Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas 2014 in Timperley

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Kate and Simon provided an excellent Christmas Day lunch in not Timperley, but Bacup. Thanks you two – a lovely day.

Boxing Day saw us in Nantwich as usual. Jessica was feeling a little less snotty today. Non competitive (?) card games were enjoyed by all the adults.

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Saturday morning found Sue and me sloshing our way around the icy 5 km Parkrun course at Wythenshawe Park.

It was a lovely sunrise, as we arrived.

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143 folk gathered for some fun in the mud.

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The 'icy weather' finish at Wythenshawe Parkrun avoids the slippery tarmac, in favour of the slippery grass. Oliver Cromwell oversees the proceedings.

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Later (it soon clouded over) Sue and I strolled down to Dunham Massey along the canal towpath in mud and in the remnants of a Boxing Day snowstorm. Forecast sleet didn’t really come to anything.

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We went as far as the ‘Swan’, returning via Dunham Massey (wheelhouse pictured below) and Dunham golf course.

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As we crossed the golf course, with lots of firm warnings about giving way to golfers, I pondered why we should do that – surely the footpath was there long before the golf course and it’s the golfers who should give way?

Anyway, after passing a pair of flirting bullfinches and evidence of sledging down the banks of the reservoir, we strolled on to Altrincham for essential supplies then a tram home for lunch after this pleasant 11 km outing.

Today, Sunday, was supposed to be one of those cold grey days when it doesn’t go above freezing. It dawned bright and sunny and stayed that way all day. A lovely day, albeit the frost has not moved from anywhere shaded from the sun, whose warmth has resulted in much steaming from surfaces exposed to it.

A bike ride to the canal junction near Taylor’s Bridge saw me pausing for a few photos. As I took this one there was a ‘plop’ into the canal as the camera strap fished out my gate key whose brass visage sunk slowly to the bottom.

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Sue (luckily at home to let me in) was most amused, but tables were soon turned when she managed to lock herself inside our porch!

Towards Manchester, in Old Trafford, the canal had iced over, with swans ploughing through like icebreakers, and black headed gulls standing seemingly happily on the thin ice. There were lots of people out walking, running and cycling, so much care was needed to avoid any ‘incidents’, particularly as the low sum is blinding when travelling south along the towpath.

So that was Christmas. There’s no mountain of left over food, and the odour of smoked haddock from a fish pie that we’ll share with Mike will entice me downstairs as soon as I’ve pressed the ‘publish’ button.

Happy Days…

Some links:

A 29 image slideshow covering all the above.
A 15 image slideshow from the Parkrun.
Parkrun UK.
Wythenshawe Parkrun number 168 – results.

JacobJessica2blog

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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Seasons Greetings to all our readers. Those who want to can find Sue’s brief Christmas letter here.

Time to refill that glass of sherry, I think, having been bashing away at this keyboard for the last couple of hours in an effort to ‘catch up’. I particularly enjoyed reading, copying and pasting Andy’s Parkrun report.

Saturday 20 December 2014 – Wythenshawe Parkrun number 167

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Parkrun’ has become quite an institution, currently growing faster than ever after the tenth anniversary of the inaugural run in Bushey Park.

Sue and I ran again at Wythenshawe (my 74th and her 20th outing), on a day when times didn’t matter, not that they ever do really.

Here are a few more pictures from today.

A dignified tree and Santa.

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Wallys and reindeer are for ever, not just for Christmas. Note disapproving Oliver C in the background.

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The wet trunk clings to everywhere, including the bottom of my smooth-soled trainers. It was hard work…

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The ‘Grinches’ won the family award.

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Wythenshawe’s course director, Andy, enjoys – with assistance from Oliver C - putting together post run reports, and the efforts of the enthusiastic organisers and volunteer marshalls seem to rub off on everyone, making these Saturday morning outings a highlight of the week for many of us.

I hope Andy (aka ‘The Willowy Blonde’) doesn’t mind me reproducing his report on this week’s run here:

Well, that was rather festive wasn’t it?

We asked you to turn up in your Christmas-themed outfits and boy, did you oblige.  Santas, reindeer, elves, Grinches, trees, fairies and, er, crocodiles (I’m sure it’s a Christmas theme somewhere in the world) all made for a jolly get-together in the puddles and mud of Wythenshawe park under the disapproving gaze of Oliver Cromwell.

Puddles are perhaps not an accurate description as can be seen from the pictures below.  A large lake has recently formed on the main path and the first loop was more water than grass (so maybe the crocodile outfit was not completely misjudged).  Having negotiated that lot, our 168 intrepid runners had further mud and slippery grass to contend with in all the usual places so most of our lovely outfits were looking rather sodden and brown by the end.

