Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Friday, 21 August 2009

Backpacking? Perhaps Not!


WildVista – A New Outdoors Blog from Paul Filby

2101paulfilby I’m pleased to report on the recent launch of WildVista, a new blog with a similar philosophy to this one. 

So, as they say, if you like this you may like that. 

By coincidence, Paul’s blog is partly driven by his desire to share his experience of a six month trip to New Zealand, and perhaps give guidance and inspiration to others planning such trips.  Our own ‘Postcard from Timperley’ was started nearly two years ago as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family whilst we enjoyed a two month trip to New Zealand early in 2008.

(That reminds me – that trip still has to be indexed and summarised – doesn’t time fly!)

So, take a trip to WildVista and say hello to Paul, whose postings we should all enjoy.  You never know – he may add you to his blogroll!

The image shows Paul on his way to the 3152 metre summit of Piz Boe on 17 June 2006.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Tuesday 18 August 2009 – An Evening Stroll from Redesmere

Deepest Cheshire saw us on another of Andrew’s slightly undulating walks.  He greeted us at 7.30 pm with a warning that we had 10 km to cover with all of 75 metres ascent.  He lacked the usual glass of amber nectar.

He had some stale bread, though.  I think.

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The young coots were diving competently, but still trying to steal dinner from mum’s mouth.

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Andrew’s route passed through fields, down narrow lanes, into darkening woods, across someone’s back garden (on a well-marked public footpath), over a few main roads, beside an expanding quarry, next to a very posh house with servietted diners, and the other side of the ornamental lake that protects the toffs of Capesthorn Hall from the likes of our motley crew.

A cow chased us across a field whilst its mates munched unconcernedly.

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It became dark as we passed this view of the aftermath of a sand quarry.  Apparently the sand is used in the manufacture of plate glass and car windows, and so is being excavated more slowly than planned, due to ‘the recession’.

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As the light faded, Andrew’s route placed us in deep briars and nettles, in which we nearly lost Richard.

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However, The Tin Man recovered his composure, and joined Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion to sing their way past the ornamental lake and take to the sandy yellow road, bright in the faint light, that leads to Redesmere Sailing Club.

Here, the Cowardly Lion slunk to the back of the group and let the Scarecrow lead the way through the dark and scary wood (luckily Jenny had eloped to Belgium so was not there to impersonate a Very Cowardly Lion), and back to the cars.

Though we didn’t finish until 9.40, torches were needed only for this last section through the wood.

Andrew made amends for the lack of a hostelry by returning us to Rosemary and Lucy for beers and coffees, nicely rounding off the evening.

Here’s the 10 km route – allow 2 to 3 hours for this.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Two Silver Medals

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John Jocys, stalwart of the TGO Challenge and Fine Gentleman indeed, is responsible for the above image.  We wouldn’t want to trust our lawn with Pacerpoles, would we?

He just happened to coincide his arrival with that of the postie with the package from Canada.

It seems that our efforts on this year’s Canadian Ski Marathon (reported on here and here) were rewarded with Silver Medals in the Mixed Touring Team category.  We don’t actually set out to win any medals, it being a personal challenge; they just seem to appear, some months after the February event.  The last one was bronze, so we must be getting better!

This team award is of course nothing much to do with us, it’s more of a personal triumph for our Team Leader and Manager, the ever industrious Helen.  Thank you, Helen, and Well Done.

My wardrobe door needs a bigger handle!

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Monday 17 August 2009 – Richard Leaves Hayfield

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Here’s Richard Barr, setting off from Hayfield on the next leg of his journey to Land’s End.  (Just to prove to any doubters that he was reinstalled at the place we finished yesterday!)

His blog is here, his report on our sojourn together yesterday is here, and proof that he reached his planned destination on this fine day is here.

He’s doing very well considering he has no stove, a 17 kg rucksack plus food, several sets of clothes, etc, etc.  Hopefully his wife will soon appear to relieve him of some of his warm clothing, which I’m sure he won’t need for his upcoming 30 km days.

