Martin

Martin

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sunday 14 December 2014 – A Christmas Walk from Trentabank, and a Quiz

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20 of us set off promptly from the car park at Trentabank. Well, 19 – Andrew having set off earlier due to his ‘broken leg pace’. He still managed better than Alan R and Sheila, who had to abandon due to Alan’s poorly knee, and regrettably Don and Liz failed to make it due to exhaustion following a 19 hour journey home from Turkey.

Some of us had entered the ranger’s office, despite the ‘Grumpy man’ notice on the door. Whilst there are various information boards within the office, the inmates took a dim view of those of us who had not used the £4.50 car park, and they certainly fulfilled the ‘Grumpy man’ image by chasing members of our party out of the warm room!

Anyway, no matter - in unexpectedly dry weather, we soon emerged from the forest onto the paving that leads to Shutlingsloe's summit.

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The fog was down as we mounted the steep steps that lead to the 506 metre summit.

We milled around for a while, waiting for the view to clear.

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Joddrell Bank telescope can be seen from the summit, but today we had to rely on radio waves to pick it out.

Our objective for lunch, the Cat and Fiddle, was also on the horizon. Unfortunately unseen today, it does appear in the slideshow, as does Tittesworth Reservoir, which sometimes shines in the sunlight beyond the Roaches, from this lofty summit, ‘The Matterhorn of Cheshire’.

The mist was down as we descended to Banktop for elevenses, after which, suitably gorged with shortbread, we moved on to negotiate a bridge over the raging torrent of Clough Brook.

Then through a field to Clough House, albeit one of the party was found to be moving in the wrong direction after losing a tenner.

With the Cat & Fiddle now signposted, faster/thirstier members of the group could forge ahead up Cumberland Clough, without the need to worry about anyone getting lost.

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Cumberland Clough is the home of Cumberland Cottage and a plethora of small birds – tits, nuthatches, pigeons, jays, etc.

The rough track, excellent for mountain biking, led to a waterfall in Cumberland Brook, after which we continued up the brook, rising beside the torrent through Danesthorn Hollow.

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The good track to the Cat and Fiddle is well signposted at the top of the path and when it's sunny the Cat and Fiddle can be seen from afar. In cloudy conditions like today’s, it appears out of the mist as if by surprise.

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Bags were dumped, beers were purchased, crackers were pulled, hats were donned, jokes were swapped and rain lashed against the windows. Alan and Sheila had made it to the pub, despite Alan’s poorly knee, and the next three images are reproduced courtesy of their cameras.

There was a quiz. It’s a tradition. Sue and Alan made easy work of the questions….

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... and of their lunches. Head chef Adam produced a Christmas lunch that matched our requirements perfectly. Thanks Adam, and Vienna, at The Cat.

Eventually it was time to mark the scripts - 28/35 was a pretty good winning score, with indulgent prizes for the winners.

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Soon, well – not that soon, we spent two and a half hours in The Cat - it was time to brave the elements, albeit the rain had subsided by now.

Our colourful selection of waterproofs was perhaps the brightest feature of the day, apart from everybody’s jolly demeanour.

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Then we trudged off, beside the A537 road.

Shutlingsloe seemed some way off, with sunshine even further away.

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We soon left the road, to enjoy excellent paths all the way back to Trentabank.

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By the time we got to Bottom-of-the-Oven, the light had diminished to the extent that a tripod might be needed for further pictures.

When we reached Macclesfield Forest’s chapel it was nearly dark. Andrew left to walk back along the quiet road, but beyond the chapel, a superb woodland walk, with lighting provided by a giant torch, saw us through the northern fringe of Macclesfield Forest.

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On the way, we passed a tree, laden with Christmas gifts for children and fronted by a large wooden box for donations etc. Wonderful!

The Leather's Smithy was soon reached, followed by a stroll alongside Ridgegate Reservoir to regain our cars under the beady eyes of the resident little grebes and cormorants. Whilst some had used torches, others amongst us found the ambient light quite sufficient to illuminate our way to a 4.30 pm finish.

I enjoy this route, I hope others agree that it’s a good one.

Here’s where we went – 16 km, with 700 metres ascent, taking 7 hours (including 2.5 hours in the pub).

