Well, it has been a busy time of year as usual, with other priorities rightly taking precedence over daily blog postings. So you will be relieved that I'm not going to attempt to get up to date by way of individual postings. Instead I'm going to provide an annotated pictorial review of the past three weeks. Feel free to either skim or move on...
We returned from Chile on 17 December, having made no preparations for Christmas. So there were no cards this year apart from the lucky few who attended our Christmas lunch walk. Sorry about that; it goes without saying that we hope you all enjoyed the festive period and we wish everyone a Happy New Year.
After an unexpected visit to a car showroom the day after we got back, we found ourselves at Trentabank car park in the dark at 7.30pm. Fourteen people turned up for our annual traipse up Shutlingsloe, eleven of whom are regular parkrunners at Wythenshawe Park. Andrew, Graham and Toby made up the party that shuffled its way up the hill. The going was easier than usual thanks to the high temperature and lack of verglas. Having said that, the Holloway contingent, more used to skipping through parkland mud like fairies, found it a bit cool on the summit. Brownies and flapjack were distributed, a song was sung, and views over the lights of Greater Manchester in one direction and towards the Cat and Fiddle in the other direction were admired before we shot off back down the hill to prior engagements or, for most of us, the sanctity of the Leathers Smithy.
The next day was allotted to an old Sunday walk tradition whereby a few of us used to meet over lunch and plan the following year's activities, the list then being attached to Christmas cards. Times move on, and the 'programme' is now dealt with through the Internet, though suggestions are still welcomed.
The Internet seems to make it much easier for friends to keep in touch. That may be partly the reason for an increase in numbers for this Christmas walk. This year 26 of us were due to meet for a well established route in the Peak District. Drop outs are rare - there were none. Drop ins are unheard of - but Gayle and Mick succeeded this year. It was good to see them on the sunny morning.
Here's our route.
It's the third time we've been this way. Previous reports are here and here. In the past the Charles Cotton Hotel has served an excellent lunch. Today the venue was fine but the lunch was found wanting. Alan R reported on it in his entertaining write up, the text from which is appended at the foot of this posting. Alan's encyclopedic knowledge of tractors gave the Bah Humbug team a critical advantage in the quiz, earning a prize of chocolates all the way from a Valparaiso supermarket.
Here are just a few snaps to record the day, which culminated in a dramatic sunset.
My camera was then stashed for a few days whilst we enjoyed a family Christmas. (Sue may have some pictures.) Thanks go to Kate and Simon for hosting Christmas lunch for ten people, and to everyone for being well behaved. I did notice that when the children lost interest, the two great grandmas resorted to reading children’s books to each other!
After Boxing Day with another family party in Nantwich, albeit we’d started that day with a parkrun, some exercise was somewhat overdue. A 30 km bike ride under a pristine blue sky along the canal into Castlefield and back via the swing bridge at Eccles, on a route that I recced here, back in May, served the purpose.
A couple of days later we met Peter and Dorothy, last seen at El Chaltén on 11 November, at Leighton Moss Bird Reserve. On another sunny day we enjoyed our mugs of coffee before setting off into the reserve. We got about ten yards before being turned back by a flood. Wet feet were not what we wanted after five minutes of walking. So plans were revised and we headed past Hawes Water and Gait Barrows to Arnside.
Arnside Knott is usually a good viewpoint, and so it was today, albeit the Lake District beyond the Kent estuary was shrouded in cloud.
We posed beside the remains of two trees knotted in Victorian times. Their overall height seems to diminish each time we visit.
Descending by one of the gentler routes off Arnside Knott, we soon reached Arnside Tower, with good views back to the Knott.
Wikipedia tells me that ‘Arnside Tower was built in the second half of the 15th century; tower houses were then often built in the insecure areas of northern England and southern Scotland. Constructed of limestone rubble, the tower was originally five storeys high, measuring 50 feet by 34 feet. The tower was built with an adjacent wing of equal height built onto the side of the tower in a style common in Scotland, but rare in English tower houses. Historian Anthony Emery suggests that the design may have been influenced by that at Ashby de la Zouch Castle, rebuilt in 1464 by Lord Hastings. The tower suffered a serious fire in 1602 but after repairs remained in use until the end of the 17th century.
One of the walls of the tower collapsed around 1900, and as of 2014, English Heritage considered the condition of the castle to be very bad and ‘urgent works are required’. Arnside Tower is a Scheduled Monument and Grade II* listed building.’
A stroll through the nearby caravan park preceded the lane to the cove, past some alpaca that seem to have been in residence for years. The tide was in, so there was no chance of a meander along the beach.
It was lunchtime. The Silverdale Hotel usually provides reasonable fare, and a specials board sat enticingly in the porch.
The place was deserted. A local lady told us that it wasn’t permanently closed – ‘they just open it when they feel like it’ – not today!
The Wolf House Gallery was very busy, but their soup was excellent and fuelled us for the short afternoon stroll back to Leighton Moss via the chimney at Jenny Brown’s Point.
Back at the RSPB reserve, Sue and I inspected a new walkway that should have been opened by the next time we visit.
The walkway we usually use was more like a river today, following record rainfall in December.
Then Jessica had an overnight stay with us. The first of many, we hope.
And on New Year’s Eve Sue took delivery of a new toy, having donated her old one to a needy cause.
