Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Tuesday 27 November 2012 – An Evening Stroll to The Swan

Roe deer in Dunham Massey Park

After being ‘Billy no Mates’ for the last couple of evening walks, I was pleased tonight to have the company of Andrew and Graham for an easy stroll down the Bridgewater Canal towpath to the Swan with Two Nicks in Little Bollington, for a good pint of ale.

Perhaps they were enticed into action by the thought of Sue’s mince pies appetizer, which were indeed excellent, although Sue declined to join us for the walk.

A pleasant evening, albeit a bit wet in places on the towpath, and on the path leading to Dunham Massey Hall – understandable as we’ve had quite a bit of rain.

Strangely, some of the park’s roe deer seem to have made their beds in dense piles of fallen leaves right next to Smithy Lane and its attendant traffic and street lights.

We managed to navigate our way uneventfully across the golf course to Altrincham, and find a tram back to Timperley after this very pleasant 10km stroll.

We are now away for a few days, so last Thursday’s mountain bimble, and whatever we get up to in the next few days, will probably be recorded after a break of a week or so.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Friday 23 November 2012 – Out on a Lymm

Starting outside Altrincham's Clock Tower

This was a fine day for Rick’s final recce for an East Lancs LDWA walk that he is leading next Wednesday.  Viv and Steve also arrived on time, but JJ was a mere speck in the distance.  He was afforded the benefit of the doubt and we waited for him, though next week such stragglers run the risk of being abandoned, victims of traditional LDWA punctuality.

We started from Altrincham’s Clock Tower, a grade 11 listed structure built in 1880, a year before Altrincham & Bowdon Station (renamed Altrincham Station in 1974) opened to replace earlier stations, and made our way to Goose Green, where some metallic peacocks glowered at us from a lofty pedestal. JJ, having caught up, demanded sustenance from Costello’s. Luckily the bar was closed or the recce may have ended here!

We trundled through the streets of Altrincham, plodding up Regent Road before turning down Normans Place, where none other than Norman himself made a brief if rather threatening appearance before resuming his official duties as a Barber and House Husband.

A Bad Penny

Normans Place leads to the salubrious surroundings of Lyme Grove, before launching the unwary walker down Bowdon Road and then onto a slippery meadow known as The Devisdale that leads to Denzell Gardens.  These gardens and The Devisdale sadly fell into neglect between 1980 and the late 1990s, before being restored by a Friends' Group, whose work continues to this day.

Our route then passed by Denzell House, which was built in 1874 as a home for Henry Scott, who sadly never occupied it due to his death in the Zulu Wars. It is now used for offices.

Denzell House

The path emerges onto Green Walk at a Lych Gate which is in the process of restoration. The word 'Lych' survived into modern English from the Old English or Saxon word for corpse. In the Middle Ages when most people were buried in just shrouds rather than coffins, the dead were carried to the Lych gate and placed on a bier, where the priest conducted the first part of the funeral service under its temporary shelter.

The Lych Gate entry to Denzell Gardens

Across the main A56 road, the path skirts Dunham Forest Golf Club before heading into Dunham Massey Park, where the roe deer didn’t seem too nervous despite their annual cull having been carried out during the previous few days.

Roe deer at Dunham Massey

Rick had carefully planned the route to keep as far as possible from the nearby headquarters of the Dunham Massey Brewing Company (insofar as Costello’s Bar isn’t their real HQ), as a safeguard against JJ’s wayward tendencies.

We paused to identify black-headed gulls, mallards, moorhens, coots and a shoveler, amongst the bird life on Island Pond in Dunham Park, whilst keeping a wary eye on JJ, far behind us, presumably muttering stuff like ‘Where’s that brewery, I know it’s here somewhere, I want some…’

We pressed on to Dunham Massey Hall, which dates from 1616 but has subsequently been 're-modeled', for a coffee break’.

It was Viv's birthday. Just as well I'd brought cake!

Viv, with some birthday cake

The narrow bridge over the River Bollin offered a good view of the spate that fully justified its ‘river’ status, compared with its usual stream like qualities as it flows over a weir.

