Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Friday, 31 October 2014

Thursday 30 October 2014 – Failsworth to This & That (A Plod)

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Six Plodders assembled on a hot October morning at Failsworth Metrolink Station at 10.30am.

Soon we reached the Rochdale Canal near the old mill that is now the Russell Hobbs factory. Heading north, into the countryside of Failsworth and past Bridge 78b, we sought out Moston Brook.

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Others contested whether this was a Bewick's or a whooper. It looked like a mute to me, but let’s just call it ‘Failsworth Swan’.

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We passed under the Metrolink line to Oldham and Rochdale, in an area where the many mills are still home to an industrial heartland.

Swans and Canadian geese are common canal birds. Today goldfinches and grey wagtails were also in evidence.

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Moston Brook was littered; there were a few leaves as well, but the rubbish wasn’t really in keeping with the ‘Green Corridor’ status of today’s route.

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The brook disappeared into a culvert. "We're up here" Alan called to Norman, who had missed us at the start and was heard trying to reach us through the tunnel.

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Soon we abandoned Moston Brook, leaving it to disappear though a series of culverts and meadows to join Boggart Hole Brook and empty itself into the River Irk.

Oldham Road was crossed on the way back to the canal after this pleasant 'Moston Brook Interlude'.

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The road from Manchester to Oldham houses a solid ribbon of industry and hostelries. Many of the residents have a military background, like this old geezer trying apparently to escape from Captain Mainwaring.

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Back on the towpath, it's an easy walk into Manchester. Alan R often does it from his home in Middleton. "Downhill all the way."

Newton Heath's covered market looks a bit like an alien invader...?

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The pair of ducks behind the Canadian geese look like a mallard cross-breed, they are much larger than the average mallard.

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The towpath passes Mathers Foundry, which on occasion still spouts an unhealthy concoction of fumes.

It's not the most popular section of canal for narrowboats.

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Fine mill buildings line the canal as the city centre is approached.

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More modern buildings also appear, and duck houses.

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We were forced to leave the Rochdale Canal. The bridge housing the towpath is closed, and the workmen (progressing slowly, always just chatting) wouldn't allow us across. So we were forced into a large canal basin with lots of gates and fences, and a way through to eventually reach the Ashton Canal.

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En route, there are at least two of these dovecotes.

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The Ashton Canal is reached at Islington Wharf.

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There's a network of confusing side basins around Piccadilly Village (opened by Michael Heseltine in 1991), with some industrial archaeology thrown in.

Rick’s presence allowed us to home in efficiently to our lunchtime target – he has been frequenting This & That since 1987.

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We were soon tucking in to our 'rice with three curries' (£5.50).

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Here’s our route - 11km, minimal ascent, 2.5 hours - a good morning's stroll, despite an unsatisfactory level of litter.

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There are larger versions and a few more pictures in this 42 image slideshow.

AlanR’s excellent report on this walk is here.

This was the last of three experimental (unofficial) morning walks I’d planned for members of East Lancs LDWA and anyone else who wanted to come along. I was encouraged to organise some more, so will do that soon. Let me know if you are not on the ‘Plodder’ circulation list or any of my own circulation lists, and would like to be kept informed.

The other two walks were Around Glazebrook and Bury to Holcombe Brook. Thanks to those who have joined me on these enjoyable strolls.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Ramsoc Weekend at Kettlewell – 25/26 October 2014

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This is the seventh Ramsoc weekend to be mentioned in these pages – Sue’s University Rambling Club reunion has come round again. This year she organised the event, with assistance from Sue W in her roll as YHA insider. Thanks go to both Sues.

Click here to view all the Ramsoc postings.

About 30 folk turned up, a generation after these events started, as many of the children who used to attend are now at Universities themselves. Just three teenagers and a couple of small children were present on this occasion – a far cry from the roomfuls of youngsters on past reunions. It was good to see Mark and Janet, who escaped to Singapore for many years, just to avoid the hassle of organising this event! (They are still there – this was by way of a ‘Royal Visit’.)

There was a fine view across Kettlewell to Middlesmoor Pastures from our room in the YHA hostel, which sadly is up for sale. Perhaps it will have a new life as an independent hostel, but whoever buys it would be well advised to sort out the parking arrangements.

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Saturday

We drove up to a car park at Buckden and milled about for a while in between pouring money into a Pay and Display machine.

Soon nineteen strollers were rambling up the Firth Fell path.

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A halt was soon called as some of the party had been distracted by an assortment of interesting features that I must have missed.

Continuing upwards, a splinter group headed off along the ridge whilst most of us continued along the flagged path for a long wait by a cold and draughty wall.

The descent to Litton was 'leisurely'. “Where are they all?” we wondered.

