Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tuesday 9 February 2016 – Another Curry Walk


Alan was suffering from Curry Withdrawal Symptoms.

So he endured a marathon bus/tram journey to Timperley. JJ turned up for coffee and cake and the ensuing stroll to the This ‘n That curry house in Soap Street. (Well, poor JJ missed the curry – he had to dash off, or did he simply morph into Sheila?)

We took a fairly direct route along the Bridgewater Canal towpath so no map is needed today; my Garmin recorded about 15 km in total.

I wish I’d taken photos of Manchester more regularly since I first arrived in 1967 – at which time steam hauled goods trains passed frequently by our lecture room windows at UMIST, and Market Street was just like any other busy high street.

Aidan O’Rourke gave an illustrated talk at SWOG a couple of weeks ago that demonstrated the value of taking regular pictures from the same spot, recording changes in the city landscape. I haven’t got his ‘then and now’ images, but some of those below could eventually become ‘then’ snaps!

The Bridgewater Canal divides at Waters Meeting in Trafford Park. The 250 year old towpath has recently been restored. Here’s a picture from the bridge over which we continue towards the lock that links the Bridgewater Canal with the Manchester Ship Canal, looking on here to the path to Eccles.


En route, we pass the Soapworks, mentioned in last week’s posting.


A bridge across the Ship Canal/River Irwell is followed by one of my regular bikes rides, but it’s eschewed by Curry Walkers.


The graffiti in this part of Manchester leaves a little to be desired.


The towpath leads to Merchants’ Bridge in Castlefield, which we cross to wend our way towards Deansgate.


Castlefield (on which there is a plethora of information here) is full of Victorian constructions, many topped with castellated stone as a gesture to the Roman Fort that was virtually destroyed in their construction.


There are newer buildings here as well. Can you spot the YHA?


JJ found a sign.


Alan was inside the bar – his attention span didn’t reach beyond the first line!


(Sorry Alan.)

St Peter’s Square is in a state of flux. The new KPMG building is on the right; the metrolink station has gone, for the time being, and trams pass without stopping.


The square will look quite different in a year’s time.

Later – Spinners Quiz in Adlington – jackpot now up to £550 – nobody won it – we did however gain a tenner between our team of five for winning the Snakes and Ladders contest!

Alan’s rather more comprehensive report is here.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Graffiti from the Southern Half (10)


Here’s an old piece – you can see how the paint has worn, but there’s very little graffiti as we know it on this graffiti as the people of Valparaiso know it.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Sunday 7 February 2016 – A Circuit from The Leathers Smithy


About 14 of us started from outside the Leathers Smithy hostelry after negotiating a new bay system that restricts parking beside Ridgegate Reservoir.


Today’s carefully constructed route saw us heading south along the Gritstone Trail path, with good views back to Tegg's Nose.


Those who stayed near the back avoided some of 'Martin's Meanders' – I seemed to be busy chatting every time we passed a turn.

We headed falteringly onwards along the muddy, undulating path, towards the Radio Station at Sutton Common.

Fox Bank led to the 330 metre high point of the walk, Hill of Rossenclowes, from where the header picture was taken, looking towards Shutlingsloe.


There were fine sunny views across Greater Manchester and North Cheshire.


After another inadvertent meander, we descended past several quarries to the muddy depths of Ratcliff Wood.


We strolled beside a narrow watercourse towards Oakgrove.


I wonder what this small canal was used for?


Down at Sutton Oaks, The Fool's Nook has sadly been closed for a while. I recall enjoying a good pub lunch here on my Cheshire Ring bike ride in 2010.


Between us we all managed to find seating positions on the banks of the Macclesfield Canal, for lunch before our first dousing of the day.


Then a 5 km stroll along the canal towpath took us steadily away from Hall Green and towards Marple.


The towpath crosses the canal on the outskirts of Macclesfield, soon after which Rick sprinted ahead to meet daughter Jo and 'pretty boy' Eric. (No photos I’m afraid, you’ll have to use your imagination.)

Past The Hollins, a muddy path skirts a golf course.


Looking towards Shutlingsloe, almost indiscernible on the horizon, we enjoyed a slithery descent to Langley, where a pavement provided temporary respite from the mud.


We passed Langley Hall, a fine building, before the easy stroll to rejoin the mudfest known as the Gritstone Trail. Some opted out of this delight and diced with the traffic heading along Clarke Lane, but most of us stuck to the mud, arriving back at the start, or nearby, as a somewhat disparate bunch.

Here’s our route - 20 km with about 500 metres ascent, taking a little over 5 hours.


There’s a short slideshow here, if you are interested – click on the first image, then click ‘slideshow’.