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You might be able to spot the odd runner in among the puddles

For those of you visiting Wythenshawe for the first time, it’s not always that wet.  Come back in July and you might get a dry run.  There were tourists from Durham and Arrow Valley and one of these, Mike Hudson, claimed the arbitrary distinction of being 20,000th finisher and so notched up the 100,000th kilometre.

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A clearly emotional Mike Hudson trying to hold it all together after being informed of his landmark position

I know you all love the stats so the most important ones for the day were that 73 bacon and 24 sausage sandwiches were served to appreciative runners in the Courtyard Café afterwards.  A big thanks to them for this as it added to the festive atmosphere as everyone gathered to compare degrees of muddiness of legs and eagerly awaited the awarding of the fancy dress prizes.  This year both men’s and ladies’ prizes went to trees Martin Banfield and Julia Reynolds – take a bough both of you (sorry), and the family prize was stolen by Grinch family Walker.

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The Grinch family

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A spruced Martin plus a deer friend

The results table may show that there were only two official PBs but the beauty of parkrun is that you can have has many different categories of PB as you like.  I personally set a new wet fairy best and I’m sure others will have found a PB category for their outfit/weather condition combination.

The first three men home were Roger Preece who was all revved up in his dog collar (arguably not in fancy dress) followed by the Willowy Blond, then Santa Fishwick and for the ladies it was Hope Rodgers, Beatrice Cordingley and Wendy Terry.

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The first four finishers

Let’s not forget the wonderful volunteers who were led this week by Run Director Tris Pocock.  Thanks to you all for helping the rest of us to enjoy ourselves.  The roster was made up of Alison Cardwell, Jackie Cordingley, Barbara Dunn, Linda Edmondson, Vicky Fletcher (and assorted family members), Ralph Gilchrist, Kate Holloway, Alan Lamb, Katharine, Alex and Jonathan Lay, Jenny Miles, Dorothy Muldoon and Sue Strickland.  Not forgetting Laura Morris who started on finish tokens then hopped to barcode scanning when her father had finished his run and took over finish tokens.

We need volunteers every week and so please try to make yourselves available every so often.  It is fun and does give you a different view on how the whole thing works.  Check the roster (http://www.parkrun.org.uk/wythenshawe/futureroster/) and you’ll see we have plenty of spaces in the coming weeks.

With that I’ll bid you all a very merry Christmas and hope that Santa brings you loads of new running gear to equip you for your weekly 5k fixes.

Cheers

Andy

Well done Andy. You and yours are stars.

Thursday 18 December 2014 – Shutlingsloe

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Just for the record, here’s a short report on our annual evening walk up Shutlingsloe.

Sue and I were joined by Graham B, Andrew J, and families Evans and Roberts – eleven of us in total. After heavy rain all day and a dire forecast (90% chance of rain) we braved the elements and much to our surprise enjoyed a brief window of calm, dry, warm weather for the two hour outing. By the time we reached the Leathers Smithy pub it was raining again, and tipping down when we left the pub.

Anyway, without the usual hazard of ice, and despite a strong breeze on top, we enjoyed about twenty minutes at the summit, eating, drinking, and enjoying some Christmas classics under the guidance of choir mistress Sue.

The lights of Manchester glowed in the distance, as you can see from the (terrible) header picture of us singing on the summit.

Thanks, everyone, for coming along, especially those who were about to fly off to Chamonix. We hope you found some snow!

This was my third ascent of Shutlingsloe this month, the first being on 2 December in fine weather with the views below:

The same view as the header picture, with the white disc of Jodrell Bank showing clearly.

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This is the view across to the Cat and Fiddle.

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Finally, a ‘selfie’ in the direction of Tegg’s Nose.

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It’s a great little hill, always worth a visit.

Plodders Circumnavigate Three Reservoirs

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[There’s been a ‘Christmas Card Interlude’ since my last posting, and a week has passed since Sue and I enjoyed this walk, so the exact details may be lost in the depths of Entwistle Reservoir. But this is roughly what happenedIn love]

Norman's 'Elite' Plodders were ready to leave at 10 am sharp, but where were Martin and Sue? They had said they were coming after spending the night in Adlington following Christmas Dinner for their quiz team.

“I’m a member of that team” piped John P “why wasn’t I invited? Let’s leave without them.”

“I’ve sent them the postcode because Martin lost the instructions” advised Don, “they should be here by now.”

