Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 25 September 2009

The Backbone of England

2402book Last night I enjoyed a trip to Littleborough at the instigation of former TGO deputy editor ‘Deputy Dawg’ John Manning, to an illustrated talk that was part of the South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival 2009, with which John is heavily involved.

Author Andrew Bibby and photographer John Morrison discussed their book The Backbone of England, in which Andrew traces the line of the Pennine watershed from Kinder Scout to Hadrian’s Wall. Along the way he explores the area’s history, ecology, culture & geology, meeting those whose lives are shaped by this special landscape.

John Morrison’s stunning images accompanied the talk.

The book is available from Amazon for £14 and looks to be a beautifully illustrated and very informative read.

It was good to have a natter with John, Alistair Pooler and the esteemed author and photographer in the Falcon afterwards.  A most pleasant evening.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Wednesday 23 September 2009 – Last of the Summer Evening Walks

2302canal
Sue and I set off from The Swan With Two Nicks at 7.30, without even Andrew to accompany us.  The dusky light didn’t stop us wending our way through the fields to Dunham Woodhouses, where Barns Lane led to an easy footpath that emerged at the familiar disused railway line just as it was going dark.

From now on we relied on the ambient light from the Manchester conurbation to illuminate our steady progress to Mill Lane and the sadly closed Railway Inn at Heatley.  A right turn took us down a ‘new to us path’ that appeared to reach a dead end behind a row of houses.  The 1:25000 map (not taken) now reveals that we should have walked across what appeared to us to be a newly ploughed field, instead of following the hedgerow.

Never mind, we returned to the lane, strolled down to the very much alive and well canal, and back along the towpath to Little Bollington.

There was quite a bit of activity from boaters outside the fleshpots on the other side of the canal, with some lovely reflections on the still, warm evening.  The camera was at home, so a trip with a tripod at some future date may be undertaken.

It was a pleasant enough walk – 9 km in a little under 2 hours along the following route:

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The ‘postcard’ is of the canal, by the Bay Malton, during the eclipse earlier in the day.

Our next evening walk will be on Tuesday 13 October:

Around Latchford - start 7.30 pm from the Kingsway Bridge (SJ 625 880) for an interesting 8 km (5 mile) stroll – to reach the bridge take the A57 east from Warrington town centre, turn right into Farrell Street at traffic lights before the parish church, bear right at a roundabout, cross Kingsway Bridge, then park in any wide side street and meet on the bridge.

All are welcome.

Over there, Bob!

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Here’s my entry in Andy Howell’s competition.

And for those of you needing the odd bit of kit - when he’s not setting fire to the countryside Bob can be found together with ‘Babe of the Year’ Rose at their magnificent on-line emporium here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Monday 21 September 2009 – The ‘Big Macc Ramble’

I last did this on 24 July 2005.

I know that because I wrote all about it here.

It’s an excellent bike ride, with only one short section requiring a dismount.

So those of you interested in following the 22 km (14.5 mile) route should refer to that old route description, which remains accurate, and as the new surfaces referred to in my report on that trip have bedded in (sort of), there is now no need to dismount on the rocky descents, though if unsure you should do so, and please don’t blame me if you fall off!

The Trentabank Car Park is now pay and display, so it’s cheaper to park in the lay-by beside Ridgegate Reservoir.  I set off from here at 9.30 on a grey Monday morning, but that hadn’t lessened the smile on my face as I glanced at other road users during the hour it took me to travel the 23 miles from Timperley.  Business people, parents with children, workmen, van drivers, all striving to meet deadlines, whilst I was happy to potter along and pause by the reservoir before unloading the bike.

The variety of bird life here is actually wider than that at the lake by Interlaken which we saw ten days ago, with numerous Little Grebes and Tufted Ducks, as well as loads of Coots and a selection of other ducks and geese.

[At this point I apologise for the quality of the images on this posting, but they do go a little way towards capturing the ambience of the grey day!]

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Leaving the geese to gander and the coots to squawk, the Leather’s Smithy was passed in no time at all, beyond which the hill down to Langley allows a 30+mph free wheel – perhaps the fastest section of the entire ride, and after only a couple of minutes.  At that speed my wheels seemed quite wobbly – perhaps the bike needs a service…

Tegg’s Nose Country Park provides the scenery for a while after Langley; here’s the trusty steed beside Teggsnose Reservoir – a domain of fishermen.

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This is followed by a long sweaty ascent up to Walker Barn and the cycle shop that used to be a pub.  It was an excellent day for a bike ride – calm, cool and dry, despite the greyness.

Up at 475 metres, at the highest point by the edge of the forest, the Cat & Fiddle lay starkly on the horizon, just below the cloud that had already engulfed nearby Shining Tor, at 559 metres the highest point for miles.

