Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Wednesday 16 February 2011 – Curry and Ale

Curry Ale

“I’ve never walked into town from Timperley” remarked Rick.

“it’s a pleasant stroll” replied JJ.

“I know a good Curry House in Shudehill” added Rick.

So, it became a done deal.  A walk into town, with curry for lunch.  Starting with coffee and brownies at Timperley Towers, where the sun beat enticingly through the dining room window.

What a splendid day to go out for a stroll.

So, after waving Sue off to work, four layabouts set off along the towpath of the Bridgewater Canal in search of Curry and Ale.

After a muddy section of disreputable towpath up to Brooklands, the newly surfaced towpath from there to Stretford, courtesy of Sustrans, was a delight.

Ale was available here, where we passed by the Bridge Inn and under Dane Road, but Norman (see previous posting) was not on hand to drag us inside.

The Bridgewater Canal - outside the Bridge Inn, by Dane Road

[This posting’s images have even less merit as photographic masterpieces than usual, but, as usual, they are intended to complement the narrative rather than be eye-catching in their own right.]

Here’s the River Mersey, which we crossed in Stretford.  You can see from the height of fairly recent debris on the right bank, that the river has been quite full.  What interested us though was the flash of colour as a Kingfisher flew under the bridge to the tree on the right.  Lovely to see these birds near the centre of a major city.  Grey Wagtails, common hereabouts, were also busily seeking their lunch.

The River Mersey at Stretford

The canal is lined by a fair number of trees such as this Silver Birch, sometimes to the detriment of the stone banking and the towpath.

Silver Birch

There’s another pub in the distance – we zoomed on past it – curry was top of our agenda.

The refreshed towpath between Dane Road and Stretford

Some of the canal boats are in rather poor condition.

A distressed canal boat

Beyond Stretford, Sustrans are continuing with the repairs to the towpath, which was officially shut hereabouts to protect the new surface and those working on it, but the workmen seemed happy for us to pass.  Hopefully the ugly tarmac will be given a sympathetic covering.

New tarmac in Stretford

We’re still some way from the City Centre, but there’s regeneration of housing around here.

Urban regeneration 
The new tarmac ended where the Bridgewater Canal branched off towards Eccles.  The routes are not signposted here, and the young lady on the mountain bike entertained us by falling off in a quandary at the end of the tarmac.

The Bridgewater Canal heads off towards Eccles

We four layabouts continued along the right hand fork, around the back of Old Trafford football ground, where orchids and water-lilies will soon be flourishing.

Throstles Nest Bridge at St George's

The towpath crosses over Throstle Nest Bridge and heads along a sometimes muddy path towards Deansgate, passing Dukes 92 and the Beetham Tower.

The bar - ‘Dukes 92’ - is so named because it’s next to Lock 92 , which connects the Rochdale Canal with the Bridgewater Canal, and is known as "The Duke's Lock" because the Duke of Bridgewater insisted on having control of the construction and operation of it, so that he could control entry into his canal.

Manchester's tallest building - The Beetham Tower, with Dukes 92

The tunnel under Deansgate used to be longer, but has been reopened at the far end, where you can just see Lock 91, Tunnel Lock.

Deansgate Tunnel

Further on, near the Bridgewater Hall, there’s a small patch of manicured grass with a Duck House.  Very smart!

The Manchester and Salford Junction Canal - good for ducks

At Oxford Road we couldn’t seem to progress along the towpath, so we took briefly to Whitworth Street, which is lined by magnificent red-bricked buildings such as Lancaster House.

Lancaster House - Whitworth Street

Looking back, behind the car (below) is the building, now a hotel, that used to be the head office of the Refuge Assurance Company.  I spent many hours in that place back in the days before the electronic age (indeed, before decimalisation), when a whole floor of the building was taken up with ladies using comptometers.

Whitworth Street, Manchester

Rejoining the canal at the Gay Village, we continued to Piccadilly, where an office block, now a hotel, squeezes into the available space above the canal, which is largely underground around here.

It needs a clean!

Central Manchester

To the north of Lock 84 is Dale Street Warehouse, the only stone-built canal warehouse in Manchester. It was built for the Rochdale Canal Company and has four boat holes which allowed boats to unload inside, although the canal arm that led to the warehouse is now infilled and the area used as a car park.

Dale Street Warehouse

There’s much more about this ‘link canal’ here.  And everything you could ever wish to know about all the Pennine Waterways, here.

