Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Saturday 27 December 2008 - Cartmel and the Ellerside Ridge

2702priory This was our last walk of the year.  It was fitting that the sun beamed down on us all day from a clear blue sky, leaving us - despite the cold - with our abiding memory of this year...

A Year of Constant Summer.

We can only hope for (but don't expect) the same next year.

I notice Martin Rye is being complimented on his gear reviews.  We are pleased not to have been serious testers of gear (though we are available as such) this year, as we would have struggled to achieve much proper testing.

That said, I have the following observations:

1.  Innov8 Roclite shoes - fell apart after less than 300 km of gentle use.
2.  Waterproofs - not really tested despite our having been 'out' for around 150 days this year.
3.  Terra Nova Hyperspace tent - withstood strong gales - I feel it was tested despite only being used in anger on two nights.
4.  Hilleberg Nallo tent - now 4½ years old, used for 100+ nights in Scotland, Pyrenees and Alps.  Still not 'tested' by the weather.  An excellent tent nevertheless.
5.  Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra boots (courtesy of WD and Hi-Tec) - I am testing these and their low weight and extreme comfort have created a very good impression so far.  Maybe soon I'll get a chance to test their waterproof qualities.

A fuller review of some of the kit we used this year may follow when time permits.

Cartmel was reached by 10am.  There were plenty of parking spaces in the village, making for an easy rendezvous with Nick and Daniela, with time to wander in the grounds of the impressive Priory (above) before enjoying coffees in the 'tea shop'.  The owners hoped we would be the first of many customers today.

A stroll through the quiet village, past several hostelries, led us to the unlikely site of a racecourse.  It hosts an annual horse racing meeting which must transform the normally tranquil village into the scene and atmosphere of a splendid carnival.

In today's sub-zero temperatures we strolled briskly on, past the fields of Seven Acres Farm and into Lane Park Wood.  On and on, missing our planned turn right up the path that the 'Cumbria Coastal Way' shares with the 'Cistercian Way'. 

I blame Daniela - she was chatty as ever.  Not to worry though, she and Nick were savouring this rare taste of English countryside before their imminent return to Shanghai, where Nick has as tough a job as we can imagine.

It was easy to regain our route via a short stroll past Holker Hall up the B5278 road, then muddling our way along the vague forestry tracks around Long Scar.

Before long we found ourselves rising up to the Ellerside Ridge, where our high point for the day - at all of 170 metres - lay at a trig point slightly off the path at How Barrow.   We lingered here with tea and CCS for quite some time.  It was sunny, calm and very pleasant.  We had some lunch.  A tripod was found for some group photos.2703howbarrow  Striking poses were formed against the backdrop of the Coniston peaks and wide views of the Lake District, Morecambe Bay, and the Yorkshire Dales with Ingleborough's distinctive outline.

The ridge held fine views despite its diminutive stature.  Being outside the Lake District National Park, very few folk were around on this stunning day.  A fox scampered in front of us, and an ancient aircraft looped the loop in the distance.2705ellersideWe paused at length in an attempt to capture images of the ice crystals that, in the shade, were holding their form all day.2704crystals Turning along the right of way to Speel Bank Farm, the view east dominated.  Had we sported binoculars we may well have spied some 'lard' on Hutton Roof.  A dim horse at the farm tried to nibble our fingers.2706horse Our path took us up past a red deer reserve and through Collkield Wood, heading north to join a minor road at Grassgarth.  Whilst the surface was well frozen today, this short section of our stroll displayed evidence of the passage of many trail bikes that had devoured the frail paths.  Such a shame. (Actually, I think we may have missed the path here and descended on private land where trail bikes are allowed to roam.  Thankfully it was quiet today.)

A short way along the road a right turn along a dark bridleway led us into an area of forest devastation known as the Great Allotment.  The path passes small lakes and is clear and firm, leading in and out of woodland before emerging from the forest in an area that could call for waterproof footwear should the ground not be frozen.

