Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Friday, 22 July 2011

Tuesday 19 July 2011 – A Cheshire Ramble

With Viv and Steve by Dean Farm

Steve and JJ sometimes lead walks for the East Lancs Group of the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA).  They have an idea that the group will enjoy a 15 mile trample across the fields of Cheshire.

These walks are taken seriously.  Much planning is necessary, with many reconnaissance trips to suss out the best route.  Today was one such ‘recce’.

Starting as instructed from King’s Road in Wilmslow, I found myself totally alone, and having no idea of the planned route I decided to start by lapping the car.  I should have known – JJ was driving.  He eventually turned up, deposited Steve and Viv, and rushed off to take delivery of a staircase.

Our route comprised a circuit of Alderley Edge, starting in Wilmslow and heading across Lindow Moss, often visited on these pages, but not from quite this direction.  It’s always good to explore new paths…

JJ was waiting for us, in disguise; the staircase hoax wouldn’t fool us, surely?

A curious friend

I could swear I saw a couple of wallaby and a family of emu in the background – an elaborate hoax, even for JJ.

It had been raining.  The undergrowth, mainly nettles, balsam and willowherb, had been growing apace.  It was sodden.  So were we.  Steve came off best as he had shorts.  But he did get nettle rash.

By and by we came upon the new Alderley Edge by-pass.  The old rights of way have now been re-opened and we found our way across easily.  A local farmer, upset by the whole enterprise and the wide swathe of the new road through prime farmland, had confirmed this to Steve.

Here you can see the new road, with Alderley Edge beyond.

Alderley Edge, from near its new by-pass

After passing through a tomato factory, we reached the hamlet of Nether Alderley, where there’s an attractive church, St Mary’s, dating from the 14th century.  The yew tree is apparently 1200 years old!  There’s lots more information on this interesting place in this Wikipedia link, extracts from which are reiterated below.

St Mary's Church, Nether Alderley

The large building in the graveyard – the Stanley Mausoleum – was built in 1909 by Edward Lyulph, 4th Lord Stanley. He died in 1925 and it contains his ashes and those of his wife, Mary Katherine, who died in 1929. The mausoleum is built in ashlar buff and red sandstone with a Kerridge stone-slate roof. It was designed in the neo-Jacobean style by Paul Phipps, and is rectangular in shape, with two storeys and a three-bay north front. The central bay contains a door, above which is the Stanley crest, a three-light window and a date plaque in the gable. On the sides of the upper storey are three four-light windows. Inside the mausoleum is a white marble sarcophagus.

The Stanley Mausoleum, Nether Alderley

There’s also a sandstone schoolhouse in the churchyard, built in 1628; the school room was on the ground floor and the schoolmaster's accommodation was above. A large room was added to the rear in 1817, and in 1908 the building was restored and presented to the parish by Lord Stanley.  It is now used as a parish hall and is listed Grade II.

Across the road from the church and from Millbrook Cottage Guesthouse, is Nether Alderley Mill, a National Trust property dating from the 15th century. The watermill is one of only four virtually complete corn mills in Cheshire, and is a grade II* listed building. The mill was in active use until 1939, and was acquired by the National Trust in 1950. A period of extensive renovation followed, although the present machinery is about 100 years old. The mill is powered by a pair of overshot Victorian water wheels arranged in tandem and fed by the mill pond behind the building. The Trust regularly demonstrates grinding flour.

The flagstones of the timber-framed roof, which extend almost to ground level, weigh about 200 tons.

Nether Alderley Mill

Beyond Nether Alderley, Bradford Lane leads inexorably towards the Edge, climbing imperceptibly to its 190 metre summit.

The route goes through pleasant woodland, though it was very dark here today, under the steely grey clouds.

Woodland near Alderley Edge

Alderley Edge has appeared on these pages on several occasions.  Readers may be pleased to learn that I forgot to take any pictures today.

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) accompanied us for most of today’s walk, soaking us from time to time as we hacked through its water-laden foliage.  If you look carefully you can see a bee, and apparently some bee keepers are great fans of the plant, from which an excellent flavour of honey is said to result.

Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

Eventually we made it to the Bollin Valley Way.  We noticed that the path to our right was still impassable due to a landslip, requiring an alternative route to Prestbury.  There are no such problems in the Wilmslow direction, new stiles and fingerposts having been recently installed.  There are even intricate carvings on this fingerpost, below the circular plaques.

A new stile on the Bollin Valley Way

On the outskirts of Wilmslow, JJ eventually appeared, claiming to have taken successful if rather belated delivery of his new staircase.  He was looking friskier than usual!

JJ finally joins us 
We had seen no other ramblers, but on gaining the byways of Wilmslow we were joined at times by the dog walking fraternity.

