has made more appearances here. During those 19 years the nature of the equipment has changed from classic mountain bikes with no suspension or disc brakes to the high maintenance modern kit. I was even passed by an electric bike on today’s first hill.

However, my old 1990 bike performed well today despite not having been serviced for some time.

Whilst Robert couldn’t make it this year, I was joined by Paul and Greg for their fourth outing in this event, and by recently retired Richard who was tired after a cross country run yesterday.

We arrived at Sowerby Bridge in light rain, which continued throughout the morning. Greg, Richard and Paul are pictured above before the start, by which time we were all swathed in waterproof clothing that kept the rain out and the sweat in… I suspect we all felt pretty damp for most of the morning, relying on the brisk activity to keep us warm.

The Hardcastle Crags support point was excellent. It breaks a steep ascent and today as always it was manned by a very efficient team. I stopped there whilst other participants admired my bike …

Rider(s): “That reminds me of my first mountain bike.”

Martin: “It is my first mountain bike.” [Not quite true as I had a ‘Rough Stuff’ bike before that.]

By now, Paul, having waited for me at the first checkpoint near Mytholmroyd, had sped off into the distance in the heavier rain.

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I didn’t take any more pictures during the ride. My well stowed camera (‘phone) survived an uncharacteristic incident at the very top of Midgley Moor. I was sizing up a good route across some rocks that were bordered by deep puddles, when I leant too far forward – causing the bike to tip me gently into one of said puddles. Luckily there was no witness to this carelessness, and after much wringing out I managed to recover sufficient to cycle (rather than walk) most of the brilliant descent from the moor, the last technical section of the route.

I’d passed Richard a little earlier, just getting ready to set off after a puncture repair, and I had a fear that he was lurking just behind me and would have captured the ‘lying in a bog’ incident on film, but luckily he had inexplicably (the route is very well signposted) got misplaced and finished (out of position) just behind me. He’ll fare better next year, I’m sure.

We all finished within a half hour period and collected some pretty buffs after a selfie in which my camera’s misted up lens punished Greg for his failure to take a picture of me at the start. Can you tell whose bike has mudguards? They worked well today and enabled me to discard the glasses that kept misting up.

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We adjourned to the Church Stile Inn for a pleasant half hour’s debriefing before the other three returned to Hale, where Paul was due to attend a birthday party. Happy birthday, Paul. I went home, leaving Sue somewhere in the vicinity of rainy Hebden Bridge, where coincidentally she was out with some of our walking pals.

Here’s a record of our CMBM efforts, excluding Don, Liz, Craig and two Davids whose efforts would just clutter this page, that they are unlikely to visit anyway.

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Here’s the route – slightly different to last year’s course that was adjusted due to a path closure – 42.2 km with about 1100 metres ascent.

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The results are here, and all my blog reports are here.

Today’s Statistics:

Winner – 2 hrs 3 min – 164 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 9 min
Paul: 3 hrs 19 min – 89
Greg: 3 hrs 39 min – 114
Martin: 3 hrs 45 min – 120
Richard: 3 hrs 50 min – 124

Congratulations to the organisers for making the event run so smoothly and for providing lots of drinks and food along the way and at the finish.

Finally, here’s a photo of me descending to Grain Water Bridge last year. I’ll add this year’s picture if there is one. It may be very similar but I’ll be covered in waterproof clothing that is struggling to breathe.

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Saturday, 13 October 2018

Saturday 13 October 2018 – Wythenshawe parkrun number 360

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On a wet and windy October morning, some 182 stalwarts assembled outside Wythenshawe Hall for their weekly five kilometre workout. Luckily the massive branch had fallen across the path before we set off.

Before the run I chatted with Fast Michael and agreed to try to spur him on to a sub 24 minute time. He was doing well, pictured below leading the pack, when passing the obstacle on the first lap. After that I managed to encourage him until we caught up with Young Joe at the end of the first lap. I then handed the ‘keep Mike going’ baton over to Joe, on the grounds that he shouldn’t allow himself to be headed by somebody who is well over 50 years older than him.