At this point we left the canal for good.  We were hungry.

As for the Union Bank of Manchester (1836-1940)… we passed by, oblivious of the fact that it became part of Barclays in 1919.

The Union Bank of Manchester

Our destination, and rice and three curries, plus a kebab, for £5.30, was duly attained after some 14km and nearly three hours on the hoof.

This & That, Soap Street, Manchester

It was most welcome, as was the subsequent ale (not taken here, but at some other similar typical city centre hostelry).

Churchills - a typical city centre pub

A fine little excursion.  Thanks, Rick, for the idea and for the invitation.

Our route - 14km, 2.75 hours

More Ale

Later, Sue and I met up with Graham B for a pleasurable 9km evening walk around Marple, punctuated by some very pleasant ale taken at the Hare & Hounds in Chadkirk.

The Hare & Hounds - Chadkirk

Here’s our route, masterfully planned and executed by Graham.
(You missed a good one, Andrew.)

9km with 220 metres ascent - a good two hour stroll

[Can you tell?  I’m running out of steam!]

Au revoir for now.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Sunday 13 February 2011 - ‘Hey Diddle Diddle’

East Lancs LDWA members on the summit of Shutlingsloe - 13/2/11
Today’s walk from Tegg’s Nose was with the East Lancashire section of the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA).  I’m not currently a member, but Viv and Steve had spent ages devising an enticing route, so I was pleased to join them for the day.  There were 14 of us who eventually donned our waterproofs and set off from all corners of the car park. 

The ‘official scribe’ of the walk (why write my own report when someone else has already written one) takes up the story here….

Hey Diddle Diddle

a little jaunt in the Cheshire countryside.....with a couple [? – Ed] of hills for Norman

Fourteen bright-eyed souls gathered in the car park of Tegg’s Nose Country Park Visitor's Centre shortly before 9am on Sunday 13th February, all eagerly anticipating a dose of trench foot in the heavy rain that we had been promised by one of Michael Fish's protégés.

The promise was kept.

At 9am we promptly set off at 9.10am, heading south past archaeological memorabilia littering the now disused quarry, in the direction of the village of Langley. The route didn't enter the village, but skirted Teggsnose and Bottoms Reservoirs. The steep and muddy descent ended at a minor road, taking us to Ridgegate Reservoir and into Macclesfield Forest for our first stop of the day. Cups of tea from the excellent mobile café  at Trentabank were quaffed before we started the climb that would eventually take us to the first (and only) summit of the day, that icon amongst the mountains of Cheshire, the Matterhorn of Cheshire, Shutlingsloe.

As we ascended the wind strengthened, the temperature dropped and it got too cold.  Some of the group huddled together for warmth.  The LDWA is renowned for such bondage.  Although the rain hadn't been too bad up until this point, it really was the quiet [don’t you mean ‘lull’? – Ed] before the storm. A five minute stop to imagine the excellent views from the top was all we could stand, it was just too cold and windy to hang around, and Norman was worried about where his next beer was coming from – that would be his lunch, as his butties were at home on the sideboard. We set off, cheating the scramblers in the group by heading south-west at first, before slipping and sliding down towards Wildboarclough. A dry stone wall didn't provide much shelter for our next stop on the lower slopes of the hill, [especially for those sitting on the windward side of the wall! – Ed] but at least the rain had paused. For a minute.

Continuing our descent towards Wildboarclough, keeping Norman on the correct route became a problem .... he kept veering off in the direction of the very excellent Crag Inn [well, who wouldn’t? – Ed] whilst the rest of the expedition obediently followed the walk leaders, Steve & Viv. Another climb followed, this time on tarmac. We passed the very grand Crag Hall, beyond the old administration building of a carpet mill that subsequently became a local sub-post office. If that was the sub-post office, the main post office must have been huge!

Before long we left the tarmac at a watery track and then onto waterlogged ground to eventually arrive at a pack-horse bridge over the infant River Dane at Three Shire Heads, where the counties of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet. On a nicer day this would be a picturesque lunch stop, but not today – it was just too wet. En-route to the Cat & Fiddle a suitable stopping place was found where butties (those who had them) were demolished and flasks (almost) emptied.

The Cat & Fiddle

On crossing the road to the Cat & Fiddle it once again became a problem to keep Norman (52), the group’s resident alcoholic, on the right route....he was eventually forcibly dragged away from the entrance to the pub only after being convinced that Jelly Babies that had been soaked in rum would be distributed at the next stop at Forest Chapel.