Over to you, M&G.

Sunday 16 August 2009 – A Short Walk with Richard

Setting off on my own at 9.30 am from outside the campsite at Hayfield, I soon passed Booth Sheepwash.  Constructed around 1900 to 1910 to replace Booth Farm’s earlier facilities that were flooded by the creation of Kinder Reservoir, the sheepwash is positioned in the shade of a 150 year old ash tree.  In May the local shepherds would congregate here for several days to wash the peat out of the fleeces of their sheep, prior to being clipped by their owners a couple of weeks later.

In September they returned here to wash the sheep and lambs in a boiled up mixture of soft soap and creosote, to remove keds (wingless flies) and lice at the time the lambs were weaned away from their mothers.

The sheepwash has been used less since the 1930’s.

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Beyond the sheepwash a path leads on the east side of the brook before crossing it and rising steeply up this well constructed cobbled path to the reservoir.

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Across the other side of Kinder Reservoir, Kinder Scout beckons, but today was not to be one for the familiar ‘clockwise’ circuit back round to Hayfield.

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Today, as on that clockwise route, I headed up William Clough, an area where ramblers confronted landowners in 1932, with their Mass Trespass of Kinder Scout, one of the leaders of which was Benny Rothman (1911-2002) who lived here in Timperley for more than 50 years.  As the Information Board proclaims, their Fight to Roam has evolved into our modern-day Right to Roam, with the National Trust now guaranteeing ‘Access for All for Ever’.

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I left the clockwise circuit at Ashop Head and wandered west to the summit of Mill Hill.  On the way I passed the Ling (Heather), shown below – it seems to vie with Bell Heather for position on the moor, and is just coming into flower, brightening the vista for a few weeks with its purple sheen.

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The path across Featherbed Moss to the Snake Pass road and beyond to Bleaklow used to be a dreadful quagmire, exacerbated by the creation and subsequent popularity of the Pennine Way long distance footpath.

These days it is a beautifully paved passage with little sign of any erosion.  Beyond the A57 road is a meadow-like section through the high moorland, where the ubiquitous Heather and Tormentil are joined by numerous other species – Clovers, Ragworts, Willow-herbs, Woolly Thistles, Hawk’s Beard, Hop Trefoil, Buttercups, Dead-nettles and more.  A small oasis in the peat hags of Bleaklow.

I’d met a few folk who were clearly out for the day, but a mile or so beyond the Snake Pass a smiley gent with a large rucksack lumbered into view.

I knew this to be Richard, who is en-route from John o’Groats to Land’s End in 65 daily sections.  Richard is recording his progress here.  It’s a good read.  He suffers from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) and is walking for charity – raising funds for research into a cure for CLL, which is the most common cancer of the blood. However, unlike many other leukaemias, it is incurable. I’m told that innovative research is desperately needed to provide treatments which are more effective than the derivatives of chemical warfare agents currently in use. Donations can be made via his website.

I’d arranged to walk to Hayfield with Richard, and we headed briskly back to Mill Hill, chatting incessantly before pausing there for lunch and essential communications.

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A chap wandered up with leaflets advertising a local walking group.  He wondered whether Richard would be interested.  “I think not” I suggested, explaining Richard’s route and the fact that he was sitting on Mill Hill, telephoning his wife in New Zealand!

There were good views here, across to Manchester and beyond to Winter Hill.  A walker approached along a fine paved path to the west, with the South Pennines beyond Oldham clear on the horizon.

It was a good day for walking.

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Back down at Ashop Head, Richard found this post rather photogenic.  He had been concerned about spotting the route down to Hayfield….

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….it would require incredibly incompetent navigation to miss this sign!

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And so, we struck off down William Clough, returning past Kinder Reservoir (seen here in the distance) and various cheery folk, reaching the campsite at 2.30 pm after, for me, a 20 km stroll.