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Sadly, Joe failed in his task. He headed Mike by a second, but they finished just a few seconds outside the 24 minute target. Nevertheless, given the trying conditions Mike should be pleased by the consolation that he came home second on the age related list. Well done! I finished some way behind them both. The results are here.

Meanwhile, you’d think these ladies would get dressed before arriving at the start. Wouldn’t you?

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Friday, 12 October 2018

Wednesday 10 October 2018 – Y Garn and the Glyders

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The prospect of a glorious day out had me binning my plans for Wednesday in favour of a day ‘on the hill’. The ‘hill’ in question was Y Garn and the Glyders, one of my favourite walks. It has the advantage of being easily achievable in a day out from Timperley, with breakfast as normal and the ability to return in time to buy and cook dinner before heading off at 7 pm to see Jim’s SWOG presentation.

I’m really surprised to note that since I’ve been recording this on-line diary I’ve only walked this route twice, on 1 January 2008, and on 29 November 2012, the reports on which contrast markedly with this one. This rare recurrence of a favourite walk reflects an increasing tendency to walk more locally, I suspect.

Anyway, after an 8 am start, passage through a low lying blanket of mist over Cheshire, then past lovely autumn shades beside the M56 motorway, was followed by a twenty minute delay in the A55 roadworks. I eventually parked in a layby a few minutes walk from Ogwen Cottage alongside Llyn Ogwen, which looked splendid under the bright blue sky.

The rebuilding of the Ogwen Centre has been completed since my last visit, and it’s very nice too. Coffee and cake served through the traditional hatch was of a high standard. I chatted to a couple from the Wirral with whom I’d shared space in the traffic jam. They were planning to avoid the wind on the summits by heading up to the Tryfan col and then over Foel Goch to Capel Curig, returning by a low level route.

I set off at around 11am and soon passed a party of eleven children with two teachers. They were heading up to Llyn Idwal before returning for an afternoon of raft building.

I left them and continued up the good path towards Y Garn.

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There were fine, clear views back to Llyn Ogwen, framed on the left by the southernmost of the Carnedd summits, Yr Ole Wen, and by Tryfan on the right.

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I passed a couple on the ascent. They hadn’t been here before. I explained the route over the Glyders, but unfortunately neither I nor they had a proper map. I’m not sure whether they would have been able to read it, even if I’d had one. (Navigation was never going to be an issue for me on a day like this in familiar surroundings.)

The summit of Y Garn (947 metres) was breezy but not overly windy. A thin fleece over a t-shirt was more than adequate for keeping warm, and quite a few people were sporting shorts. Snowdon stood firm under the clear blue sky across the Llanberis Pass.

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Although only just after noon, numerous folk were lunching in sheltered spots beside Llyn y Cwr, from above which there was a good view back to the path down Y Garn.

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It was good to be in the shade for the haul up Glyder Fawr. The sun was blindingly dazzling at points where the line of ascent was shallow enough to reveal that brilliant orb. The summit (1001 metres) is easily gained, with good views back across the rocks towards Snowdon.

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To the south, a succession of hills led the eye all the way to the distant horizon.

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To the east, that little bobble on the horizon is the next summit, that of Glyder Fach (994 metres). It’s slow going to get there, thanks to the rubbly nature of the terrain.

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A little further on, Llyn Idwal shone above the Ogwen Valley in a deep shade of blue. The view down to Bethesda and beyond was magnificent.

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The gnarly rocks of Glyder Fach soon loomed above me. Ravens and air force jets played in the thermals.

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Glyder Fach isn’t the easiest of summits to attain. It’s quite a scramble up to the innocuous looking summit rock pictured below. I stumbled around here for a good half hour. Great care was needed as there was nobody about and the rocks on the north side were very slippery.

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A few metres further on is the Cantilever Stone, sadly unoccupied today. You just have to imagine a big group of people standing on the right hand end of the huge rock.

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The descent to Llyn Caseg-fraith starts just a little further on. A group of pensioners was slogging slowly up the gentle ascent that I was ambling down. I’d decided against descending via Bristly Ridge, the direct route.

