Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sunday 6 January 2013 – A Circuit from Taddington

St Michael and All Saints Church, Taddington

A Bimble on the first Sunday of the year has become a tradition.  Sue W organises it.  This year we received late news that she had ‘flu, so it was ‘over to us’ to organise.  This meant we could widen the invite list, and it was good to be joined by Bridget and Gary, as well as many of the regulars.

We arrived early – so there was plenty of time to explore the environs of the church (pictured above) - dedicated to St Michael and All Saints, and built in the 14th century.

Eventually the masses assembled, despite a misleading map reference (my fault, apparently), and 13 of us headed across fields towards High Dale, the descent into which was pleasantly illuminated by a wintry sun.

Descending into High Dale

The mist returned as we approached Miller's Dale, pausing frequently to regroup, here at the bridge over the old railway line that operated between 1863 and 1968.

Crossing the Monsal Trail near Litton Mill

Today's route simply crossed the Monsal Trail, and headed to Litton Mill via a narrow bridge over the River Wye.  The river was fairly full, if not in spate, and it was good to see that the old mill has been put to good use. The original cotton mill, built in 1782, had a chequered existence, becoming notorious during the Industrial Revolution for its unsavoury employment practices.  It was replaced by the current building in 1874 and seems currently to be enjoying something of a renaissance by way of self-catering apartments such as this one.

Our path beyond Litton Mill ran beside the River Wye, which is well known for encroaching onto the footpath.  It did that today, effectively barring our way.

Miller's Dale - the approach to Cressbrook

This provided an ideal opportunity to scoff some tea and Madeira cake before hauling ourselves up the high path to Cressbrook, where a short section of tarmac led to Ravensdale Cottages, and this MGA 1600 Roadster, which must be at least fifty years old. Surely it deserves better treatment.

MGA1600 Roadster

Beyond the two tiny rows of former lead miners’ cottages, we slithered on up the valley towards Tansley Dale.

The upper reaches of Cressbrook Dale near the junction with Tansley Dale

I’d planned to stop for lunch in Tideswell, but our slower than expected pace saw us passing through the village of Litton at around 1pm.  Keith and Carol had missed our Christmas Lunch Walk, so were anxious to make amends for that by enjoying a pub lunch today.  The Red Lion proved an ideal venue, and they were joined by the rest of us in the cosy pub after we’d noshed our butties at the picnic tables outside.

After a good hour at the Red Lion, Andrew took a short route back to Taddington whilst the rest of us rambled on in rather gloomy weather to Tideswell.

The church of St John the Baptist in Tideswell is known as the 'Cathedral of the Peak'.  Built in the fourteenth century, this fine church was funded by the local wool trade and by lead mining, as Tideswell was a major centre for the lead mining industry from medieval times to the nineteenth century.  As the mining declined from 1850 onwards, so did the population of the village and it has only started to recover in recent years.

Tideswell's 'Cathedral of the Peak'

By now the atmospheric conditions had defeated the sun's efforts. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a pleasant rain free stroll back from Tideswell on good paths and tracks.

Darkness was looming on the last lap to Taddington, as we proceeded along the footpath from Priestcliffe.

Approaching Taddington at dusk, near Priestcliffe

The route was about 17 km (11 miles), with 500 metres ascent, taking rather less than 5 hours.

Our route - 17 km (11 miles), 500 metres ascent, under 5 hours including stops

There are some more images here.

This was a most sociable and enjoyable bimble.  Thanks for coming along, everyone, and we hope that those who had to cry off have recovered from their ailments.

Tuesday 1 January 2013 – A Circuit from Beeston

Outside the entrance to Beeston Castle

This year opened in much the same way as we seemed to spend much of 2012 – with wall to wall sunshine.  The short drive to Beeston saw us parking up below the eight hundred year old Castle* and taking a stroll along the well marked paths of the Sandstone Trail, an excellent 34 mile walking route from Frodsham to Whitchurch, up to the junction where Hill Lane leads to Higher Burwardsley.

