Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Sunday 1 November 2009 – A Stroll from Cressbrook

Sue, David, Jacqui, Gill, Marcus and Gaynor were the ex-Jo’burg Hiking Club stalwarts who had assembled at Owl Cottage in Cressbrook for the weekend together with Woody.

I braved driving rain and flooded roads to reach them at around 9.45, in plenty of time to enjoy a coffee from the correct side of the rain lashed windows.

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Being ‘fair weather walkers’, we fumbled.  Gill did this best, claiming for some time to have lost the boots in which she arrived back from the previous day’s walk.

“Perhaps I left them outside and someone stole them?” she enquired!

The rain eased, the boots miraculously reappeared.  It was time to go.

Sue didn’t want to get her library book and map wet, so the guide book was abandoned and I was given free rein.  My initial plan was binned – they did that walk yesterday; so we headed off towards Litton, sliding through woods and fields, restraining Woody from chasing the cows, and veering off towards Tideswell.

Tideswell is at the edge of one side of the White Peak map, my copy of which is disintegrated to the extent that removing it from the map case in even light rain is inadvisable.  As a result, we fell off the map at the wrong place.  Luckily, nobody noticed, the rain stopped and the sun came out as we strolled up the straight lane towards Water Lane, heading for Wheston.

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Beyond Wheston, a rough lane, then tarmac, then another rough and flooded lane – we joined the Limestone Way here – led to fine views south over Miller’s Dale and the gem like scenery of the White Peak.

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Having successfully negotiated the flooded track, we slipped down a steep, narrow path, across huge slippery stepping stones through a bog, to the delights of Miller’s Dale, namely the Anglers Rest, a haven for hikers as well as anglers.

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There’s a hikers bar, where boots etc can be worn – the sort of place Mike Coldwell would like.  We lingered there for the best part of an hour and a half, joined for lunch by Marcus, who recent activities on the surgeon’s bench have driven him to decline such exercise as today’s in order to nurse his phantom pregnancy.

The stroll back to Cressbrook was delightful, starting across the rampant River Wye, then joining the Monsal Trail – along the course of the old Midland Railway that was opened (to Ruskin’s distress and disgust) in 1863 - for its scenic trip through Litton Mill Railway Cutting, where the 19th century engineers scythed through the 330 million year old rocks.

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Here we are before leaving for Litton Mill:

Martin, Jacqui, Woody, Gill, Gaynor, Sue and David.

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Jacqui and I go back nearly as far as to the last days of this railway in 1968, so it’s always good to meet up and reminisce.

A deep carpet of leaves led down (below) to Litton Mill, from where the river path was followed briefly before we ascended back to Cresswell, avoiding the habitually flooded section of the path.

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Here’s the route – 14 km, 500 metres ascent, taking around 4 hours excluding stops.  A delightful little excursion.

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A slide show (20 pictures) of the day’s exploits is here.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Susan’s Visit to Timperley (Manchester) – 26 to 29 October 2009

Here’s a bit more on Susan’s trip, principally for Susan herself.  I hope it will bring happy memories.

We collected Susan and Dave from Kendal, on our way home from Ingleton, and whilst Dave returned home to work, Susan spent four days with us, visiting several local landmarks during the course of her stay. 

There’s a slide show (57 images) here, covering the whole trip.

Monday 26 October - Shutlingsloe

Dave had to return to Birmingham, so it was convenient to drop him at Macclesfield en route to the Peak District.

I reported briefly here by way of a piccie on the summit of Shutlingsloe – the Matterhorn of the Peak District.  Given the view from the summit (uniformly grey), it may just as well have been the Matterhorn!

The mist had however provided a bit of atmosphere as we strolled up to the tree line in Macclesfield Forest.

Silver Birch in Macclesfield Forest

We bumped into Helen and Richard on the summit of Shutlingsloe and they rejoined us whilst we dallied at this pretty spot in Wildboarclough.

Bridge over stream at Wildboarclough

We chatted with them, on and off, all the way to beyond the Hanging Gate near Langley.

The Hanging Gate by Langley

It was a great struggle to walk past this, beyond which the Gritstone Trail transported us neatly outside the Leather’s Smithy.