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There’s a 59 image slideshow, including pictures from a sunny day a couple of weeks earlier, here. Click on the first picture, then click ‘slideshow’. [Those pictures may appear here later this week, following our evening walk up Shutlingsloe on Thursday (18/12) – starting from Trentabank Car Park, 7.30 pm, all welcome.]

In case anyone is interested, here’s the quiz – click here for a larger version that you can magnify:

Quiz-2014A

Martin's Christmas Quiz 2014

All photos taken within the last six months.
10 Bonus Points

1

Who is sitting next to Julie? When did he die?

2

Name the Flower

3

Name the Abbey? Order of which saint?

4

Name the Hills

5

Name the Water? Picture taken from?

6

Where is this? Name of Guide?

7

Name the Hill

8

Name the nearest Pass

9

Name the Flower

10

Name the Property

11

Name this Animal? Where can it be found?

12

Name the Island? The high peak in the picture?

13

Name the Flower

14

Name the Hill

15

What is this? Where?

16

Who and Where (Country)? Island?

17

Name the Flower

18

What is this?

19

Name the Waterfall

20

Name the nearest Town - the person in the picture is Julie (see 1)

21

Name the Canal? The Pub?

22

Who is the 'Head of State'? Official Position?

23

Name the Flower

24

Where is this Chapel?

25

From which former County does this cottage take its name?


If anyone would like to have a go at this, feel free to do so – I’ll send a small prize to anyone scoring 30 or more by 31 December – entries to 2014quiz@topwalks.com.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

A Typical Saturday Morning for Sue!

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It’s sometimes tough, being married to such a fine athlete. She’s training – here in the 5 km ‘personal challenge’ that is Wythenshawe Parkrun - for the Gatineau Loppett, or so she says…

Friday, 12 December 2014

Thursday 11 December 2014 – Ten Lakeland Summits from Tilberthwaite

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Firstly, an addendum to yesterday by way of a ‘post blog’ portrait of the inestimable John P, who after jarring his knee on Tuesday had spent the day purchasing bling that apparently served as a pinny for his baking exploits.

The dessert was delicious.

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Our group was now down to six for this short bimble from Tilberthwaite, which proved a suitable venue for celebrating Kath's fiftieth birthday.

We set off in bright sunshine on the cool day, but as we gently ascended the old miners' track the sunshine moved across to appear like a searchlight on Lingmoor Fell (top picture).

After passing some mine buildings an 'off-piste' route was followed. The Langdale Pikes showed signs of recent snowfall. We enjoyed views in that direction whilst taking a roundabout route to Summit Number 1 - Great Intake on Low Fell (405 metres).

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There were great views across the southern Lakes.

Soon we headed off and nearly climbed Birk Fell by mistake. After realising our error (four of us were equipped with GPS units!) we battled the wind up to Summit Number 2 - High Fell (428 metres). The snowy heights of Wetherlam towered above us as we looked down towards Coniston whilst trying to avoid being blown away.

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A small tarn led to Summit Number 3 - Hawk Rigg, at 441 metres the highest point of this entire trip, but very windy.

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A little further on was Summit Number 4 - Haystacks (421 metres), featuring Roger trying not to get blown away, and snow clad Wetherlam behind us.

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Summit Number 5 was Blake Rigg (423 metres) – there was quite a breeze up there. Five down, five to go.

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After some unnecessary faffing by four of the party (Tilberthwaite Gill being the easy obstacle that they were reluctant to step across) Roger, Viv, Peter and Barbara deigned to join Kath and me for lunch in a sheltered spot in Yewdale Moss.

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Excellent miner's paths past some wonderful wild camping pitches led to Hole Rake, and much evidence of mining. We'd skirted around the upland plateau of Yewdale Moss. Eventually we gained Summit Number 6 - Kitty Crag (435 metres). There was a good view down to Coniston Water.

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Ghyll Head was just about visible from Kitty Crag, across a distant Windermere.

Here we are at the next top - Summit Number 7 - Long Crag on Yewdale Fells (421 metres). There's a dished shield of rock on the top of Long Crag on which Roger and Barbara enjoyed a snooze.