On the Sandstone Trail near Peckforton

There were a few others enjoying the bright sunshine, though some did look a bit hung over.  Hill Lane took us to a brief spell of tarmac, and back to the Sandstone Trail, which we followed in the opposite direction until a stile with an ‘Eddisbury Way’ sign took us through a slithery wood and across a lane near the Pheasant Inn.

The Eddisbury Way is a 16½ mile route between Frodsham and Higher Burwardsley, where we joined it.  It provides an alternative to the Sandstone Trail rather than an opportunity for a long circular walk, as the two routes do intercept each other from time to time.

The Pheasant Inn is an excellent place for refreshments, as are the nearby child friendly Candle Workshops, but on this occasion we headed on along the Eddisbury Way to Yew Tree Farm.  The final field before the farm was decidedly gloopy.

A gloopy field by Yew Tree Farm Glooped Boots

We continued towards Woodhouse Farm, which looks recently renovated, but for the sake of their privacy the owners have rearranged the path to skirt the perimeter of their land, denying the public access to the farm lane.  So we turned back to reach the lane via the ancient footpath at Yew Tree Farm.

The Eddisbury Way signs seemed to follow our planned route all the way to the Shropshire Union Canal, luckily without any further gloops and with the benefit of a handy lunch bench by Newton Lane for our first picnic of the year.  We eschewed the attraction of a nearby Ice Cream Parlour, preferring to stay off road.  Anyway, we had plenty of cake.

To the south of the canal, we crossed a bridleway – the Bishop Bennet Way – that was being well used by ponies today.  After all, this is a 34 mile route for horse riders which can also be used by walkers and cyclists. It is named after William Bennet (4 March 1745 - 1820), an Irish Bishop who carried out detailed surveys of roman roads including those between Deva (Chester) and Mediolanum(Whitchurch).  The way starts near Beeston Castle and finishes near Wirswall on the Cheshire-Shropshire border. There are apparently hopes of extending it to Shrewsbury.  The way follows bridleways, byways and minor roads; half of it being along tarmac roads. Walkers can bypass the longer road sections on footpaths.

The canal was reached at an unexpectedly long underpass.  Was the canal really that wide?

Shropshire Union Canal underpass by Newton

The Shropshire Union ‘main line’ was the last trunk narrow canal route to be built in England. It was not completed until 1835 and was the last major civil engineering accomplishment of Thomas Telford, linking Ellesmere Port, by the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, with the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, in the West Midlands canal system some 66 miles away at Wolverhampton.

We were soon striding along the towpath, with Beeston Castle again in our sights, savouring the bright sunshine and acknowledging the occasional passing barge.

Boating on the Shropshire Union Canal

The Shady Oak, well known for its friendly welcome to an itinerant clientele, was busy today, with resident swans looking for titbits and a selection of cruisers parked outside.  It was warm enough for the beer garden to be in use.

Barge furniture outside the Shady OakBarge furniture

A little further along the canal, Wharton’s Lock signaled our point of departure from the canal, or indeed – our return to the Sandstone Trail and an encounter with yet another trail, the Two Saints Way, an 86 mile pilgrimage route between the cathedral cities of Chester and Lichfield.

Wharton's Lock

I suppose all these different named trails do help to keep the footpaths open – the paths are very well marked, and well used, in this part of the world, despite a bit of mud at this time of year.

A road appeared to be under construction beside the railway line near Wharton’s Lock, but we concluded that it was probably just ongoing track maintenance in an attempt to protect the embankments from erosion.

We knew we must be nearly back when we encountered a family with two children in a push chair doggedly negotiating their way across a muddy field, and soon we were back below the ruined castle, admiring a fine looking cottage next to the car park.

Here’s our route – 13 km (8 miles) with about 200 metres ascent.  Allow 3 to 4 hours for this enjoyable and varied bimble.

Our route - 13 km, 200 metres ascent, approx 3.5 hours

There are a few more pictures from this walk here.

