Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Wednesday 26 March 2014 – A Plod around Rivington's Reservoirs

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John Pickton led eight of Reg’s disciples to the ruined folly of Liverpool Castle (a scale replica built by Lord Leverhulme) for a self-timed photo, then led them briskly away again.

Sun beamed gently through the woods beside Rivington Reservoir.

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We soon crossed the causeway to continue along the west side of Anglezarke Reservoir.

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A helicopter passed close overhead, confirming that John had ensured that rescue facilities were on hand for the nine old timers. Reg was maybe in the cockpit.

A large house, The Street, on the west shore of Anglezarke Reservoir generated a story from John about it being owned by Jonathan Warburton, who I know from my professional career has plenty of dough and regards himself as a thick crust above the rest of us.

After passing through a light coating of mud, nothing compared with Sunday’s dose on the Two Crosses walk, Heapy Fold lane offered a good place for tea and cake on a dry grassy bank.

John was soon champing at the bit to set off again.

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An extra loop past a farm revealed goats and emus, not to mention a few chickens and rabbits, etc.

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Eventually we reached the pretty hamlet of White Coppice, where we enjoyed lunch in the presence of the ghosts of our cricketing heroes. Alan R shuffled his soggy toes awkwardly. That’ll teach him to plod in flip-flops!

After owning a series of cameras with panoramic settings, I’ve discovered that the Canon G16 doesn’t have such a setting. Progress or what? Anyway I took four photos and used the usual Canon PhotoStitch software to produce this lunchtime panorama.

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Seems ok to me, albeit the format of the blog isn’t really suitable for panoramas except as headers and footers.

The eastern side of Anglezarke Reservoir afforded excellent views of Rivington Pike and Winter Hill as we made progress south to cross the embankment by Yarrow Reservoir.

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Amongst the trilling curlew and the raucous oyster catchers lurked an albino mallard in the reeds, too demanding for my limited wildlife photography skills..

Back beside Rivington Reservoir we passed Go Ape, where John P reccied a future adventure for Plodders, but it does come at a cost of £30 a head.

Alan R and I then dived into the nearby café, only to be dragged out by John just as we reached the front of the queue. Apparently a vote had been taken and four of the seven had elected to continue, relying only on their cold dregs and bruised bananas for sustenance. Apparently Alan and I had not been taken into account in the voting as, being in the queue already, we weren’t present! Don’s overwhelming desire to return to his mother’s bosom before sundown seemed to have prevailed.

So we pootled off in the sunshine, arriving back at the car park well before 3 pm.

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Here's our route - 19 km, with 250 metres ascent, taking us 4.75 hours.

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Thanks to John for leading, and to Alan R for his entertaining (if fictional) report here. There are a few more photos here.

The route according to my Garmin gadget is shown below:

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Spinners Winners!

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For a while, when I’m not away on trips, I’ve been enjoying helping some friends in a very minor way at the Spinners Pub Quiz in Adlington. I’m not much help, but we always seem to have a very jolly evening, usually coming in the middle of the dozen or so teams that take part.

Last night we excelled ourselves, with Glenn’s assistance, by coming second. For which we got nothing (as usual). However, there’s a weekly accumulated fund. Every week a draw is made, and the team with the score that matches the ticket drawn receives the fund. It’s some time since the ticket drawn has matched anyone’s score. Last night Bev’s annoyance that her son had changed one of my correct answers quickly dissolved when the ticket drawn matched our team’s score of 65.

We’d won the £300 fund! Glenn had gone home, but the rest of the team posed with their winnings. As you can see, Stuart and Lyn are each clutching £50, John has nothing, and Bev is hanging on to £150. To be fair, she has probably earned it as her wide knowledge of otherwise useless facts is arguably the hidden strength of our team.

My winnings have gone to the Levana School Partnership charity.

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What fun! Spend your winnings wisely, folks, and thanks go to the staff at the Spinners who organise the weekly quiz.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sunday 23 March 2014 – East Lancs LDWA 29th Two Crosses Circuit

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Today 280 or so folk assembled at Tottington Youth Centre for the 29th running of this excellently organised and supported event.

