Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ramsoc Weekend at Kettlewell – 25/26 October 2014


This is the seventh Ramsoc weekend to be mentioned in these pages – Sue’s University Rambling Club reunion has come round again. This year she organised the event, with assistance from Sue W in her roll as YHA insider. Thanks go to both Sues.

Click here to view all the Ramsoc postings.

About 30 folk turned up, a generation after these events started, as many of the children who used to attend are now at Universities themselves. Just three teenagers and a couple of small children were present on this occasion – a far cry from the roomfuls of youngsters on past reunions. It was good to see Mark and Janet, who escaped to Singapore for many years, just to avoid the hassle of organising this event! (They are still there – this was by way of a ‘Royal Visit’.)

There was a fine view across Kettlewell to Middlesmoor Pastures from our room in the YHA hostel, which sadly is up for sale. Perhaps it will have a new life as an independent hostel, but whoever buys it would be well advised to sort out the parking arrangements.



We drove up to a car park at Buckden and milled about for a while in between pouring money into a Pay and Display machine.

Soon nineteen strollers were rambling up the Firth Fell path.


A halt was soon called as some of the party had been distracted by an assortment of interesting features that I must have missed.

Continuing upwards, a splinter group headed off along the ridge whilst most of us continued along the flagged path for a long wait by a cold and draughty wall.

The descent to Litton was 'leisurely'. “Where are they all?” we wondered.


Then, after a punishing 6 km in over 2 hours, everyone else decided on a long refreshment stop. I’d lost the will to wait by then…

I continued across the River Skirfare, which given the recent dry weather and its limestone foundations would have been an easy paddle.


To allow the others to catch up, I chose a steep ascent from Nether Hesleden, with views opening out as I climbed to Hesleden Bergh. Then it was a long descent down the road to Halton Gill, but despite my roundabout route and lingering lunch on a bench, there was still no sign of the others.

Halton Gill is the home of Katie's Cuppas - a 'Help Yourself Honesty Box Tearoom', supervised by a watchful granny.


Looking down the valley to Litton from the ascent to Horse Head, all I could see was sheep; the others must have gone another way.

Occasional flashes of sunshine interspersed with showers, brightened the view to Fountains Fell. It's quite a long haul up to Horse Head, where I tested the ridge route south east, but it was too blustery for comfort today. It’s a good route for a summer’s day, hugging the crest all the way to Kettlewell.

The descent beside Hagg Beck to Langstrothdale is quite rough. It was showery. Waterproofs went on and off with regular curses, especially when I got tangled up and fell over, twisting my knee. Ouch!


Autumn looked well advanced as I looked across to Buckden Pike, and the hamlet of Yockenthwaite soon hove into view. The bridge at Yockenthwaite provides easy access to the riverside Dales Way path to Hubberholme, which hugs the north bank of the infant River Wharfe.

I passed the excellent George Inn at Hubberholme, too late to take advantage of its facilities. From there it was an excellent and easy path down the valley to Kettlewell.


Eventually, in gathering gloom on a showery afternoon, the bridge at Kettlewell signalled the conclusion of this pleasant jaunt at around 5pm.

My route was 28 km, with 1000 metres ascent, taking 7.5 hours. A satisfactory alternative would start at Kettlewell and go via Arncliffe to pick up today’s route at Litton.



I assembled together with Sue, Robin, Josh, Graham, David and Tom, at a parking spot to the north west of Malham Tarn, others having gone elsewhere or home due to the rain.


The heavy overnight rain (it was blowing into our room) had subsided as we loaded the cars, and the day turned out to be very pleasant, with good sunny periods.

The first half hour or so was along a quiet road, high above Malham, to a cattle grid where we turned left along a path to Malham Cove. In the other direction there were some confusing signs regarding ‘traffic’, and I notice the ‘Dales High Way’ now has its own signs. I’m not sure about that, though they are nice signs; I would have thought that people doing that excellent walk would be able to find their own way without the need for signs.


After the overnight rain, everything had become a little slippery. Josh, in particular, was trying hard not to fall over - he's still getting accustomed to being a foot taller than he was a few weeks ago.

The footpath past Ing Scar was fairly obvious.


Elevenses were taken on a massive limestone pavement above Malham Cove, high above the bustle of the village.


A superb limestone pavement leads to the path down to the cove, down which we were reluctantly followed by two runners who were convinced there was a more direct route. We couldn’t see one. There isn’t one unless you’re a Peregrine.


Sunday morning climbers littered the scene, though few appeared to be making much progress, and nobody had reached the overhangs.

We soon returned past the ‘money trees’ that seem to have become an unwelcome feature hereabouts, and joined the masses on the path to Malham.