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After turning sharp left at the col that is reached before the lake, superb views of Tryfan are enjoyed as you make your way carefully across to the Tryfan col.

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Whilst crossing the Glyder ridge I’d looked down on Tryfan and spotted numerous folk on its summit. I caught up with a group of at least a dozen of them shortly after passing below Llyn Bochlwyd, pictured below with Y Garn in the background. They were a group of former students enjoying a reunion.

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Whilst there didn’t really seem to be many people about, I must have seen seventy or so folk during the course of this excellent walk. Five hours of unadulterated pleasure concluded with the short walk back beside Llyn Ogwen to Polly.

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My Garmin GPS recorded just over 13 km, with 1000 metres ascent. Transferring the .gpx file to Anquet mapping, shown below, produced the same distance but Anquet reckoned on 1448 metres ascent. I guess it’s actually about 1100 metres, but who really cares, it’s an excellent walk.

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Returning via Ruthin and Mold, more fine autumn colours were on display, but in certain areas, Betws-y-Coed for example, the deep greens of summer were still dominant.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Monday 8 October – Another Bike Ride to Bury

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This was a successful adaptation of the route I took on 28 September, marred only by the fact that Richard turned up on a rather grotty bike.

It’s a straightforward route along the Bridgewater Canal into Manchester and across Regent Bridge to join National Cycle Route number 6. That route sticks to roads through Salford. We successfully deviated beside the River Irwell where Manchester Racecourse used to be situated. Nowadays the area has been turned into a flood defence zone and is populated with a very happy flock of Canada Geese. Grey Wagtails, Mallards and Herons were seen by the river.

The photo below looks across the flood zone to Kersal.

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As well as Richard, Paul had turned up. He excelled himself by pulling another slightly less dubious bike out of a hedgerow for Richard to utilise in his bid to keep up with us. (He was exhausted after having gone for a run with an elderly lady, Ann-Marie Jones.)

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All went pretty well on the route to Bury. I decided to leave Route 6 by a large sculpture at SD 775 060, to continue along the Sculpture Trail with the intention of crossing a footbridge over the Irwell and taking a path to the left at SD 774 065, to reach the disused Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal. It was a good path to the bridge, after which I missed the intended footpath and we finished up taking the path at SD 778 068, a push through a thick jungle of tangled brambles, to reach the canal. (Sorry, folks.)

However, this avoided the roads of Radcliffe and led easily to the A56 in Bury. En route we enjoyed a chat with two very serious bird watchers, whose idea of “everyday birds that we see” included some species that I’ve never managed to spot, such as Water Rail. They showed us some impressive photos.

The A56 wasn’t followed for very long, but it did sport an excellent café that was most welcome after 30 km of cycling.

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I’d actually planned to stop at the football ground café a little further on in Gigg Lane, but it’s just as well we stopped where we did as the Gigg Lane fleshpot appeared to be the scene of a very well attended biker’s funeral.

After that we made our way across north Manchester, passing very close to Birch services on the M62. We could have entered on our bikes through the back entrance; I’m not sure how that would have gone down!

After a section of unavoidable but quiet roads, but otherwise excellent bridleways, we reached the Rochdale Canal at SD 884 079 without incident. I remembered a bench that would have been suitable for another drinks break, but it was occupied by a strange individual who appeared to be walking from Manchester to Rochdale. He lay on the bench and entered into a discourse with us that Richard aptly described as “a stream of consciousness”. Whatever he was on, he was friendly enough. We soon left him to continue in his quest for a meaningful life, and we found a good spot for our own break a little further on, on a grassy bank.

It’s a scenic and straightforward route into Manchester along the towpath, downhill all the way through a series of locks.

The Ancoats area sports this large piece of graffiti.

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Castlefield, and this view from Merchants’ Bridge, soon followed, before the ‘stick of the lollipop’ route along the canal towpath back to Timperley and beyond.

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Here’s our route – 71km with about 300 metres ascent, taking us 5.75 hours including stops.

