Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 25 April 2014

Thursday 24 April 2014 – Bury and Tottington

2418Woodhey2

Today was the day allotted to a meeting of East Lancashire LDWA’s ‘Plodders’ – those members of the Long Distance Walkers Association who prefer not to stick their heads under their arms and bash out 20+ miles on every outing. It’s sort of unofficial, being outside the LDWA philosophy, but around twenty of us took the trouble to assemble at the Hare and Hounds in Holcombe Brook, so there must be demand for these ‘Plods’.

I chose to travel by tram to Bury and leave myself an hour and a half for the stroll up to Holcombe Brook. Metrolink put the mockers on that when the Bury tram headed unexpectedly off towards Rochdale. “Sorry, we took a wrong turning” apologised the driver. So we all got off at Monsall and headed back to Shudehill for a second attempt at getting to Bury. Passengers were pretty much resigned to the half hour delay, which is pretty routine for Metrolink.

2401trams-(1)

That meant I had an hour to get to the Hare and Hounds, 8 km away. I spent the first 15 minutes supping coffee from the station cafe in the pleasant surroundings of Bury’s Unity Garden. The sculpture in the foreground depicts the River of Life, and the cherry tree was laden with blossom.

2403garden22404blossom

My walk to the Hare and Hounds then took place at a speed that wasn’t exactly ‘plodding’ pace. After passing Bury Ground and some nesting swans I crossed the River Irwell and headed up to Burrs Country Park, the site of much industrial archaeology, such as this stone bed of a mill steam engine.

2408enginelocation2

A procession of students with adult minders was then passed during the next few km – D of E novices with big rucksacks and flapping maps. Soon after the country park, this huge weir was encountered, and a very pleasant path led alongside the river all the way to Summerseat.

2413weir

The Peel Tower lords over the outskirts of Bury, it’s pictured here across the Irwell.

2414peeltower

At Brooksbottoms a steam train surprised me as it shot out of a tunnel. Then my route took a turn to the west, through the lovely Woodhey valley (pictured top) to the Hare and Hounds.

2419HareandHounds

A two hour pause in my walk to enjoy lunch with the Plodders was followed by a quick return to Bury along the disused railway line through Tottington. These entertaining sculptures are encountered shortly before arriving back at the River Irwell and the stroll into Bury.

2420Sculpture

Here’s my route – 16 km, with about 200 metres ascent, taking a relatively energetic 2 hours, plus a further 2 hours for lunch.

2499route

As regards the Plodders, a committee was formed – Don, Alan and John. I controversially (I thought) suggested some short half day Autumn walks. Hmmm, not exactly LDWA style, but I now need to suggest some dates and venues as the idea was not rejected!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Monday - Lakes - Day 4

If it rained overnight I didn't notice. The morning dawned grey, with that nagging easterly wind still in evidence. The weather took on a rather resigned look.

I was off by 7.15, and a few minutes later reached Hardknott Pass. Already it was brightening up, and by the time I reached the 500+ metre top of Border End I could have sworn the sun was coming out. A few minutes later, at Hard Knott, my high point of the day, it was definitely shining, illuminating the whole of the Scafell range, as you can see from the top picture. 

A quick scamper over Yew Bank, the final summit of this little trip, soon saw me down in the Upper Esk valley. Here it was t-shirt weather, and it remained so for the rest of the day. I may have caught the sun.

An old packhorse bridge, pictured, currently serves hikers wishing to ascend Scafell from Eskdale. There were no takers for that other than a few sheep today - I only saw a couple of dog walkers, near Brotherilkeld, and a couple of farmers mending a gate, before reaching Dalegarth at around noon.

As I progressed into the valley the flora started to appear. First violets, then Wood Anemone, Lesser Celandine,  Wood Sorrel and Primroses. Pied Wagtails and Tree Creepers also  introduced themselves together with garden birds like Pigeons and Blackbirds. Further down the valley the now substantial River Esk was lined with vibrant yellow gorse bushes, and early Bluebells and large clumps of Greater Stitchwort made an appearance. The beech and other trees were busily coming into leaf. Fields were yellow with Dandelions.

A cheeseburger and chips went down well at Dalegarth, then the narrow gauge 'Ratty' train obligingly transported me and numerous other holidaymakers to Ravenglass for the 14.25 to Lancaster. Waiting on the platform it was absolutely sweltering as I made the acquaintance of the production editor of a newish upmarket magazine for road cyclists. Imaginatively called 'Cyclist'.

I was home by 6pm after a most enjoyable weekend, with special thanks to Alan and Sheila for coming along and being excellent company.

A slide show may follow - I took 247 pictures. Some editing will be needed!

Sent from Timperley

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Sunday - Lakes - Day 3

After another cold, calm, clear night we woke to the sight of mirror like Devoke Water. 

The others enjoyed a lie in whilst I spent the calmest and clearest hour of the day bimbling around the lake, taking in the minor summits of Seat How, Rough Crag and Water Crag, all with fine views of the Isle of Man and back to higher Lakeland peaks.

The geese, greylag I suspect, were very active in the air and on the water, as they seemed to have been all night.

By 9 o'clock we were packed up and on the good track that leads from the boathouse to the Birker Fell road, where we were to meet the other Alan if he'd managed to dispose of his B&B guests. We waited at the rendezvous point for a while before concluding that the guests had won.