For some reason (perhaps we were muddy) we went past this as well.  I fear some readers will be less than impressed.

Anyway, I can assure you that we returned safely to Sue, and that the wine flowed, with a good meal, that Monday night.

Here’s our route – 11 km, with 500 metres ascent, taking around 3 hours.

26 October 2009 - route over Shutlingsloe

Tuesday 27 October – Snowdon

Susan had never visited Snowdonia, so I had the Snowdon Horseshoe in mind by way of a gentle introduction.

I have already reported briefly on this day out, here.

Despite an early start, when we reached Pen-y-pass at 9.15 am we just missed the last legitimate parking space.  Others had no conscience about placing their small cars in the large spaces allocated to minibuses, but Susan and I drove back down the road and parked in the lay-by on the main road by Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel.

Some of the resultant savings were utilised on coffee and cake at the café, once we had strolled back up the road.

The beauty of the Snowdon Horseshoe is that, being a short walk, there are no real time pressures, even in winter.

So it was 10.15 by the time we joined the procession of folk who were filing up the Pyg Track.

[Note to self - ‘start earlier to avoid the crowds’.]

It was quite breezy, with cloud on the tops, so reluctantly we decided to miss out Crib Goch and head easily up the Pyg Track in good weather below the cloud.  It was a pleasant morning’s walk, with only the very summit of the mountain in the murk.

It was my first visit to the new café.  Folk were crouching outside with their butties, only food bought on the premises being allowed to be consumed indoors.  It was 12.15.  Should we enjoy our lunch outside, or buy a drink inside?  The decision was made for us.  The serving hatches lowered their shutters at 12.20.  It was too windy for the supply train to run, and supplies were exhausted.  We were free to enjoy our packed lunch and flask of tea in the warmth of the café.

Heading on around the Horseshoe we descended steeply towards the Watkin Path, soon emerging from the mist.

By the time we reached Bwlch Ciliau we enjoyed wide ranging views to the coast and down to Llyn Llydaw to the north east (below).

 Susan at Bwlch Ciliau, with Llyn Llydaw

We strolled along Y Lliwedd, keeping religiously to the ridge, together with a young family.  The children were clearly loving the easy scrambling.

Care was needed on the descent – both Susan and I fell on the greasy rocks, but injuries were avoided and once near the foot of the slope we enjoyed the dregs from the flask before strolling back down to the car.

Looking back to Y Lliwedd

As is often the case on this walk, the mountains cleared of cloud in the afternoon and Susan was at least able to get a good view of the summits, so she could see a little of what she had missed on Crib Goch.

We finished at 4.15, having enjoyed a leisurely 12 km with 1090 metres ascent in around 6 hours.

27 October 2009 - route on Snowdon

Our route is shown above.  It’s quite easy really, as long as you know where to turn east at point 4.  Having said that, we did encounter two lads at the northern end of Y Lliwedd who had mistakenly descended by the Miners Track, when their car was parked at the end of the Watkin Path!  They should just about have made it over Y Lliwedd and back to their car before dark (I bet they didn’t have torches).

Wednesday 28 October – Arnside Knott

The Arnside/Silverdale area, just north of Lancaster, is one of my favourite spots.  Most of our overseas visitors finish up here, in this area of lakes, marshes, woodland, sea shore, limestone pavements and low hills.

I’ve previously mentioned this particular visit, here.  We started with a coffee in the Leighton Moss RSPB café, before strolling down to the public hide, past a group with powerful telescopes looking for bearded tits.

My little camera was totally inadequate, as you can surmise from the slideshow, but during our short stay in the hide, and with the help of a kindly bird watcher and his telescope, we did spot the following:

Whooper swans
Gadwall
Mallard
Shoveler
Coot
Teal
Tufted duck
Pintail
Little Grebe
Cormorant
Moorhen
Black-headed gull

and elsewhere on our walk, these birds were in evidence:

Red grouse
Pheasant
Magpie
Carrion/Hooded Crows
Rock dove
Wood pigeon
Wren
Dunnock
Robin
Blackbird
Goldcrest

and many more unidentified estuary and woodland species.