The balsam is rampant in the Bollin Valley, and the citizens of Wilmslow are trying to do something about it…

Balsam Control

Here’s our route – 25km, with 250 metres ascent, in a little less than 6 hours.  An excellent local stroll for us, but of how much interest to the sturdy chaps from East Lancs LDWA?  We shall see…

Today's route - 25km, 250 metres ascent, in under 6 hours

A slide show of all 29 pictures taken today is here.

I recorded the route on the Garmin Gadget, the result of which is shown below.  It gives the exact route – perhaps useful to Steve and JJ should they want to transfer it to a GPS or tweak the route, which could easily be extended to encompass an interesting circuit around Styal.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Sunday 17 July 2011 – Training for the Cairngorm Challenge (aka ‘A Wet Day in the Peak District’)

Richard relaxes near the end of the ride, at Stanedge Pole

No, I’m not entered for the Cairngorm Challenge. But Richard is entered for the 100km Gold Route, and is trying to build up his fitness for the event on 10 September.  Given the forecast for rough weather, I’d suggested he got some miles into his legs by doing a 65km circuit from home using the canal towpaths and the Trans Pennine Trail, but he insisted on a Peak District rendezvous.

So, we assembled at a picnic spot near Robin Hood’s Cave, below Stanage, on the outskirts of Sheffield.

To our surprise, it wasn’t raining, but the light was flat and very few photos were taken.  Amazingly, Richard’s route was fairly dry, despite yesterday’s rain, although about half of it was along quiet tarmac lanes.  The off-road sections were superb, and no uphill pushes were needed, though he did choose an exceedingly technical descent back to the cars from Stanedge Pole (see points 5 to 1 below).  Richard’s full suspension coped better than my rickety old machine, from which I had to dismount for safety a few times on the rocky sections with drop offs.  Next time I’ll take the easier track below Stanage Edge to join the road at point 327.  Nevertheless, it was good fun.

By the time we reached Stanedge Pole (pictured) on our figure of eight loop, it was indeed raining.

Just as well then, that we chose a relatively short outing taking only just over 2½ hours, as the rain got heavier whilst we luxuriated after the ride in Outside’s café in Hathersage.

Here’s the Anquet ‘take’ on our route – 25km with 666 metres ascent.  I reckon it could easily be done in two hours if you didn’t keep stopping like we did.

Anquet's version of our 25km route, which the mapping software claims to involve 666 metres of ascent

I used my ‘Garmin Gadget’ on this occasion, and it produced the following result:

Click on ‘View Details’ if you want to see the full works, and if you roll your cursor over the map you can change the scale.

What fun!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Saturday 16 July 2011 - Training for the Jungfrau Marathon (aka ‘A Wet Day in the Peak District’)

Martin at Three Shire Heads, on a rainy day

No, I’m not entered for the Jungfrau Marathon. But Alastair is entered, and is trying to build up his fitness for the event on 10 September.  He had done a hilly 13 mile run earlier in the week but had ordered “around 20 miles with at least 1500 metres ascent” for today’s outing. I’d originally planned the Langdale Horseshoe, but this substitute close to home seemed a reasonable FWA (Foul Weather Alternative).

At least ‘Two Hours of Heavy Rain’ were expected, and we timed our 8.30am departure from Tegg’s Nose car park to coincide precisely with the star of the predicted deluge.

In our haste, we omitted to actually go over Tegg’s Nose, and headed straight down the less slippery path towards Clough House and the track around Teggsnose Reservoir.

It was lashing down. A brief spell along the Gritstone Trail took us to Ridgegate Reservoir, from where a gentle ascent (this is a lovely descent in the other direction on a mountain bike) through Macclesfield Forest, close to its south western edge, led to the familiar slabs of the motorway that heads quickly to the fine summit of Shutlingsloe.

Al reaches the summit of Shutlingsloe - 506 metres

As you can see, the views were magnificent.

We took the path that leads south, curving around to descend to Wildboarclough, rather than the precipitous route directly from the summit. The view through the blanket of rain was soon regained.

Past a gaggle of despondent D of E Award students, we paused briefly on a bench by the bridge at Wildboarclough, before going up the road to the east, past St Saviour’s Church, built between 1901 and 1904.

The church at Wildboarclough

Heading due east along good paths after taking the lane past Crag Hall, the meeting of Cheshire with Staffordshire and Derbyshire was soon attained at Three Shire Heads, a place usually thronging with folk on a summer’s weekend morning. It was deserted. There were very few people ‘out’ today.

Three Shire Heads

The Staffordshire path took a familiar route to Flash. The sandy surface had turned into slurry. I was pleased that the Keen walking shoes I’ve been testing withstood this – the waterproof membrane still seems to be effective, though today I should have employed the ankle gaiters that I use with these shoes for cycling in wet conditions.