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A little further on we reached Summit Number 8 - High Wythow (410 metres). It was going well. Everyone seemed happy despite the unnaturally short (for the LDWA) length of the walk.

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It was largely downhill to Summit Number 9 - Low Wythow (372 metres). The wind was a bit kinder here.

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There was no cairn on Summit Number 10 - Brackeny Crag (370 metres), but Barbara did her best to impersonate one before the rest of the team arrived to celebrate with afternoon tea. Yes, that's ten (10) summits we managed to climb on this windy day.

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The weather held as we descended back to Tilberthwaite, pausing only to pick ourselves up when blown over by the occasional severe gusts of wind, before adjourning to Chesters for coffee and cake by way of ‘Kathy’s Birthday Treat’.

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Here's our route - 11 km with 500 metres ascent, in 4.5 hours.

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Back at Ghyll Head, there were mammoth celebrations.

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There’s a 96 image slideshow here, and this link takes you to all three years’ reports on my visits to Ghyll Head.

A slideshow for our 2013 visit is here, and 2012’s is here.

Finally, thanks to Reg for organising this trip, to all the wonderful chefs, and to the various ‘Quizmasters’. A most enjoyable few days.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Wednesday 10 December 2014 – Gummer’s How from Ghyll Head

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We enjoyed a lie in today, before leaving Ghyll Head after 10 am on a low level circuit involving Gummer’s How. This was as a result of an atrocious weather forecast, but apart from a bit of wind fuelled hail above 300 metres on Gummer’s How, conditions were relatively benign for the nine of us on this walk. Others were lazier.

Here we are, early in the day at Winster House. Nearby, a pheasant shoot was in progress. Apparently John P, on a separate walk, was offered a ‘snifter’ and a job as a beater. They obviously recognised his thirst for alcohol but didn’t notice his crippled knee.

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The River Winster was slightly inflated after yesterday’s rain, which had continued overnight. We managed to cross without incident, but the ford may have proved tricky for the average Renault Laguna.

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Elevenses with brownies in a field were soon surpassed by mulled wine and coffee in the Mason’s Arms. The coffee was much delayed by a mechanical failure, as a result of which we managed to avoid leaving the pub until after a sharp squall had passed over.

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Lunch was taken in an initially sheltered suntrap in Raven’s Barrow (pictured, top), then, after recovering various items that had been snatched by the sudden arrival of a heavenly huff, we made our way up to the summit of Gummer’s How. Roger and Peter managed to join me in getting directly to the summit. Others arrived by a circuitous route. Some were just happy not to be blown away in the squall that arrived just as we approached the top.

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Views towards Windermere could at least be admired.

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After the Mason’s Arms we had dropped off my map, so I have Kathy and Barbara to thank for pointing us all in the right direction after that, thanks to some routes being downloaded to their GPSs last night. Well done all concerned. We found the correct path through Blake Holme woods and along good paths, with a pause for afternoon tea and the last few brownies, to reach the road to Ghyll Head and get back in time for a cuppa at 4 pm.

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Here’s our route, more or less made up as we went along – 19 km, with 700 metres ascent, taking a little less than 6 hours. Another excellent day out.

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Tuesday 9 December 2014 – Claife Heights

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A rather damp day out with the Plodders, from Ghyll Head, where we are staying for a few days. Reg the chicken wisely chose an easy stroll, whilst the twelve of us pictured above embarked on a mini adventure.

It was dry for the walk to the Bowness ferry, but once we got to the west bank the rain started and waterproofs were needed all day.

The anticipation of crossing the lake in typhoon conditions had caused great concern, but thankfully the weather was not as bad as predicted and we crossed safely, albeit in a frenzy of excitement exhibited by those not accustomed to this form of transport. The ferryman did warn us that we might not get back, due to high winds. This caused some of the more anxious members of the party (Roger, Hilary, Peter – most of us actually) some worry for the rest of the day.

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A half dead wood pigeon resisted Viv’s attempts to feed it.

After a while, and after some clamour for elevenses, our leader conceded to a brief halt.

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“Lunch will be later” claimed our 78 year old guide. Sadly, his memory seems to be fading, as lunch had still not been taken by the time many of us got back to Ghyll Head at 4 pm!