A pleasant (but muddily slippy) deviation from the original route after passing the Peak View Tea Rooms took us away from tarmac, down to the Stanley Arms (for another incident with Norman) and down [down? – Ed] to the chapel, our final stop before the end of the walk. Heavy rain at this point tested the waterproof qualities of our clothing (Viv and I were very happy with our brand new Paramos) [gloat! – Ed] .....and the spirits of the expedition members, a rag-tag assortment of folk - I don’t know where East Lancs LDWA drags them up from - apart from alcohol driven Norman, who claims to have an extra tooth in his foot – a ‘spur’ that provides an excuse for him to start limping after just a few miles and avoid ‘proper walks’ unlike this one; a series of dolly birds including one who claimed to have returned recently from a long spell of duty at ‘Camp B’ in ‘Accrington’, and a mascot who can’t afford waterproofs and who started to dissolve in the rain.  …Anyway, the porch of the church provided shelter for some whilst others enjoyed (endured?) their last drink of the walk sitting on the bench seats or in a puddle in the church yard.

A lovely path led us through Macclesfield Forest once again, taking us to the stiff pull up to Tegg's Nose and the welcome sight of our cars – and warm, dry clothing.

I don't care what anyone else may say...I enjoyed the day AND the excellent company.

Macclesfield Forest

Thank you JJ – that has saved me an arduous job.  Those who wish to see what you really wrote should look here.  The original route plan, from which the only deviation was onto the excellent new path linking the Peak View Tea Rooms with the Stanley Arms, is here.  This also has numerous informative annotations made with JJ’s fair and accurate hand.

I took just over 20 pictures, despite the rain.  They are here.

The actual route – 23km, 1000 metres ascent, in just over 6 hours, is shown below:

1300route

Like JJ, I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed the day AND the excellent company.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Horace’s Day Out

Woolly Bear caterpillar
Hello, my name is Horace.  I’m a Hairy Caterpillar.  Some people call me a ‘Fox Moth Caterpillar’, but I’m very proud and prefer to be known as Macrothylacia rubi.  I am dictating this for the benefit of Kate, who I am told has never seen one of my kind.

Anyway, last Saturday morning I was minding my own business on the side of a hill when I spotted some black legs approaching.

I was afraid.

My friend, the Scary Scouser, had told me about black legs.

“The most dangerous” she told me, “belong to the Pie People of the Far North.”  “Those are short and stout, stunted from working in the mines.  Equally dangerous are the slow, skinny black legs of the men from the Far East.  But it is flat there, and they rarely visit hillsides as steep as yours” explained the Scouser, who added…

“If you are lucky, the black legs may belong to a Local Lady.”

So it was with great relief that I heard the words “Hello, I’m Sue, I am a Local Lady”.

I soon discovered that I was going to have A Day Out.  “I have a young friend who would like to meet you” Sue told me, and she placed me in a box with some food and some air holes. 

I was made to travel with a Grumpy Man in a bouncy bag, but it was quite warm in there and I was soon lulled to sleep.

After a long time, and a car journey, I arrived at my Holiday Home.

“This is Timperley” explained Sue,  “it is near the Centre of the World.”

I told her I was hot, so she put me outside, protected from danger by a plastic box, with some very delicious rocket leaves to help me grow much bigger. (She was well-meaning, but should have known that I don’t eat rocket – my diet is heather and bramble, but after emerging from hibernation in early spring, and having reached full growth the previous autumn, I do not need to feed, but I sunbathe at every opportunity. This basking is necessary for my successful development.)

Meanwhile, Sue went in search of her friend, Kate.  But Kate was in bed.  She had to get up at 4.30 the following morning.

I was very sad.  I wouldn’t get to see Kate.

“Never mind” said Sue, I’ll just take this video then I’ll get you back home tomorrow.

I told her I was a bit bored with my current home on Bleaklow.  There’s no music there. 

“I’ll see what I can do” she said.  “Goodnight.”

The following day I didn’t see Sue at all.  I think she must have been in bed.  Instead, the Grumpy Man put me back in the bouncy bag and soon we were travelling in a car full of humans.

I was afraid.  I remembered the Scary Scouser’s tales about dangerous black legs.  One of these people had black legs.  He was driving the car.  We might crash.  I’ll suffer nightmares….