The evening was spent, as oft before, in Adlington with good friends, a lovely meal, and a game of Balderdash.
On our way home on a fine New Year’s Day, Sue and I paused at Rivington Barn for a stroll up to the Pigeon Loft, then past Rivington Tower and up the access road to Winter Hill.
Whilst the Towers were thronged with visitors, the path past the ruins of the Hempshaw hamlets and the infant River Yarrow was more or less deserted. A sheep with a bouquet between its teeth provided a cheerful and optimistic prospect for the year ahead.
Down at the Yarrow Reservoir we bumped into Lyn and Robert, enjoying their own form of 2016 exercise.
Then the bowling club’s impromptu café provided a mug of tea and a tasty teacake for a pretty nominal charge.
And that brings me rather hastily up to date, as yesterday’s stroll around Lindow, by Wilmslow, was undertaken in gloomy (albeit dry) weather. Just one picture was taken, at the fishing pond by Lindow Poultry Farm – it is included at the head of this posting.
Sunrise to Sunset (By AlanR, reporting on 20 December 2015)
The A515 between Buxton and Ashbourne is a great road to witness a sunrise. Its blinding. We were here nice and early for our Christmas walk and lunch with Martin and Sue and too many others to mention in this sentence.
It was decided that we would have breakfast in the café in Hartington and upon arrival at 8.50am found that it was closed. The sign on the door pointed out that it was not open until Monday. Strange that a café doesn’t open on the day that I would guess is the busiest. Oh well, their loss, and ours. (The café at Tideswell is usually open – perhaps we should start from there in 2016 – Ed.)
Apart from a bit of a chilly breeze the day was quite balmy with huge clear blue skies. On other occasions we have been here at this time of year deep in snow with impassable roads. So please India, Russia and China keep belching out the CO2’s. It’s heart warming.
At assembly in the lay by I think we counted 28 souls and 1 dog. Motorists passing would be forgiven for thinking there was a Marks and Spencers on the other side of the hedge. And then we were off, the huge gradient onto the Tissington Way easy conquered. The first of many “meanders" quickly overcome as we made our slippery way off the old railway line and down to the River Dove just shy of Milldale. A few bottoms got muddy on the descent. No group photo? (No muddy bottom photos that I’m aware of – Ed.)
Once down by the river the breeze disappeared, the sun was shinning and the layers were removed. What a glorious day. As with all group walks chatting is the main event. Good to catch up with Mick and Gayle as always and we hope you enjoy whatever Spain offers you. Have a great trip and don’t forget the sun cream for Colin.
We met Heather for the first time, TGO Challenger and all round good egg. Along with Rowan the dog. What a lovely companion.
The scenery along the Dove (Wolfscote Dale) is wonderful although it was obvious that the wind had been fierce here during the past few weeks. Numerous trees were down and lots of logs had been cut and piled for removal.
Just before Biggin Dale we stopped for a compulsory coffee and brownie distribution. This has to be undertaken to ensure that the Mountain Rescue are not required. It was quite a leisurely brew stop and one could tell that it had been much rehearsed in the past.
Sadly, we had to resume leg bashing but unfortunately Gayle had forgotten how they were supposed to work and decided it was far better to test the cushioning on the bottom of her new trousers. Mick dashed to help, not.
Just a little disappointed that we had not been in snow and sleet and torrential rain we made it to the sanctuary of Hartington. There were no complaints, no one got lost, no lost equipment and funnily folk were still laughing. Some Christmas do this I thought, Bah Humbug.
The Lunch was booked and food pre-ordered at the Charles Cotton Hotel and that’s enough said about that. No point in telling you how good it was, because, well it wasn’t.
Martin’s quiz was as good as ever considering that they only got back from Patagonia a couple of days ago. And as it happens, the Bah Humbug team won the prize with 24½ points from a possible 30. (21½ actually, it was very close! – Ed.)
Considering that Sheila and I usually avoid quiz’s like the plague, it was good fun. Well done the A team. The choccy’s kept us going on the return leg.
Martin was left to pay the bill and the rest did a runner just in case they remembered that we had had no boiled potatoes and that the food had not been heated, that we did have an appetite, that vegetarians don’t like ham and that fish doesn’t take as long to cook as turkey, that sprouts don’t get mashed with bacon because again it doesn’t go down well with veggies and seasoning is required, that mince pies need cream and well I could go on……..
That’s only very slightly harsh, Alan. Very disappointing though, given the food has been good there in the past. Thanks to everyone for not making a big deal of it, I hope it didn’t spoil the occasion too much – Ed.
It started to rain, just a little and not for very long. The hills behind us disappeared and the sky in front was looking ominous. A couple more meanders took place and Martin caught up. There was no swearing, there was no mention of food, for the whole of the return trip. I assumed why not. (Yes, it’s a tough call, organising this sort of thing, especially for an incompetent navigator. Thanks for your forbearance – Ed.)
We saw a tractor, a nice new MF, well it would be rude not to wouldn’t it.
As evening closed in the sky partially cleared to allow the sun to set spectacularly. Fortunately with such a clear sky we didn’t need head torches to find our way back along the Tissington Trail. Timing was perfect and farewell’s made, the darkness closed in and we were away.
Once again we had a wonderful time and met new people. Thanks Martin and Sue and everyone else.