These short lists rather expose our lack of observation skills in this area, but I have reiterated these positive IDs for Susan’s benefit.

Continuing over a golf course and through a mixed terrain of fields and woodland, we rose eventually to the 159 metre summit of Arnside Knott.  Sitting on a bench with an elderly couple, they confirmed what we could see to the north:

“Torrential rain and a huge traffic jam in Ambleside”, they pronounced, “so we’ve escaped to this spot.  Isn’t it wonderful.”

Well, it was overcast but fine – not a bad day for late October.

A few metres from the bench, this distinctive but long deceased tree, knotted in Victorian times, is always a good spot for a posed picture.

Martin at the Knotted Tree

Down the other side of the hill, at Far Arnside, Susan appears to be staring at a wall, whilst I regretted not knowing where Mark (Beating the Bounds – essential reading for those who appreciate this part of the world) lives.  It would have been good to meet him.

Near Silverdale

Instead, we strolled along the beach to Silverdale, past autumn leaves, to the Wolf House Gallery, much changed since the days of Ted and Denise, but still a good place to linger.  Today it was warm enough to stay outside amongst the many families who were enjoying a day out on their half-term holidays.

Maple leaves

On we strolled, past Jack Scout and Jenny Brown’s Point to reach the Smelt Mill Chimney and round the estuary to turn our backs on sunlit Morecambe Bay and return past Heald Brow to a minor road that took us easily back to the bird reserve.

The Smelt Mill Chimney near Jenny Brown's Point

Morecambe Bay in the afternoon

Here’s our route – 17 km, with 350 metres ascent, in a leisurely 6 hours.  There are endless variations and permutations to this – given the numerous footpaths you can make walks around here as long or short as you wish.  Silverdale Beach (point 11) is a good alternative start and finish point.

28 October 2009 - our route around Silverdale/Arnside

Thursday 29 October – Dunham Massey

For Susan’s last day in the UK, we chose a venue where Sue could join us.  So after Susan had strolled into Altrincham and explored our local ‘facilities’, we took the 10 minute drive to Dunham Massey and enjoyed pottering around the grounds and the gardens.

I reported earlier, here.

Dunham Massey House

The beech leaves are a lovely coppery colour just now, and when the sun shines, it’s still quite summery.

Sue and Susan stroll in the grounds at Dunham Massey

Then it was a walk back home along the Bridgewater Canal (featured heavily elsewhere on these pages!) before adjourning for a Market Gardener’s Pie at Hale Towers, with Al, Hazel, Andrew, Kate and Fiona.

A very pleasant evening.

Then Susan went home….  We do hope you enjoyed your visit; we certainly enjoyed having you to stay.  And there were some excellent days out….

Here, again, is the link to the slideshow.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Ramsoc Weekend at Ingleton – 24/25 October 2009

I made brief reference to this weekend in an earlier posting.

Now for a bit more….

‘Ramsoc’ is Sue’s Nottingham University hiking club, and this weekend is her contemporaries’ annual opportunity to get together, with families, at some suitably countrified venue.  This has been happening for over 20 years!  Folk are going grey.  Those that still have hair!

(Phil and) Sue is the organising team, and they also plan a decent Saturday walk for those without children in tow.

Phil and Sue ready themselves for the long trek from Dent to Ingleton

On Saturday morning we drove up to Dent, intent on walking back to Ingleton via Crag Hill, Great Coum and Gragareth, as planned by Sue.

The light drizzle (it always rains on Sue’s walks, so that was wholly expected) and low cloud were in evidence by the time we reached Crag Hill’s 682 metre trig point.  I looked back to see just Julie in tow.

“I think they must have stopped by the wall”, she reported.

Sure enough, Sue, Phil, Colin, Dick and Jess were huddled at a confluence of walls, admiring the drizzle….and plotting a conspiracy.

We trudged off to Great Coum. 

Of course, everyone got to the top of that.  It’s a ‘Marilyn’.

“We are going back to Dent” one of the conspirators announced. 

“I’m not, the weather’s going to clear” I asserted.