With superb views south, we lingered here for second helpings of tea and lunch.

Paths, tracks and minor roads led on beyond Over Ridge, past tall pines with long shadows, and through narrow stiles and grassy fields to Wall Nook.2707pines Here we followed footpath signs but deviated from our planned return to Cartmel via Well Knowe.  We were distracted by a field of very large and attentive sheep.2709sheep Luckily, only I knew the plan, so nobody seemed bothered when we emerged onto a minor road at Croftside.

This lane led pleasantly back to the fleshpots of Cartmel, where throngs of visitors had filled the small village during our absence.  It was positively humming with activity.  A small boy overbalanced in his quest for fish, and plopped into the stream by the Kings Arms.  He made a fairly rapid, soggy, and no doubt shivery exit!

There's a 'sticky toffee pudding' shop here...irresistible, and well worth buying a jar of extra 'sauce'.

At 14 km, and with only 350 metres of ascent, this was indeed a short walk, but as we wound our way back to the tea shop, the low sun cast a final rosy glow over the 800 year old Priory before darkness fell.2708priory Here are a few more images from today's walk - an album of 34 images to supplement those above.

Here's an outline of our route. 2701route

And finally, as this is our last posting in 2008, Sue and I take this opportunity to wish all our readers our very best wishes for health and happiness, and even a few satisfying days out, in 2009 and beyond.  And if you'd like to join us tomorrow....we will be starting at about 10.30 from the Cheshire Workshops at Burwardsley - SJ 521 563 - for about a 15 km (9 mile) circular walk featuring the Peckforton Hills, Bickerton Hill and the Sandstone Trail.
We'll be taking butties for lunch, but also perhaps passing a hostelry.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Boxing Day - 2008

A family occasion:2601boxing 2602enforcers2603brothers2
Enough to break the lens - I gave up at that point despite the plentiful ammunition.

I'm sure any readers will agree with my decision!

Christmas Day - 2008

We enjoyed a lovely day, with a walk by the Bridgewater Canal, a fine meal, and an enjoyable session with a pile of pressies next to the tree.....before sinking into oblivion.2501BridgewaterCanal

2502CanadianGoose

 

Lunch?

 

 




2504kate 2503XmasPresents
Grandma was there as well, but seems to have escaped from the viewfinder...

Wednesday 24 December 2008 - Styal Woods

2403styal1 The allure of 'a short stroll with a grandma' was enough to attract Rosemary and Lucy to these pages for the first time.  They usually lurk, unseen to the world at large, in a kitchen next to an Aga.

But today the sun was shining, the rendezvous at Twinnies Bridge was 11.30, and a finish in time to return home for lunch was promised.

A very small van that was dispensing 'real' coffee in the small car park, together with a ritual doling out of chocolate caramel shortbread, provided sustenance before we headed off through the National Trust woodland towards Styal Mill, closed today, but picturesque with the winter sun bathing the old mill's bricks with a soft glow.2405mill
A little circuit in Styal Country Park, beyond the mill, was sufficient for today, before returning via the mill car park and the field paths above the woodland.

2404lucy Lucy, a youngster, continued to pull on her lead all morning, this youth's tiredness being exhibited only by the increasing floppiness of her tail towards the end of the 5 km stroll.

 

2406patsyWe met Queen Patsy, resplendent in her posh carriage, and her family.

 

 

 

Dogs gossiped.

Humans gossiped.
  2407gossip
"What is going on?" chorused the three stooges.

We were heading deep into the woods, following the cleft wrought by the River Bollin.  Who would have thought that jumbo jets were landing just a few metres away from this spot!
2408woods
We eventually emerged from the woods to enjoy the easy walk across fields and back to Twinnies Bridge in good time to return home for lunch.
2409fields

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

2402Christmas2-08

Seasons Greetings from Timperley to all our readers and correspondents.