Thankfully we finally came to a halt.

“This is Tegg’s Nose” said the Grumpy Man.  I wondered ‘who is Tegg?’ but was scared to ask the question.  I wondered whether Kate, who I was supposed to have visited, would know.  Or perhaps her Dad?

Anyway, I then bumped along in the bouncy bag for about an hour in the rain.

Soon after stopping for a Mug of Tea at a tea van the bumping suddenly stopped.

“There you go, you are free now” said the Grumpy Man, letting me out of the plastic box that I had come to quite like.

Horace's release

“This is Shutlingsloe” he explained, “Kate has been here, it’s much nicer than that horrible hillside on Bleaklow.”

I was inclined to agree.  It had been an exciting day out, but I was very happy to be on a hillside again with lots of nice heather instead of that horrible peat that was on Bleaklow.  There were some large leaves to hide under to avoid the rain, but I was thirsty, and the raindrops made lovely music.

By the way, I’m only a baby (just like Kate, really).  When I grow up I’ll grow into a Fox Moth and look a bit like this.

Fox Moth (Macrothylacia rubi)

What will you look like, Kate?

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Saturday 12 February 2011 – Off-piste on Bleaklow

Ramblers admiring the view from Bleaklow Stones, Dark Peak, Derbyshire, UK
[Note that hovering your mouse over the images may reveal more text.  Views expressed are those of the author alone and no criticism should be implied in any way of the other members of the party, who are all without doubt selfless, hard-working, worthy and appallingly underrated citizens.]

A last minute decision saw Sue and I enjoying the half hour journey from sunny Timperley to Torside Reservoir, where the cloud was lurking just above the height of the huge power lines that thread through this valley.

We were massively early for what turned out to be a 10.30+ start with Sue and Phil, Tom, David and not least, Graham, who was taking a day off from culling deer to kindly act as our much needed route guide and navigator for the day.

Sue, Tom, Sue, David, Graham and a clown, on the soft surface of the Trans-Pennine Trail

Graham softened us up with an easy few km along the Trans-Pennine Trail, passing over various streams that seemed to be doing their best to empty excess peat from the Dark Peak, in a bold effort to provide ‘Newcastle Brown Ale’ free of charge from the taps of the unsuspecting alcoholics of Yorkshire.

Well directed water heading from Rollick Stones to Torside Reservoir

We then forsook this excellent trail for a stretch of tarmac that ended abruptly before reaching a private house, ‘The Lodge’, above which lurked the unkempt remnants of an ornamental garden.

Rhododendron bushes mark the remains of bygone days in these parts

The plan, apparently (according to a scruffy piece of paper in Graham’s mitts), was to climb directly up to Deer Knowl before contouring eastish to reach Barrow Stones via Featherbed Moss.  Even had I not been vaguely familiar with the terrain hereabouts, that name would perhaps have sounded warning bells.

Anyway, we strode up the hill towards Deer Knowl, less than a kilometre away.  Progress was slow.  The steep heather was punctuated by rocks with deep crevices which seemed of particular concern to Tom.

Two Sues trying to dodge fissures in the rocks hidden by the heather on Graham's 'off-piste' 'path'

“I could die in there!” he worried.
”It’s ok, we won’t leave you” assured Graham, puffing like an old GW loco of similar vintage.

Sue found Horace, for whom 24 hours of excitement were about to commence.  More about him later.  He would not have been concerned by this evil trap, though.

A mink trap.  The clever grouse (the ones who don't fly) risk being eaten by mink, released from farms by animal rights activists to wreak havoc in the countryside

A tea break took place.

After nearly an hour of slogging up the hill, which had subsided briefly into a grassy plateau before returning to a cavity strewn rock-field, I thought ‘sod this for a lark’ and left the others to continue their relentless ascent of Deer Knowl. 

Deer Knowl - if you look carefully you can see some of our party, led from the rear (for obvious reasons) by Graham, heading for the barrier of rocks

A short traverse to the east (left on the above image) led to an easy path to the head of Shining Clough, and a long wait for the six adventurers.  At least I was now masked by the hill from the relentless clatter of rifles on the moor just to our west.  There must be a healthy population of grouse, some very poor marksmen, or hordes of synthetic pigeons.