A surprise encounter led to the reunification of Sue with some CCS, most of which had been eaten by the two 'monkey children' who had discovered it in the Youth Hostel fridge.


A dinky path around the back of Beck Hall and past the modern looking Youth Hostel, led to the centre of Malham, from where a delightful and familiar path leads up to Janet's Foss.

Janet, a fairy, lives behind the Foss (waterfall).


We enjoyed lunch with laid on entertainment from a variety of ‘tourists’. (Dog, children, members of our own group, etc.)

Gordale Beck leads prettily towards the waterfall.


Shying away from a drenching, we by-passed Gordale Scar, in favour of a more southerly route with fine views towards the Dales Way as it heads south. Gordale Scar, far below, actually looked pretty innocuous.


Anyway, we marched on towards Malham Tarn in bracing conditions, glancing to our left to take in the major landmark that is Pendle Hill.


The tarn was soon reached, looking just as autumnal as it had done earlier, with quite intense waves washing flotsam to the shore line. The march continued, and we passed an outdoor centre, after which some of us paused briefly to admire the panorama of the pond…


... before trudging off through the mossy woods.


Later, the setting sun lit the hillside near Airton as we drove home.


Here's our 15 km route, with 400 metres ascent, taking 5 hours - an excellent route starting from the CP at the NW end of the tarn.


A more comprehensive series of 79 images is here. Click on the first image, then ‘slideshow’ to view them individually with captions.

Here’s Mary’s (completely different) take on the weekend.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Saturday 26 January 1985 – Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond)


When Sue and I went up Ben Vorlich a couple of weeks ago I recalled clearly, or so I thought, the views we enjoyed on my previous visit. I’ve now found the diary entry and some snaps (no negatives) from that trip. The images in this posting are therefore photographs of some fairly ancient 6” x 4” prints. (On ‘reflection’ they may have been better scanned, as the photos have picked up reflections from the dark surfaces of the matt prints.) Our clothing and equipment has changed quite a bit since then.

In those days our little group of ‘trippers’'’ took turns in writing ‘The Diary’. On this occasion it was Laurence who drew the short straw. Here’s what he wrote, with captioned pictures inserted as appropriate:

“Rendezvous at Rising Sun. Friday 6.30 pm. ‘Outside the door’ should have been specified as it was too crowded to get inside with gear. Prompt departure to Oswald Road to collect shovel. Thereafter smooth journey with meal break at Gretna, arriving at Ardlui 12.15 am.

Laurie is trying out his new tent, and making one or two discoveries about the principles of comfortable camping. The hard way. The ground is frozen solid, though clear of snow. Pegs bend and fingers go numb, and pitching takes ages. Dave and Martin share their warm tent with a light and cooking facilities; Laurie has a rather chilly night.

[Must bring sleeping bag next time!] comments Dave.

Morning brings a perfectly clear and sunny sky with snow everywhere except the first few hundred feet of the valley. We walk over the railway and up the east ridge. Soon come across footprints along our intended way. Snow quite fresh, soft or slightly crusty, so these prints are a lot of help. Mostly in the shade despite the sun and complete absence of cloud.

Waterfall on the slopes of Ben Vorlich

Dave, Laurie and Martin modelling 1980’s knitwear and wooden ice axes

The ridge eventually leads to Ben Vorlich (3082 ft), and the last part is in and out of a bitterly cold wind. Snowy peaks to the distance in every direction.

Views from the ascent of Ben Vorlich from Ardlui

Dave on Ben Vorlich

Dave and Martin taking all the classic photo shots. [Not sure about that!]

Summit view south to Ben Lomond from Ben Vorlich

Laurie has to hack ice away from the trig point to find its number – 6510 (ancient tradition of trig point collecting). Also attempts to eat a mango but fails when the juice freezes on his lips. Everyone puts on an extra layer at this point.

Searching for the trig point number on Ben Vorlich*

Descend over Little Hills, diverted by good footprints into lower valley. Snow softer and deeper here; pretty hard work. No long slides – shorter ones taken at various angles and orientations (including head first) by all.

On the slithery descent over the Little Hills

Entire descent in shadow, arriving back at camp at 4.30.”

Always one for the last word, I added a few further comments about our being unsure whether we were camping on grass or concrete; meeting a solo artist from Nottingham, also camping, in the Ardlui Hotel – it seems we followed his footprints from the previous day; menus, and a note that Laurie spilt his dinner and ate it from his groundsheet; whinge about everything that had been in liquid form having frozen; futile attempts to moderate alcohol intake given the memory of some pretty awful hangovers on the same trip in 1984.

Overall memories of a fine day in the hills with lots of fresh snow and glistening ice crystals, Laurie’s unpreparedness and (Dave comments) Martin’s clumsiness.

