Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sunday 19 October 2014 – Strines Sunday with MMB


I pay the subscription, so I should join the Manchester Mountain Bikers at least once every year!

Today I went along to Strines station, near Marple, for a ‘diesel-paced’ ride with Duncan, Steven, Glyn, Adam, Kevin, Darrell, Stuart and Simon.


‘Meet at 9am, ready to ride 9.15’ was spot on and gave me a lie in as Strines is only a 30 minute drive from Timperley. We were soon on our way, gradually ascending a series of hills that took us slowly towards Mellor. The pace was, well, diesel rather than turbo diesel – about the same as last Sunday’s pace, but with more stops to regroup.


A succession of good tracks and minor roads led to a good track heading east past Robin Hood’s Picking Rods. Well, it was an easy path, but best not to put your feet down when passing through the slurry pictured below.


The track rose gently to a high point of the ride – Cown Edge. Here’s Adam arriving…


…for a pause for sustenance, and a rare occasion when cake wasn’t available (due to my very busy day yesterday).


There were good views towards Kinder Scout.


It’s a mildly technical descent to the Pennine Bridleway. I was slowest, having taken suspensionless Shogun on this ride. Others went so fast over the rocks that a tyre exploded!


Here’s the group at the Pennine Bridleway, where some sort of ‘horse event’ was taking place.


We passed a number of horse riders and walkers today, and as usual when I’m with the MMB riders, I was impressed by the level of courtesy shown by the cyclists. It’s great to go out with such a friendly, supportive and courteous group.

After the short pull out of Rowarth, it’s an easy return to Strines via Castle Edge Road, from where this view towards Hayfield and Kinder can be enjoyed before the descent to the Fox Inn (sadly not yet open today) and the steep rocky final descent to Strines, where all the suspension bikes flew ahead, leaving Duncan to check that my more circumspect descent was achieved without losing too many fillings.


Here’s the route – a very good one with no need to push at any point -  20.6km, 500 metres ascent, taking us 2.2 hours. Similar terrain to last week’s CMBM, at a similar pace but with more pauses, and about half the distance and time.



Friday, 17 October 2014

Thursday 16 October 2014 – Bury to Holcombe Brook


Back to the on-line diary. I’m regretting having attempted the last posting. It was a mistake on my part.

Today Sue and I had the pleasure of a morning walk with some of East Lancs LDWA’s jovial ‘Plodders’. A dull day until lunchtime, apart from the company, and by the time the sun came out we were on our way home. Never mind.

Luckily, the tram from Timperley to Bury didn’t on this occasion veer off in the direction of Rochdale, though the driver did look a bit nervous as we passed the turning to Monsall.

Our Metrolink rendezvous at the Bury terminus went smoothly, and six of us set off through Bury and across the River Irwell to Higher Woodhill Road, which leads to Burrs Country Park.

Shortly before the park, on the left, is Calrows Farmhouse.


It’s a building ‘listed’ for its special architectural or historic interest, and the English Heritage website describes the building here.

It describes architectural features, including the date moulding on a carved panel - "Standley/P/LM/1710/Derby" – but it’s reckoned to be older than 1710 in part (and later in other parts). C17 coins are said to have been found under the floor of the house.

We continued into the park, pausing for a shortbread fuelled cuppa and the traditional group picture (above), as well as a framed photo.


The park covers quite a large area, the mill chimney being visible from some way off.


School kids were enjoying playing with kayaks on the warm day, and we passed this giant plumber trap. We watched aghast as Reg flicked the control that sent the plumber spiralling into the sky, finally plummeting head first down the mill chimney, never to be seen again. (Not on this walk anyway, though he probably did escape.)


By now we were on the Irwell Sculpture Trail. There is a series of information boards on the various industrial artefacts in the Country Park, and on some of the seventy or so sculptures, such as the 1997 sculpture by Julie Edwards, ‘Stone Cycle’, comprising a series of large stones recycled from a dismantled bridge in Bury.


After bimbling around the Country Park for some time, we eventually moved on along the banks of the Irwell to this dramatic weir that the children use for honing their kayaking skills. Someone related the tale of how they watched some poor youth get the nose of her kayak stuck at the bottom of the weir, leaving her in a cold shower for a few minutes whilst a teacher tried to free the stricken vessel.