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Whilst cows dozed in the fields, a steady descent over sloppy stones led me to St Stephen’s, at Macclesfield Forest.

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I always stop for a break here – a cup of tea on a bench with a plaque that asks:

WHAT IS THIS LIFE IF FULL OF CARE
WE HAVE NO TIME TO SIT AND STARE

There wasn’t much happening, actually!  But the views were good and the tea was refreshing.

Another steep descent leads to the Stanley Arms, near a place called ‘Bottom-of-the-Oven’.  If you are fed up with Robinsons, come here for a glass of Pedigree!

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No such luck for the teetotallers!

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Peak View tea rooms are passed soon after reaching the A537 after a long haul, and when open they do provide some very tasty goodies.

By the time I reached the Cat & Fiddle (back to Robinsons) it was engulfed in cloud.  A lone couple with a powerful motorbike looked forlorn in the car park.  We agreed that yesterday the place would have been full of bikers in the sunshine.  “We’ve got the wrong day” they bemoaned.  I’m sure they were happier than if going to work, though.

2107catandfiddle

The new path across Danebower Hollow to the A54 road is a lovely ride.  Very few awkward stones to negotiate here, so wheel wobbling speeds can be safely attained.

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The dull weather and the fact that I was on the bike inhibited the flower photos today, but Knapweed, Yarrow, Tormentil, Ragwort, Willowherbs and Ling were all hanging on, though some of their blooms could be said to be fading.

The short section along the A54 is pleasantly downhill, with views down to Three Shires Head, where the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet in the most scenic of spots.

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The Big Macc Ramble turns the other way, down a rocky (cycle with care!) path beside Cumberland Brook, past a busy shepherd and two elderly walkers – the only people I saw on today’s paths - across an easy ford, and into the valley.  A left turn here would deliver me to the Crag Inn at Wildboarclough, but my lunch is elsewhere, so it’s a gentle ride up the valley for me, then a steep 100 metre ascent back to the edge of the forest, where there’s a plaque in honour of

WALTER SMITH 1872-1949
HISTORIAN OF MACCLESFIELD AND LOVER OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
”WE CLAMB THE HILLS TOGETHER”
                                        BURNS

With only half an hour to go, it’s time to take advantage again of my mobile tea shop.

2111tea2

The forest looked more of a scene of devastation than usual.

2112forest

A major artery seems to be in the course of manufacture.  A logging road, or a recreational amenity?  Perhaps both. The Macclesfield Forest website, whilst being informative, doesn’t at first sight reveal the answer.

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After a final very short steep section the bridleway plunges back down to Trentabank.  This descent is great fun, but today I picked up a puncture half way down, and being so close to the finish couldn’t be bothered to repair it.

So I finished on foot at around 12.15.

The Timperley Triangle: The Bridgewater Canal, Timperley Station Canopy, and JJ

If you have been reading carefully, you’ll know that these three icons of Timperley have recently been mislaid.

Yesterday we saw our first rain here for quite some time.  It obligingly washed in our Autumn Lawn Feed, and a short walk revealed this amazing sight:

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Yes, the canal has reappeared.  Thank goodness for that.  And just in case anyone else is interested, the following picture was taken from roughly the same spot in 1900 – there were two station canopies back then.

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No, I didn’t take that one!  Nor this one – circa 1960.

The remaining canopy is still missing today.  However, Trekking Britain’s wish for a return to ‘yellow’ has certainly been granted!

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What of JJ?  Vanished.  Completely disappeared.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Sunday 20 September 2009 – A Taste of Trafford

On a beautiful late summer’s day we wandered into Altrincham to sample the wares of a number of our local restaurants and other local and regional food and drink producers and retailers.

This was the ‘A Taste of Trafford’s’ Signature event “Taste Sensation”, held at Altrincham Market, and very well attended, with a sort of carnival atmosphere.

The event had a special currency – Tesetas – the link explains all…

…so, armed with this new form of currency we had a very enjoyable hour or two with Al, Hazel, Andrew and Kate.  The beer from the Working Men’s Club was excellent as well.

These three were very mellow, especially the drummer!

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The old covered market was fuller than on a busy market day.

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Oca’s offerings were very popular….

2003oca

…and a good time was had by all.

