Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Wednesday 27 July 2011 – Scafell and Slight Side

Stuart and Rick - lunch with midges, on Scafell

I had no idea where in the Lake District I was going today, as I strolled round to Rick’s house soon after 7am.

All was revealed during the course of the next couple of hours, as we pootled up to Lancaster to transfer to Stuart’s charabanc for the trip to Ambleside and onwards over Wrynose and Hardknott passes to Brotherikeld.

So we set off at 10am along the pleasant path by the River Esk that leads to Lingcove Bridge, a wonderful old packhorse bridge in the middle of nowhere.

Lingcove Bridge

There were very few people about – just the odd walker, and a group of campers near the bridge, enjoying a bathe in the clear waters just below it.  Whilst we had driven up under blue skies, the air here was humid and midgy, with the high tops doused in light cloud.

The hillsides were colourfully decorated with bright yellow swathes of Bog Asphodel.

Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum)

My ‘legs’ came off for the ascent to Great Moss, but midge bites forced them back on after the ascent beside Cam Spout.

Here Rick contemplates the (easy) climb, up the rocks to the right of the waterfall.  “If only it was frozen; I could practice my ice climbing” he jested.

Rick contemplates his route up Cam Spout

The path leveled out again at the top of Cam Spout, but it remained a sweaty climb on this still, humid day, up the hanging valley towards the East Buttress of Scafell.

At the first opportunity we followed a stream emanating from a steep, stony gully, all the way up to Foxes Tarn – a nearly invisible pond that is claimed to be the smallest ‘tarn’ in the Lake District.

The gully was full of the pretty flowers of Starry Saxifrage.

Starry saxifrage (Saxifraga stellaris)

It was deemed appropriate to take a self-timed photo of today’s elite team at Foxes Tarn, the full extent of which is visible in the background!

Martin, Stuart and Rick pose at Foxes Tarn

A short but tiring final pull over loose ground led to the summit of Scafell, where we enjoyed a leisurely lunch with the midges. 

There were quite a few others up here, but none had come from our direction.

After a long pause during which Stuart took a lot of persuading that heading off to the north was not what he had intended, we followed the direction of the white needle of the compass, over Long Green and down to Slight Side.

An elderly man with a dour expression passed us, refusing to acknowledge our presence or our greetings.  It’s a shame that such people should combine their desire for solitude with arrogant rudeness.

Meanwhile, as the rude old man rushed down, we pottered slowly on, admiring the views down to the River Esk, where the river valley and Scar Lathing were bathed in sunshine, backed by the gloomy ridge of Hard Knott.

Stuart admires the view towards Scar Lathing and the Hard Knott ridge

It was a long but gentle descent back to the valley, across the upper rim of Cowcove before crossing Cat Cove Beck.  We had strayed for too long on the path leading to Stony Tarn, so a cross-country route was deployed.  Then we missed the turn left that we had planned to take beyond the ravine running below Cat Crags.

That left us with no option but to follow the gentler path all the way down to the road above Wha House Farm.  A forest of bracken failed to hinder our progress!

The final plunge towards Wha House Farm was through a forest of bracken

Once down, a short stroll along the road returned us to the car, with good views back up to the high peaks, which were slowly emerging from their misty embrace.  But whilst Bowfell and Cringle Crags are clear in this picture, their freedom was intermittent and was not enjoyed by the Scafells.

The view back up towards Bowfell, from the Hardknott Pass road

Never mind, despite a bit of mist and a few midges, it had been an excellent outing, enhanced by a visit to the Watermill Inn at Ings for some refreshing, locally brewed beer.  We know it was locally brewed because the brewer was plodding around in his wellies. ‘Phil will be envious’ I thought…

Here’s our route – a fairly ‘bog standard (no bogs today)’ route up and down Scafell, but not one that I’ve done for some time.  Very enjoyable, and back home for tea in Timperley by 7.30pm.

Our route - approx 17km with around 900 to 1000 metres ascent, in a little over 6 hours

Anquet (above) claims 15.5km and 1024 metres ascent for this walk, which took us a leisurely 6+ hours, whilst my Garmin Gadget (see below) recorded 17.25km and only 902 metres ascent.  Who really needs stats anyway? – its just a habit I’m addicted to…

There’s a short slide show here – if you’ve got this far you may be interested!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Sunday 24 July 2011 – The Yorkshire Three Peaks

Roger, Jacky, Heather and Martin on the summit of Ingleborough

The idea had been mooted during our recent Dales High Way trip, when Roger and Jacky had shown enthusiasm for a brisk stroll over the Yorkshire Three Peaks, should I be returning to walk that route.

Heather, who features in the annals of TGO Challenge reports, also lives nearby and was happy to get to the Hill Inn for 6.30 am on this sunny Sunday morning.

Well, it was sunny once the mist had dispersed, and Ingleborough stood fresh and clear ahead of us.

Setting off up Ingleborough at 6.40am

Low mist clung to the Lake District fells and lingered in Morecambe Bay, but this was the finest walking weather imaginable, and it took little more than an hour to reach our first objective.

