Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Spring Flowers (4)

Flower in Dunham Massey Winter Garden

Another of our regular visits to Dunham Massey took place on Thursday 24 March, when the images in this posting were taken, mainly by Sue.

Flower in Dunham Massey Winter Garden

Flower in Dunham Massey Winter Garden

Flower in Dunham Massey Winter Garden

Flower in Dunham Massey Winter Garden

Flower in Dunham Massey Winter Garden

Flower in Dunham Massey Winter Garden

There are numerous different varieties of daffodil in the Winter Garden.  They seem to be coming into flower at different times in the warm and sunny weather.

Daffodils in Dunham Massey Winter Garden

Hazel (aka SAHH) took the chance to get a welcome respite from weightier matters by accompanying us on this pleasant interlude.

 Sue and Hazel

Friday, 1 April 2011

Wednesday 30 March 2011 – A New Recruit

Two Johns by the Bridgewater Canal

JJ, a founder and co-conspirator of the Timperley Tipplers and Trampers, has raked in another new recruit.  This one is John McN, pictured above on the left.  JJ has snapped him up after discovering that he retired a month ago.

Having abandoned a plan to visit Wetherlam today, a quartet of fresh air fiends – JJ, John McN, Rick and me, assembled outside Timperley Metrolink Station for a 12 km stroll along paths that don’t often see our feet.  We succeeded, with a minimal amount of road walking, and under the watchful eye of a kestrel we even discovered a path that maybe none of us had previously visited.  It provides a link between the new recycling plant and Sinderland Road.  A disused railway line is crossed that links Timperley with Partington.  This is obviously used, but it hasn’t been converted to an official footpath.  Worthy of further exploration…

On the Timperley/Partington railway line

Here’s John (above), recalling that a team of men posing as ‘officials’ had removed the rails with impunity, only for the real officials to discover that they had been stolen for scrap.

Anyway, we pressed on past ploughed fields with acrobatic lapwings to Red House Farm, as I needed some tomatoes.  None of the others had been there before, so it was something of a surprise to them to be able to enjoy coffee and cake, or freshly baked scones, in very jolly surroundings.  There was also some Oxford Blue (which appears to be made in Hartington, so how does it get its name?!) ‘on draught’ – it’s excellent on toast.

We lingered in the tea room.  It had started to rain.  This was not unexpected.  We had waterproofs.  Even our new recruit had waterproofs.  You can’t miss him.  Guess where he used to work?

Rain in Cheshire, sunglasses still needed

For what it’s worth, here’s our route:

A circuit from Timperley - 12 km with 17 metres ascent (approx)

Thursday, 31 March 2011

18 to 20 March 2011 – Rentahostel in Eskdale

A Lake District panorama from Birker Fell

There were 37 names on this year’s spreadsheet, and Sue and I were doing the cooking for the weekend, so a bit of preparation was needed.

Anyway we deposited half the food with R&J and crammed the rest into the old Peugeot before setting off on a lovely Friday afternoon.

The Birker Fell road from Ulpha yielded some fine views (see above) that necessitated a pause, then it was down to Eskdale Youth Hostel to unload the motor and enjoy a pot of tea in the sunshine with Anne and Andrew, who had both also arrived early.

Sue, Andrew and Anne outside Eskdale Youth Hostel

All 37 gradually arrived, in dribs and drabs, and by 7.30 the majority were tucking into steak and Guinness stew, followed by the ‘whisky cake’ that Joshua liked so much, so here’s a link to the recipe.

37 is rather a large group for just one walk, so it was just as well that there were several separate agendas for Saturday’s perambulations.  Some headed quickly up Scafell and beyond; others were satisfied with Scafell on its own, and some small ‘splinters’ went cragging or on the narrow gauge railway.

I couldn’t recall having been up Hard Knott, so with a desire to get back at a reasonable time in order to resume our cooking duties, Sue and I decided on an easy round of 7 ‘Birketts’, including Hard Knott. 

[Birketts are the 541 Lakeland summits identified by Bill Birkett as being over 1000 feet in height.  He has written a superb guide, available here.]

We duly set off, fortified by the full breakfast produced by our able assistant, Ken, from the foot of Hard Knott pass.  Seven others had elected to join us on this low level circuit.