Beyond the Swan With Two Nicks we joined the Bridgewater Canal towpath for a short stretch down to Agden, where Rick pointed out a listed structure.  “I’m not joking” he assured us, “It's The Bridgewater Canal, Case to Waterpoint on South Bank of Canal, 15 Metres West of Agden Bridge, Agden."

“Wow!” we exclaimed in unison, squinting at the black casing…

Listed structure by the Bridgewater Canal

We left the canal here in favour of a route through fields to Lymm, familiar to me as a summer evening route. We crossed one field then hugged the perimeter of others, noting the singular absence of any bird life on the recently planted fields by Helsdale Wood.

We passed St Peter's Church, where one of our North American correspondents still wants a picture of the font.  [I’ve found one here – it’s reproduced below.]

 St Peter's Church Lymm - the font

Continuing through the ginnels of Lymm, we soon reached St Mary's Church, which overlooks Lymm Dam, Lymm's ornamental lake.

We paused beside the lake for lunch, and for JJ to catch his breath. The picnic tables are rather widely spaced, so Rick will have a battle to keep his wandering charges together on next week’s ‘proper walk’.

A cormorant flew past as we set off again.

"Is that Lymm Dam?" asked Steve as we rounded the southern aspect of the lake, confirming that it was a bit early in the day to get any sense out of him.

Steve points out Lymm Dam

We headed next for Lymm Village, where the ducks as usual played on the weir, the males vying to impress the females by showing how close they could get to the edge without being swept away.

Lymm Village

It was a struggle to distract some (mainly one) of our party from the local fleshpots, but eventually he spotted Lymm Cross, another listed structure dating from C17, and decided to scarper from the nearby stocks.

The path to Oughtrington took us through another newly planted field to Heatley, where we emerged near the site of the sadly demised Railway Hotel, another listed structure. Gone. This used to be the home of Bernard Cromarty’s Lymm Folk Club, and the fire that destroyed the old pub on 2 November 2011 must have deeply saddened him and other members of the folk club.

Opposite the building site that used to be the Railway Hotel, the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway line provides a fairly quick off-road route to Altrincham for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.  Nearby, Heatley & Warburton Railway Station opened in 1853 and closed in 1962, but the building survives, beyond which Rick led our merry brigade along the good track.

On the Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway line

Even Rick’s military schedule allowed time for a final bout of tea and cake, but despite this sustenance JJ was now flagging and, muttering ‘Costello’s’ under his breath every few moments, he continued to struggle to keep up with Rick's cracking pace.

However, we soon entered the outskirts of Altrincham, where the school kids had just escaped from lessons and children and pensioners alike were enjoying the play furniture in John Leigh Park.

The sun had almost gone by the time we returned back to the Clock Tower and JJ’s long cherished wish for a visit to Costello's was finally granted.

A full slideshow (51 images) of this classic round can be found here.

The route, shown below, proved to be around 24-25 km (15 miles) with minimal ascent, taking less than 6 hours, so next week’s ramble should easily finish by 4 pm and Rick can sleep easy in the meantime after this most enjoyable recce.

The route is around 24-25 km (15 miles) with minimal ascent, taking less than 6 hours

My Garmin Gadget recorded our progress as follows – if you click on ‘View Details’ then on the ‘Out on a Lymm’ course and magnify it you can see precisely where it goes, with street names, etc, not on the OS map.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Monday, 26 November 2012

Tuesday 20 November 2012 – A Walk from Long Preston

Sue and Heather in Attermire

Sue has had the last two Tuesdays off work.  So she has joined me for a walk on both those days.  The first walk, with Tom in the Lake District, was notably wet.  We thought the same would happen today, as we fought our way through the busy traffic to Long Preston to meet up with TGO Challenger Heather T-S for an outing.  But luckily, by the time we had enjoyed a pot of coffee and a chat with Heather and had eased our feet into our boots, the rain was much diminished, leaving us with a largely dry stroll to Settle for lunch in the Talbot Arms, which had been carefully chosen as a luncheon venue in view of the dire weather forecast and the fact that I’d omitted to pack my ‘lunch tent’.

