Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Saturday 17 November 2012 – Wythenshawe Parkrun

John Raho winner in 18.25

I’ve done a few of these 5km runs, but various aches and pains acquired last week left me with an easy decision to marshall at Wythenshawe on Saturday – runners are encouraged to volunteer to do this three times a year.

So I went along on a very muddy day to guide people around ‘the far bridge’  - not an onerous job as most people seem very happy to be directed back to the start/finish line!

I took my camera and have now managed to upload the photos to a new Flickr account, from which I’ve shared them with the Wythenshawe Parkrun Group.  If anyone is interested, they should be saved as a set here

Volunteering to marshall for Parkruns can be useful experience – I was joined by Tom, for whom marshalling at a Parkrun counts as volunteer work towards his Duke of Edinburgh Award.  Sadly, as he is under 18, his mum needs to accompany him.  That seems a little unnecessary under the circumstances as I’m sure Tom could have looked after himself and would have gained more benefit from being on his own.  But I appreciate the organisers of Parkrun have to be very careful in this era of health and safety paranoia.

The winner of this event, John Raho - pictured above, took just 18 minutes and 25 seconds to beat the next man home by over 2 minutes.  “That’s my geography teacher” remarked Tom!

Here are a few more images from the run:

Richard and Joe looked just a little over-dressed on their first lap! 

Richard and Joe on the first lap

Paul, a stalwart organiser of this parkrun, and fifth to finish today, should know better than to think that the finishing line is at the far bridge!

Paul thinks he has finished; he should know better

Ken led Michael and Paul around the second lap, but Paul snatched victory out of this speedy trio.  Ken is in his 70’s but I’ve never got anywhere near him, and Paul (my pacer) always drifts to about half a minute ahead of me in the latter stages of the run.  He’s a strong finisher….

Ken, Michael and Paul

…as is Jeanette, who was the third lady to finish today.

Jeanette on the last lap

Richard and Joe appeared to have warmed up by the time they came around on their second lap, and they finished strongly just over half way down the 75 strong field.

Richard and Joe come round for the second time

It should be noted that this isn’t a ‘race’, but a personal challenge.  Having said that, there is a sense of achievement in getting a personal best or improving one’s age related percentage grade.  It’s a great way to start the weekend.

Try one near where you live…?

Saturday 15 December 2012 – I marshalled again.  Photos are here.

The TGO Awards 2012 and The Bridge of Gaur Guest House

TGO Awards Logo

After last Wednesday’s plod along the Lancashire Trail I sadly had to leave the others to enjoy their fish and chips at Kelbrook Fishery and shoot up to Kendal for the first ‘TGO Awards’ ceremony.

I’d been asked by Heather and Eddie, who run the excellent Bridge of Gaur Guest House, to represent them as they had been shortlisted for an award in the ‘Accommodation provider of the year’ category.

Others shortlisted ranged from campsites to major organisations such as HF Holidays.  As a small B&B in the middle of nowhere with just four rooms on offer, the shortlisting alone was an honour for the Bridge of Gaur Guest House.  I’ve stayed there on four occasions since they opened a couple of years ago, and Sue and I have witnessed Eddie and Heather’s exceptional hospitality, ranging from Eddie patrolling the ‘street’ looking for an overdue guest, to his boiling up a stag’s head to remove the maggots before boxing it and posting it home to its owner who was in the middle of a walk across Scotland.  That same night a couple of exhausted oriental cyclists turned up after 10pm and were accommodated somehow albeit the guest house was already full.  They go ‘the extra mile’ in the true spirit of ‘The Great Outdoors’ and were most worthy of the shortlisting.

Try to visit them sometime – go north to Pitlochry and turn left – there are numerous excellent walks in the area.

The award ceremony was very well attended and I must have enjoyed a good night as we still seemed to be going strong when evicted from the wine bar venue at midnight!

I won’t spend a paragraph name-dropping the various celebrities encountered, but it was good to chat to Andy Howell and various of his ‘buddies’ and to see Carey, Assistant Editor at TGO Magazine, with whom we had such an enjoyable trip to Turkey last year.

Terry Abrahams has written about and photographed the evening here, should anyone want to see some famous faces.

Here’s TGO Magazine’s take on the night, and a list of winners:

On Wednesday night the first inaugural TGO Awards in association with Outdry was held in Kendal. Outdoor industry professionals and personalities turned up in volumes to support the event, which commends brands and service providers who make hillwalkers’ time on the hills safe, fun and comfortable.