We reassembled.  Graham thankfully saw the futility of his plan without too much encouragement from others.  Contouring across the groughs to Featherbed Moss would have been (even more)exhausting.  So we headed up onto the Bleaklow plateau in a southerly direction, following the imagines of an old land-rover track.  Phil strode off towards Near Black Clough, the others preferring to stray towards Stable Clough.  I tried to keep all in sight, verbal communication being denied to us by the constant whirring of helicopter blades.  We seemed to be a target. 

This helicopter spent all day dropping bags of hessian around us

I found Phil chatting to a couple of gents with a box the size of a rabbit hutch.  Were they trying to capture the mountain hares that were dashing about all over the hillside, I wondered?  ‘No’, was the answer to that stupid question.  It was a ‘GPS’ and they were using it to direct the helicopter to drop its loads of bags containing hessian matting into areas where the plateau was particularly badly eroded.  Special grass seed will be sown before the hessian is spread over it, stabilising the ground and enabling the seed to germinate and the grass to take a hold, before the hessian is removed.  We could see bands of hessian, looking like melting snow banks, doing just this job.  Further on, the black surface of the peaty plateau had developed a pale green hue where the grass was indeed starting to flourish.

It was very noisy.

There were lots of these groughs to negotiate on Graham's route across Shining Clough Moss Near Black Clough

Whilst Phil did his best to make a break for it with his wife’s sandwiches, he was eventually brought to heel (as he always is) on the watershed in the area of Bleaklow Hill, where the said sandwiches were eaten before they wandered aimlessly away to any other whimsical choice of destination.

Mountain hare on Bleaklow - they were scampering around everywhere

Here’s our lunch spot, and the view.  You can see the regenerating but very fragile grass that is taking hold in the peat.

Lunch on Bleaklow Hill - 12/2/11 The view south towards the High Peak area from Bleaklow Hill

Bleaklow Stones was our next objective.  This involved going ‘there and back’ across the fragile peaty surface of Bleaklow, churned up by thousands of boots, but nevertheless in a state of partial recovery due to the hessian/grass project.  Sue and I felt very guilty about the fact that we were with every step destroying work that had been done to try to prevent further erosion of the moor.

Fun was had at the Anvil Stone, at Bleaklow Stones, with fine views south to Kinder Scout and the hills around Edale.

Phil and Sue enjoy a rodeo ride on the Anvil Stone at Bleaklow Stones 
Here’s the video!

But this ‘fun’ was negated by the bad feelings I had about being here at all.  I wanted to be off the hill, or at least on a path that wasn’t wrecking the landscape.

Moods weren’t improved by the fact that the forecast good weather had first disappointed us, then lulled us up the hill by gradually clearing as we ascended, then when we got to the top it had in turn squirted rain, hail, sleet and snow, at us in ever increasing ferocity.

After squelching our way slowly westwards, Graham’s contingent, with no appointments except with their B&B, decided to erode their way to Shelf Moor, whilst Sue and I headed directly to Bleaklow Head to pick up the well constructed Pennine Way path back down to Torside.

Sue finally makes it through the snow storm to Bleaklow Head

As we descended, the weather relented, it was peacefully quiet for what seemed like the first time all day; we passed some stage struck red grouse, and the late afternoon sun made pretty colours on the hillside above Crowden and the huge pylons.

The paving of the Pennine Way - below this point there was much less sign of erosion.  This paving works. The view to Torside Reservoir from Clough Edge.  Note the spectacular rock gateway Red Grouse - "You can come as close as you like, I refuse to fly after all those gunshots!" Millstone Rocks and Lad's Leap - an easy walk from Tintwistle or Crowden on a summer's evening

Back on the Trans-Pennine Trail we caught up with Robin and James, who were looking tired and muddy after an afternoon adventure up nearby Wildboar Clough.  We hoped that James had some spare trousers for his walk up Black Hill the following day. 

Then, after 18km with 600 metres ascent, in all of 6 hours, we shot off back home via a food emporium.  Sorry, Mike and Katie, if your dinner was a little late, but at least we made it home before you arrived!

Bleaklow is fine, but ‘off-piste’ it can be either tediously difficult ground, or disconcertingly destructive underfoot.  I’ll try to stick to paths that don’t significantly increase the erosion in future.

For masochists and environment wreckers amongst the audience, here’s the route that Sue and I took.  The others continued their abuse of the fragile landscape with a visit to Shelf Moor.

Graham's adapted route for the day, excluding his diversion to churn up Shelf Moor

There’s a slideshow (26 images) here, should you wish to see more.