Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Monday 22 October 2007 - Coots and Trout

Casting back to our recent walk up Lathkill Dale, one of the most common residents is the ubiquitous coot, many of whom were nesting on islands in the middle of the river last time we visited. October must be a relaxing time for these birds and the many mallard also on the river – they have brought up their young and can enjoy a life of leisure in the autumn sun with plentiful food.
The river trout lazing in the shade of the banks and the bridges look similarly replete – many are much larger than the specimens sold in our local shops.

Sunday 21 October 2007 - Aysgarth

After settling up £45 a head for B&B for the weekend including Saturday night’s meal, we all pootled down to Aysgarth. Out of the 43 of us on this trip, 22 adults and 16 children set off from Aysgarth Falls car park on a stroll beside the falls and on along easy paths to Castle Bolton. The long string of people reminded me of the Italian coach parties we sometimes encounter in the Dolomites, but at least here there are no Via Ferrata ‘traffic jams’ to contend with. There was a reasonable amount of water in the river, and plenty of space for lots of folk to enjoy their day out. Beside the castle in Castle Bolton is a fine meadow where we enjoyed our lunch, but which in past times we supposed may have been utilised for animal enclosures within the village.

A spectacular mediaeval fortress, Bolton Castle itself took over 18 years to build and was completed by Richard le Scrope, 1st Lord Scrope of Bolton and Lord Chancellor of England in 1399. Unbelievably (to me anyway) it has never been sold, and remains in the private ownership of Lord Bolton, Richard le Scrope’s descendant. The castle has five floors, sparsely furnished with tableaux depicting castle life in the 15th century. During the English Civil War this was a royalist stronghold, and was besieged and fell to Cromwell in 1645. Much of the castle, with its mighty towers and rectangular courtyard, survived orders to destroy famous Yorkshire castles issued by Parliament in the Civil War.
The castle is externally three-quarters complete and internally about a third; it is one of the best preserved castles remaining in private ownership. Its interesting history is described in more detail on the history pages here.

Yesterday we had walked 24 km, but today we simply completed a sunny circuit of about 10 km back to Aysgarth – where the tea room received some good custom before we departed on our various ways.

This afternoon we passed some friendly animals that looked as if they were in the wrong continent…

Were they llamas, or alpaca?

Friday, 26 October 2007

Saturday 20 October 2007 - Hawes and Great Shunner Fell

The annual get together of Sue’s old university contemporaries took us to the Youth Hostel at Hawes. We had taken over the place for the weekend, much to the chagrin of a chap I met coming in the other direction near Hardraw Force. Strange, I thought, that he was armed only with a cup of tea.
Sue and I left the rest of our group and paid £2 each for the privilege of going up to the falls. At 20 pence we had never complained in the past, but the grumpy landlady of the Green Dragon pub, the gateway to these impressive falls, now seems to be profiteering, so we do now complain. But never mind, it was a worthwhile diversion, from which we caught up with the rest of our group some way up Great Shunner Fell on this lovely calm cloudless autumn day. And soon we caught up with cup of tea man, who turned out to be an Andy, doing the Pennine Way in sections with two Sheilas and a Graham. It’s a small world. Sue and I knew one of the Sheilas and we were subjected to more (jovial?...not sure!) abuse for our group having taken over the Youth Hostel, where Sue and I have a nice en-suite twin room with towels and tea making facilities, whereas Sheila’s group is slumming it in the less pristine Green Dragon with its grumpy landlady…

The fell summit was busy, with lots of walkers and a shooting party all enjoying their lunches and the fine panoramic views. The shooting party were preparing themselves for a busy afternoon, with quite a bit of wine, or was it Famous Grouse Whisky? Alys was recovering from a sore and now pointy head after Colin’s rather crude attempt to break up a chocolate bar. 12 of us set off exactly down the line that the shooting party was aiming to take, towards Butter Tubs Pass.
Once out of the line of fire, we lazed in the sun for some time by these impressive sink holes before most of us headed on up to Lovely Seat. This hill lives up to its name, and we found Chris and Alys ensconced on the summit throne in the shelter of the light but cool breeze. After a pause for breath we set off on a southerly bearing on a 3 km bog trot that sorted the men from the boys. Colin’s training at underwater dive sites, and Julie’s enforced detention at Northern Pebble’s head office had not prepared them for this, so frequent breaks were required for them to catch up. Chris romped ahead with deceptive ease and made light of crossing the wide patches of green slime that had others sinking and cursing.
But eventually we reached the track that took us easily back down to Hawes in blinding late afternoon sunshine, in time to visit a cheese shop before reaching the haven of the hostel and Sue W’s selection of cakes. We had expected a cacophony of children, but it seemed they had followed us up Great Shunner Fell and had not come back. So, tea and cakes in peace, and children nearly all late for their 5.30 meal! Tut-tut!
The ‘grown ups’ ate early at 7, so that most of them could endure watching a game of rugby at a local hostelry, comforted only by the local Black Sheep ale. Some of us just stayed put. Haven’t times changed – this Youth Hostel even has a licensed bar, with beer and wine at reasonable prices.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Friday 19 October 2007 - Lost in a Bog!