Ok, we were late, thanks to Don having used Trip Adviser’s postcode for Jumbles, which had taken us to a housing estate five miles beyond our intended destination.

And we are sorry we forgot to invite you to the meal, John P, your presence may have lifted us from equal second. On the other hand….

So we got going about ten minutes late. Thanks for waiting, folks.

Our first obstacle was the awkward stepping stone crossing below Jumbles Reservoir. Norman led the way. “I’ve done this before” he gurgled, as he swam to safety. “I’ve found a bridge” enthused Bernard, and we all followed him across it.

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It was dull and dreich as we headed up to the reservoir. But Plodders always walk with a spring in their stride, especially Norman (who’s ‘elite’).

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Past Turton Tower there's a unique castellated bridge. Before the railway line from Bolton to Blackburn could be opened in 1848, the railway company had been required to give an assurance to James Kay, the owner of Turton Tower, that no station would be built within 300 yards of his house and that a large ornamental bridge would be built to carry the continuation of his drive over the line. We made a short diversion to admire the bridge.

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Here’s today's Plodder team: Dave, Bernard, Don, Norman (elite), Sue, Ken, Alma, John, Heather and Mike.

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Some children never grow up.

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"I think the Plodders can pull this off!" said Norman from under his balaclava, then he changed his mind when it occurred to him that Hilary might be inside protecting her assets.

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The plaque behind these cake eating three wise men says something about the Chapeltown stocks that they are gazing at in trepidation as to what Norman will order next...

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"It took god six days to make the earth - then he rested - then he made man and rested again - finally he made women - since then no bugger ever rested" announced one of the signs on a heavily decorated doorway.

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Above Chapeltown, Wayoh Reservoir, built in 1876 and upgraded in 1962, was quite low.

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We strolled on beside Wayoh to pass under a magnificent Victorian edifice, Armsgrove Viaduct, built in 1847/48 and still in full use after no obvious signs of maintenance.

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Above Wayoh, Turton and Entwistle Reservoir is full to overflowing. Why don't they release some of it into Wayoh?

The good path was inundated in places. The rain didn't help.

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We continued in the rain, past the first of many decorated Christmas trees, to the head of the reservoir. There’s clearly only one elite Plodder amongst this lot – the one whose visage was streaming with water, or was it sweat?

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"Where's the cafe?" muttered ten accomplices.

We paused for lunch on a log, after admiring the views at the head of the lake.

Not even Norman could be persuaded to mount the giant heron on which he had stood his great grandchild a few days earlier.

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After our soggy lunch on the wet log we passed many more gaily decorated trees.

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By and by we came upon the Strawbury Duck, a hostelry which used to welcome walkers; we gave its current batch of fine diners a wide berth.

The entire group then followed its bandy legged leader along the path back down to Wayoh Reservoir.

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The Black Bull, Edgworth, welcomed us with open arms, and Norman bought everyone a chip for Christmas. He’s a wonderfully generous chap.

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A roundabout route, taken due to avoid the embarrassment of finishing before 3 pm, despite a spell in the pub, saw us beside a roaring torrent that led us all the way back to Jumbles.

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We were leaderless for a period, whilst Norman swam this section...eventually emerging with his customary gurgles back at Jumbles.

Here’s our excellent route - 18 km, 400 metres ascent, taking 5 hours.

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There’s a 39 image slideshow here.

I hope Santa is generous to everyone. Don’t forget to leave him some sherry!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sunday 14 December 2014 – A Christmas Walk from Trentabank, and a Quiz

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20 of us set off promptly from the car park at Trentabank. Well, 19 – Andrew having set off earlier due to his ‘broken leg pace’. He still managed better than Alan R and Sheila, who had to abandon due to Alan’s poorly knee, and regrettably Don and Liz failed to make it due to exhaustion following a 19 hour journey home from Turkey.

Some of us had entered the ranger’s office, despite the ‘Grumpy man’ notice on the door. Whilst there are various information boards within the office, the inmates took a dim view of those of us who had not used the £4.50 car park, and they certainly fulfilled the ‘Grumpy man’ image by chasing members of our party out of the warm room!

Anyway, no matter - in unexpectedly dry weather, we soon emerged from the forest onto the paving that leads to Shutlingsloe's summit.

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The fog was down as we mounted the steep steps that lead to the 506 metre summit.

We milled around for a while, waiting for the view to clear.

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Joddrell Bank telescope can be seen from the summit, but today we had to rely on radio waves to pick it out.