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Thanks for your company, gents, and see you again soon.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Wythenshawe parkrun number 359, and Conkers

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Kate (Jacob’s mum) called: “He would like to visit you but he wants to collect a few conkers. I think you may have to go to Tatton, or at least Dunham.”

A: “No problem.”

Child duly delivered, we took a five minute stroll to nearby Newton Park, home to a lofty horse chestnut tree. In the gentle breeze the conkers rained down.

The contest was a draw: Sue and Jacob collected 2.5 kilos, and so did I. In between collections we enjoyed a game of frisbee, which the seven year old is very good at, before adjourning home for a game of boules. He’s good at that as well.

I hope the conkers will be put to good use; Jacob has a theory that they are used to ward of spiders, that despite my assurances he seems to dislike.

Earlier in the weekend Sue and I went along to Wythenshawe Park for the 359th parkrun held there. Some people never seem to learn….

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Paul – you should know by now, it’s not a race!

Rather more leisurely in pace, Sue and Martha managed a shade under 30 minutes as well as a chat. Faster than Sue planned because she forgot her barcode and had to pedal furiously back home to collect it in order not to be anonymised.

Lurking just behind Sue and Martha it looks like Dan, who actually finished second. He must have done a third lap to ‘warm down’!

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Full results here.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Thursday 4 October 2018 – Another Circuit from Marple (Rose Hill)

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This was a very similar outing to that on 21 March 2017 with Paul and Andy. I omitted the Fox Inn loop and extended the route to 28 km by heading through Mellor to visit recently bereaved Linda in Hollins Lane.

Starting on a dull day down the Middlewood Way for 6.5 km, with an annoying headwind today, the track passes through a short corrugated iron tunnel before reaching the station at Nelson Pit in Higher Poynton.

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After leaving the Middlewood Way to pass under the Macclesfield Canal, the route enters Lyme Park at West Parkgate. There’s a long and gentle ascent to another gate, pictured below beside a wall that needs to be rebuilt. On this ascent I encountered a group of park rangers including Nigel from SWOG. The rangers were learning about the geology of the park, and Nigel told me about some erratics near The Cage.

Nigel has also told me that he will be doing some dry stone walling. Apparently there is a constant need for wall maintenance around the park, for which the volunteers are greatly valued.

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Lyme Hall soon came into view. It’s a magnificent building. I must find time to go round it sometime.

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On a short promontory beyond the hall, is the Cage, originally a hunting lodge but later used as a park-keeper's cottage and as a lock-up for prisoners.

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I went onto the promontory to investigate the boulders referred to by Nigel as being of geological interest. They apparently originated in the Lake District and they must have been deposited here by a glacier, some time ago. The first is shown below.

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The second boulder, not far from the Cage, is a bit bigger.

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As I was taking the above picture, I spotted a couple of the red deer whose ancestors have lived here since at least mediaeval times.

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The day remained overcast apart from a brief spell of sunshine that I enjoyed by the Peak Forest Canal. Meanwhile my route exited the park and spent some time on the Gritstone Trail path, with views towards New Mills.

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Though the picture doesn’t necessarily show it, this tree was absolutely laden with red berries. I imagine it comes under siege from time to time from migrating birds.

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Steep paths with a dollop of loose rocks lead to the Peak Forest Canal. En route my back tyre picked up a metal tack. Had this happened last week, I’d have been in trouble, but earlier this morning I had called in at Bike Shak to buy the correct adaptor for my pump. It was needed, as was my spare inner tube.

The canal was littered with leaves, a first sign of autumn despite the lingering green of the foliage.

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After a few comfortable kilometres, the route leaves the canal to descend to Strines, then steeply up to Greenclough Farm, where the usual car museum was on display.

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Continued ascent to The Banks leads to a pleasant path beside a golf course, and onwards to Mellor. My usual route goes down a rocky track to Roman Lakes, then on roads to Rose Hill, but today I chose to visit Linda in Marple Bridge before taking the main road back to base.

It turned out to be a 28 km route with about 500 metres ascent. Whilst it took me 4 hours 40 minutes in total, the ‘moving time’ was just 2 hours 40 minutes.

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It was a late lunch…