Beyond the weir, the path carries on pleasantly beside the river before sidling under a railway bridge and climbing gently to Bank Top Farm. The farm looks more like an ornamental garden than a working farm, although some sheep were in evidence. There’s a pond with more sculptures, a moorhen rooting through the undergrowth, and a black stag peering through the hedge at some herons.


High above the river and railway, the path weaves beside fields and through woodland to emerge at Summerseat’s cricket pitch, where David used to heave a lump of willow (I think that’s what he said, anyway). The empty bench confirms the lack of ‘play’, but the autumn colours are coming into ‘play’ hereabouts.


Beyond Brooksbottoms an ancient cobbled way leads up to a left turn, where the railway enters a tunnel and the good path to Ramsbottom leads on by way of a continuation of the Irwell Sculpture Trail, which actually goes all the way from Salford Quays to Bacup and could be utilised for a series of short walks along an excellent route. Or even for an energetic 33 miles in a day blast!

But we turned left, through the greenery of Woodhey’s woods.


After a while a footbridge was reached. I crossed this by mistake the last time I was here, but today the correct turn to the right was made, up beside the left bank of Holcombe Brook, past man made weirs and knobbly trees in an area that must once have been filled with mills for the cotton industry.


Our rendezvous with Christine and Maureen in the Hare & Hounds at Holcombe Brook was thwarted by a refurbishment project. I should have checked their Facebook page before setting off! So the two wives had to slum it on the pavement outside the pub whilst waiting for us to appear from our leisurely plod.

The pub re-opens with a beer festival on 23 October. We couldn’t wait that long, so we all trooped off to nearby Summerseat Garden Centre for an excellent, if non-alcoholic, lunch.

This was a delightful stroll, in the best of company, along a very pleasant route. Thanks to everyone for turning up, and it was great that Christine and Maureen could join us for lunch (not a common scenario for an LDWA outing).

We walked just under 9 km (5.5 miles), with a modest 150 metres of ascent, taking less than two and a half hours. Excellent!


Thanks to Peter and Christine for the lift back to Radcliffe Metro station, and I trust everyone else got home safely, satisfactorily refreshed, and far from exhausted.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Postcard from Timperley shortlisted for The Great Outdoors ‘Outdoor Blogger of the Year’ Award


[Click here to vote, if you want to skip the blurb.]

I’ve attended the last couple of award ceremonies, representing the Bridge of Gaur Guest House near Rannoch, and Alpenstock – my local gear supplier. I’d nominated both of them, but this year the nomination period passed me by and with neither of those fine establishments being shortlisted I didn’t expect to be involved in any way.

Nevertheless, I’m on a TGO mailing list and recently clicked the link to cast my votes. I was somewhat surprised to see my own blog listed in a new category for this year. Thanks go to whoever nominated me – I feel honoured to be shortlisted, though I’m not sure whether many folk will recognise ‘Postcard from Timperley’ from the code name above.

‘Postcard from Timperley’ thus gained an unexpected seventh birthday present. It’s really an on-line diary, not exclusively an ‘Outdoors’ blog, but out of over 2000 posts to date nearly half to have the ‘Walks’ label, and ‘Bike rides’ and ‘Skiing’ account for quite a few more. The original purpose was to keep in touch with friends and family whilst on a trip to New Zealand in early 2008. Sue and I enjoyed doing that, and I decided to continue with it until I got fed up. I still enjoy it, albeit I feel some entries are becoming a little repetitive.

Highlights, in my opinion, are entries such as the ‘Italian Border Route’ – a 58 day backpacking trip to the Alps, and various TGO Challenges including this well indexed record of our 2009 Challenge. More recently I’ve failed in my bid to properly index trip reports, and I apologise for that – some housekeeping is required. Perhaps starting with this summer’s trip to the Dolomites, and continuing with last year’s Pyrenean Adventure, which with Humphrey Weightman’s assistance was converted into a book with very little editing.

I am familiar with three of the other shortlisted blogs, and have now had a quick look at the others. Here’s my take on them, albeit very superficial.

Alan Sloman’s big walk – I’m a long-term follower of Alan, who writes with passion, originally about a Lands End to John O’Groats walk in 2007 and subsequently concentrating on TGO Challenge walks and Alan’s impassioned opposition to wind farms.

Alastair Humphreys – a new one to me, Alastair is a professional adventurer, author and motivational speaker who has written around 1500 postings since 2001.