Keen Men’s Targhee II Walking Shoes

The pub in the high village of Flash was not yet open. We had been moving too fast!  This pub, the New Inn, is apparently the 4th highest in England.

The New Inn at Flash

Luckily, there’s a tea shop up the road, and another pub, the Knights’ Table (the third highest pub in England), that was open. We chose the tea shop, and indulged in its cakes. I created a small pond with the water from my rucksack cover. Al’s clothes drained to form a larger pond. Describing his outer shell as ‘waterproofs’ would be incorrect. Perhaps they once fitted that description, but judging by the state of the rest of his clothes, his entire wardrobe for today had the absorption qualities of blotting paper.

Luckily, by the time Al had enjoyed a second cuppa, the sky had exhausted itself after ‘Two Hours of Heavy Rain’, and our outer layers (mine are completely waterproof, Al’s are perhaps vaguely wind-resistant) could be stashed for a few minutes as we strolled along to Readyleech Green and the path over Axe Edge Moor to cross the main A537 road. We continued north to reach the lane to Derbyshire Bridge, near where a bedraggled group of Duke of Edinburgh Award children were puzzling over a map and being advised by their mentor, who judging by the stickers on his car was a highly qualified outdoors professional without whom these youths would be lucky to survive a day on the obscure paths of the Peak District. I‘m sure that in days past the children would be allowed to learn from the odd mistake, but these days their every move seems to be closely monitored. (Just an impression; I may be wrong.)

The rain had restarted by the time we reached the Cat & Fiddle, the second highest pub in England.  [The highest, of course, is the Tan Hill Inn.]  More sustenance was taken on board, together with other walkers (just a couple) and bikers (just a couple) in what is usually a busy place.  I just managed a snapshot in between the clouds that regularly descended right down to our feet to douse anyone foolish enough to be out and about.

The Cat & Fiddle

Shortly before we reached Shining Tor, the high point of the walk, we lunched in the shelter of a high wall.  It didn’t take long.  Al had already scoffed most of his provisions; mine were limited.

We rushed on to Shining Tor.  Al shot straight past the summit and slew to a halt.

A view from by the summit of Shining Tor - 559 metres

He had spotted White Nancy, our next objective, in the far distance.
”My shins are starting to hurt” he announced.  Well, we had been keeping up a fair pace - he was supposed to be training for a marathon.  Anyway, discretion is the better part of valour, so we cut the planned route by a few miles and headed straight back to Tegg’s Nose, via Lamaload Reservoir, which looked as if it badly needed today’s rain.

There were good views towards Shutlingsloe.

Shutlingsloe, from Shining Tor

We did manage the 20 mile target, but failed miserably to get to 1500 metres ascent.  The route plotted on Anquet shows 33 km (21 miles) with 1269 metres ascent.

Our route - 33km with 1269 metres ascent, according to Anquet

But according to my Garmin gadget (see below) the distance was actually 34 km, though we only ascended 934 metres – quite a startling discrepancy.

The rain had cleared dramatically between showers at the end of the walk, which we finished at 4pm.  Here, Al can be seen striding towards the finish, from where the Cambrian Mountains could be seen very clearly, some 100km away.

Approaching Tegg's Nose, in between showers

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Friday 15 July 2011 – Lantern Pike

On Lantern Pike - Martin, Diana, Sue, Richard, Notchy, Richard, Nightbird

Tonight seven stalwarts of our evening walks congregated in The Pack Horse in Hayfield, under gathering skies. Rain was expected, but only JJ had wimped out, leaving two Richards, Notchy, Nightbird and Diana to brave the elements with Sue and me.

In the event, the rain just about held off, and what drove us indoors in the end were the voracious insects that ganged up on us after the walk as we sat outside The Pack Horse in a bid to enjoy our post walk refreshments.

Our 9km route with 350 metres ascent is shown below.  It’s an excellent summer evening’s excursion, or a short morning or afternoon’s stroll, taking around 2½ hours.

We started down a lane by the Post Office opposite the Pack Horse, then along a path to Swallow House Lane.  The metalled road took us all the way to a row of cottages known as Cliff Villas, shortly beyond which, at Windy Knowle House, a bridleway leads up towards Lantern Pike.  For those with an aversion to tarmac or with few minutes more, you may prefer to walk along the Sett Valley Trail from Hayfield, leaving it at the head of a small reservoir to walk uphill and join our route.

After entering open moorland, a thin path to the left leads immediately up to the 373 metre summit of Lantern Pike.  Here, the assembled masses enjoyed a few bottles of beer on the warm evening. (See header image.)

