Friday, 19 October 2012
Itchy feet on a sunny afternoon drew me to explore a few red dots on Explorer Map number 276.
It’s a short drive from Timperley to the village of Glazebury, where the Raven Inn’s car park has plenty of space for customers.
From the Raven Inn, I headed down Heyshoot Lane and after a few metres turned left along Moss Lane. A path to the left after 300m took me over a stile and into a slightly wet field, leading to Light Oaks.
Beyond the farm, a left turn leads past the lovely old building that is Light Oaks Hall, whose history apparently dates back at least as far as the 14th century, though the current building dates back only to early C17.
Crossing the bridge over Glaze Brook, I re-entered Cheshire, after having paid brief visits to both Greater Manchester (Salford) and Lancashire (Wigan).
A right turn at the main road took me past the Chat Moss Hotel. The hotel is adjacent to the world’s first timetabled inter-city passenger railway. The Liverpool and Manchester railway was opened in 1830 by the Duke of Wellington, and one of the world’s first railway booking offices was on the premises of the hotel that formed part of what used to be Bury Lane Station.
Continuing under the railway bridge I arrived at the C of E parish church - All Saints, Glazebury.
A left turn down Hurst Lane leads to a health conscious farm where visitors have to dunk themselves in chemicals before entering.
Amongst the farm buildings stands Hurst Hall, built around 1700. It was originally the residence of the Holcroft family, a branch of the de Culcheth family, who were Protestants, and therefore Parliamentarians in the Civil War. The Holcroft family also enjoyed notoriety for a scandal involving the daughter of Lt-Col John Holcroft, an officer in Cromwell's army. His daughter, Maria, married Irishman Lieutenant Thomas Blood in 1650 in nearby Newchurch before moving back to Ireland. He was later to be promoted to the rank of Captain. Captain Blood then gained notoriety for devising a plot to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London and using them as a ransom for Charles II.
A thin path rich with either disinfectant or rainwater (it was hard to tell!) led me around the left perimeter of the farmyard, soon reaching a pedestrian crossing across the line that was used in the Rainhill trials in 1829. Stephenson’s Rocket now features in the Chat Moss pub sign, as shown above. It was easy today to dodge the Arriva trains that nowadays service the route.
Suddenly, a thunderstorm arrived to interrupt a sunny afternoon; shame I’d not got waterproofs with me!
My old Keen trail shoes had their waterproof lining tested yet again, as I took a left and immediate right after the crossing, past a lone beech tree to a path junction for a right turn through wet ground to a small footbridge, then bearing left down a flooded path after which a series of left turns brought me back to the Raven Inn, past hedgerows that were just about gaining an autumn tinge.
Here's the route - just a brief dose of fresh air spiced with disinfectant on an October afternoon - it can be easily extended (see Explorer Map 276).
There’s a short slide show (17 images) here.
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
This blog passed its fifth birthday unnoticed, in a flurry of Marilyn Bagging activity with M2. I’ve now realised that fact, as this is my sixth report on the annual mountain biking event - CMBM.
I was faced with a decision as to whether to use ‘Stumpy’, the full suspension bike I’ve had for over a year. The bike is fine, but on rough ground bits tend to fall off it. I could see that conditions would be very muddy, so I chose to take ‘Shogun’ on its 11th CMBM. ‘Shogun’ has closely fitting mudguards. Today that meant that my back stayed clean and dry, whereas most folk looked as if they were encountering severe bowel problems. In fact, a number of few riders politely enquired as to whether I was really taking part in the event, as I was pottered along in clean clothes on the bike that is so ancient that it sometimes gets ‘wow, a classic bike’ comments!
It was a beautiful day, starting with the scraping of thick frost from the car, then fog on the motorway, with mist gradually dissipating after the 9am start, where about 350 of us assembled in Bowood Lane near Sowerby Bridge.
Early sections of the ride weren’t any more muddy than usual, and it was disappointing to find that the rocky descent to Mytholmroyd has been ‘sanitised’, meaning there was no need for anyone to dismount on this previously tricky descent.
It’s a steep climb from New Bridge to the second support point, where I stopped for a while this year. The picture below demonstrates the brilliant performance of those at the support points. Whilst some riders take a break like I did, many just keep going, taking drinks and food from the supporters without needing to dismount. There’s no need to carry a map, as all the significant turns are both signed and in most cases are manned by marshalls. The aim of the event is to present a personal mountain biking challenge, at the same time raising funds for the local Scout group. This year there were two other events taking place on the same day over different routes. We were told to ignore the yellow signs!
After Walshaw Hamlet there’s a steepish climb up to Shackleton Knoll. This year the surface was so slithery that I didn’t see anyone managing the ascent without needing to dismount, though I’m sure the leaders managed fine. Here’s Scott Oddy near the top of the hill, where the gradient eases.
Looking back down the hill, many of those in the picture are walking up the steeper sections, where the ground this year was too smooth and slippery to gain traction.
After this there’s a long bumpy descent – one of the sections where Shogun’s lack of suspension means that I’m comparatively slow compared with most riders. Then, after a pleasant road section, comes the crux of the ride, the moorland crossing culminating in the technical descent from Midgley Moor, where most of the event photos are taken. Click here (for a limited period) if you want to view images of bikers in all manner of weird positions and thoroughly coated in mud. Robert and I look relatively sensible compared with many others!