Backpacking Bongos – James Boulter’s blog records a wide range of wilderness trips alone, in his campervan, or with his dog. I’ve followed James for a while and enjoy his postings.

Dean Read – another new one for me, Dean appears to be based in the Peak District and his activities include blog postings starting in 2006. He uses video clips and is a keen mountain biker and photographer.

Keith Foskett – a professional long-distance walker, writer and blogger. You expect ‘Postcard from Timperley’ to compete with this?

Terry Abraham – a film maker who posts blog entries as he goes about his film making activities. I have his excellent ‘Cairngorms in Winter’ film made with Chris Townsend. Terry has recently released another film – ‘Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike’ to similar acclaim, and he has just finished another film ‘Backpacking in the Lake District with Chris Townsend’ that will no doubt receive similar accolades.

The Girl Outdoors - a blog edited by Sian Anna Lewis ‘a journalist obsessed with adventure’. I notice that one of her recent postings is an interview with Alastair Humphreys, who seems to be popping up everywhere as I compose this entry.

Tony Hobbs - has only made two blog postings this year, though I understand he also posts videos elsewhere, and these may be the reason for his shortlisting.

Two Blondes Walking is an engaging record of two anonymous blondes’ antics with the wildlife of Dartmoor, Duke of Edinburgh Award children, and life in general. It’s new to me, but I’ll now be following these blondes’ short, often quirky, daily postings.

Leaving Tony Hobbs aside, I note that I’m the only person on the shortlist who doesn’t ‘Twitter’ (I have no plans to do that). Some of the blogs include advertisements that I find distracting, but that shouldn’t affect one’s overall opinion of them. Very few of those shortlisted attempt to keep their on-line records of their trips up to date on a daily basis whilst on those trips. That’s left to amateurs like me, Conrad and Gayle. It can be quite hard, but not ‘work’!

I note that four of those shortlisted, (Alastair, Keith, Terry and Tony) have also been shortlisted as ‘Outdoor Personality of the Year’ and Alastair has a third throw of the dice as one of his books has been shortlisted in the ‘Outdoor Book of the Year’ category.

It’s a small world…

I’ll let you know who wins in due course. In the meantime you can vote here, or by clicking the temporary link on the sidebar.

Thanks for reading my postings, especially during my/our longer trips when the interaction with commenters is appreciated, whether or not you choose to vote for the ‘Postcard’.

Note: following some comments and emails concerning my take on advertising on some of the shortlisted blogs, and having been accused of “trying to bash your opposition”, I have amended the above text to exclude some observations regarding advertising, and I’ve replaced the offending comments (below) with what I hope is something conciliatory. I certainly have no intention of “bashing” anyone – I just wanted to provide a brief overview with links to those shortlisted. In fact I’ve tried to be appreciative of all the blogs, so far as I can be, so I apologise to anyone who has misinterpreted my observations.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Sunday 12 October 2014 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon


Yes, it’s that time of year. The picture above shows Paul, Robert and Greg after the finish, and here’s Robert at the start, a foggy 50 metres down the road from Paul, Greg and me.


Here are Paul and Greg, first timers on this event – starting with me from right at the back of the 320 strong field. Everyone was very jolly at this end of the field.


We left Robert to shoot off and finish in under 3 hours, whilst the rest of us took it easy. We had to at the start, as 320 people don’t fit very well onto the narrow lanes, especially when there’s a pile-up going up a steep hill because of so many people dismounting to push.

The field slowly spread out, and I was able to enjoy the fast descent to Mytholmroyd – it’s a bit technical but much easier than in the past – with lots of slower descenders allowing me to pass them.

Soon after that descent, the first checkpoint is reached, near Hebden Bridge, and here Greg is faced with the dilemma of choosing between a drink (from the left) or cake (from the right). I think he managed both, but narrowly avoided causing another pile up!


The conditions were dry, and once the fog had lifted it was sunny. Some time before this checkpoint at Grain Water Bridge, Greg’s exertions from the previous day caught up with him, slowing our progress from here. But not to worry, it was a lovely day to be out on the bikes.


The support was immaculate, as ever, even down to a first aider running up onto Midgley Moor to help a stricken participant. Paul had been just behind him when he fell – so he copped the job of looking after the guy until he’d recovered sufficiently to carry on.