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Then, after a punishing 6 km in over 2 hours, everyone else decided on a long refreshment stop. I’d lost the will to wait by then…

I continued across the River Skirfare, which given the recent dry weather and its limestone foundations would have been an easy paddle.

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To allow the others to catch up, I chose a steep ascent from Nether Hesleden, with views opening out as I climbed to Hesleden Bergh. Then it was a long descent down the road to Halton Gill, but despite my roundabout route and lingering lunch on a bench, there was still no sign of the others.

Halton Gill is the home of Katie's Cuppas - a 'Help Yourself Honesty Box Tearoom', supervised by a watchful granny.

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Looking down the valley to Litton from the ascent to Horse Head, all I could see was sheep; the others must have gone another way.

Occasional flashes of sunshine interspersed with showers, brightened the view to Fountains Fell. It's quite a long haul up to Horse Head, where I tested the ridge route south east, but it was too blustery for comfort today. It’s a good route for a summer’s day, hugging the crest all the way to Kettlewell.

The descent beside Hagg Beck to Langstrothdale is quite rough. It was showery. Waterproofs went on and off with regular curses, especially when I got tangled up and fell over, twisting my knee. Ouch!

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Autumn looked well advanced as I looked across to Buckden Pike, and the hamlet of Yockenthwaite soon hove into view. The bridge at Yockenthwaite provides easy access to the riverside Dales Way path to Hubberholme, which hugs the north bank of the infant River Wharfe.

I passed the excellent George Inn at Hubberholme, too late to take advantage of its facilities. From there it was an excellent and easy path down the valley to Kettlewell.

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Eventually, in gathering gloom on a showery afternoon, the bridge at Kettlewell signalled the conclusion of this pleasant jaunt at around 5pm.

My route was 28 km, with 1000 metres ascent, taking 7.5 hours. A satisfactory alternative would start at Kettlewell and go via Arncliffe to pick up today’s route at Litton.

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Sunday

I assembled together with Sue, Robin, Josh, Graham, David and Tom, at a parking spot to the north west of Malham Tarn, others having gone elsewhere or home due to the rain.

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The heavy overnight rain (it was blowing into our room) had subsided as we loaded the cars, and the day turned out to be very pleasant, with good sunny periods.

The first half hour or so was along a quiet road, high above Malham, to a cattle grid where we turned left along a path to Malham Cove. In the other direction there were some confusing signs regarding ‘traffic’, and I notice the ‘Dales High Way’ now has its own signs. I’m not sure about that, though they are nice signs; I would have thought that people doing that excellent walk would be able to find their own way without the need for signs.

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After the overnight rain, everything had become a little slippery. Josh, in particular, was trying hard not to fall over - he's still getting accustomed to being a foot taller than he was a few weeks ago.

The footpath past Ing Scar was fairly obvious.

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Elevenses were taken on a massive limestone pavement above Malham Cove, high above the bustle of the village.

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A superb limestone pavement leads to the path down to the cove, down which we were reluctantly followed by two runners who were convinced there was a more direct route. We couldn’t see one. There isn’t one unless you’re a Peregrine.

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Sunday morning climbers littered the scene, though few appeared to be making much progress, and nobody had reached the overhangs.

We soon returned past the ‘money trees’ that seem to have become an unwelcome feature hereabouts, and joined the masses on the path to Malham.

A surprise encounter led to the reunification of Sue with some CCS, most of which had been eaten by the two 'monkey children' who had discovered it in the Youth Hostel fridge.

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A dinky path around the back of Beck Hall and past the modern looking Youth Hostel, led to the centre of Malham, from where a delightful and familiar path leads up to Janet's Foss.

Janet, a fairy, lives behind the Foss (waterfall).

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We enjoyed lunch with laid on entertainment from a variety of ‘tourists’. (Dog, children, members of our own group, etc.)

Gordale Beck leads prettily towards the waterfall.

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Shying away from a drenching, we by-passed Gordale Scar, in favour of a more southerly route with fine views towards the Dales Way as it heads south. Gordale Scar, far below, actually looked pretty innocuous.

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Anyway, we marched on towards Malham Tarn in bracing conditions, glancing to our left to take in the major landmark that is Pendle Hill.

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The tarn was soon reached, looking just as autumnal as it had done earlier, with quite intense waves washing flotsam to the shore line. The march continued, and we passed an outdoor centre, after which some of us paused briefly to admire the panorama of the pond…

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... before trudging off through the mossy woods.

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Later, the setting sun lit the hillside near Airton as we drove home.

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Here's our 15 km route, with 400 metres ascent, taking 5 hours - an excellent route starting from the CP at the NW end of the tarn.

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A more comprehensive series of 79 images is here. Click on the first image, then ‘slideshow’ to view them individually with captions.

Here’s Mary’s (completely different) take on the weekend.