We soon came upon the magnificent and extensive site of Hardknott Roman Fort.  The Commandant enjoyed a fine view towards the Scafells from his sumptuous quarters.

The Commandant's House at Hard Knott Roman Fort

It looks as if the Fort was constructed with rather thick cavity walls.

The Roman Fort, with Harter Fell behind

We took lots of photos (see link to slideshow below) before heading on up the pleasant path that leads to the summit of the Hard Knott road pass.

Frogs had been busy hereabouts, with great pools full of fresh spawn.

Two cyclists were just about to set off towards Wrynose on a big 80 mile practice for a forthcoming endurance event.  We waved them off and headed up a grassy rake towards Border End, our first Birkett of the day and a spot that enjoys a fine view down Eskdale.

Sadly it was more overcast than expected – not quite the ‘blue-sky’ day we had anticipated, so not so many images.

A self-timed picture was however deemed appropriate at the next summit, our high point of the day, Hard Knott – 549 metres.

On the summit of Hard Knott - 19/3/11

The sun briefly illuminated our merry band as we descended towards Yew Bank, our third summit of the day.

Descending from Hard Knott, with Bowfell to the right

Cloud lurked on the arc of higher peaks, from Scafell to Crinkle Crags, that occupied our skyline to the north.  A rescue helicopter hovered over swarming humans on the summit of Scafell Pike.  We meandered over Yew Bank and down to Lingcove Beck, which was easily crossed.

Lunch was enjoyed in the lee of a huge slab of rock half way up our fourth summit, Throstlehow Crag, from where there was a fine view towards the slightly higher, at 439 metres, craggy summit of our next objective, Scar Lathing.  There was nobody else around.

There hadn’t been much rain in recent days, so crossing the River Esk didn’t present any insurmountable difficulties, though Phil’s ‘bouldering’ did produce some impressive splashes.

Crossing the River Esk

Andrew conked out and ambled off towards Scale Gill, but for the rest of us two more Birketts beckoned.  The sun was even shining as we reached the summit of High Scarth Crag.

Sue, Jenny and Sue on the summit of High Scarth

Phil’s boulder throwing had tired him out.

Phil has been taking lessons from Alan Sloman?

After strolling through a deep and spongy bog to our final summit, the rocky knoll of Silverybield, there was a boot inspection.  Spot the new ones?

Boots 
The descent to Eskdale, via Scale Gill, was easy, with Harter Fell beckoning us on.

Descending into Eskdale

That got us back to the cars around 4 pm, in plenty of time to get to the hostel for tea and cake (and a shower) before cooking duties commenced.

The day had been most enjoyable, covering 15 km, with just 850 metres of ascent, in a bit more than 6 hours.  Here’s the route, with the Birketts duly waymarked.

Saturday's route - 15km, 850 metres ascent, 6.25 hours, 7 Birketts (marked 2-8)

The meal went well.  Here, for record purposes, is the menu.  I’ll do a separate post with the recipe for the Baked Lemon Pudding that went down so well.  For anyone wishing to feed a party of this size, we can commend this menu – everything worked, and most of it could be prepared in advance.

Ken’s invaluable assistance with breakfast (Ken spent many years as a Youth Hostel warden, so he can cook breakfast for 40 with his eyes shut) fuelled us up for a wet Sunday.  Some people went home, but at least 20 of us (I don’t think anyone was counting) set off from Eskdale Green to conquer the 231 metre summit of Muncaster Fell.  As this substantial hill is neither a ‘Birkett’ nor a ‘Wainwright’, the ‘tickers’ in the group had to content themselves with a ‘Marilyn’.

It was a wet day.

Our group on Muncaster Fell

But we made it to the summit.

On the summit of Muncaster Fell on a rainy day

All apart from Melinda, who felt poorly, made it down, and the ‘New Ownership’ at the King George IV pub didn’t baulk at serving pots of tea and plates of chips.

King George IV - Eskdale Green

Here’s our route – 11 km, 400 metres ascent, taking a shade less than 4 hours.

Our route over Muncaster Fell - 11 km, 400 metres ascent, 3.8 hours

Then we went home.

A great weekend, as always, with better weather than Sue W usually conjures up.  Thank you, Sue, for organising it, and thanks also to Tom, who has provided some of the images in the (click here) slideshow, especially the huge moon over Harter Fell.