TGO had to collate over 18,000 votes for the reader voted categories and the products in the panel judged categories endured long debate from the expert judges including TGO’s own gear expert Chris Townsend, acting TGO editor Daniel Neilson, Andrew Denton of Outdoor Industries Association and renowned blogger Andy Howell.

The winners are as follows and in exceptional circumstances, some brands receive a highly commended award.

Independent retailer of the year- Rathbones, Keswick

Chain retailer of the year- Cotswold Outdoor

Online retailer of the year- www.Alpkit.com

Accommodation provider of the year- Wasdale Head National Trust Campsite

Pub or restaurant of the year- Old Dungeon Ghyll, Langdale

Environmental or access initiative of the year- Country Guardian anti-windfarm campaign

Outdoor book of the year- The Backpacker's Handbook by Chris Townsend (Ragged Mountain Press)

Outdoor personality of the year- Bear Grylls, Chief of scouts

Clothing product of the year- Rab Stretch Neo Jacket, Highly Commended- Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket and Marmot Stretchman Jacket

Footwear product of the year- Salomon Fellcross, Highly Commended- Mizuno Wave Harrier

Camping product of the year- MLD Trailstar, Highly Commended- Hydro-Photon Steripen and Rab Infinity 500 Sleeping Bag

Innovation of the year- Routebuddy, Highly Commended- Polartec Neoshell and Augmentra Viewranger app

Overall comment on the ceremony was resoundingly positive. Georgia Walters, organiser of the event said, “the first TGO Awards has gone better then we could ever have hoped, turn out has been fantastic and we’d like to thank everyone that has travelled the distance to make tonight a success.”

So, Eddie and Heather, and all the others shortlisted in their category, were beaten by a campsite!

Eddie and Heather, and son Thomas, outside their Guest House

Camping enthusiasts may favour the lawn, but B&B connoisseurs will enjoy the comfortable renovated rooms inside (and the porch has been finished since this photo was taken in May 2012).

Thanks go to Eddie and Heather for asking me to represent them on such a pleasurable evening.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Lancashire Trail

Descending towards Abbey Village, with recently refurbished Darwen Tower on Stage 4

This posting is by way of an index for the Lancashire Trail walks with East Lancs LDWA (Plodding in Mud Section) which took place between October 2011 and November 2012, should anyone want to look at all the postings or at any specific section or slideshow.

Stage 1 - 12 October 2011 – St Helens to Abbey Lakes (slideshow)

Stage 2 - 9 November 2011 – Abbey Lakes to Coppull Moor (slideshow)

Stage 3 - 13 December 2011 – Coppull Moor to Horwich (slideshow)

Stage 4 - 18 January 2012 – Rivington to Abbey Village (slideshow) [Joe’s Cup]

Stage 5 - 22 February 2012 – Abbey Village to Mellor (slideshow)

Stage 6 - 28 March 2012 – Mellor to Whalley (slideshow) [Episode 2]

Stage 7 - 13 April 2012 – Whalley to Barley (slideshow)

Stage 8 - 14 November 2012 – Barley to Thornton-in-Craven (slideshow)

For the record, the total distance covered was about 120 km (75 miles), and we ascended around 2,700 metres during the course of the walk.

Thanks go to Reg Kingston for organising these outings, and to all the Plodders for your excellent company.

Happy Days!

Wednesday 14 November 2012 - The Lancashire Trail – Part 8 – Barley to Thornton-in-Craven

LDWA Plodders setting off from Barley on Stage 8 of the Lancashire Trail

We started on the Lancashire Trail in October 2011, and most of the Plodders had finished it by May of this year.  I’d missed both the recce and the actual walk, so Reg kindly arranged another outing on the same route.  Eleven people turned up.  Most had been on the earlier walks.  There is an attraction hereabouts that is much stronger than the Lancashire mud we encountered today – the fish and chip shop at Kelbrook!  Sadly I had to leave before that delight, so yet another walk in this vicinity will have to be arranged…

After setting off from Barley at around 11.15am, I soon realised that Reg had omitted to take the traditional group photo, so I deputised for him – see above: Martin, Paul, Ann, Neil, Bernard, Nancy, Allan, Jim, Phil, Alan and Reg.

There appeared to be a fungal epidemic as well as a mud fest as we wandered through the leaf litter that concealed a deep gooey brown substance.

