Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Martin on the TGO Challenge 2017

Friday, 13 June 2014

Thursday 12 June 2014 – Deepest Cheshire – An Evening Walk Around Mobberley

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Leaderless due to our resident guide to Deepest Cheshire having decided to put his feet up for the duration of the World Cup, a trio of lost souls lined up in the comfort of the Church Inn’s beer garden.

Refreshed from a couple of pints of ‘Mallory Ale’, aka Dunham Massey Brewery’s ‘Big Tree Bitter’, we decided to stumble off into the hinterland of Deepest Cheshire.

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“Come back Andrew” was the cry as the ill prepared trio stumbled and scratched their way through the undergrowth. But all was not lost, we emerged at another watering hole with a lavish beer garden. Another couple of pints were sunk as we watched Mr and Mrs Rich down their lobsters.

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Continuing blindly on through more mud, we came across this small pond on a corner, from which we were able to locate our position – something of a miracle given the absence of our guide and his failure to provide a route.

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Warford Grange Farm does not welcome visitors. Everything is marked ‘Private’. Perhaps there are hidden secrets. However, some kind person had painted a line of green dots, which we followed to Mountpleasant Farm, where those helpful signs of guidance all merged into one in the field pictured below.

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It didn’t help that the green dots had pointed directly westwards, exactly to where the sun was setting, and only one of us had sunglasses. Anyway, we splashed onwards, taking turns with the glasses and using the occasional tree (see header image) to protect our eyes from the glare. Any footpath was well hidden, but occasional yellow markers on stiles did give us some comfort.

We passed a nice looking tree.

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Looking around, we all agreed that we must be in the right place. Somewhere in deepest Cheshire.

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Walking backwards proved to be a good tactic – here I’m waiting for Graham (he’s generally fairly slow) whilst almost walking backwards into a ‘farmyard classic’ – you know the sort of car I mean, something like an E-type Jaguar used as a pig trough.

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Pavement Lane saw us back on a less soft surface where Sue complained about the hard tarmac causing her feet to hurt. Some curious barn conversions next to typical farmyard detritus remain unsold. A ginnel about a metre wide led for some way through a newish housing estate and across the B5085 to a path beside a series of factories, before taking three sides of a square to reach Valewood Farm and re-enter Deepest Cheshire. Between here and curiously named ‘Dairy Farm’ (surrounded by fields of wheat), there were fine skyscapes if you didn’t mind the aircraft that seemed intent on a bird’s eye view of Deepest Cheshire.

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Over to the west the sun, having dazzled us all the way to Valewood Farm, gloatingly dipped behind the horizon.

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We were now heading east. “Gotcha” screamed the moon, as it jumped out from behind a tree and tried to blind us.

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We were getting quite thirsty again, so we paused only briefly at St Wilfred’s Church where there’s an important window in memory of George Leigh Mallory who died on Mount Everest in 1924. The church has had a long connection with the Mallory family and contains numerous windows and memorial plaques to the family.

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We noted from a random piece of gadgetry that we’d probably covered about 8.5 km and ascended around 75 metres. “That’s why Andrew didn’t come” we all realised at once –“It would have been too hilly for him”.

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So, two hours after leaving the Church Inn’s beer garden, we were back there for another couple of pints of ‘Mallory Ale’, aka Dunham Massey Brewery’s ‘Big Tree Bitter’, listening to Mr and Mrs Richer discussing the finer qualities of the Menu.

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What a pleasant evening – sorry you missed it Andrew (and anyone else) and we hope your broken leg is better soon.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

The Changing Face of the Mersey Valley and the Cheshire Ring Canals

Today is one of those calm, sunny, t-shirt but not too hot, days that scuppers the best laid plans for staying at home and getting jobs done. Whilst it was tempting to drive somewhere, I opted for a 40 mile round trip from home, on Stumpy, more or less all off road, and leaving the afternoon to get ‘stuff’ done. Like this report for instance!

The canal/Trans Pennine Trail circuit from home is an easy (only 200 metres of ascent in 40 miles) four hour trip that, whilst being mainly in Greater Manchester, makes the most of the countryside that extends almost into the city centre.

There are always changes to observe. These days there is a ‘wheelchair’ ramp at Jackson’s Boat bridge.

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The rough and muddy path beside the River Mersey between Chorlton and Didsbury seems almost to have been converted into a roadway.

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But further on the nice old track survives.

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I’m sure that in days past we used this section of previously disused railway in East Didsbury as a (muddy and overgrown) cycle route. Today it has been reclaimed by the tram line, but at least there is a good cycle path next to the line.

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Some of the muddy tracks in Reddish Vale have been coated with green tarmac!

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To the east of the M60 motorway, crossed by a high footbridge, old signage remains from the early days of the Trans Pennine Trail, which opened in 2001.

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Beyond Haughton Green, the TPT heads further east and the Peak Forest Canal is joined by those with a desire to return to Timperley for lunch. In places the towpath has been renewed (Sustraned?). You can also see that I’ve now got a bike mount for the Garmin eTrex10, to which I’d downloaded the route. It worked very well, but can you spot the temporary glitch?