With our Best Wishes for a Happy and Active 2009

from Sue and Martin

Saturday, 20 December 2008

The Engadine - Switzerland

2001EngadineUinaSchlucht We've been a bit quiet recently. 

Not because we've been away.  We've just been under the weather and busy with a variety of things of absolutely no interest to our readers.  During one of our jobs - sorting the vast 'tray' of 1500 emails that has accumulated since our New Zealand trip, many months ago, I've come across a few items that are far more enticing than 'December in Timperley'.

For example, one of our new friends from the TGO Challenge - 'The Eccentric Austrian' ('Eccentric' covers a multitude of characteristics that only readers of our TGO Challenge report will appreciate), Markus, reported as follows on one of his subsequent activities:

"At the end of July we undertook a three day biking trip across some great mountains in the Swiss Engadine. A walker's and biker's paradise. We´ll come across some sections of this superb tour again on our Transalp ride. Please, find some photos of this trip in the attachment."

The Engadine may present Sue and me with a bit of a problem regarding our ongoing 'Italian Border Route' walk.  We will reach the area in 2009 or 2010, but the 'ethic' of our route is that it stays mainly in Italy.  We may therefore be missing this superb area of Switzerland that we not yet visited.  That's despite my having been the proud owner of 'Walks in the Engadine' by Kev Reynolds, since 1991!

Perhaps a circular walk will have to be devised.

Markus and his friends clearly enjoyed their bike ride.  The trail shown at the head of this posting looks (if they weren't walking! - do we have an Austrian wimp?) fairly challenging, and the images below give the impression of high level fun.  The track pictured above looks to me to be similar to Sentiero Orsi that links the Tuckett and Pedrotti huts in the Brenta Dolomites - the path nicknamed 'The Lower Cycle Track'.

Anyway, this has added a little brightness to a dull Saturday afternoon in Timperley.  Thank you Markus - I hope you don't mind me using your pictures, and I look forward to hearing more about the 'Transalp' ride (I've admired again the images you kindly sent, and I may be tempted to reproduce them if you can provide a short report...) 2002EngadinBochettaForcola 2003EngadinBochettaPedenolo For those who haven't been there, I can recommend the Brenta Dolomites, where Molveno is a delightful base.  The Engadine also looks as if it is a 'must go' area.  We would like to be able to report from there at first hand in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Sunday 14 December 2008 - A Christmas Bimble

1404group The Vanilla Kitchen Coffee Shop in Tideswell provided welcome refreshment for the crushed passengers of the small car after the winding roads from Manchester.  Gary and Sue were already installed, and we enjoyed a leisurely sojourn here before heading down to Tideswell Dale Picnic Site.

Here the occupants of a fleet of vehicles that had arrived from places as far flung as Louth and Crosby were milling around exchanging Christmas cards and noshing Nallo Lady's chocolate caramel shortbread.

Graham and Tove - who had just about the shortest journey - were inexplicably missing, so we paused briefly before setting off without them on a dull, overcast day.  Thankfully it was dry and calm, so not at all bad for this sociable outing.

Litton Mill has now been renovated and after years of looking derelict it now appears occupied and presentable, despite a large piece of plant still lingering outside.

Beyond here Andrew's gloomy prediction of a flooded path at Cressbrook seemed to come true when we met another group returning along the path, shaking their heads despondently.  So we decided not to join the ducks, and headed along the alternative higher path to Cressbrook, where another mill has been converted into apartments.  These have a much better outlook than those at Litton.  There's a café here, but today it looked shut for the winter.  The path was indeed a bit flooded, but it looked quite navigable for those with decent boots.

