Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Saturday 1 October 2016 - Ben Vrackie

A lovely circuit, starting with nearly twenty Challengers, leaving all but six of us beyond the summit, before heading down to Meall an Daimh, where Gordon and Jim took a short cut and Sue, Ann and Alvar kept me company on a longish (25 km) circuit back to Pitlochry via the Killiecrankie battlefield. 

We started through rising mist, soon emerging into bright sunshine and views stunning in their clarity.

Windless. We spent nearly an hour on Vrackie's summit whilst the backmarkers ambled slowly up. Great views across to yesterday's route on Beinn A'Ghlo. 

Down to Glen Girnaig via a scenic lunch stop in the hearing of some shooters who later passed us in their 4 X 4s.

A strange, overgrown with nettles and thistles, enclosed path four feet wide took us the 2-3 km from the battlefield to Killiecrankie, where it started to rain once we had admired the view up the river.

Then an easy but tiring 7 km riverside walk back to base. Past the Enchanted Forest, and we were all flagging towards the end. 8.5 hours, with about 1000 metres ascent.

(Yesterday was about 23 km, 1300 metres ascent, in about 7.5 hours.)

A grand day out.

All today's pictures were taken on the way to or at Ben Vrackie's summit. Others will follow by way of a slideshow.

Friday 30 September 2016 - Beinn A' Ghlo






A short drive from our base in Scotland's Hotel, Pitlochry, saw us disembarking beside Loch Moraig for this classic mountain circuit that includes three Munro summits.

The weather forecast was encouraging and we made it to the first summit, Carn Liath, in our fleeces. The breeze was light but cool, and it was good to have the roaring of stags instead of the whoosh of yesterday's turbines. 

A couple who set off just behind us nearly caught us up here. We thought they had succeeded when two people overhauled us during a long lunch stop at Bealach an Fhiodha, but they were two gents from Glasgow. The first couple were finally encountered as we retraced our steps from the 'there and back' summit of our third Munro, Carn nan Gabhar. A particularly tedious exercise conducted over a slippery boulder field. Anyway, we finally got to chat to this couple, who had decamped from Braemar to Pitlochry's excellent backpackers hostel where they are fortunate to have a room in a turret. Somehow, between us, Sue and I managed to bring my forthcoming marathon into the conversation. We left a card on their windscreen, so it will be interesting to see whether the combined effects of a random encounter and social media trigger a donation. Regardless of that, it was nice to meet you if you are reading this, and we trust you got down more easily than the other two gents. They passed us on the south west slopes of Airgiod Bheinn (a Munro 'Top') as we took a break to empty our flask, then they proceeded to leave the steep path, finishing up over a kilometre behind us.

During the day we saw lots of deer and grouse, presumably trying to avoid stalkers and shooters, and many more stags were heard roaring in the glens. But we didn't have the pleasure of observing a family of stoats - that was yesterday - I forgot to mention it.

Once down at the base of the hill, and well away from the persistent shower that seemed to have accompanied us most of the way from Carn nan Gabhar, I could take off my waterproofs and enjoy the 7 km walk back to the car along a newish path that presumably replaces a rather squelchy one.

The evening was spent with TGO Challengers, Ali, Marian, Mike and many more, on account of it being a reunion weekend.

Today's pictures:
Looking back to Loch Moraig
The view through mist to Braigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain from the descent of Carn Liath 
Lunchtime at Bealach an Fhiodha 
The view north from Carn nan Gabhar 
Walking out along the new path

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Common Hill

The commonest things on this hill were wind turbines. Lots of them. Thus it was an easy stroll up and down the Hagshaw Hill Wind Farm's service road from an outdoor centre near Douglas.

The trig point at which the above 'selfie' (I've been taking lessons from Gayle) was taken didn't look like the highest point, so we roamed around the summit in a squall that eased as soon as we moved on.

8 km with about 250 metres ascent took us an hour and a half. We had a flask and sandwiches. It was more refreshing than stopping at a service station on our 300 mile journey.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Graffiti from the Southern Half (19)

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All quiet in Timperley today, but we are reminded of our South American trip as we are due to give another presentation to SWOG on 19 October.