Not mentioned in the old diary is my abiding memory of this trip - the long view* from Ben Vorlich’s summit towards the city of Glasgow, which in my recollection sat below a thick layer of mist beyond Loch Lomond.

Thanks to Laurie for inadvertently providing the main text, and to both him and Dave for many happy memories. I hope you both enjoy this posting.

How better to spend a rainy Friday morning in Timperley?

Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Dolomites Slideshow


Last night (22 October) we had the privilege of providing another ‘slide’ presentation to SWOG (Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group). All went well once an extension lead had been borrowed from the Grapes, and despite the large number of ‘flower’ pictures we managed to complete the task in precisely one hour.

I still have to produce a series of mini annotated slideshows on a day to day basis, and the one hour show:

“Hut to Hut in the Dolomites by Alta Via 1
...a floral interlude...
Followed by a few Day Walks and Via Ferrata”

is available should anyone like us to present it.

Meanwhile, here’s an INDEX to our ‘Summer Holiday’ trip, making navigation through the pages a bit easier for anyone wishing to read about any of it.

Friday 27 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 1 - Timperley to Wokingham

Saturday 28 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 2 - Wokingham to Montreuil

Sunday 29 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 3 - Montreuil to Verdun

Monday 30 June 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 4 - Verdun to Heidelberg

Tuesday 1 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 5 - Heidelberg

Wednesday 2 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 6 - Heidelberg to Scuol

Thursday 3 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 7 - Scuol to Lischana Hütte (Chamonna Lischana)

Friday 4 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 8 - Lais da Rims

Saturday 5 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 9 - Lischana Hütte to Lago di Braies

Sunday 6 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 10 - Lago di Braies to Rifugio Lavarella

Monday 7 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 11 - Rifugio Lavarella to Rifugio Dibona

Tuesday 8 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 12 - Rifugio Dibona to Rifugio Città di Fiume

Wednesday 9 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 13 - Rifugio Città di Fiume to Rifugio Coldai

Thursday 10 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 14 - Rifugio Coldai to Passo Duran

Friday 11 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 15 - Passo Duran to Rifugio Pian de Fontana

Saturday 12 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 16 - Rifugio Pian de Fontana to La Pissa, then Pedraces

Sunday 13 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 17 - Pralongia Plateau

Monday 14 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 18 - Col di Lana

Tuesday 15 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 19 - Sassongher

Wednesday 16 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 20 - Via Ferratas Averau and Nuvalau, and an evening in the pub

Thursday 17 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 21 - Sass de Putia

Friday 18 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 22 - A Walk from Haus Valentin

Saturday 19 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 23 - Badia (Pedraces) to campsite at Lanzada in Val Malenco

Sunday 20 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 24 - Val Malenco

Monday 21 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 25 - Chiesa to Parc Regionale de Haut-Jura

Tuesday 22 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 26 - In Search of Cascades

Wednesday 23 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 27 - Lac de Vouglans and Longchaumois

Thursday 24 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 28 - St Claude to Louvemont

Friday 25 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 29 - Around Lac du Der

Saturday 26 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 30 - Louvemont to Montreuil (Full Circle)

Sunday 27 July 2014 - Summer Holiday - Day 31 - Montreuil-sur-Mer to Timperley

Happy Days!


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Moston Brook


Today I had an opportunity to rummage around in the vicinity of Moston Brook, which as far as I can see from my map is a stream that runs through Moston and perhaps empties into the River Irk, which together with the Irwell and the Medlock is one of three rivers that empty via the Mersey, aided by the Manchester Ship Canal, into the Irish Sea.

Pictured above is the point at which I lost the will to follow the brook, as I didn’t have a torch!

The area is described on the NEPHRA* website as follows:

“Moston Brook has natural beauty and historical significance, and in the past helped power the Industrial Revolution. The valley winds itself through several wards including Moston, Chadderton and Failsworth, and the  Rochdale canal also runs through it, from Morrisons in Chadderton to Tesco’s in Failsworth. Nowadays (2011), it’s badly neglected and undervalued. Consequently, it's only popular with dog walkers, fly tippers and off road bikers!”

Since then some improvements have been made, and with the encouragement, funding and enthusiasm of local people and organisations, the area is slowly being recovered from its neglected state.

Here’s a map of the area, the tunnel being shown at the red icon. Paths are marked as green dashes and small black dashes. If you live close by, pop over for a stroll, the autumn colours are pretty at present. I’ll be back there next week.


*What does NEPHRA mean?. It surprises many, to discover the name was just made up  in a hurry, from the initials of some local streets!
N Northfield Road
E Elder Grove
P Parkfield Road North
H Hollingworth Avenue
R Residents
A association

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.