It's many years since I had seen so much water here, but I suppose it did rain yesterday.  Anyway, we were soon up on the old railway line that to Ruskin's dismay* provided a link between Buxton and Bakewell.  I recall the days before the tunnels hereabouts were blocked - they were fun to walk through, and perhaps that's why we didn't notice the flooded river in those days!1402monsalhead Upperdale from Monsal Head

It took us less than an hour and a half to reach the sanctity of the Longstone Restaurant at Monsal Head Hotel by soon after noon.  Sue and Phil were waiting, shivering in the cold air, both suffering from ailments that had confined them to bed for the morning.  We installed ourselves at the two long tables prepared by the staff.  Three people were missing, but their food had been ordered and was being cooked, so Ken (who had turned up 'on spec') was faced with the decision as to which of the three meals he should eat, and the rest of us were anticipating a share of the other two.

Drinks were ordered and crackers were pulled as our leisurely lunch commenced.  The door burst open and a red-faced, puffed out, soggy duo entered the fray and claimed their places at the table.  Graham and Tove had got lost on their short journey to the departure point.  This used to happen a lot when Graham had affairs with a string of Marilyns, but after carousing with 1524 of these ladies to date, he seems to have run out of girls with that name in England and has moved on to bagging Norwegian Toves.  Fearful of missing their meals, the soggy pair had waded through the flooded river at Cressbrook, so as I thought - it wasn't really all that bad despite Andrew's woeful prediction.

[This won't stop Andrew, still grumpy from nearly witnessing recent horrific events at the City of Manchester Stadium, asserting that he was right and I was wrong!]

The food and service was excellent and we enjoyed the best part of 2½ hours in the warmth of the restaurant.  Some water pistols discovered in the crackers provided entertainment for the more intellectually challenged within this diverse group.  It had been a good turnout of 19 for the traditional Christmasy get together.

1403lunch Historically a small group of friends would assemble on this day in the Stable Bar next door and plan the next year's activities so that they could be broadcast by way of Christmas card enclosures.  Remember those?  But times move on, and the internet can be deployed to aid with planning, so whilst plans for 2009 were discussed, the actual 'programme' doesn't need to go out with the cards and can be communicated by email and web page, and even here.  [This walk is the last on the current programme, so suggestions for 2009 will be gratefully received.]

Anyway, by the time we left at around 2.30, with Sue and Phil adjourning to their sick bed and Graham and Tove now in tow, the light was already beginning to fade.  But not enough to prevent a group photo by the weir in Monsal Dale (see above).

Ambling back to Tideswell via Brushfield was fairly intuitive, and the closest we got to viewing a map today was the minute screen on Paul's flashy GPS enabled mobile phone.  (I'm only jealous!)

Even that was not needed though, and despite a pause for tea, etc in High Dale, we managed to get back to the cars (except Graham and Tove - they are still looking for theirs as far as we know) before 5 pm, without the need for torches, which only a couple of us had with us anyway....

So ended an excellent and most sociable little excursion.  Thank you everyone for coming, thank you for paying for your food, etc so efficiently, apologies for any minor errors in the above account (feel free to comment), and we hope to see you all again soon, after all your various Christmas trips to Kilimanjaro, Ayres Rock, Liverpool Bay, Bonsall, and a few more mundane destinations....

Here's a short slideshow - just 15 images from this overcast day.  Thank you to Jenny for providing most of them.

Shown below is an overview of the route - about 14 km with 700 metres ascent, and strolled on this day in less than 4 hours at a very amiable pace.1401route *"There was a rocky valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time as divine as the Vale of Tempe; you might have seen the Gods there morning and evening - Apollo and all the sweet muses of the light - walking in fair procession on the lawns of it, and to and fro among the pinnacles of its crags. You cared neither for Gods nor cash (which you did not know the way to get) you thought you could get it by what the Times calls 'Railway Enterprise'. You enterprised a railroad through the valley - you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream. The valley is gone and the Gods with it, and now every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half an hour and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange - you fools everywhere."