It won’t all be graffiti, I promise!

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Jessica’s Third Birthday

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We enjoyed a lovely birthday party on Saturday. The pictures speak for themselves.

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Big brother snook in for a ‘blow job’.

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All the cousins had a go at blowing out the candles on Jessica’s giant cake (which she later gobbled down in its entirety).

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Meanwhile, mummy was looking after Oscar the sausage dog (he ate all the sausages) restraining him from snaffling the cakes.

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What a lovely party, and the Coronation Chicken and the Trifle both managed to survive Oscar’s attention.

Thanks to Kate and Simon for hosting it.

An Elephant for Sale!

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Various wild animals seem to be roaming the streets of Sale. This elephant was seen last Thursday, trotting past Vao Restaurant before we popped into the Waterside Arts Centre for a Karen Matheson (of Capercaillie fame) concert, supported by Fara, a girl band from Orkney.

An enjoyable evening of Celtic music.

We walked there and back along the canal towpath, dodging the cycling commuters on the way there, and observing numerous resident bird life, which at present can be summarised as follows:

Lots of Mallards and Canada Geese
Occasional flocks of Black-headed Gulls
A family of Mute Swans
The Timperley Heron
Mandy the Mandarin Duck (resident here for 4 years)
Grey Wagtails near the bridges
Feral and Wood Pigeons
A lone young Moorhen
A Cormorant on tour
Blackbirds, Magpies and Carrion Crows on the towpath
Lots of Sparrows chattering in the hawthorn hedges lining the towpath

How many of these can you spot between Dane Road and Timperley Bridge? And what have I missed? (I know there are more, such as roaming Goldfinches, and tits in the hedgerows.)

And where are all the other animals?

Monday, 26 September 2016

Wednesday 21 September 2016 – Four Lancashire Hills

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I was planning on joining the LDWA Plodders for a short walk near Settle, but a glance at Region 36 of The Relative Hills of Britain book sold to me by Alan Dawson a few years ago revealed four hills that I hadn’t recently (or in some cases ‘ever’) been up.

This would provide a bit more exercise than the ‘plod’. A quick check on AA driving times and Naismith formula walking times revealed that the round trip should take about 10.5 hours.

Freeholds Top (454 metres)

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An 8.30 start from Timperley took me around a surprisingly quiet M60 motorway and up the M66 to Bacup. The parking spot at Trough Gate was an ideal starting point. A high road to Shawforth afforded goods views across to my objective on the right of the skyline in the above picture. It was warm but overcast, breezy above 300 metres, and it stayed that way all day. So the walks could be done in trainers, carrying just a windproof jacket as a precaution. It wasn’t needed.

The farmer at Winterbutt Lee helpfully guided me through his farmyard. “There are footpaths through all the farms in the area except that one”, he said, pointing across the valley towards Cowm Top. But the footpaths are poorly marked in this area, and I soon found myself the wrong side of the wall after Middle Trough. The path was soon regained and led easily to the summit, where a trig point lurked behind a pond.

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I followed the crest of the ridge for a while, heading towards Limer’s Gate and past one of the many wind farms that have sprung up in this area.

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I planned to drop down to Dry Corner Farm and descend to Britannia via Higher Hogshead. Dry Corner Farm was a mess. Luckily I’m not afraid of dogs. A sign warned that they might bite me. A resident disappeared inside the dilapidated hovel. The dogs were noisy but friendly. I couldn’t find the path, so I made a quick exit down a driveway. There was lots of debris, as indicated below. Can you see the remains of a boat, stranded high on the moor!?

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I took the easy option and headed on down past some private roads. Suddenly, things looked familiar. I was on Tong Lane. This is where I take Oscar for a walk when visiting my daughter. I passed a few metres from her house!