Our objective for lunch, the Cat and Fiddle, was also on the horizon. Unfortunately unseen today, it does appear in the slideshow, as does Tittesworth Reservoir, which sometimes shines in the sunlight beyond the Roaches, from this lofty summit, ‘The Matterhorn of Cheshire’.

The mist was down as we descended to Banktop for elevenses, after which, suitably gorged with shortbread, we moved on to negotiate a bridge over the raging torrent of Clough Brook.

Then through a field to Clough House, albeit one of the party was found to be moving in the wrong direction after losing a tenner.

With the Cat & Fiddle now signposted, faster/thirstier members of the group could forge ahead up Cumberland Clough, without the need to worry about anyone getting lost.

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Cumberland Clough is the home of Cumberland Cottage and a plethora of small birds – tits, nuthatches, pigeons, jays, etc.

The rough track, excellent for mountain biking, led to a waterfall in Cumberland Brook, after which we continued up the brook, rising beside the torrent through Danesthorn Hollow.

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The good track to the Cat and Fiddle is well signposted at the top of the path and when it's sunny the Cat and Fiddle can be seen from afar. In cloudy conditions like today’s, it appears out of the mist as if by surprise.

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Bags were dumped, beers were purchased, crackers were pulled, hats were donned, jokes were swapped and rain lashed against the windows. Alan and Sheila had made it to the pub, despite Alan’s poorly knee, and the next three images are reproduced courtesy of their cameras.

There was a quiz. It’s a tradition. Sue and Alan made easy work of the questions….

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... and of their lunches. Head chef Adam produced a Christmas lunch that matched our requirements perfectly. Thanks Adam, and Vienna, at The Cat.

Eventually it was time to mark the scripts - 28/35 was a pretty good winning score, with indulgent prizes for the winners.

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Soon, well – not that soon, we spent two and a half hours in The Cat - it was time to brave the elements, albeit the rain had subsided by now.

Our colourful selection of waterproofs was perhaps the brightest feature of the day, apart from everybody’s jolly demeanour.

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Then we trudged off, beside the A537 road.

Shutlingsloe seemed some way off, with sunshine even further away.

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We soon left the road, to enjoy excellent paths all the way back to Trentabank.

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By the time we got to Bottom-of-the-Oven, the light had diminished to the extent that a tripod might be needed for further pictures.

When we reached Macclesfield Forest’s chapel it was nearly dark. Andrew left to walk back along the quiet road, but beyond the chapel, a superb woodland walk, with lighting provided by a giant torch, saw us through the northern fringe of Macclesfield Forest.

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On the way, we passed a tree, laden with Christmas gifts for children and fronted by a large wooden box for donations etc. Wonderful!

The Leather's Smithy was soon reached, followed by a stroll alongside Ridgegate Reservoir to regain our cars under the beady eyes of the resident little grebes and cormorants. Whilst some had used torches, others amongst us found the ambient light quite sufficient to illuminate our way to a 4.30 pm finish.

I enjoy this route, I hope others agree that it’s a good one.

Here’s where we went – 16 km, with 700 metres ascent, taking 7 hours (including 2.5 hours in the pub).

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There’s a 59 image slideshow, including pictures from a sunny day a couple of weeks earlier, here. Click on the first picture, then click ‘slideshow’. [Those pictures may appear here later this week, following our evening walk up Shutlingsloe on Thursday (18/12) – starting from Trentabank Car Park, 7.30 pm, all welcome.]

In case anyone is interested, here’s the quiz – click here for a larger version that you can magnify:

Quiz-2014A

Martin's Christmas Quiz 2014

All photos taken within the last six months.
10 Bonus Points

1

Who is sitting next to Julie? When did he die?

2

Name the Flower

3

Name the Abbey? Order of which saint?

4

Name the Hills

5

Name the Water? Picture taken from?

6

Where is this? Name of Guide?

7

Name the Hill

8

Name the nearest Pass

9

Name the Flower

10

Name the Property

11

Name this Animal? Where can it be found?

12

Name the Island? The high peak in the picture?

13

Name the Flower

14

Name the Hill

15

What is this? Where?

16

Who and Where (Country)? Island?

17

Name the Flower

18

What is this?

19

Name the Waterfall

20

Name the nearest Town - the person in the picture is Julie (see 1)

21

Name the Canal? The Pub?

22

Who is the 'Head of State'? Official Position?

23

Name the Flower

24

Where is this Chapel?

25

From which former County does this cottage take its name?


If anyone would like to have a go at this, feel free to do so – I’ll send a small prize to anyone scoring 30 or more by 31 December – entries to 2014quiz@topwalks.com.