Some rather slithery sections were encountered as we wound our way through mist laden countryside.

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Moss Eccles Tarn’s dam proved a bit of a slippery challenge for Peter Haslam, who despite his commando training encountered much difficulty. “My soles are smooth” he claimed. (Not verified.)

Here he is, faffing over a simple stream crossing.

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However, Peter soon recovered, and he and I were the only ones out of the twelve of us to venture to the easy summit of High Blind How.

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The forest walk in early afternoon seemed more like a night hike – the light has been brightened considerably in the following image, taken in heavy rain.

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Eventually a few of us did manage to get a view across to Bowness, but the town was only just visible through the gloom. The predicted view of Helvellyn remained in the imagination.

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Mulled wine in the Cuckoo Brow Inn was enjoyed by most of the party – Kathy in particular enjoyed her half pint laced with dregs. Some of us surreptitiously ate our lunches outside, whilst the executive committee indoors raised their glasses to us. Then the rain got torrential, so we went in.

Some ‘slippage’ occurred, John P’s knee falling victim to the slippery rocks, so he and Neil walked back along the road, dutifully chaperoned by Hilary.

Here’s our route – 23 km, with 600 metres ascent, taking 6.75 hours. Thanks go to John B for leading the ‘west bank’ section of the walk, and to Peter H for guiding us to the ferry from Ghyll Head – and back, as nobody could remember the way.

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And tomorrow’s forecast is worse!

Finally, thanks go to Kathy and John P, who helped me to compose this entry.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Tatton Yule Yomp and a Parkrun

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Two runs dominated the weekend’s attempts to get some exercise.

First, the weekly Parkrun at Wythenshawe, where we assembled on Saturday morning rather chillily but in bright sunshine. Here’s Richard with his team.

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After singing Happy Birthday to eighty year old John Dawson, the runners set off after Andy Holloway, pictured in red on the right-hand side, had asserted “this is not a race”.

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Poor Paul Barber found himself all alone near the finish. A creditable tenth in the “not a race” that had been led home by Mr Holloway in a shade under 19 minutes, Paul just failed to lap yours truly, who came in at the back of the field in a little over 42 minutes.

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The 42 minute 5 km Parkrun (well – ‘Parkfastwalk’) had been my first attempt at ‘running’ for five weeks due to a poorly knee, but that would have to do as ‘training’ for the Tatton Yule Yomp as I was doing that 10 km race for charity.

We spent a few minutes with Colin and Helen, with whom I’m pictured above, then we observed a large group of folk emerge from a mobile bar (aka a Haytons Executive Bus). The Prosecco fuelled group then morphed into the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’.

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Chorlton Runners clearly take this 10 km race seriously…

Others set off with objectives to win…

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… or merely to get round the muddy course.

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“What’s going on, boys – better get out of here before they rope us in!”

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Sue, who took these pictures, didn’t venture into the mud that occupied four fifths of the course. It had started raining half way through the above video, and it continued to do so. My costume was very wet and clingy, with the foliage gradually assuming the hue of a tree trunk; the frilly bits kept getting stuck to the smooth soles of my feet, which made the sections up and down muddy slopes and over tree roots quite interesting.

I was encouraged on by Alastair, who like me is injured. By the time we reached the point shown below we were wet and cold but my knee and Alastair’s foot seemed by some miracle to have stood up to the punishment.

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So we continued on, to finish in 56 minutes 35 seconds, about 400th out of nearly 1100 starters. Thanks really do go to Alastair for keeping us going at a fair pace under the circumstances. I’m told I was the first tree to finish, and I had successfully avoided all the baying dogs with their bladders poised for discharge. My lights were still working – something of a surprise, that.

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The penguins came in a few minutes later.

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Even the snowman made it without completely melting, though his soggy nose was rather droopy.

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Great fun was had by all (I think), and thanks to the car’s heater on the way home we just about managed to avoid hypothermia (it was close, though).

Here’s the route, should anyone wish to go round it and explore the mud.

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There’s a slideshow here, and the Wythenshawe photos have been posted to their Flickr site, or is it here, and if you haven’t supported my charity and would like to contribute (I’m still trying to reach a £400 target) my JustGiving page is here.