I’d previously walked the short 17 mile course on 25 March 2012, and the long 25 mile course as part of the LDWA’s 40th anniversary celebrations, on 23 September 2012.

But I’d never paid much attention to the route, and this year I’d decided to meet the ‘Challenge Walk’ in the spirit of a challenge and walk the course at a brisk pace.

A shower hit Tottington just as the mass start took place at 8 am, so overtrousers and waterproof jacket were donned. The rain soon stopped, mercifully for the rest of the day, but overnight rain and hail had led to very muddy conditions, and a cold westerly wind prevailed. So whilst the jacket soon came off, gloves and overtrousers remained donned all day.

As fast as you may desire to go at the start, a series of stiles and kissing gates ensures that the 280 strong (plus a number of dogs) field gets fairly spread out as they wait in a long queue to pass through each obstacle.

I soon moved ahead of JJ’s crack team including Fast Blackshaw, Viv, John B and Judith, and by the time the first of the two crosses, Affetside Roman Cross, was reached the waiting at each stile was fairly short.

It’s a headless cross on Watling Street, thought to be a Roman road where Julius 10th Legion commander is supposed to have established a temporary camp. The name 'Affetside' is thought to come from 'half each side', this point being halfway between London and Edinburgh. The cross itself may date from Roman times, although others say it was placed here in the 17th century marking the village market place. There’s a socket in the top of the post where the cross used to sit.

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I took very few photos, so readers will have to make do with these few random shots taken on the few occasions when I remembered I was carrying a camera. The two earlier walks (see links above) illustrate the route rather better.

Anyway, here’s the first random shot – you can see that these walkers descending to the A676 road have already gained rather muddy footwear and Julie Gardner, on the right, clearly doesn’t have any stomach for washing trouser legs.

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Meanwhile, I was treading very carefully in an effort to keep my feet dry, despite Julie’s unscheduled diversion along a mud clogged track by a wood at SD 693 173. I was the only person daft enough to follow her. I got my instructions out after that, rejoining the string of walkers ascending Longworth Moor behind someone else whose washing machine must have banned muddy trouser legs.

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After an even boggier section through which keeping one’s feet dry required very tiptoey movements interspersed with long hops between tussocks, a good track was eventually reached. The sun was out and there was plenty of time to admire the view across Belmont Reservoir to Winter Hill.

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The trio ahead of me ran off into the distance whilst I strolled in the company of mountain bikers against a cold westerly wind for 3.5 km up the Witton Weavers Way towards Old Man’s Hill and the next checkpoint. I didn’t expect to see the trio again.

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The camera then went away whilst I toiled up Turton Moor, then down to the good path around Turton and Entwistle Reservoir for lavish supplies afforded by the checkpoint at Batridge Barn Car Park.

The shorter 17 mile route goes through here, so from now on the sludge in the muddy paths was even deeper as numerous people on the shorter route had already gone through. Julie Gardner was there with her dog, as was the trio I didn’t think I’d see again. We all set off together after the others had possibly enjoyed a three course meal as compared with my quick snack. Thanks go to Viv’s team for providing such luscious support.

In fact, thanks go to all the checkpoints for the excellent provisions and support throughout the event.

A little later, after we’d encountered a couple of trial bikes and passed Mary who was doing the shorter route and seemed a bit misplaced, the route description says ‘Pass rusting harrow on L’. “That’s a bit precise” commented the trio, who are pictured below – Neil, Carly and Rebecca, who I can thank for acting as inadvertent pacemakers.

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Proceeding across the bog that is named Holcombe Moor, I began to realise, looking down at my feet, that my dry feet could be attributed only to my Sealskinz socks. After that spell of slow bog it was a delight to reach the comfort of the ‘Naughty Corner’ checkpoint, where a glass of sherry saw me speeding off ahead of the bemused trio and passing an even more bemused Judith, who had chosen the shorter route.

Soon I’d traversed around Bull Hill, a danger area where red flags were flying, and reached the second cross, Pilgrims Cross. Here Alison, another complete stranger, posed nicely for me.

The four sides of the Pilgrims Cross cube tell the story of history of the cross, its significance and destruction. Here’s what each of the four sides say:

“On this site stood the ancient Pilgrims Cross. It was standing in AD 1176 and probably much earlier . Pilgrims to Whalley Abbey prayed and rested here.”