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Wednesday 10 December 2008 - Shutlingsloe – The Matterhorn of Cheshire (again)

Déjà vu

1001shut1 Tradition dictated that Sue, Andrew and I gather at Trentabank at 7.30 on this December evening for our final evening walk of the year - the ascent of Shutlingsloe, a mere 270 metre rise to the 506 metre summit high above the Cheshire plain, the second highest point in Cheshire.

As last year, there was a nip in the air and the icy paths were frosted over, with a sprinkling of last week's unmelted snow to add to the mix.  Perhaps we missed an opportunity to test our crampons, but we managed to slither our way up and down the hill without any real difficulties.

You can see from the summit photo that we were well wrapped up.  As we lingered here a headlamp bobbed below us.  We weren't the only people up here tonight (as is quite often the case) - a lone and uncommunicative man was making his way up in a world of his own.  Whilst we were ambling along taking in the wide views under a bright moon (torches were completely superfluous), this chap was content to rush along in the comfort of his own bright pool of light, the red stub of a fag dangling by his side.  We let him pass, dazzled briefly by his unnecessary floodlight, before resuming our admiration of the view to Macclesfield, and Manchester beyond that.1002macc After this most enjoyable little 5 km excursion – we were by 9 pm ensconced in front of the Leather’s Smithy's roaring fire imbibing welcome refreshment whilst reminiscing over the year's achievements. 

It really doesn't seem like 12 months since we last enjoyed this outing!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Via Ferrata Ivano Dibona - 20 July 2007

0901-Distant-Bridge 0902-Distant-Bridge2

This Via Ferrata has the longest ferrata bridge in the Dolomites.

The route starts at Rifugio Lorenzi at around 2900 metres after a long lift from Rio Gere.

Join us in the area in 2009!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Sunday 7 December 2008 - A Stroll by the River Dove

Today Sue and I managed to escape from our sick beds (well, Sue has 'flu, I just have a bit of a cold) to join Julia after her annual trip to the Backpackers Club's Christmas celebrations based at Biggin, where they rent the village hall every year at about this time.

0702settingoff By 9.30, after a difficult journey into a blinding sun with failing brakes, balding tyres and frozen windscreen washers, we were stepping out along the path towards the Tissington Trail.0703tissingtontrail
The winter sun was warm in the clear still air, but the path of the old railway remained frosty, firm and deserted.

After a while (and a judicious CCS/flapjack/tea break in the sun) we descended steeply to join the infant River Dove at Fishpond Bank in Wolfscote Dale. Thick hoar frost in this deep cleft hadn't yet been touched by the sun's rays.

0704wolfscote
Surprisingly, we did move in and out of the sun as we progressed up the dale, with people around now, but incredibly few considering it was an immaculate day in one of the most popular parts of the Peak District!

A kingfisher flew purposefully past, its back gleaming brightly, and a couple of herons sunned themselves lazily whilst a platoon of mallards floated gregariously, trying to avoid a bevy of dogs that were intent on a swim.

Hounds howled in the distance (on the near line of hills to the right) as we enjoyed lunch on a sunny bank with a fine view west towards Hulme End.

0705lunchview 0706lunchers
Passing through the pretty village of Hartington, we managed to dodge the hostelries (though the slide show does portray these and much more) and walk past this magnificent manor house, dating from 1611, where a bed for the night still costs only £15.

0707yha
Hartington Hall

For a fuller photographic record of today's amble - just over 30 images - click here.

Here's a rough outline of our route - 16 km (10 miles) with about 600 metres of ascent. It took us around 4½ hours including stops.

0701route

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Heuch

0601summer2004
Memories of summer (an aside)

Aktoman's blog is a source of frequent amusement. I have an affinity for Duncan (Aktoman) as I probably copied his idea of naming his blogging identity after a tent. I therefore feel obliged to share with you this offering from Duncan, should you not already have seen it.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Wednesday 3 December 2008 - Crunching through mid-Wales

0302john 
A 22 km (14 mile) circuit from Llangurig in mid-Wales

Today's stroll was triggered by an 'I need to go for a walk' message from John last week.  So we rendezvoused in Llangurig, roughly half way between Timperley (Manchester) and Whitland (Pembroke), on a frosty morning, for a circuit over rolling hills and through planted forests on this 'blank on the map' for both of us.

