Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Friday, 1 December 2017

Thursday 30 November 2017 – Dunham Massey again

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For what was billed as a repeat of the walk I did on 20 October, I was pleased to be joined by Rick, Paul and Jeanette on this occasion.

We enjoyed bright sunshine on the frosty morning – a perfect day for a stroll such as this, though if we’d had more time a visit to the Lakes or North Wales would have been brilliant today.

These first two pictures were taken near Dunham Town.

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Dunham Massey house looked serene under the cobalt sky. There were very few folk around today.

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The driveway has changed since I passed through on 20 October. The leaves have now dropped.

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After coffee and cake at Lavender Barn Tea Room (note that the tea room will be closed from 11 to 27 December), we headed on along Rick’s preferred route back to Altrincham. It’s better than mine and took us past Devisdale Sunken Garden, a gem of a place that has recently been recovered from dereliction by volunteers.

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The garden is right next to Denzell House, a building housing offices. There’s more information on the gardens, etc, here.

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Apparently agricultural fairs were once held in Devisdale, which is now an area of grassland on the edge of Altrincham.

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Jeanette directed us to a folly situated in dense woodland that has recently been cleared sufficiently for people to be able to approach the tall brick column.

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Nearby lurks a crocodile that once looked immaculate but which is now slowly dissolving.

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Paul and Jeanette were keen to inspect the wear and tear on the poor beast caused by the elements.

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Brief pauses for shopping in Altrincham didn’t prevent us all from getting home by lunch time after this most enjoyable 14.5 km perambulation with around 100 metres ascent, taking about 3 hours including stops.

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Another Red Tractor

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One of our esteemed European Tractor Correspondents has come up with this latest image, which he has imaginatively titled ‘Another Red Tractor’.

Thanks, Nick – perhaps AlanR can manoeuvre himself off his sick bed to provide a more informative subtitle!

…. With the speed of a sickly bullet:

“It’s a McCormack, International Farmall D 430 2 wheel drive from the 1950s I like the registration plate MB and AR, what a coincidence.”

Thanks Alan

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Saturday 25 November 2017 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 316 – Too Much Cake!

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The gazebo came in very handy as a cake and person shelter, though by the time they got home many people would have been soaked by the heavy showers of ice cold rain.

There was no shortage of cake, with Andrew Ratcliffe bringing a child size object that masqueraded as a raspberry sponge #100club cake. Well done Andrew on joining the 100 club, as did Craig Bradbury, who celebrated by being first home. Cake was also provided by others, including Michael Wymer, in celebration of his 200th parkrun outing.

The full results are here. Only about 5 PBs, and that reflects the very wet conditions, with muddy passage starting to live up to its name again despite this year’s remedial treatment.

Sue and Jeanette walked round but despite encouragement from the last corner they just failed to break their 40 minute target. Lots of us adjourned to the Courtyard Café for the post run social that has become as important as the run, and possibly more enjoyable on showery days like this.

I only took the one photo, so to brighten up this posting here’s ‘The Last of the Leaves’, on the Bridgewater Canal near Sale, a couple of days earlier.

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Monday, 27 November 2017

Friday 24 November 2017 – Around Birchwood

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For this week’s modest morning walk, Rick and I headed over Warburton toll bridge to Moss Gate, in Birchwood*, for a walk mainly amongst trees, and bordered by part of Warrington’s road and rail network.

We were blessed with sunshine and started past the sunlit sculptures of a young girl and a sheep, both situated in large puddles.

The tree lined tarmac footpath is shared with cycles. It looked a nice bike route, though it was deserted on this morning.

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The path leaves the A574 by a Walled Garden. You wouldn’t know it, but for the walls, although my walking guide to North Cheshire, published in 1994, considers it ‘worth a visit’ and ‘planted with exotic plants’.

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A short section through familiar retail names ensconced within the Birchwood Centre led past Birchwood Station to Birchwood Brook Park. Elevenses were taken beside the brook. I tried to capture the sunlight on the last of the unblown leaves.

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A left turn took us to the entrance to Risley Moss, which is unfortunately closed on Fridays. So we continued through Gorse Covert housing estate towards Pestfurlong Moss. A narrow trod led through the bracken.

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Soon a wider path was joined. This led up Pestfurlong Hill, through a willow arch, to the 25 metre summit from where a self timed photo captured a couple of old codgers on this hill that grew out of the rubble from the Royal Ordnance Factory that used to occupy this site.

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There were good, if slightly hazy, views to the Peak District and the Pennines. Winter Hill, pictured below, is about 15 miles away. The Welsh hills can also be seen from here.

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Here’s our route: 9 km with minimal ascent, taking us around 2 hours.

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An excellent little outing. Thanks Rick for your company.

* Here’s some history about Birchwood, mainly from Wikipedia:

"The surface, at a distance, looks black and dirty, and will bear neither horse nor man….. What nature meant by such a useless production 'tis hard to imagine, but the land is entirely to waste" are the words of Daniel Defoe as he rode through Risley in 1724. (Later part of the Risley area was renamed Birchwood as the Warrington 'New town' development), though the ‘Birchwood’ name probably derives from the birch trees which once covered much of the Pestfurlong area.

In the past travellers avoided the Risley (Birchwood) area because it of its dangerous mossland. However, gradually over time much of the fertile mossland was reclaimed and turned into farm land. With the advent of the Second World War, 927 acres of agricultural land was changed into a massive Royal Ordnance Factory, ROF Risley. The location was chosen because the low lying mist and cloud helped camouflage the factory from the air; according to a local builder: "It was very lonely and misty at night, and that's why the factory was constructed there ... it was usually covered with a mist or cloud. It was hard to see it in the day time, you know". Although the location of the factory was known by the German Luftwaffe, the factory was bombed only once during the war.

A number of bunkers were also built (some can still be seen today) to house the munitions, to protect them from potential bombing, and also to segregate the site and reduce the consequences of any accidental explosions during manufacture or storage. Although these bunkers are on the surface, they are covered with soil and turf and so give the impression of being underground.

During the war, some 30,000 people were employed here, many of them women, and over a million bombs, mines and shells were produced.

However, after the war the factory no longer had a purpose other than as a storage depot (for the Navy’s rum!) and so in 1956 the north west of the factory was sold to UKAEA with the entire disused area being put on the market in 1963. No buyer was found for it until 1968, when the Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation bought the site and turned it into the new town of Birchwood. The armaments factory took twice as long to demolish as it did to build.