The views from here are extensive, but with rain imminent it was rather dull tonight.  However, I did manage to capture the view down to Hayfield; Kinder Scout is away to the left, with South Head and Chinley Churn in view.

Hayfield from the summit of Lantern Pike

From the summit, we dropped down to the lower path and took the obvious route north, to Blackshaw Farm, where a right turn led us all the way down, past several idyllic looking properties that were for sale, to the main Glossop Road.

Turning left, we braved the main road for 400 metres before heading into open country once more at Carr Meadow.  Ancient and modern signs directed us towards Edale.  Notchy dashed off worriedly to look for a bridge.

Notchy narrowly avoids a coronary

Following Notchy’s inadvertent directions (he had been pointing towards the bridge) we found the good path that heads south east across the moor to a path junction near a white shooting cabin surrounded by railings.

The other side of The Bog

By now the troops were beginning to flag.  Some were asleep on their feet, others were just pretending to be zombies.  Revival CCS was handed out to minimise the risk of casualties.

Getting dark, getting tired!

A sharp right turn, along the path intersected by Notchy’s head, put us on the Snake Path back to Hayfield, which after a few hundred metres follows the left branch where a minor path heads off to the west.

Before we knew it we were on the outskirts of town.  It’s traditional on such evening walks for Sue to befriend a needy nag.  Tonight was no exception.

Sue and a Richard with Muffin

So, that was a jolly walk!  We all returned to the pub for a beer and a blather in the balmy, not to say ‘moist’ summer air.  Unfortunately the midges drove us straight back inside where we could lounge in the plush chairs of the refurbished tart known as The Pack Horse.

Our route - 9km, 350 metres ascent, 2.5 hours

9km, 350 metres ascent, very easy to follow route, 2½ hours.

The next evening walk is on Thursday 28 July:
”Another adventure with Notchy - Deepest Cheshire (2) - starting at 7.30 pm from The Golden Pheasant, Plumley Moor Road, Plumley - SJ 722 753.   7.95 km with 36 metres of ascent, but not all at once.”
All are welcome.

Friday 15 July 2011 - Timperley to Sholver by Bike

The Beetham Tower, from Castlefield

Sholver is a little north of Oldham. Kate lives there. The journey takes about 40 minutes by car. I’m in the habit of trying to combine family visits with a bit of exercise, but last time I tried this trip it took me about five hours.

So today I planned an easier line, taking the Bridgewater Canal into Manchester, then the Rochdale Canal out to Chadderton, from where bridleways should take me east through Royton and Shaw and on to Sholver. I reckoned on 35km in about three hours.

My route into Manchester was familiar, but an early setback had me returning home for the map that I would need later, as I headed relentlessly north. The pace slowed as I approached Deansgate, and threaded my way through groups of tourists that seem these days to be a constant reminder of the rehabilitation of Manchester’s city centre and canal network.

I must find a better way through the city centre. The towpath disappears from time to time shortly after it leaves the Castlefield area (pictured above with the Beetham Tower), and a little road work is necessary to get to the point where the Rochdale Canal splits off from the Cheshire Ring canal system and heads north. There’s currently work going on at this point, with the towpath route to the city centre having been closed for at least a year. I managed to find the start of the Rochdale Canal, and headed on up the towpath all the way to Chadderton.

The Rochdale Canal, I discovered, has armies of Canada Geese patrolling its banks.

Canada Geese by the Rochdale Canal

The canal passes factories and old mills, many of which have been refurbished and looked resplendent in today’s bright sunshine. Here’s Regent Mill, the home of Russell Hobbs.

Regent Mill, home of Russell Hobbs Inc

In fact the whole route portrays Manchester as a busy, vibrant working city, albeit not without its ghettos of malaise. 

Despite the largely urban environment, sections of the route were surprisingly ‘countryfied’ and the whole route along the towpath was very pleasant. Much more satisfying than the drive round the M60 motorway.

A country scene at Bridge No 78 on the Rochdale Canal

Believe it or not, I did go wrong a few times, and mistakenly left the canal before I should have done. However, once I’d found the correct departure point, bridleways took me all the way to the outskirts of Shaw, from where a fast downhill road section deposited me on a very rocky track (found at the second attempt) that led virtually to my destination.

“I didn’t know there was a way up there” commented Kate, who has lived in Sholver for a while now.

The 35km plan turned out to be 40km in practice on this occasion, but the timing was around three hours and could be reduced considerably. Especially if I decided to cycle this route in the other direction, in which case it might be a two hour downhill blast!

After all that, Sue arrived by car, we enjoyed a luxurious lunch, and after forgetting to take any pictures of my smiley grandson, we returned to Timperley by car.

Here’s are the stats from my Garmin gadget:

And here’s a map…

My 40km route with 360 metres ascent