A gentle jog took me through the posh houses of Britannia and back to Trough Gate for a welcome cuppa, happily ahead of schedule despite the longer than expected route - 9 km, with 240 metres ascent, taking 1 hour 40 minutes.

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Boulsworth Hill – Lad Law (517 metres)

Parking at the roadside next to the Coldwell Reservoirs set me up for an easy stroll along the Pendle Way/Pennine Bridleway footpaths, past a couple of elderly ladies as far as Will Moor Clough. A stone marker point with a faded cap, pictured below, signified the start of a permissive path to the summit.

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It was boggy. Difficult to keep feet dry in trainers, but I managed it, hopping past two elderly gents on the way. They seemed to have lost the knack of crossing peaty groughs whilst maintaining dry feet. There was a discernible path to the 517 metre summit, marked again by a trig point.

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Despite the overcast day, the views were reasonable. Some nearby rocks, shown below, looked higher, so I visited them. They were lower.

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A self timed picture was attempted. Unlike Gayle, who also gets up to this sort of caper, I don’t have a selfie stick. The wind blew my camera off the trig point, so I propped it up at the bottom of the plinth. First attempt: headless, second attempt: legless, third attempt: try sitting down, that’s better!

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I continued along the crest of the ridge for a while, with good views across to Pendle Hill, before attempting to find the permissive path leading down to Lumb Laithe Farm. This proved tricky, and I never really located it. The tussocky descent was undertaken with great care; this was ‘knee wrecking’ country.

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Once back on the bridleway, a speedy return to the car past various groups of walkers ensured that I was still well ahead of schedule and could pause for a while to enjoy lunch and another cuppa.

This little stroll covered 8.5 km, with 350 metres ascent, and took 1 hour 30 minutes.

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Easington Fell (396 metres)

A roundabout route via Slaidburn exposed the inefficiencies of doing this sort of trip with just a 1:250000 road map and a 1:25000 map on the phone. Eventually I reached a lay-by opposite a quarry at Butts Gray Stones on the B6478.

The summit of Easington Fell looked quite close. It’s just to the left of the trees…

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An easy path led to the summit in just a few minutes. Looking back, nearby Waddington Fell looked higher. I’m assured that it isn’t (until Jon Metcalf and Alan Dawson do a ‘heightings survey’ anyway) but if I’d known it was so close I’d have gone up Waddington Fell as well.

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I propped the camera on the rocks and took another self-timed picture. A jogger ran past. It looks as if I’m trying to hitch a lift with him.

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I made this walk into a circular route by following the jogger down a path to the north of the parish boundary that was marked with engraved stones like this one.

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Here’s the route – a very easy hill – 3.5 km, with 70 metres ascent, taking a shade over 30 minutes.

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The drive towards Longridge took me unexpectedly past a fleshpot – Bashall Barn – I drove past then thought “I can’t do that” and returned for refreshments and some fish cakes for supper…

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Longridge Fell (350 metres)

From the parking place by Cardwell House, there’s a view to the corner of a wood. When you reach that you know you are half way to Spire Hill, the highest point on Longridge Fell.

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A group of runners was leaving the parking spot at the same time as me. They took a slightly different route, their local knowledge favouring a ‘dry line’ whilst I was bog-hopping again. They kept stopping to wait for their slowest member. That enabled me to keep up and enjoy a chat at the summit. The guy on the right is a teacher, taking his students on a Wednesday afternoon run. They were enjoying being out on the fells.

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To make this a circular route, I continued along the skyline path to High Beacon, where a right turn then another unmarked right turn took me down a sort of fire break, pictured below, towards some fallen trees and a very rough section.

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The skyline path was regained and followed all the way back to the road, where a final short climb led over a rise and down to the car, where all remaining ‘edibles’ (apart from supper) were stomached, and the flask was drained.

This final stroll of the day amounted to 5 km, with 110 metres ascent, and took a shade under 50 minutes.

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So, by the time I was home before 6 o’clock, the day’s outing had taken 9.5 hours and I’d walked about 26 km with 770 metres ascent, taking 4 hours 30 minutes.

An excellent day out.