Whilst it was a good, sociable walk in fine if cloudy weather, there did seem to be quite a bit of this goo.  Mud and trail shoes (the chosen footwear of many LDWA members) don’t go together too well, so whilst my footwear allowed me to stroll dry-shod along the muddy tracks, others diced with barbed wire fences in a futile effort to keep the mud below ankle height.

A herd of water buffalo looked on in amazement.

Luckily, Don was not with us (still recovering from his broken ankle - ‘hello Don, hope it’s getting better’) so nobody fell in!

Mudbath near Admergill

“That’s a 'Poor Quality Tractor'” announced our resident Tractor Expert, as we passed the remains of a piece of machinery called David Brown.  “But that’s a 'Class Act'” he asserted as we encountered a dilapidated three wheeler called Fordson Major, a little further down the hill.  He even offered a plausible explanation for the missing wheel!

The route, shown below, took us through pleasant woods then through fields near gently trickling streams, in a north eastern direction to Admergill.

Then we slithered up a hill to a rather exposed row of rocks that provided an excellent spot for lunch, if rather cool.  One major shortcoming was the proximity of the Moorcock Inn, a few metres along the A682 but inaccessible from our nearby path.

The lunch spot afforded a distant view of Stansfield Tower (aka Blacko Tower) which the original route of the Lancashire Trail visited.  We had walked in view of this landmark all morning.  The tower overlooks the village of Blacko.  It was built around 1890 by a local grocer, Jonathan Stansfield.

Lunch near Peel's House

A little further along our route, two gents  were evidently enjoying the view from the garden of Peel House Farm - 3 beds, 8 acres, on sale for £495,000 - so these chaps may soon disappear.

Laurel and Hardy

It was a pleasant stroll over White Moor, where we encountered a couple who enquired as to our destination but looked completely baffled when we said ‘Thornton’!  Perhaps they had never been to Yorkshire…

The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was crossed at Barnoldswick, after which we found even more mud, but a considerate farmer had spread a bale of hay over the offending area.  Well done that man!

Alpaca looked on curiously as we rose on a good path to the final 187 metre hillock of the day, before wandering down to Thornton Hall Farm Country Park.  Little Ann’s eyes lit up as we approached – she would surely gain access to the swings on a child’s ticket … – but sadly the park was closed.

That left us with little option but to run a border patrol of attentive donkeys to conclude the walk just inside Yorkshire, at the Church of St Mary the Virgin.

Church of St Mary the Virgin

There was probably a Saxon church here, but the first recorded resident priest was William de Byrley in 1280; the building, therefore, dates back at least to the reign of Henry III, but most probably a good deal further. It was rebuilt some 200 years later during the reign of Henry VI, and was modernised and extended on numerous occasions, up to 1998 when two extra bells were installed.

Here’s the route we took - 14km, 300 metres ascent, in a little over 4 hours.

Our route - 14km, 300 metres ascent, 4 hours

There’s a 31 image slideshow here, for anyone interested.

Alan R, in his excellent ‘Blog on the Landscape’, reported in more detail on this walk here, some time ago. His report seems to have stirred a debate about the merits of the trail straying into Yorkshire, and the rearrangement of the ‘Roses’ boundaries.  Not being from either county, this correspondent can only cast an amused smile over that debate.

Reg’s more accurate report on the walk is on this page.

Back to Lancashire Trail Index

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sunday 18 November 2012 – A Big Macc Ramble

Tegg's Nose from Teggsnose Reservoir

Before I catch up with more of last week’s exploits, here’s a quick entry from yesterday’s ‘Big Macc Ramble’, a short but exhilarating bike ride in the Peak District that can be enjoyed after a lie in and still get me home for lunch.

An old route description, which remains valid, is here, and my  blog reports from this ride or variations thereon are here.

The view to Macclesfield Forest from below Tegg's Nose

Suffice to say, it was a beautiful day, though fairly cool as confirmed by the frost on pictures taken late into the morning.

The only people I saw on the first hour or so of the ride, until joining the road at the Stanley Arms, were five trial bikers.  They set a good tone for the day, with friendly waves, as they headed past me up Charity Lane, where as usual I parked up for a while in view of Shining Tor and the Cat & Fiddle, as well as the plains of Greater Manchester.