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In other places the towpath was extremely muddy, and having binned my mudguards (they kept falling off) I returned home covered in mud. Dukinfield Lift Bridge remains in pristine condition.

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There’s a canal basin at the junction of the Peak Forest and Ashton Canals, with fairly newly converted mill buildings and old cobbled bridges sitting cheek by jowl.

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A left turn saw me zooming along the Ashton Canal towpath, muddy in places, and cobbled in the area of the many locks on the route into Manchester. The bike’s suspension finally came into use on the fast cobbled descents enjoyed at each lock.

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Large families of Canada Geese and their young were seen at frequent intervals, as were quite a number of barges heading towards Manchester.

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In a previous posting ‘Some Bike Rides from Timperley’, I published a photo that enjoyed a view across the whole (construction) site near the City of Manchester Stadium. Privacy for footballers in training seems to have taken precedence over the view, as huge banks have been constructed, and trees have been planted since I was last here.

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I passed barges going into Manchester, and I met some coming through Manchester, but the canal seemed to be almost empty of water north of Piccadilly. Those coming in from Ashton may have been able to exit via the Rochdale Canal, but I’m not sure how those coming from the direction of the Bridgewater Canal could get through.

A pause in Castlefield saw me finishing the flask of tea and other provisions that I’d half eaten outside the Visitor Centre at Reddish Vale.

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Not long ago, the bridge below hadn’t been painted and the trams were all blue (the new ones are yellow).

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After a long standing canal diversion at Old Trafford, the towpath that is re-joined is narrow and muddy. There ought to be future changes here, as this is the perfect venue for a cycleway away from busy roads all the way into Manchester’s City Centre. Currently only a brave few use it to commute.

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I was back home by noon, and after a quick hose down I was ready to move on to the next job.

Here’s a rough idea of the route – 62km with 200 metres ascent, taking 4 hours, including a couple of 15 minute breaks. Basically – follow the Trans Pennine Trail until you reach the Peak Forest Canal, then follow that around to where it crosses the Trans Pennine Trail in Stretford. And there are other options.

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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Sunday 8 June 2014 – A Stroll Around Foolow

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Apologies for any typos in this entry – our swifts have just fledged and are carrying out very noisy practice flights right outside the study window. Not that I’m complaining, they are wonderful birds.

A select group of five assembled by the duck pond in Foolow at 10.15, as planned, but where was the organiser of this walk? Where could we go, what could we do, with no leader?

However, after much cursing about huge traffic jams on the M6, our talisman leader arrived from distant Bonsall with some passengers, and by 10.30 the day's team of eight was complete, and ready for the off. The Foolow ducks were left to laze the day away in the shade of a blossom laden tree.

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We headed past Roods Farm towards Great Hucklow, gliders from Abney soaring above us as we sloshed through fields of buttercups. It had been raining earlier, so the grass was pretty wet.

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Great Hucklow came and went and during a pause for navigational indecision I noticed some well travelled Russian Comfrey, prominent in the hedgerows.

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After a period of uncertainty about the route around new buildings at Quarters Farm, we settled down for elevenses, at noon, by a disused tip near slurry, the fumes from which wafted across this otherwise pleasant spot. At least the shortbread tasted normal.

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Bradwell was soon reached. Our leader confirmed that there are four excellent pubs here, apparently. Unfortunately due to more route indecision she failed to find any of them.

Soon we were ascending Bradwell Edge, with views back to the Dark Peak, from Mam Tor to Lose Hill, with Kinder behind, all beyond Bradwell.

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Up near Robin Hood’s Cross, this dew pond seemed full of life.

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Lunch was taken on the nice benches at SK 183 801.

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Sue photographed some skyscapes from her bench.

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Many fields were laden with buttercups, here looking towards the Edges around Hathersage.

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A lot of effort had been put into placing numerous signs about the closure of a vital path, for which no alternative route is available, due to a 'defective footbridge'. Lots of paths meet at the busy junction where Abney Clough meets Bretton Clough - numbers 6, 7, 8, 10, 12 and 14 are all involved, though how many people would recognise these paths by their numbers? The notices were pinned to a path number 99 sign, but there was no reference to path number 99 in the notices.

Here's the 'defective bridge'. Scary!

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If the effort needed to produce and place all the signs had been directed towards the actual bridge, it would have been replaced with no fuss.

Anyway, we made it safely to the Bretton Clough path, where a sharp left turn took us past the some sheep, following which Eyam, which from this direction seems to be almost surrounded by quarries, soon came into view.

At the site of Highcliffe Lead Mine, which dates from 1715, Sue went in search of ‘plant communities of international conservation importance’, including 'Derbyshire Leadwort', and found this - Spring Sandwort, perhaps?

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Down in Eyam, we passed by Marshall Howe's house – he survived a dose of the plague, but sadly his wife and son both died from that in 1666.

The walk then concluded with a pleasant stroll through buttercup meadows to Foolow.

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Q. Will the village hall be open for tea and cakes? A. Yes, and very good the cakes were as well.

Here’s our route – 18km with 500 metres ascent, taking five and a half hours. An excellent route – thanks go to Sue W for discovering it as we went along.

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A fine little bimble, advertised as 9 miles, but turning out to be just over 11 miles, and there’s a slightly more extensive slideshow here.