Meanwhile I’d enjoyed the moor in easier conditions than usual and waited at a hairpin bend (pictured below) for Paul, who had been waiting higher up for Greg, who apparently took a few dives himself. They turned up after about 15 minutes, and we managed to get to the end without any further incidents (no cramp for me for a change, probably thanks to the break). We even managed to cycle all the way up the steep final hill without dismounting, encouraged by Robert, who having finished nearly an hour ahead of us, had come back down the hill to Luddenden Foot to meet us.


Having reached the finish, Greg relaxed immediately into what I’ll describe as a ‘Lazy Moment’.


He soon recovered whilst the rest of us went off to stash the bikes, before enjoying a beer in the sun outside the Church Stile Inn. Here we are before that, after enjoying tea and chilli kindly provided by the organisers, and having collected our t-shirts and certificates.


The support is amazing for the modest entry fee of £15, especially as it’s a fund raising event for a local scout group. A big vote of thanks to the organisers.

Here’s the route - 42.5 km (27 miles), 1000 metres ascent, 2-6 hours. (We took rather less than 4 hours, with Robert an hour ahead of us.)


This is the seventh time I’ve cycled in this event since starting ‘Postcard from Timperley’, hence the fairly brief report.

The other reports can be found here, the route description and results summary are here, and there’s a slideshow here (click on the first image and then click ‘slideshow’), mainly pictures of folk who would have finished in three and a half to four hours, descending from Midgley Moor at the point where I was waiting for Paul and Greg.

The CMBM website is here, with this year’s results here. I’ve just put 11 October 2015 in the diary…

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Friday 10 October 2014 – The Big Macc Ramble (A Bike Ride)


I’ve reported on this route and variations to it before – here – so whilst there’s a map below, no detailed description beyond that given is warranted.

I’d been planning a visit to the Cat and Fiddle for some time, the bike ride being a training ride for the Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon (CMBM). As that takes place tomorrow, I suspect this Big Macc Ramble will have tired me out more than it got me fit!

The day was warm, with sunny periods. I encountered just a handful of pedestrians on the quiet paths. A long ascent to Macclesfield Forest is followed by a gentle descent to the chapel, where I enjoyed some tea and a sandwich on a familiar and much loved bench before tackling the technical descent to Bottom-of-the-Oven – not so easy on the old steel bike that I traditionally take on the CMBM.

Here are views to the Stanley Arms, and to the Cat and Fiddle, from Bottom-of-the-Oven.


It’s a long haul up the road to the tea rooms, especially for one whose cycling these days is mainly along canal towpaths. Above the tea rooms I paused to regain my breath and take snaps towards Shutlingsloe and back to Macclesfield Forest, where my route along Charity Lane follows the edge of the forest on the horizon.


After a productive meeting with Adam, the Cat and Fiddle’s chef, during which the menu for our Christmas lunch on 14 December was finalised – details will be available here shortly – I continued on along Danebower Hollow.


After a short road section, there’s a lovely descent to Cumberland Clough and a final stream crossing over Cumberland Brook after negotiating some increasingly sized rocks.


Then it’s back up to Macc Forest, Nessit Hill, and the final exhilarating descent at over 30 mph on the swooping gravel track above Trentabank. Brilliant!

Here’s today’s route, described basically here, but note that at the end, beyond Nessit Hill, a designated cycle trail now leads steeply and directly to the road junction near Trentabank, slightly shortening the route to 14.2 miles with about 700 metres ascent - allow 2-3 hours.


Thursday 9 October 2014 – An Evening Walk to Stretford


We just didn’t feel like traipsing to Peckforton for a walk in the dark. We weren’t alone, as we would have been alone on that planned walk, if you get my drift.

Instead, Sue and I enjoyed a leisurely supper and set off down the newly resurfaced Bridgewater Canal towpath on a 50 minute jaunt to Stretford, from where we caught the tram back home.

The full moon illuminated our progress, though the ambient light would have been sufficient. Cyclists were also enjoying the newly laid surface, which replaces a very muddy section between Timperley and Brooklands. Some of the cyclists could benefit from lessons in courtesy, but it’s good to see them using this much safer alternative to the main Chester Road. If walking along the towpath at night, a torch is handy, if only to alert cyclists of your presence.

A couple of watering holes were passed, one being The King’s Ransom in Sale, which we didn’t visit on this occasion, just pausing to take a couple of snaps with the Lumix FT4.