” In AD 1176 and in AD 1225 the Pilgrims Cross is named in charters of gifts of land in Holcombe forest. In AD 1662 King Charles II gave this manor to General Monk, Duke of Abermarle through whom it has descended to the present lord of the manor.”

“Nothing is known of the removal of the ancient cross, but its massive socketed foundation remained here until August 1901″

“This memorial stone was placed here May 24th 1902 by the copyholders of the manor and others”

The socket was destroyed by unknown vandals in 1901. By 1902 as the present monument tells us, the present stone was put in place. Monuments on ridgeways like this would have been invaluable guide posts for medieval  travellers, both as a means of knowing how far they have travelled and as a means to orientate themselves in bad weather. Navigating by landmarks would be crucial in upland and moorland environments, so crosses and large prehistoric burial mounds would all have been named. The original monument was also known as Whowell’s Cross and Chatterton’s Cross.

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As you progress over Holcombe Moor, Peel Tower comes into view, with walkers dotted along the path to this 39 metre memorial to Sir Robert Peel, opened in 1852.

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It’s downhill virtually all the way from the tower. Some may consider that the descent in Redisher Wood to Holcombe Brook is a little excessively downhill. Here the trio were a little behind me.

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I paused on the bridge to admire the views up and down Holcombe Brook (and perhaps take a breather!).

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Meanwhile, Neil jogged past, looking annoyingly frisky after well over 20 miles in the mud. Rebecca and Carly are in the trees behind – can you spot them both?

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The final checkpoint was soon reached, followed by a final boggy trudge to a golf club at Greenmount. Then it was all very easy, on firm ground to Holcombe Brook and the disused railway line that delivers walkers past Kirklees Brook (pictured below) to the finish at Tottington Youth Centre.

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Here’s the approximate route – according to Anquet it’s 40 km with 1000 metres ascent, taking 9.7 hours based on Naismith’s formula.

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I’d gone a bit quicker than that, finishing before 2 pm for the second day running, this time in 5 hours 49 minutes according to my certificate.

This gave me all afternoon to socialise and enjoy numerous cups of tea and bowls of soup etc at the well catered finish. I strolled back up the route to walk in with Judith, then with Roger, and I attempted to do the same with JJ’s crack team. It turned out however that they were self appointed ‘sweepers’ and rumour had it that they were staying at each checkpoint, drinking eating and being merry until being ejected – only to repeat the performance at the next checkpoint.

So I went home for my tea.

Here’s my route as recorded by the Garmin gadget, which curiously records ascent as 806 metres, compared with Anquet’s 1000 metres.

If anyone wants higher resolution copies of the above pictures, they are available here. Full size images can be provided on (albeit unlikely!) request.

The results are here.

Saturday 22 March 2014 – Crowden and Black Hill with the AAC

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On Saturday Sue and I had the pleasure of joining some members of the Austrian Alpine Club* for a walk up Black Hill from Crowden.

We set off with eleven walkers, mainly of ‘Plodder’ vintage (regular readers will understand that). The vision of Black Hill’s looming bulk proved a little much for Jane, who soon turned back.

The sun was trying hard as we headed up to Laddow Rocks.

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We passed Oakenclough Brook and Laddow Rocks, with the sun occasionally sending encouraging beams through the encroaching thick cloud.

For a while we enjoyed good views ahead, and back to Crowden.

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The route was easy to follow along the paving of the Pennine Way, with the Holme Moss mast also guiding us inexorably towards the summit.

We managed to select a nice spot for elevenses, bang on time, at which point ‘cake’ also went down well. Unfortunately Anthony pulled a muscle trying to jump across a stream and appeared to have turned back, though it later transpired that he had stuck dutifully to his appointed role as backmarker, arriving back at Crowden with his wife a good hour after the rest of us.

Soon after elevenses the clouds finally engulfed us and protective outfits were donned to guard against the stinging hail, which was also rather wet.

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We eventually reached Black Hill summit, pictured at the head of this entry. It amazes me how the summit area has changed for the better since the Pennine Way paving was laid a few years ago. In places smooth grass has taken over from what was once a deep black quagmire.