So, six wimps filed off back to Dent (it was their prerogative, of course, just as it is mine to insult them accordingly) whilst I hopped across a few bogs to reach the summit of Gragareth via a scenic lunch stop (bar the fog) on Green Hill.

I didn’t see a human soul after the deserters had left, but on descent from Gragareth these three men appeared – the ‘Three Men of Gragareth’ according to my map.  They had a view, as well.

The Three Men of Gragareth

After this diversion, I headed in fine weather around to Dodson’s Hill then down past Marble Steps Pot to join this newly laid path to Masongill Fell Lane.  Looking back, this path looks good, doesn’t it?  Well, after about 20 metres it deposits the unwary walker in a deep peaty bog!

The path to Glug from Masongill Fell Lane

For the descent to Ingleton, along Tow Scar Road (a track) and some pleasant paths, through fields full of sheep on heat, each field with its randy ram, I had the pleasure of Ingleborough’s fine profile in the distance, here seen beyond Cowgill Farm.

Ingleborough, beyond Cowgill Farm

Such a lovely afternoon’s route.  I felt sorry for the six deserters, but was glad not to have to transport the drivers back to Dent, as the rain set in again once I’d gained the comfort of the fleshpots of Ingleton.  (Namely, the youth hostel.)

Here’s my route – 20 km, 750 metres ascent, 6 hours including stops.

The route from Dent to Ingleton

Meanwhile – it’s Sue who is the Ramsoc person.  She’s poorly at present, but managed to drag her pain racked being around the
8 km ‘Waterfall Walk’ together with various families.

Here they are at Thornton Force, where you can get behind the waterfall.

Thornton Force

They seem to have enjoyed themselves, despite it appearing to be wetter than where I was.  On close observation they seem to have been through some strange ritual.

The Ramsoc Family

Followed later by another ritual…

Halloween (early this year)

Sunday dawned showery.  Chris left Alys and ‘The Bump’ behind (there was no car space for him) and set off back towards Matlock.  He’d cycled all the way (115 miles) from there on Friday, but today we suspected he would cheat, somewhere around Lancaster.

Alys, Chris and a Bump

Meanwhile over 20 of us trundled down to Clapham and enjoyed a
9 km circuit in mainly fine weather with good spirits and good views.

Here’s a cheerful chappie trotting through the frame in search of bouldering challenges, which frequently punctuated our stroll in this land of erratics.

Small boy and erratics

We waited ages for Andy and Jim, who promptly disappeared again.

Today Mike and Phil enjoyed competing with each other to see who could most adversely affect Robert and Martin’s behaviour!

Mike, Phil, Robert and Martin

Finally, Clapham Drive led gently back down to Clapham from Ingleborough Cave and the outpouring of the Gaping Gill cave system, with the trees still hanging on to their last vestiges of foliage.

Clapham Drive in Autumn

Here’s the day’s route – 9 km, 315 metres ascent, in 4 hours including lots of stops.

Recommended for children.

A short circuit from Clapham

I’ve been selective with the above images, but there’s a full slideshow (45 pics) and a bit more commentary here.

Well, it’s not quite ‘full’ – I can’t bring myself to upload the picture featuring ‘Randy’, the ram, in action.

Tuesday 3 November 2009 – A Great British Ridge Walk – Number 11 – Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man

During her stay last week, Susan unearthed from a pile of unread books Bill Birkett’s tome entitled ‘Great British Ridge Walks’.

I had promised support for PW’s Wainwright bagging expedition today, so ‘Lakes’ was inked in the diary.  Although that attempt had been aborted I took the opportunity to enjoy a sunny day out and headed off up the M6 in driving rain.

‘If it’s raining now, the sun will shine later’ I told myself.

The road to Torver was flooded.  I tore on regardless.  ‘Clank, clank’ went the car.  I’m not mechanically minded, but a cursory glance was enough to ascertain that the front of the large tray that protects the underside of the engine had become detached and was merrily scooping bits of road and gallons of water up into the engine compartment.

“Hello Mr Myers, I have a problem.”

…I had discovered that Mr Myers has a small garage just off the Walna Scar Road. 