Roger and Jacky approaching Ingleborough's summit

After posing for the group photo at the head of this posting, we ambled back down to the Sulber Nick path to Horton.  Jacky decided that the pace was a bit faster than she would like, so opted to break away and amble back to Giggleswick in her own time.

The three of us weren’t really striding out, but a reasonable pace was maintained down to Horton in Ribblesdale, where we passed the smart railway station and the cafe from where many folk start this walk as a ‘challenge’.

The campsite was busy, and we joined a stream of people going up Pen-y-ghent.

The path to Pen-y-ghent from Horton

The summit, reached at 10.30, was busy, and it was annoying to watch people ignore the well surfaced path in favour of an older, more direct, route that clearly was recovering from heavy erosion.

Whilst others headed across the boggy depths of Horton Moor and Black Dubb Moss, Heather led us down a ‘yellow brick road’ and over Whitber Hill, where a faint path avoids (in this dry weather) the bogs that are normally a feature of the long plod between Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough.

Ingleborough, from Pen-y-ghent, showing our route over Whitber Hill

I notice that September’s excellent, if rather early, TGO magazine includes a report that a grant of £30,000 has been awarded to the ‘Three Peaks Project’ by the European Outdoor Conservation Association, for work on ‘restoration’ of this section of the Three Peaks Challenge route that sees the boots of over 250,000 people every year.  Subject to landowners’ agreement, it may be our route over Whitber Hill that receives the benefit, rather than the traditional route through the bog.

Today we encountered very little by way of dampness underfoot, though Heather did manage to spread-eagle herself on the path at one point.  It’s a shame it wasn’t boggy just there, as a softer landing may not have resulted in the long graze that she now sports, matching one that Roger acquired earlier in the week. 

Beyond High Birkwith and Nether Lodge, we reached a convenient lump of concrete beside the infant River Ribble.  Time for some lunch.

The infant River Ribble near Nether Lodge

The short road section to Ribblehead was a bit tedious due to heavy traffic and motorbikes, but on arrival at Ribblehead we were rewarded with the evocative sight of a steam locomotive making its way across the famous viaduct.

Steam train at Ribblehead

The tea van was doing a roaring trade, and whilst Roger and I tucked into welcome 99’s, Heather burnt her throat on a cup of tea.

The path up Whernside passes near the viaduct.  Roger pointed out some metal plaques – one is shown below – which seem to be appearing on the finger posts hereabouts, some bearing no apparent relevance to their location.  From where are they emanating, we wondered?

Ribblehead

The ascent of Whernside took a little longer than expected.  Our pace was beginning to slacken.  But it was still early, and there was no hurry, apart from Heather having to do some baking for a Jamboree (or similar?).

There was still no risk of rain, as Roger made it to the top.

Roger makes it to the summit of Whernside

We lingered on Whernside’s summit, enjoying the vista, before ambling down to Chapel-le-Dale, eschewing the various establishments that were offering refreshments in favour of beer and tea with Jacky back in Giggleswick.

We had finished at 4.20, completing the 39km (24 mile) circuit in 9 hours 40 minutes.  Not particularly fast, but a lovely walk on a perfect day in excellent company.

Thanks for joining me, folks.

Here’s the approximate route:

Our route - 39km with around 1500 metres ascent, taking us 9 hours 40 minutes

Here’s the ‘actual’ route recorded by my Garmin Gadget:

And here (click here) is the 34 image slideshow of all my pictures from the day.

Days in the Yorkshire Dales don’t come any better than this….

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Saturday 23 July 2011 – Jake, aged 3 months

Jacob Milnes, aged 3 months

Thursday 21 July 2011 – The Salford Trail (Part 5)