Last night, despite the fine, clear evening, only Sue and I assembled in Old Glossop for this short 5 km stroll. The route is described here. We would of course have been joined by Paul and Pam, had they not been ‘Pacific Rambling’. It was well dark as we set off to fumble our way around the hospital and up past Swineshaw Reservoir to join the easy track through cowpats to Blackshaw Farm. By now the moon had risen and there were expansive views. Whilst I tried unsuccessfully to photograph the distant lights and the moonlit scene, Sue counted nine aircraft queueing up to land at Manchester.
Windy Harbour Farm was full of dinner jacket clad gents engaged in some sort of function. We were happy to be outside, though we now strayed away from our designated path through the dewy field in favour of a cow induced bog that drew us inexorably towards the cemetery wall. It all amounted to a bit of a short cut. The wall was soon breached and we resumed our planned route along easy paths and through a housing estate before heading down an earthy track back to the Fleshpots of Old Glossop and a Fine Curry at the Bull’s Head.

Today’s picture was taken on an earlier evening walk, from the Dun Cow in Ollerton, on 6 September 2007.

Thursday 18 October 2007 - Up and Running


After a tough day slaving over the computer, I finally upload the first entries in this blog, some two and a half weeks after they were drafted. So it starts off in arrears, but hopefully by the end of next week I’ll have caught up. The exercise is not without its technical hitches, as the links on an email I send don’t work for everyone, (sorry), and in the middle of everything I get the following message from the company that hosts our websites (to which I’ve just moved the main site from our original supplier):

“We are writing to inform you that we have recently discovered evidence of a network intrusion involving a server. We have reason to believe that the intruder has gained access to our internal systems, and that this may have in turn given them access to your username and some service passwords.”

So I spend some time changing a variety of passwords on all the sites over which I seem to have gained responsibility, wondering (naively I’m sure) why so many passwords are required.

By the time we set off into the sunset for this evening’s walk, a cheery message from Darren welcomes me to the blogosphere. Thanks Darren, and those other folk who have sent encouraging messages. [What was that…."Welcome to the Madhouse!”]

Today’s picture was taken on 10 October below The Roaches near the Don Whillans Memorial Hut.

Wednesday 17 October 2007 - Canal Colours

After a quick journey back from Solihull via Halton (Runcorn), where I dropped Sue off to work, I resumed my Life of Riley by testing the battered old bike along the Bridgewater Canal. We both seem to have recovered from Sunday’s exertions, and the colours were again delightful.

I spent a few minutes with a complete stranger who, seeing me taking a photo, tried to encourage me to buy a big flat screen TV with which to enjoy the products of my ‘snapping’.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Tuesday 16 October 2007 - “A Personal Pilgrimage to K2 with Vince Williams”

Today we saw a chap called Vince give a talk about a trek he made in 1997 to K2 Base Camp, to lay a plaque to his relative, Jeff Lakes, who died whilst descending K2 in 1995, a couple of days after Alison Hargreaves was blown off that mountain. The incident is reported here.
The talk, sponsored by the National Trust, took place in a school hall in Solihull and was attended by about 60 people. It soon became apparent that they had braved the Midlands rain (it had been fine in Timperley) out of habit rather than desire for this particular talk. Sue and I were the only people there (apart from Vince) who had heard of Al Hinkes or any of the people in the 1995 drama on K2, on which Vince spun his own particular version. The slides moved slowly on to Vince’s own trek, which looked like a normal, fully supported, Himalayan walk-in, in fabulous weather with photos of K2 and the other four 8000 metre peaks in that area of northern Pakistan. Excellent holiday snaps, but sadly lacking in any flora or fauna, and a paucity of close-ups and ‘action’ shots.
But Vince is a big man with a booming voice and he had all the accoutrements – pictures for sale, maps of the route, publicity boards, a ‘K2 Trek’ printed shirt, etc.
There was a short question session after the talk. “Would you go again?” Vince was asked. And his answer was emphatic, and in my opinion sad: “No.” His was a one-off trip to lay a plaque (and provide him with an enduring presentation).
It was a pleasant evening out with Sue’s mum, and a chance to make one of those rare visits to her parents.
Today’s photo is of Dhaulagiri (8167m) from the Kaligandaki Gorge in the Annapurna region, taken in 2004. I’ve not been to Pakistan, but may be tempted one day…

Monday 15 October 2007 - Bike Trouble

With sore muscles from yesterday’s exertions, I inspect the damage. Worn brakes, jamming chain, gears that refuse to drop to 1st gear. These can all be addressed with a few gentle tweaks. But the lost speedo and water bottle (it must have been the minor incident I had on a steep descent where the bike finished upside down facing uphill, with me standing next to it!) will have to be replaced. And I can’t find the puncture in the deflated tyre despite pumping it up and playing with it in the bath!