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Alpine Exploits – 27 August to 15 September 2009

1901oes288 By way of an Index:

Day 1   -   A Home from Home
Day 2   -   Öeschinensee
Day 3   -   Path Bagging in Kandersteg
Day 4   -   Blue Skies over Switzerland
Day 5   -   First and Stand
Day 6   -   Kebabed in Kandersteg
Day 7   -   Relaxing in Kandersteg
Day 8   -   Hotel Restaurant de la Forclaz
Day 9   -   A Day Out In Italy
Day 10 -   A Second Home (from Home)
Day 11 -   Bad Pennies
Day 12 -   Mark the Mountain Guide
Day 13 -   Col de Balme
Day 14 -   Gentiana ciliata and the path to Hohtürli
Day 15 -   The Gasterntal and Kanderfirn
Day 16 -   Rote Chumme
Day 17 -   A Chance Encounter in Interlaken
Day 18 -   Studententorte
Day 19 -   A Quiet Day in Kandersteg

Links:
The Kandersteg Apartment – available to rent
Slide shows (to follow)
Web page (to follow)

Monday, 21 September 2009

Timperley Metro Station

I used to commute into Manchester from Timperley Metro Station.  The canopy was really quite useful on wet days.  It kept the commuters dry.

Here it is:

2101timp1

Here’s the miniscule image from Metrolink’s website:

2102timp2

So it was a bit of a surprise to return from holiday to find this:

2103timp3

What have you done with the canopy, JJ?

So, I’ll just wait in until it stops raining….

….actually, since we returned last week, I can’t recall more than a few drops of rain, so perhaps this is Metrolink’s preparation for global warming?

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Friday 18 September 2009 – Route E4 from Roman Lakes

On a cool, dry, calm day, this bike ride was an ideal choice of activity.  It’s a shame it was cloudy, but you can’t have everything.

Roman Lakes is a good place to start this activity – a half hour drive finds us in this quiet spot with free parking, a drinks kiosk and toilets.  There’s plenty of space to gather the cycling gear from the car boot, and to change into clean clothes afterwards if it’s muddy.

The proprietors have produced a booklet with eleven suggested routes – 4 easy (up to 8 miles), 4 moderate (up to 20 miles), and 3 ‘Xtreme’ (up to 34 miles).  There’s also a ‘100 km Challenge’ route.

I’ve produced a summary of the ‘E4’ route in the past, and recorded it here, so there’s no map or route description within this posting.*

Soon after starting out I met a large group of guided walkers, perhaps from some sort of institution, emerging from here:

1801tunnel

Perhaps there was light for them at the end of the tunnel!

I would hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel for this sad sight, which should be an attractive project for someone.

1802capri

Whizzing past huge banks of Himalayan Balsam along the route, near a large dovecote in the centre of an ornamental lake, I soon came to a canal that despite its reddish brown colour is in fine fettle after some renovation work in the late C20 and even as recently as 2003 – the Peak Forest Canal.  Pleasure cruisers were phutting up and down the section I rode along today before dropping down into New Mills.

1803canal

I stopped here, by the River Goyt, surrounded by industrial archaeology, for refreshments.

1804nm1

Returning to the saddle, disorientatation set in and I headed off in the wrong direction.  Either I’m very dim, or the geography of New Mills is quite intricate.  Possibly both, but I did have a déjà vu feeling from the other day when I thought the Bridgewater Canal should have been in view!  After fumbling around for ages, I eventually returned to the picnic benches and set off in the opposite direction, soon reaching the distinctive and attractive Millennium Walkway.

1805walkway

This little diversion perhaps provides the key to my speedo showing that I’d travelled two miles further than expected on this ride!

Some steep but straightforward climbing brought me eventually to The Fox Inn at Brook Bottom.  Sadly it was closed, for a new roof and other repairs.

Here’s what it used to look like:

1806fox1

But today….I nearly had to pretend to delete the following image when the workmen and their boss (in the foreground) noticed my high visibility yellow top and thought I was a Health and Safety man checking up on them. 

1807fox2

If so, I pleaded, why was I taking pictures like this?

 1808box

They let me go, satisfied as to my insanity.

It’s a lovely ride back to Roman Lakes from here, high above the valley, with good views towards the skyscrapers of Manchester.

Past the golf course and on down the rough stony track to Roman Lakes, this excellent finish to the ride is over slightly technical ground that’s hard (for me) to descend quickly, but is easy enough at a slow pace.

* One of the most visited outdoor blogs – Alan Sloman’s – comments here on the fact that it only actually describes one route (albeit a long one) in any great detail.  That in itself will attract many visits from prospective ‘LEJOGers’, but Alan’s subsequent postings do not make a big deal of describing routes or gear.  That’s the beauty of Alan’s postings.  You never know what’s coming next.  I think he enjoys blogging as a form of therapy, and I’m sure he gains much pleasure from knowing that his writing is enjoyed by many others, including some professional writers.

My own efforts, as previously mentioned, are very much an indulgence, and whilst mainly outdoors related may cover any topic I consider worthy of interest, so it’s a bonus to me that anyone other than my mother and sometimes my trip companions should be inclined to visit this site.

However, I do enjoy detailing the various routes of the trips I describe, and it’s an added pleasure when people discover these for themselves and provide feedback.

So whilst I get far fewer visitors than Alan, like his LEJOG postings my route descriptions have proved to be a useful resource for some visitors.