Lucky me.  They dropped everything and set to work on the problem.

“First time it’s ever broken down” I moaned, about Sue’s eight year old motor.

“It hasn’t broken down” muttered the mechanic from the depths of his pit.  “A bit has fallen off, that’s all.”

Forty five minutes later, the boss went down to check the handiwork, shook the offending tray a few times and pronounced it secure for the time being – certainly as secure as they could make it.

“What’s the damage, then?”  I had a £20 note at the ready.

“How about £10”, said Mr Myers, thoughtfully.  He had earlier assured me that the recession had not yet reached Coniston, so “How about £5” I joked.

“Ok”, said the boss, thinking I was being serious.

We settled for £15, which gave us each, in effect, a £5 profit on the transaction.

If you are going to break down, dear reader, I commend you to do so here.

[Interestingly, the ‘dashboard rattle’ that has plagued the car for years, also seems to have miraculously – I hesitate to say ‘vanished’ -subsided.]

Whilst ensconced in the garage, I noticed the lashing rain start to wear itself out, and by the time I set off from the end of the Walna Scar Road at 9.30 it was completely exhausted, with the sun now shining brightly on the copper coloured bracken, and the cloud having lifted off Dow Crag and The Old Man.

Dow Crag and The Old Man of Coniston from the Walna Scar Road

Low black clouds provided a threatening looking canopy to the view across to Morecambe Bay, but these had passed me by and were of no practical consequence.

Coniston Water and Morecambe Bay

The path was deserted.  Becks crashed down the hillside to join thundering rivers.  Ravens hovered menacingly as I negotiated slippery rocks to reach the summit of Brown Pike, where a hat and gloves were donned for the first time in months.

On Brown Pike summit, with Buck Pike and The OMofC

The onward path to Dow Crag was enjoyable, with excellent views.  The only annoyances were the constantly slippery rocks and the bleeping of the ‘phone which kept losing its signal then waking up to welcome me to the Isle of Man!

The summit of The Old Man of Coniston was deserted when I reached it at noon, but there were around 30 folk slogging their way up the ‘tourist route’, many appearing to be on outdoors training courses.

Coniston village from The Old Man of Coniston

I noticed a man wearing a fetching cowboy hat slowly ascending.  I wonder whether he or anyone else spotted the Ghostly Prisoner of Colt Crag Mine as they passed through a wide area of old quarries and mine workings.

The ghostly mine entrance

It was a day of rainbows, apart from the duration of the walk, when the showers passed me by.  Just as I reached the car at 1pm there were a few spots, and this rainbow provided the backdrop to my drive back down to Coniston.

A view from the car park at the end of the Walna Scar tarmac

Are those the Ghosts of Christmas Future peering out at me from the windows of the Black Bull?

The Black Bull Hotel sported some unexpected residents

Here’s today’s route – an enjoyable 10 km, with 780 metres ascent, taking 3.5 hours including tea and lunch breaks.

Today's route - 10 km, 780 metres ascent, 3.5 hours 
It’s walk 11, on page 48 of this excellent volume (see below), which expands considerably on the history of the mines (they date from the 1560’s to the present day, employed over 600 men at the height of their activity in 1855, and extend up to 500 metres below the surface), and also on the climbing exploits of one O G (only genuine?) Jones.

I’m trying to find a copy of the out of print book for Susan, and spent some of the afternoon scouring the shops of Coniston and Ambleside accordingly.  Fred Houldsworth was helpful, but despite finding the chap who had sold off the last 200 copies …”you could get it anywhere in Ambleside for a tenner up to last year” he told me, I couldn’t track one down.  They have all gone.  Does anyone have a spare copy for sale?

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The photos above are just a sample of those taken – I’ve uploaded 25 images, and a bit more commentary, here, for anyone with a spare couple of minutes.

Finally, I’m aware that the blog entries have ‘backed up’.  Sorry about that, I’ll catch up, albeit somewhat out of order, over the next few days.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Sunny Morning in the Lake District

Worth the trip?

I think so, despite some flood damage to the car!

Heading for Brown Pike, up the Walna Scar 'Beck'


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