“You can eat those” Heather assured us, pointing to a variety of Waxcap mushrooms that littered our surroundings.  She’d told me this before.

Waxcap

So we collected a few of the Crimson variety and, not put off by their slimy caps, we later fried them in butter and garlic as a starter – and excellent they were too.

The route chosen by Heather involved fording the normally demure waterway known imaginatively as Long Preston Beck.  The girls splashed through whilst I hopped across the stones.  Sue wears unzipped gaiters, so she got wet feet.  I think the gaiters must be used to keep her trousers clean rather than her feet dry!

Sue crosses Long Preston Beck

Soon we emerged onto Langber Lane, which we followed for a few minutes before heading off into Attermire.

Langber Lane, with Attermire ahead

Attermire, also pictured above, is a picturesque area full of little peaks and a variety of caves, on the well trodden path between Settle and Malham.

Attermire

This is one such ‘cave’ – in this case just a small hole which could just about be used to shelter from a storm.

"Shall we shelter here?"

A grassy path leads down from Attermire to the town of Settle.

Descending to Settle

We could see rain approaching quickly from the west, so we hastened past Castlebergh Crag to find a stream in which to douse our muddy boots before dirtying the pristine carpets of the Talbot Arms. 

But we did pause for long enough to note from an information board that “this limestone crag has been recognised as a beauty spot ‘for centuries’ – ever since the start of tourism of Britain’s natural wonders. 

The first visitors, in the mid 1700s, wrote that the rock had been laid out as a giant sundial, but by 1800 the sundial was long gone and instead the people of Settle had laid out a path to the summit of the crag so that visitors and townsfolk alike could enjoy the view.

Over the next 100 years the area was gradually developed by way of a network of paths, the planting of trees and shrubs, and recreational aids such as swings and a roller skating rink.

The railway brought visitors in unprecedented numbers, and Castlebergh became a popular picnic spot.  There was a small charge for entry, and hot water for tea making could be obtained from the gatekeeper (just like a modern day mountain hut!).

Settle Town Council now own the site, to which access is free.

Whilst the crag might have been assumed to be ideal for climbing, there was no recorded climbing history here prior to 2009. A lone relic of a rusty piton halfway up the central corner is perhaps the result of an aid climbing attempt probably back in the 1960s. Others may have tried but the state of the rock would have deterred them, and climbers may have just assumed that being so close to the town centre climbing would not be permitted.

Early in 2009 a rock-fall caused by invasive tree roots on one of the lower buttresses was the catalyst which forced the Town Council to act and close the area to the public.  Subsequently there was a unique collaboration between the Town Council and a group of eight local climbers who, in conjunction with the council and supported by several local traders transformed the cliff into an excellent climbing venue.”

Nigel Baker, who is responsible for the following image, was one of those climbers – I hope he doesn’t mind me using his image in which the numerous different routes are displayed.

Climbing routes on Castlebergh Crag

You can find out more about Castlebergh Crag here, but if you follow our lead you’ll just make it to the pub before you receive a drenching.

The pub lunch was a good move, as the rain was easing again by the time we left, to take the short route back to Long Preston via the heady 315 metre viewpoint of Hunter Bark, and the unsurfaced track that is Edge Lane.  Pausing to spy a flurry of witches on Pendle Hill, Sue enjoyed a cuppa whilst Heather gathered a bag full of rubbish left by some errant picnickers who had clearly strayed beyond their normal comfort zone.

Pendle Hill from Edge Lane

It was good to see Heather, and we hope to enjoy more ‘escapes to the country’ with her over coming months.  Today’s route more or less repeats earlier ones, but for the record it’s shown below -approximately 17km (11 miles) with about 500m ascent, in 4.5 hours (including stops).

Our route - 17km (11 miles) with about 500m ascent, in 4.5 hours