Starting Part 5 of the Salford Trail, from the bridge over Glaze Brook - Reg, Alan, Rick, Ann, John and JJ
Readers may recall previous visits to this trail on 23 February and 23 March.
Having missed Part 4 of the trail, I joined various LDWA stalwarts on the recently published Part 5.  Seven of us set off from a lay-by in Hollins Green.  We were soon joined by the creator of the trail, Roy Bullock, who pointed out the ‘hundred’ marking on the other side of the bridge, denoting the border between Salford and West Derby, two of the six Hundreds of Lancashire.
The hundred of Salford was an ancient division of the historic county of Lancashire, in northern England. It was sometimes known as Salfordshire, the name alluding to its judicial centre being the township of Salford (the suffix -shire meaning the territory was appropriated to the prefixed settlement). It is also known as the Royal Manor of Salford and the Salford wapentake.
The Manor or Hundred of Salford had Anglo-Saxon origins. The Domesday Book recorded that the area was held in 1066 by Edward the Confessor. Salford was recorded as part of the territory of Inter Ripam et Mersam or "Between Ribble and Mersey", and it was included with the information about Cheshire, though it cannot be said clearly to have been part of Cheshire.
The area became a subdivision of the County Palatine of Lancaster (or Lancashire) on its creation in 1182.
So, the history of these parts goes back quite a long way.  There’s more information here (from which the above information has been extracted).
I can’t believe that I failed to photograph ‘Marge and Steel’, the sculpture designed as a gateway into Salford from Warrington. It is symbolic of the Margarine Factory and Irlam Steel Works, one of the biggest in the country, and the contribution made by the local people to the local economy. It is also the first public art on a roundabout in Salford.  The design is based upon an idea developed with the community. Children wanted a modern superhero theme and adults talked about the Steel and Margarine works that used to be here. Retired workers remembered the tea dances they enjoyed. An idea was developed to portray the dance of these two industries which forged people’s lives together in Irlam and Cadishead.
We strolled along between the road and the Manchester Ship Canal.  That was the theme of today’s route.  A high level bridge linking Carrington with Glazebrook was soon reached.  Apparently this used to be a low level bridge across the River Irwell, before the creation of the Ship Canal.  Shortly after the bridge there’s an old shunting engine, fairly recently painted and renovated. Its working life was in the CWS. soap works at Irlam. It had no fire to stoke and its steam reservoir was charged with steam from a boiler in the factory. This avoided the soot and fumes common to other engines. After the closure of the works it fell into disrepair and was due to be scrapped.  Then the local Rotary Club "adopted" the engine and the road building firm building Phase II of the Irlam and Cadishead by-pass (Birse) offered to restore and relocate the engine to a display site by the new road.
Roy Bullock joins Alan, JJ and Rick, to pose outside an old shunting engine
The road soon regains the side of the canal, and before passing under another high level bridge, housing the very much alive Manchester to Warrington main line, we observed the entry of the River Mersey into the Ship Canal, at the end of its short journey from Stockport.
The River Mersey drains into the Manchester Ship Canal at Irlam
Despite being in the industrial heartland of the north west, we were subjected to a short interlude of ‘rain forest?’!
A forest of Himalayan Balsam
There were lots of flowers to be seen, mostly common to scrubland and meadow, including the Himalayan Balsam shown above, and swathes of Rosebay Willowherb.
Rosebay Willowherb
Other flowers included vetches, thistles, St John’s wort, ragworts, buddleia, and more.
Emerging from the forest, we headed beside a section of the old bed of the River Irwell that is still full of running water and home to resident swans and ducks.   The river has been incorporated into the Ship Canal, but the Boat House still stands, and, since we were not on a ‘hard core’ LDWA outing, Reg permitted a brief halt for refreshments.  It was a hot day, after all.  Several known addicts would have been unable to walk past the pub anyway.
A little further on, not far from the route of Part 3 of the trail, hordes of workers were busy constructing the City of Salford Stadium, which I understand will shortly be home to ‘Salford City Reds’, a rugby team.
Salford City Stadium
Then we passed under the giant arches of the M60 motorway bridge over the Ship Canal.  It’s rather uglier than the viaducts of the Victorian age, and the graffiti writers must have either very long ladders or a Spiderman kit.
High Graffiti
At Barton upon Irwell, where there’s now little evidence of the Irwell, we passed a fish and chip shop reputedly used by Laurel and Hardy when they were in town.  It has changed hands since then.
Laurel and Hardy's fish 'n chip shop
Across the road, beyond a rather grotty area with a bench where we enjoyed a second lunch and a second instalment of fudge brownies, a swing bridge carries the Bridgewater Canal over the Ship Canal, and indeed over our route, which from here on was on tarmac.
The Bridgewater Canal at Barton
As we strolled on through Eccles, the sky above the International Worship Centre, where we resisted the temptation to call in for refreshments at its café, caught my eye.
Skyscape over the International Worship Centre
We tramped on through Eccles and into the large area of Salford Quays and its splendid regeneration projects.  It all looks rather smart these days – a far cry from a few years ago.  This isn’t far from the docks I visited to see my cousin Philip when he worked as a merchant seaman in the late ‘60s.
Salford Quays
The Imperial War Museum North is well worth a visit if you have time.
The Imperial War Museum North
MediaCityUK looks as if it will be a great place to work, with its own Metrolink station, for all those people from the BBC who are complaining about having to be based there!
Media City UK
We halted for a while outside the Lowry Centre, full today of graduating students in their finery with their doting parents.  Roy went home, but the rest of us enjoyed a coffee, rather incongruous in our walking gear amongst all the smart suits, before moving on to conclude the walk where it started several months ago, outside Salford Quays Metrolink station.
Here’s the route – 16km with minimal ascent.  It took us all day, but less plodding walkers should take 3 to 4 hours over the interesting route.
Our route - 16km, 60 metres ascent, 4 hours
This entry mentions just a few of the many points of interest on this predominantly urban walk.  Whilst country walks have great merit, outings such as this one can be most educational in an entirely different way.
Roy has written about the Salford Trail in great detail here, and Reg has written up today’s outing here.
There’s a bit more information annotated to this slide show.
Roll on the next ‘Plod’.