A track sporting a dusting of snow (above) rose from Llangurig, past a sheep farm with objectionably smelly feed, up Pant-gwyn Hill.

We paused to admire a stand of Scots Pine, where the reflected sun and the ground cover had thawed any snow that had stuck hereabouts.

0303scotspine 
The path faded as we rose to a small summit at 512 metres, before plunging into forest along a marked path that drew us south west to emerge after a while above an expansive view towards the mid-Wales coast.0310viewSW The path down to a minor road negotiated some bog and peat hags, easily avoided by keeping to the frozen verges.  Here we enjoyed elevenses by a Welsh Water information board that explained that we were at Blaen y Cwm, the northern tip of a tranche of 70 square miles owned by Welsh Water since around 1950. Welsh Water claim to be saving the natural wildlife and beauty of the area for the public.  This, on the one hand, involves a ban on camping, and on the other hand the information board displays a plethora of engineering works and despoiling of the countryside which is deemed quite acceptable.

I acknowledge that such projects may be necessary to supply water to the cities, but why they should be accompanied by draconian restrictions on harmless activities like (responsible) camping?

Turning immediately away from the road, we headed over Craig Lluest.  Only a short step on the map, but steeply up to a zone of deep tussocks...

0304tussocks 
Beyond the tussocks a frozen flooded track led back into the forest, much of which had been felled since our maps had been surveyed.  Silent windmills under the clear blue sky seemed to have been planted in place of the felled trees.

By early afternoon the low sun was already casting long shadows.

0305shadowsContinuing along forest tracks we noticed they had been prepared for a motor rally - Wales Rally GB, the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship.  A couple of official cars passed us, but luckily we were allowed to continue on our way.  As I write this, two days later, I discover that stages have been cancelled due to ice!  Health and Safety rules get everywhere, it seems!  The tracks looked quite driveable to me.

0306forest As we descended down the north side of the forest, into the Wye Valley, we lost the sun and it cooled significantly.  It was probably below freezing point all day.

Beyond Nanty we met this friendly donkey with a very thick fluffy coat.  He took quite a shine to John and bawled in distress when we escaped from his field.

0307donkeyAcross the other side of the valley, by the A44 road artery, the late sun continued to beam down.

0308latesun 
Our route took us past farms strewn with unkempt agricultural debris, and beside the infant River Wye that the local farmers have despoiled with their rubbish.  A new walking route, the Wye Valley Walk, was apparent here.  Luckily, the marsh over which it passes was well frozen today, but normally it could be a very wet experience.  Interestingly, the route cunningly avoids the public footpaths through farmyards and keeps its distance from habitation where possible.

It was calm, and the river views, away from the debris, were fine.

0309riverwye 
We'd been moving slowly. John was not at his most lively, being stricken with grief following his wife Alison's death last month after a long illness.  So instead of a final hour in poor light on the south side of the Wye on the Wye Valley Walk, we opted for a half hour stroll back to Llangurig beside the A44, which was mercifully free of traffic.

There's a fuller photographic record of this walk, viewable as a slideshow of 26 images - here.

Here's an outline of the 22 km route, which involves 700 metres of ascent and took us just under 7 hours, including breaks of well over an hour.

0301route
Today I used the Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra boots given to me by Darren on Saturday.  First time worn outdoors, with trainers in my day sac in anticipation of 'rubbing' problems (new boots often irritate tendons in my ankles).

Were they comfy?  Well, I noticed that they were still on my feet at 8 pm after a 3½ hour drive home (thanks in part to some idiots failing in their game of dodgems on the M56 motorway).
So, yes they were comfy.  Very comfy.