Temperatures remain warm, with two layers being sufficient to give rise to some overheating.


Our next evening walk is around Styal on Thursday 13 November – meet at the Ship Inn, Moss Lane, SJ 838 835, at 7.30 pm for a woodland saunter. All are welcome 5 – 10 km, depending on weather and what we feel like doing.

The Four Heatons


Last Wednesday evening’s session at Hazel Grove Civic Centre with SWOG (Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group) was devoted to an inspirational presentation by Ian Littlechilds and Phil Page. ‘The Four Heatons’ was the subject of their presentation, but it was channelled more towards ‘how the book was put together’ than a detailed review of its contents.

Former schoolteachers Ian and Phil related how they had accumulated information for the book, including the purchase of numerous postcards, which before the days of the telephone were often used as a primary means of communication, thus revealing much about the life and times of the authors of such cards, which apparently sell for up to about £25.

[Author pauses to rummage through postcard collection – the oldest I can find is of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, in 1937, with a message ‘we are having a lovely time’. Conclusion: not a very valuable collection. But yours may be if you have some older cards. Note for Dot – “Look after those old cards!”]

The book appears to include many annotated comparisons between the old photos with new ones taken by the authors, who were surprised at how much foliage there is nowadays compared with Victorian times. Old images were obtained from various sources, including libraries, and the authors had spent some time familiarising themselves with the complexities of Copyright Duration. (Far too complex to go into here!)

They also explained how easy it was to persuade Amberley, the publisher, to publish a book that fitted into their ‘Through Time’ series. This really is something from which anyone with a few basic skills could gain a lot of satisfaction. So, if you are interested in picking up a book on the local history of a particular area, have a look at Amberley’s website, and if the book isn’t there… you have a possible project.

By way of example, here’s what the Amazon ‘preview’ says about the Four Heatons book:

“The Four Heatons (Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Chapel and Heaton Norris) have a combined population of around 70,000 and each has its own history and character. Heaton Moor and Heaton Chapel grew as residential areas with the development of new road and rail links, Heaton Mersey developed as a community based on mining, bleaching and dyeing and Heaton Norris was a workers' community situated within touching distance of the industries of Stockport. Although there have been changes over the past one hundred years or so, much of the original architecture of the areas remains and links between the old and new photographs can clearly be established. This unique selection of old and new images and informative captions will be essential reading for anyone who knows and loves these suburbs of Greater Manchester.”

Thanks go to Pam for suggesting these excellent presenters.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Monday 6 October 2014 – the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (and other stuff)


Sue and I had planned a walk before returning home, after spending another pleasant evening in the company of TGO Challengers, of whom about a dozen remained at Crianlarich.

The rain in itself didn’t put us off, but it was so torrential that it was raining inside the hotel, whose staff were rummaging everywhere for more buckets.

Avoiding a soaking, we drove to Glasgow and arrived outside this museum (easy to find, £1 for 4 hours parking, entry free). It’s a great place and we only managed to explore a small section, so must visit again.

There’s an organ over the entrance, and a recital took place during our visit.


There are some interesting displays, including a lot about Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 – 1928) “Architect – Artist – Icon”.


The interesting natural history displays include this rare item of taxidermy – the elusive and iconic Haggis, half bird, half rodent, that keen eyed readers will recall having seen dashing clockwise around Scottish hillsides. That’s because they have evolved to have two short legs on the right flank, with longer ones on the left, enabling them to speed along in a clockwise direction, thereby escaping from all known predators.


Goggle-eyed, we then returned home.

I’ve now processed the weekend’s images, and there’s a small (41 images) slideshow here. (Click on the first image and then click ‘slideshow’ to view it.)

Here are some highlights, with links to the individual postings.

Friday - the Falkirk Kelpies and a guarded canal boat:0309Kelpie7

Saturday’s ascent of Ben Vorlich:0403Vorlich30407Vorlichtrig20419Vorlichrainbow6

The route up Ben Vorlich - 12 km, 1000 metres ascent, taking 5.5 hours: 0499route

Sunday’s outing up Beinn Chuirn with Mike and Marian, where these three photos were taken at the summit:0513Chuirnsummit30516Chuirnsummitmike20517Chuirnsummitlunch

Our route - 16 km, 850 metres ascent, taking 5 hours:0599route

Don’t forget the slideshow!