We didn’t linger at the summit.

The cairn on Tooleyshaw Moss was our next target, from where we could look back to see someone standing on Black Hill’s trig point. So it can’t have been as windy as we thought!

Our group of eight managed to stay mainly together as we sloshed our way across Tooleyshaw Moor to White Low, following a trail of marker posts.

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The descent was mainly into stinging hail, though it did clear a little from time to time.

Lunch had been taken in relative shelter between showers. It wasn’t a long break as the weather was chilly and damp.

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Whilst everyone else descended by the lower path down Hey Moss, I took the higher route past what is marked on my map as a ‘Pillar’ on Hey Edge. This looks to me more like a trig point in the middle of a moor than a pillar on an edge, but who am I to judge?

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I dodged a deep quarry to drop steeply and rejoin the others above Crowden. We were soon joined by Vicky and Heather, who had varied the route by starting with a gorge scramble, presumably up Crowden Brook. They seem to have enjoyed it. I’ll remember Heather for her huge white gloves that looked to me like the ends of false arms.

On the last lap to Crowden, some of the party looked a little bedraggled.

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Here’s our approximate route - 14 km with 450 metres ascent, in about 5 hours.

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We reached Crowden Youth Hostel at about 2pm, and spent a pleasant afternoon in good company with tea and cake and chat. Looking out of the window to see whether it had cleared sufficient for a further stroll, we decided “No, another glass of mulled wine, please?”

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There’s a slideshow (27 pictures) here.

After a good meal, we enjoyed an evening of photo presentations from many of the twenty plus folk who were present. Sue’s E5 Photobooks were admired, and a couple of my Pyrenees Adventure books were sold, one of them to Jerry, who I now realise with some embarrassment that I may have been rather rude about in the book. I’ll leave readers to make their own discoveries, but I do apologise unreservedly to Jerry, and I’d be interested to hear about how his trip progressed after Lescun.

Crowden Hostel is due to close at the end of March, and we were the final group booking, so far as I could ascertain. Here’s what the Pennine Way Association thought about the closure when they found out by chance in November 2013.

It was with both a measure of surprise and disappointment that the members of the Executive of the PWA learnt of the forthcoming closure of the YHA hostel at Crowden in its current form on March 31st 2014.

Indeed it was only when former Secretary Peter Stott tried to reserve a room for a stay next Spring that we , or anyone else as far as we can ascertain, were aware of the situation. Subsequent investigation by both Peter and Chris Sainty revealed from the YHA that a decision and mutual agreement had been reached with Rotherham Council to close the hostel as a functioning youth hostel and all matters relating to the hostel would be handled in future by the owners Rotherham Council. This was confirmed by Mr Colin Gratton-Rayson who is the Outdoor Learning Youth Work Manager for Rotherham Council. Mr Rayson stated that the hostel would be available for bookings by groups. The definition of a group is not at the moment clear but is believed to be not less than ten people per group. Crowden had been operating as what is known as an Enterprise Hostel and the status of these is reviewed on a periodic basis.

To say that this change is a disappointment is an understatement as anyone who has walked over from Edale, even on a good weather day will appreciate, as accommodation hereabouts is very limited. What is of more interest is the covert way the whole process regarding the change has been, with no known news appearing in the press or from the organisations concerned and no information in the outdoor press. This is a major cause of disappointment as there appears to have been no consultation whatsoever.

As it happens Chris Sainty had made a reservation at Crowden some tine ago and he has now received contact from the YHA that his booking has been transferred to the Old House at Glossop. It is obvious that this change will cause difficulties for Pennine Way walkers and it is to be hoped that facilities will become available in the Glossop area as an opportunity exists here for an enterprising organisation.

*The AAC(UK) is one of the the largest UK Mountaineering Clubs with over 9,500 UK and overseas members. The principal benefits of membership, at no extra charge, are:

  • Mountain Rescue Insurance; worldwide, without age limit and inclusive of repatriation;
  • Alpine Hut Rights; discounted accommodation costs in alpine huts belonging to the National Alpine Mountaineering Federations.

(We use the AAC mainly for the discounted accommodation in mountain huts across Europe, saving up to €10 per person per night.)