Whilst neither Robert nor I fell off, we found it very difficult to avoid the foot deep slurry of peaty puddles across the moor. The waterproof lining in my well used Keen trail shoes (see footnote) proved to be up to the job, combined with close fitting ankle gaiters, and my feet stayed comfortably dry, albeit coated in slurry from a misjudged pond crossing.
It was a particularly tiring morning, and for the first time in eleven years, albeit with nobody in sight behind me, I walked up the start of the steep hill to the finish. In fact, I followed a large group who were all also walking. But I finished in the saddle…
Then it was into the routine of enjoying some tea and soup, collecting the t-shirt and finisher’s certificate (and this year a Thank You card ‘In appreciation of your support over 10 entries of the CMBM’), throwing the bike into the back of the car, a quick change, and a celebratory beer with Robert at The Church Stile Inn, where we stood outside with our beers, cheering on the people still approaching the finish. In this case, Alistair Murphy.
As you can see, it remained a lovely day. Who says the weather is always bad in the UK? They are wrong.
Winner – 2 hrs 6 min – 332 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 35 min
Robert: 3 hrs 1 min – 88
Martin: 3 hrs 37 min – 183
Here’s the Garmin gadget version of the route:
A footwear note:
This year I used my Keen Targhee 11 Walking Shoes for the second time. These are now nearing the end of their days after 1400 km of walks and numerous bike rides. I used them together with close fitting ankle gaiters and Sealskinz socks which in the event weren’t needed, as the shoes and gaiters combined withstood the substantial barrage of water and slurry. My feet stayed perfectly dry. Robert witnessed the peeling off of the outer layers. So, more plaudits for these splendid Keen shoes.
Monday, 15 October 2012
As well as being a Plodder, the inimitable Reg is also a Railway Rambler. It was one of the latter rambles that inspired him to plot this fascinating stroll, which at no point strayed more than 2 miles from its starting point.
We convened at Middlewood Station. It's in the middle of a wood! One other bemused passenger was directed towards the nearest road, as there is no vehicular access to the station.
This Convention of Plodders then posed for the above photograph. Given the aura of the out of place young man on the left of the photo, we have now all placed orders with the Rejuvenating Hat Company.
After a short walk along the Middlewood Way we arrived at Higher Poynton Station. One joker suggested that this would be an appropriate route for Don, a stalwart Plodder who often appears on these pages, as he would struggle to find somewhere to fall over. Reg decreed that this was not at all humourous and declared ten minutes silence over mugs of tea and a hefty dose of fudge brownies, in memory of Don’s ankle which was shattered last week by a slippery blade of grass on Pen-y-ghent. A report can be found here (you may need to scroll down to 3 October).
A nearby Visitor Centre provided a challenge for this myopic bunch of pensioners, for whom the information there, together with today’s closely typed six page handout from Reg, plus numerous information boards, left several Plodders searching for Information Overload tablets.
There's a pricey museum of industrial archeology (engines) nearby. It was shut. Reg gave a useful précis in lieu of a formal visit, whilst Allan posed by an exhibit.
We visited the sites of various pits, tramroads and railways, mainly built on private land so not requiring an Act of Parliament. There’s much more information on them here.
Our ramble involved walking up and down a series of tramroads and railway lines. These days they are leafy lanes close to affluent suburbs of Manchester, but as recently as the 1930’s both the railways and the horse-powered tramroads were still in limited use prior to the closure of the last of the collieries.
Lunch was taken at a garden centre where a miniature railway must attract huge numbers of weekend visitors. It was busy today even though the railway wasn’t operating (despite evidence to the contrary within Reg’s slideshow!), despite Ann’s best efforts.
The walk continued through leafy suburbs with exuberant street furniture, before joining the Prince’s Incline. This led nearly all the way back to the Middlewood Way, where popular demand required Reg to lead us to a local fleshpot. The Boar’s Head duly met said ‘fleshpot’ criteria, where more brownies supplemented the beer.
Before we knew it we were back at Middlewood, where most of the others left on a train whilst I tried to navigate my way back to my car near High Lane.
There’s a short slideshow here.
Here's our route - see if you can follow the arrows! 15-16 km (10 miles) with about 140 metres ascent.
Here’s what my Garmin gadget made of the trip:
Reg’s more accurate report is here (scroll down).
PS I happen to be leading the next Plod, to which all readers are welcome. It’s on 31st October, with the highlight being a visit to Lud's Church. We will be starting at 10.30 from Danebridge (SJ 965 652). Take the A523 from Macclesfield towards Leek, turn L along the A54 towards Buxton, then after nearly 4 miles turn R to Wincle then Danebridge, where there's plenty of space to park on the roadside before the bridge.
The walk is about 11 miles, with no refreshment point - it's a circuit via Hanging Stone, the Roaches, and Lud's Church (a cave). Afterwards I'll be going to the Knot Inn in nearby Rushton Spencer for refreshments with anyone else who wants to come along.