Today, apart from the common birds listed yesterday, I saw plovers, stonechats and a blackcap. And probably failed to identify many more. We have all seen lizards, scurrying purposefully in the grass.

An easy track led to the start of a short but interesting ascent of Great Crag. The final few metres up this modest hill were along an unlikely looking steep grassy ramp. Rocky outcrops were avoided as we continued to the summit of Broad Crag, then a yomp over easy ground found us at the nipple like cairn at the top of Great Worm Crag. We looked for worms but all we could find were bits of sheep skeletons, a feature of this trip, picked clean. Carnivorous giant worms hereabouts?

Anyway, we now turned just north of east. Here we felt the full force of the strong, cold easterly wind that had taken an overnight breather. But the cloud that had rushed in to replace the early morning sunshine was now weakening in the face of the rising sun.

A welcome brew stop punctuated our route to White How. A most pleasant sheltered spot with excellent views looking back along our route from Black Coombe. 

White How, on the summit of which Alan and I are pictured, was the first summit of a rocky crest dominated by our next summit,  Green Crag, a Wainwright. Two couples were lunching here - the first people we'd seen all day. 

Then it was on to the lower summit of Crook Crag, before heading over to an outlier, Great Whinscale, which sports views of a coastal power station, if you look carefully. 

At this point the whiff of pork crackling in the air had a strange effect on Alan and Sheila, who rushed off in an easterly direction muttering something about being late for the gin and tonic before their Sunday dinner with Alan and Tina. I'm sure I caught the words 'wine' and 'port' in the air as they hurried away...

Kepple Crag was my own next objective, in between wrestling with waterproofs as the long predicted rain appeared to set in. Good views from a small hill. 

Then I set my sights on Harter Fell, at around 650 metres the high point of the entire trip and a hill (like many on this excursion) that I hadn't been up before. I felt a little peeved that the 400 metre ascent would be in rain. Then, after reaching the main path that would be leading Alan and Sheila to their dinner, I was attracted by some waving. Had A and S stopped for lunch where their path enters forest and mine commences the steep ascent of Harter Fell? No. "We were just being friendly" said the group of seven. We chatted whilst I paused for lunch. We were all rather surprised. The rain had stopped. In fact the weather sort of cleared, with high cloud and the easterly wind taking over for the rest of the day. Visibility wasn't great compared with this morning's clear views to the Isle of Man but hey - we were expecting rain. 

The summit of Harter Fell appeared to be a large slab of rock that towers over the trig point. It took me a while to find an easy way up the slab in the strong wind.

Then I made my way down over Demming Crag and Horsehow Crags, meandering around various rocky outcrops to my planned camping spot, which turned out to be in a marsh.

Heading further down towards Hardknott Pass I found the beginnings of a marsh lined stream that I followed westwards to a minor precipice. Just above the steep drop was a small patch of dry but sloping grass. Testing it by lying down, i soon found a body shaped area that was comfy, so the Phreerunner (pictured in situ) went up around that spot, in which I am now lying in extreme comfort, replete after another excellent meal, albeit composed principally of dried ingredients. 

It's much windier tonight, even in this sheltered spot. I'm expecting rain.

Today's stats - about 19km with 1100 metres ascent, taking around 9.5 hours.

Sent from NY 22643 01250

Easter Saturday 2014 - Lakes - Day 2

The night we spent at SD 161 968 was perfectly clear and calm. But not dark,  on account of the moon.

Great, and I was far enough from Alan's snoring not to be disturbed. Though I did endure some rather too vivid dreams.

We lay in bed as the sun warmed our tents, then breakfasted and were off at 9.20, passing the rocks of Charity Chair before arriving at the lofty summit of Stoneside Hill after ten minutes walking. 

Then, on our way to cross a minor road we met a few folk who were probably off up Black Coombe. After that we met just three people all day - fell runners on Hesk Fell - though others were seen in the distance. 

We soon discovered what would dominate the day. Fine views, especially across the central Lakeland fells from Pillar to Dow Crag, wall to wall sunshine,  and a cold easterly wind that required at least two layers of clothing all day. 

We strolled during the course of our eight hour walk, over Great Paddy Crag, Kinmont Buck Barrow,  Buck Barrow, Plough Fell, Burn Moor, Whitfell (at 572 metres our high point of the day), Stainton Pike, Hesk Fell (an outlier like Kinmont and Plough, enabling us to dump our packs and take a break from load carrying), Yoadcastle, Woodend Height, White Pike and The Knott. So many hills, but only about 750 metres ascent in total. Alan and Sheila are pictured at one of these many summits.

There were lots of nesting birds about today - skylarks,  meadow pipits and wheatears in particular, with noisy geese on Devoke Water. Luckily we didn't disturb any nests, if anything protecting them from scavenging crows.

At 5pm we reached the boggy shore of Devoke Water, and our first proper streams of the day. At SD 161 968, shortly before the boathouse, a babbling brook and flat expanse of grass duly obliged and we set up camp in the strong breeze.

Then the wind dropped, resulting in another idyllic camping spot and a lovely sunset over the lake, enjoyed in the peace of our own company after some brave swimmers had left the vicinity of the boathouse. 

Our campsite, and the sunset, should also be pictured.

Sent from the English Lake District