Thanks, everyone, for joining us on this very pleasant little jaunt in rather better weather than Saturday’s, when Sue got soaked marshalling and I got soaked jogging on my 100th parkrun. Luckily a tent had been erected to prevent the (obligatory) cake from going soggy.

No time I’m afraid to record in more than passing a visit to Bacup for a delicious fish pie, or a visit to the Bridgewater Hall for an ‘Echoes of a Mountain Song’ concert advertised below but ending surprisingly with a version of the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil’! Very enjoyable.

In a concert which includes poetry and readings, we hear the rarely performed orchestral sketch Kinder Scout by English composer Patrick Hadley (1899-1973) who found solace on the moors of the Peak District. A performer with local roots, Jennifer Pike, plays that matchless evocation of the moorland landscape, The Lark Ascending, based on George Meredith’s pastoral poem. Frederick Delius was born in Bradford and loved high wild places. A Walk to The Paradise Garden is a blissful interlude set amidst Alpine scenery. After the interval, Mendelssohn takes us on a tour of Scotland; a musical journey encompassing misty peaks, bagpipes and highland dancing.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Friday 5 February 2016 – An Impromptu Stroll to Manchester


8.30 am – text message from JJ. But, but, but… I’m in the middle of making some brownies…

9.45 am – meet JJ and Rick at the Bridgewater Canal near Timperley Metro station. It’s great to be able to drop everything and enjoy a sociable stroll.

It’s a cloudy day but JJ keeps stopping to take photos. My phone camera only comes out when we take a route that I’m not familiar with. Instead of crossing the Throstle Nest Bridge to follow the towpath, we desert the canal in favour of the Irwell/Ship Canal path.

There’s a view, pictured above, across what is now wasteland but what used to be a hive of dockland industry, to a variety of buildings including the Soapworks, the modern reincarnation of the old Colgate Palmolive factory.

I’d not previously consciously observed this lock that links the Bridgewater Canal with the Manchester Ship Canal, namely ‘Number 3 Dock’.


Here’s the view down Number 3 Dock to the main channel of the Ship Canal.


Ordsall Hall lurks between new buildings, just to the left of the foundry, in the view across Number 3 Dock.


There’s every chance that Peel Holdings will allow construction hereabouts, so it’ll be interesting to see photos taken from the same point ten years from now.

We exit the canal system to Liverpool Road, where the Science and Industry Museum nearly lures us in. We decide to plan a proper visit in a few weeks time.

Across the road, the Air & Space Hall insists on getting us to pop our noses through the door.


The other side of that door, an English Electric Lightning – basically a massive jet engine behind a small cockpit, brings back childhood memories.


Katsouris, at the junction of Deansgate and John Dalton Street, provides us with an excellent Mezze lunch that means none of us will need anything more than a snack later. At the next table a corporate ‘Jolly’ is being planned by a group who sound as if they will be visiting the vast system of slate mines at Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Cotswold replaces my faulty Aquapac (waterproof case for telephone) and Evans Cycles meet JJ’s needs. The bell he selects doesn’t seem to be on their computer system, so he gets it for nothing.

We passed to and fro beside this intricate sculpture of Chopin on Deansgate. He visited Manchester just once – in 1848, a year before his death at the age of 39.


We were back at home by early afternoon.

JJ’s version is here.

Friday, 5 February 2016

29 to 31 January 2016 – A Weekend in Newtonmore


Thursday 28 January saw me and Sue tripping up to Newtonmore in atrocious rainy weather after Sue got home from work. Cary, Graham and John B had travelled up earlier and happily greeted us when we arrived at 11 pm.

Friday 29 January – the weather high up was dreadful, so a low level circuit for the five of us was in order. We drove past Ruthven Barracks before parking up and setting off from the car park at Torcroy (Insh).

The Badenoch Way was followed through woodland near the River Tromie to Tromie Bridge.


The marshes around Kingussie have morphed into lakes after recent deluges.


Today there was however some blue sky, which we glimpsed as we headed past lichen covered trees towards the Tromie, which was high, but well contained within its banks.


There are various measuring devices in the vicinity of Tromie Bridge, the one below was fenced in, whereas another one next to the river looks like a small bird hide but actually contains devices that monitor the height of the river.


Tromie Bridge is nearby, with this fine view of the frothing river as it rushes down to the Spey.


Beyond Tromie Bridge, we soon left the Badenoch Way and headed east towards Baileguish. Here's our view east from the forestry track, looking towards the Cairngorm summits beyond Glen Feshie.


We ignored a threatening sign informing us that there was no access to this area due to felling activity (we saw no evidence of current work), and continued on to the bridge across Allt Fhearnasdail at Baileguish, erected by an army working group in 2001.