* Beeston Castle – according to Wiki it was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester, (1170–1232), on his return from the Crusades. In 1237, Henry III took over the ownership, and it was kept in good repair until the 16th century, when it was considered to be of no further military use, although it was pressed into service again in 1643, during the English Civil War. The castle was slighted (partly demolished) in 1646, in accordance with Cromwell's destruction order, to prevent its further use as a stronghold. During the 18th century the site was used as a quarry.

It is rumoured that treasure belonging to Richard II lies undiscovered in the castle grounds, but the many searches that have been carried out have failed to find any trace of it. The castle is now in ruins. The walls of the outer bailey, and the walls, gatehouse of the inner bailey have been separately designated by English Heritage as Grade I listed buildings.  It is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is currently owned by English Heritage.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Friday 28 December 2012 - Silverdale

J, R and S by Arnside Tower

We chose to venture out on this walk despite a dire weather forecast.  We had planned it, so we were going.  The short itinerary enabled a lie in before we struggled up the M6 motorway with R and J in driving rain.

Leighton Moss RSPB reserve was our starting point, and after taking advantage of their café we managed to delay the start of our exercise until after 11 o’clock. 

We were soon loitering on Silverdale Golf Course, somewhat puzzled by the fact that our waterproofs were superfluous due to the rain having ceased just as we had set out.  Perhaps that was because of Richards energetic ‘Canute’ impersonations, though they had at first seemed more like futile efforts to chase ducks.

A good path beside Hawes Water on well wired boarding helped preserve our clean looks, and it wasn’t until we reached Arnside Tower, pictured above, that we hit the expected mud.

Low cloud hung over the village of Silverdale as we descended to Elmslack, where Richard and Sue vied for favours.

“Mine’s bigger than yours!” bragged Richard, producing one of his stock phrases.

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The tide was in at the Cove.  Sue went to check and confirmed it wasn’t a mirage, whilst I wrestled with a wobbly horizon.

Silverdale Cove

We hastened on to the Silverdale Hotel in a bid for sustenance.  This was a good move and we enjoyed the warm atmosphere and hot food for a good hour before stumbling along the path to Woodwell on the now gloomy afternoon.

But at least it wasn’t raining!

We admired the well that used to provide Silverdale with its water supply.  The water looked excellent.

Parked outside Gibraltar Farm was a purring beast, vibrating slightly but running with an odourless clear exhaust, unlike some of our absent friends.

A tractor, in use at Gibraltar Farm

A little further on we passed the renovated lime kiln at Jack Scout.  Apparently they tried to get it going after its renovation in 1985, but it obstinately refused to withdraw from retirement (I can empathise with that!).

Sue then headed relentlessly towards the beach and splodged through puddles whilst the rest of us slithered over some decidedly awkward rocks.

Eventually we reconvened by the chimney at Jenny Brown's Point.

The chimney at Jenny Brown's Point

"We need to be back by dusk" the others muttered, glancing at the soggy path alongside the salt marshes beside Morecambe Bay.  And off they strode, returning to Leighton Moss in plenty of time to purchase provisions for the ravenous tits and blackbirds that seem to rely on our garden scatterings version of a ‘soup’ kitchen.

Here’s our route: about 13km, with 200 metres ascent, taking 4½ hours including that long adjournment for lunch.

Our route: 13km, 200 metres ascent, 4.5 hours

There’s a slide show with a few more images – here.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Christmas Day 2012

Jacob - Xmas Day 2012

Oh dear, I’m miles behind with these postings.  Please bear with me.

This is very much for the family, with whom we enjoyed Christmas Day for the second year with four generations present. 

A late change to our routine involved a trip to Bacup, where Kate assumed the mantle of ‘Christmas Dinner Cook’.  I wasn’t complaining, having been incumbent in that role, through thick and thin, with successes and some notable failures, for almost thirty years.

Well done, Kate, you excelled yourself.

I didn’t have a camera, but Sue took a few pictures, the following one giving a fair assessment from Oscar’s viewpoint whilst the rest of us tried (and largely failed in my case) to play a game called ‘Logo’.

Oscar - Xmas Day 2012