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This left plenty of time to recce tomorrow morning’s route of departure for Richard, before he succumbed to the attractions of returning to Timperley for a hot bath,* and a meal at the hands of my newly married daughter.

Thank you Richard for the wine, and Kate for the meal – it’s very relaxing sometimes to have a passive role on such occasions!

* Alan, I have positioned this comma especially for you.  (Phew, nearly missed a cracker there!)

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Thursday 13 August 2009 – High Raise in the Sunshine

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It was an easy drive to Grasmere.  I knew it would be a good day when the sharp outline of the Lake District hills appeared under a clear blue sky through the car windscreen on the M61 before Preston, when they were still some 40 miles distant.

By 8.45 I was setting off up Easedale, and soon reached the point where the above picture was taken.  The waterfall down which Sour Milk Gill flows is right in the centre.

It being the Lake District on a sunny morning, there were a few people enjoying the early sunshine.  Mainly those in self catering accommodation, as B&Bs and hotels don’t tend to release their guests until later!

The distinctive 4 petaled tormentil was abundant; it seems to be ubiquitous in the UK’s wild places at this time of year.

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In days gone by the path up Easedale was a rough, boggy affair.  Today a generation of path builders has ensured an easy ascent for tourists on this and many other paths in the Lake District and elsewhere.  The path is a delight to stroll along.

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It was hot, and the pores opened as I toiled up to the waterfall, the scenic delight of which provided an excellent excuse for a short break.

I counted a fair number of backpackers heading down towards the fleshpots of Grasmere, having no doubt spent a glorious night out in the upper meadows of Easedale.

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My own route continued past the tarn and up on to Blea Rigg, from where the length of Windermere could be made out under the bright sun to the south east.  Far below to the south west was Stickle Tarn, with the orange triangle of a wild camper by its shore, and Lingmoor Fell lurking in the heat haze beyond the deep groove of the Langdale valley.

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After strolling up Blea Rigg up to Sergeant Man, it was an easy plod across to High Raise, at 762 metres my high point for the day.  The trig point proved to be a good place to take this self-timed photo, in which the familiar bulk of Great Gable can be seen behind my head.

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I pottered about, at one point spotting a rucksack abandoned in a peat bog whilst its owner bagged the summit of Pike of Stickle.  It would have been amusing to see his expression had I managed to swap it with my day sack, but the old hobo was too quick for me and bimbled into this view north from Thunacar Knott, with the summit of High Raise just off to the right, and Skiddaw in the far distance on this lovely clear day.

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He produced a wonderful mug of tea down by Belles Knott, which he assured me was an excellent Grade 1 Scramble.

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As we continued down towards Easedale Tarn, this character demonstrated his scrambling expertise by bum-sliding portions of the rocky ‘path’.

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“It’s this way” he pronounced, on reaching the tarn.

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“No, this way” he prevaricated.

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“Dunno, I’m lost” he confessed, having dropped off the edge of his map.

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Anyway, there were plenty of people around, we could ask them for directions….

“Is it safe to go down there?” asked a couple, pointing down towards Upper Easedale.

Ah well!

Luckily I had a couple of maps and was actually retracing my route of ascent, and the Jolly Pie Man really knew his location, even without a map, so we were soon safely down in the valley, where we turned to admire the splendid view back to Helm Crag and Seat Sandal.

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The shopkeeper of Grasmere, Mr Coop, provided my companion with fresh provisions to supplement his Mars mountain - he still has four days of tramping to reach Bowness-on-Solway by Monday afternoon in time for a pre-ordered bath.

I guarded his valuable equipment whilst he plundered the shelves, emerging with his essential provisions - an orange, some AA batteries and a bottle of Mr Coop’s special blend of ‘fine Scotch whisky’.

We then settled down with ample supplies of Hawkshead Best Bitter, and that rehydration fluid worked its magic, for a few minutes.

“Who’s round?”

“Pardon!”

“Burp…”

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