We crossed the bridge and elevensed outside the farm buildings that Graham could cast his mind back to when they were occupied. Graham (in his TGO Challenge vetter capacity) then went to inspect a further bridge across Allt Mor that Challengers heading to Glen Feshie will be keen to cross. Whilst the bridge remains intact, the recent weather has created a deep channel that needs to be crossed before the bridge is reached. Challengers will need to hope that the river isn’t in spate and that they can wade across at the site of a ford a few hundred metres to the south.

We returned across the Allt Fhearnasdail bridge, noticing that lots of felling has taken place beyond Baileguish, where we stayed to the west of the Feshie. The sun shone brightly in between wintry showers.


I half expected one of a number of bothy smitten bloggers to come striding out of this building...


Graham confirmed our thoughts that this large wheel was from an aircraft undercarriage. There was no sign of the rest of the plane.


A quiet lane took us back to the Badenoch Way and past some smart houses with fine views in the hamlet of Inveruglas.

A couple of caravans had me wondering about their suitability as props in a dramatisation of Magnus Mills’ 'The Restraint of Beasts’.

Overhead, a flock of Greylag Geese seemed uncertain about where they wanted to go. Twisting and turning as if to keep within the boundary of a bird reserve, their leaders appeared to be masters of indecision.

Eventually we returned to Tromie Bridge and took the tarmac option back to the car as Graham felt he may have misplaced his voice in a roadside puddle.

Here's the day’s route - 23 km with 500 metres ascent, taking us a shade under 6 hours. An excellent day out.


Jon and Margriet arrived to join us at the bunkhouse, and we soon set about gorging ourselves on smoked salmon, coq au vin, and a selection of vegetable curries. Not to mention Graham’s excellent crumble and custard.

Saturday 30 January – others started from a lay-by at the far end of Loch Laggan. I drove there but decided to come straight back as it was snowing in a rather determined fashion. The others – apart from Jon, who lounged in the hostel with his tax return – managed to scale the dramatic heights of Meall Luidh Mor - 514 metres, although I don’t think they saw very much. Margriet’s all wheel drive car got them all safely back to Newtonmore through the snow.

Meanwhile, I joined Sue, Molly and Harvey for a stroll up Glen Banchor.


It snowed.

Harvey was anxious to get back home.


You wouldn't have wanted to fall into the River Calder today!


Another good nosh was enjoyed once everyone had returned to the hostel. The delights of ‘Boggle’ were also discovered, to the detriment of certain brains.

Sunday 31 January – Jon went up a small hill, Margriet (a little tired after the previous day’s exertions) went home to Aberdeen, and the ‘Manchester Five’ were joined by Sue O for a stroll up Glen Banchor. Here’s today's team: Martin, Sue B, John, Sue O, Graham, and Cary.


We crossed Allt a Chaorainn (luckily there's a bridge) and rose slowly up an unseen path that rises gently beside the River Calder.


There were some large herds of red deer low in the valleys and it was slow going through soft fresh snow beside Allt Fionndrigh. Care was taken to avoid dunkings in places like this…


At the far point of our walk we crossed a slippery footbridge. Care was needed to avoid sliding into the river!


Elevenses, with cake, were welcome at this point. Three people caught us up here and headed on in an attempt to climb Carn Dearg. It was slow going and they soon gave up. An early start would be needed to succeed in getting to that Munro summit in these soft conditions.

The six of us eventually reached the 743 metre summit of Creag Liath on the pleasantly calm but annoyingly cloudy day.


A fairly direct descent route saw us all pausing for lunch before taking our own individual routes towards the bridge at Glenballoch, another farmstead that was occupied until fairly recently.

I waited for a while on the bridge, admiring the fine view up Allt Fionndrigh.


Then it was a pleasant stroll back to Newtonmore, past a couple of skiers who were struggling lower down to find sufficient snow to justify their mode of transport.

Here's our route - 17 km with 650 metres ascent, taking a little over 6 hours.


Later, the five of us scrapped plans to eat out and sat down to a dinner of leftovers in Newtonmore Hostel. There were enough such ‘scraps’ to feed Sue and Neil, and Ali, Adrian and Ellen, as well as the Manchester Five.

Monday 1 February – we awoke to more lashings of rain and decided to go straight home, arriving by 4 pm, well in time for Sue’s yoga class.

Here’s a parting shot of the exceedingly hospitable Newtonmore Hostel.


As well as clicking on any of the images above to see a larger version, there’s a link to a slideshow (56 images) here. Click on the first image then click on ‘slideshow’ if you feel like a quick browse.

An excellent weekend despite the imperfect weather. Thanks to everyone for turning up and it’s a shame that Julie had to pull out at the last minute and that Roger B was foiled by an unexpected commitment.