Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Wednesday 22 August 2012 – Bury Forest with the LDWA (aka ‘An Irwell Valley Walk’)

Backing up in Bury Jungle

It was a pleasure to join ‘The Plodders’ today after quite a long break.  They have been doing, amongst other things, the Irwell Valley Walk from the river’s source to the point where it imminently mutates into the Manchester Ship Canal.

The 50 minute tram ride from Timperley to Bury was very pleasant in the sunshine, so I was somewhat surprised to find others dressed in waterproofs.  No matter, I’d brought the sun with me – a fact that some of the assembled masses failed to notice until their waterproofs were about to be ripped to shreds in Bury Jungle.

At the start, just outside Bury

Anyway, we lined up for a mug shot – two Rogers, John, Don, Reg, Phil, Little Ann, Peter, Jim, Bernard, Dennis and Alan, if I’ve got that right.  Then Reg set off purposefully in search of the River Irwell.  We couldn’t see it, but we could see the Metrolink line to our left, so “we must be roughly right”. 

“We need the canal towpath” announced Reg - “it’s just down there, you go first, John.” 

“What, through that forest?”

“Yes, here are some wire cutters, and would Bernard please pass his walking stick.”

John and Reg attack the Jungle

We spent some time in this short section of jungle, with its spiky brambles and stingy nettles.  There was a vertical section, lined with brambles, nettles and Himalayan Balsam.  So what to hold on to, given that the innocuous Balsam doesn’t exactly provide a solid grip?

The jungle exited into a flat field, but as you can see from the following image, two strands of barbed wire could easily rip the knees.  We couldn’t really complain about the wire, as we weren’t exactly on a path…

Roger emerges from Bury Jungle

After rescuing Little Ann, who had tried to hitch a ride in Bernard’s rucksack, from the depths of the Jungle, we managed to extricate all 13 of us and find the canal towpath, where we were buzzed by grey wagtails and were closely vetted by some puzzled looking swans.

Swans by the Manchester, Bury and Bolton Canal

Little Ann, apparently dazed by her Jungle experience, paddled into the middle of the canal with my camera to take the following picture.  Thanks Ann, I didn’t tell anyone you thought the grass in the canal was dry!  You seemed a bit dazed and may not even recall the episode at all…

The Manchester Bury and Bolton Canal

The next pair of swans seem to have had a (re)productive summer.

Swans

Eventually, Reg got bored with the towpath and took us down a track under a tree viaduct.  Those of us who didn’t bother with hats got sunburnt.

Dismantled railway viaduct in Radcliffe

Incredibly, we spent some time on the Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail without finding any sculptures.  We did however find a few rocks on which to enjoy a speedy lunch and a second round of brownies.  Eventually a rather dilapidated piece of ironwork sculpture appeared, and Reg breathed a deep sigh of relief when he finally located the River Irwell, which he then insisted on crossing several times.

Crossing the River Irwell

The fleshpots of Salford were gained in the vicinity of The Crescent.  Some of these have seen better days.

The Black Horse Hotel, Salford

St Philip’s Church, constructed in the Greek Revival style in 1822 from ashlar stone, still seems relatively intact.

By Salford Crescent - St Philip's Church

During the speedy lunch, Reg had been busy ordering a second lunch of sandwiches, salad and lots of chips at the Mark Addy, which we needed in order to provide our beers with something to wash down. 

3pm = a second lunch at the Mark Addy

Here’s an approximation of our 20 km (12.5 mile) route, which took us about 5 hours.  Bury Forest is positioned somewhere between points 2 and 3, but its exact location remains Reg’s secret.  The River Irwell turns into the Manchester Ship Canal at some indeterminate point just beyond the Mark Addy pub.

Our route - approx 20 km (12.5 miles) with 100 metres ascent, in 5 hours (moving time about 4 hours)

There’s a slide show with more ‘Forest’ pictures here, and my Garmin gadget track of the route is below:

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tuesday 21 August 2012 – An Evening Walk to Werneth Low

By the orientation plaque at Werneth Low

On a warm evening in Compstall, Sue and I were joined for a beer by Graham B, whilst teams of bowlers aimed for their targets on the pristine green behind The George.

It seemed a shame to leave, but Alistair, Colin and Helen turned up, eager for a walk.  So off we set, heading alongside the lake in Etherow Country Park.

Setting off beside the lake in Etherow Country Park

The golden orb was soon lost behind the horizon, bringing to attention the need to carry torches on evening walks from now until next April or May, though some got away without them tonight.

Sunset over Werneth Low

I hadn’t walked the paths before, and hadn’t carried out a recce, but as expected Graham B pretty much knew the route up to Werneth Low.  It was still light enough for this self timed picture looking back down to Compstall.

Group near Beacom Houses

Werneth Low hasn’t previously featured on these pages.  I’m not really sure why not, as it’s a fine viewpoint right on the edge of the Peak District.  Judging by my map it’s also on a European Trail – path E2, albeit not signed as such, and it’s fair to say we didn’t meet a trail of E2 backpackers snaking across the countryside.  A couple of dog walkers were our only encounters tonight.  Apart from the curious cows.

The War Memorial dates from 1920, whilst the ‘Low’ part of the name of this place dates from long ago - ‘Low’ being the North English word for a hill.

Werneth Low Memorial

After I’d handed out some brownies – the first batch for a couple of months, we continued our circuit in increasing gloom along a very muddy track.

“I’ve not been here before” announced Graham.  Alistair, Colin and Helen also live close by, and they hadn’t taken the planned route before either.  So we fumbled our way along the lanes and paths in a southerly direction (Alistair takes an award for being the only one of us with a compass) as it went completely dark and torchless Sue was glad of the carrots I’d fed her for tea.

At one point the path disappeared, but a short stretch of jungle revealed a welcoming (unless you had a dog, we didn’t) gate with a yellow arrow that led us to a barking farmyard.  I always get nervous in such places at night, especially when, like now, an array of blinding lights is activated, but over the years our evening walks have scared other people more often than we’ve been scared ourselves.

I was quite pleased to find that we were somehow still on a path when we passed under some power pylons and reached a stile at a point that I knew was only 100 metres or so from the road.  But in the dark wood I then missed the path and led everyone across a boggy field from which a barbed wire fence had to be climbed in order to escape to the pavement.

I’m sure the ‘off path’ experience did no harm to anyone’s thirst, which was quenched a few minutes later back at The George.

Here’s our route – 8 km with 300 metres ascent, taking 2 to 2.5 hours.

Werneth Low route - 8 km, 300m ascent, up to 2.5 hours 
Another very jolly evening – it was good to see you all.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Will and Geri get married

From L to R: Toby, Ollie, Geri, Will, Nathan (best man)

We had a lovely time at Will (my nephew) and Geri’s wedding in Northampton yesterday, and very much enjoyed our day with my brother Dave’s family, some of whom appear above.

I've uploaded just a few snaps, taken mainly by Sue outside the church - here.

Have a great honeymoon, Will and Geri, and we hope to see you all soon.  (Some readers may remember Dave and Toby from last year’s Christmas walk up Shutlingsloe.)