On Charity Lane, with Stumpy, Shining Tor, and The Cat & Fiddle

You can see from the picture below that neither Berghaus nor any other purveyor of outdoor clothing has seen fit to issue me with any ‘bottom of the range item of equipment’ that might smarten my cycling persona!  Some of us need all we can get…

Smart gear!The small chapel at Macclesfield Forest 

Both the chapel at Macclesfield Forest, and the Cat & Fiddle Inn were positively glowing in the sunshine.

The Cat & Fiddle Inn

By the time the Inn was reached there were increasing numbers of people self-evidently enjoying the blue sky day.  It was a pleasure to encounter so many happy and friendly people, be they cyclists or walkers.  As I enjoyed a cuppa and some brownies across the road from the Inn, a group of four mountain bikers assembled after an hour and a half’s journey from Nottingham, to enjoy a ride on which the long descent to the ford across Cumberland Brook would be one of the highlights.  I waited for them on a frosty bank by the ford to take a few pictures as they crossed the brook.  [Let me know if you’d like to have the originals, I’m afraid they aren’t very good.]

Shutlingsloe from the ford over Cumberland Brook

A cyclist ploughs through the ford

Soon I was atop Nessit Hill, admiring fine views down to Trentabank and Ridgegate Reservoirs, with Teggsnose Reservoir tucked in to the left of Tegg’s Nose in the background.  I lingered here before swooping (but slowing down to alert and avoid scaring walkers) down the excellent track that leads in just a few minutes back to the Leather’s Smithy – seen below at the far corner of Ridgegate Reservoir.

Trentabank and Ridgegate Reservoirs, with Tegg's Nose behind, from Nessit Hill

Here’s what the Garmin Gadget thought of this little excursion:

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tuesday 13 November 2012 – Red Screes and some Dodds

Ascending Middle Dodd from Caudale Bridge

dod - ‘A rounded summit or eminence, esp. one that is a lower summit or shoulder of a hill.’

Given the drizzle, it seemed appropriate to put a ‘dod’ or two on the agenda. 

It was Sue’s only day off this week, and Tom was on his own in Ambleside, so we had agreed to meet up for a walk whatever the weather.

Conditions over the Kirkstone Pass were quite good really.  The pass had been closed due to snow a couple of weeks earlier, but today we floated easily over it to a lay-by near Caudale Bridge.

It took a while to ‘kit up’.  Note Tom’s gear, it may not be seen again.  It has apparently morphed into blotting paper.

Setting off from Caudale

A helpful yellow arrow drew us to an area of ‘less bog’,

On the path from Caudale, heading towards Middle Dodd

towards a bridge over Kirkstone Beck, which was flowing quite energetically.  The way ahead was clear – we were to follow the wall above Tom’s head, leading steeply up towards the summit of Middle Dodd.

Bridge over Kirkstone Beck

Sue posed, briefly lowering the hand that was protecting her face from a drenching, before the view to Brothers Water (and anywhere else for that matter) disappeared.

Sue on the ascent of Middle Dodd, with Brothers Water

The 654 metre summit of Middle Dodd was dominated by this large cairn and buckets of water being chucked at us from a southerly direction.  So they weren’t cold!

Middle Dodd - 654 metres

Heading on upwards for a further 120 metres over well scraped rocks, we soon reached the even windier viewpoint of Red Screes.  We agreed that it would have been more sensible to admire the fine view on a day when it extended further than twenty metres.

Red Screes - 776 metres

Thereafter, the camera had had enough, and the pictures from the remaining summits of Little Hart Crag and High Hartsop Dodd are not dissimilar to the above two pictures, apart from blurring like that in the picture below, taken on the descent when we had regained the view.  Sorry, but I don’t have an underwater camera housing.

Brothers Water through a watery lens

Curiously, between Red Screes and Little Hart Crag we met a smattering of folk who like us had chosen these easy hills for a walk today, rather than going high.  They didn’t say much through their Gore-Tex barriers, but we did get a nod from a lad in shorts and running shoes.  Strange, isn’t it, how such people frequently seem to emerge from the mist on such days; perhaps they are just apparitions?

Here’s our route - 9km, 750 metres ascent, taking about 3.5 hours.

Our route - 9km, 750 metres ascent, 3.5 hours

That was quite enough time to spend ‘on the hill’ today, and we adjourned happily for tea and a chat with Mike and Marian in Patterdale.  They are TGO Challengers, and confirmed the good news that both they and I had got places on next year’s oversubscribed event.  Great news, but sadly Sue won’t be with me as she is still unable to bear the weight of a loaded rucksack.

A lovely day out despite a bit of drizzle.