Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Martin in Gatineau Park - 2018

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

GR54 – Tour of the Écrins


A call with Humphrey this morning reminded me of this excellent trip that dates back to 2012, the above picture featuring Roy and Susan at Col de Vallonpierre, 2607 metres, on 8 September 2012.

For anyone looking for a fine ‘hut to hut’ route of up to a fortnight in the Alps, this could be a great choice. Kev Reynolds’ Cicerone guide provides all the information you should need, and the Parc National des Écrins 1:50000 scale hiking map covers the entire route.

If you are planning to go in August, it may be best to book the mountain huts in advance, but outside that month it’s simply courteous to call ahead to let the guardian know that you will be arriving. The hut guardians are usually happy to do this for you. Huts vary regarding bookings – some (possibly most these days) can be booked by email, or once they have opened reservations can be made by ‘phone. Due to increasing instances of ‘no-shows’ many huts now require payment of a deposit, often by bank transfer. This isn’t really practical for UK visitors due to high bank charges. We’ve solved this problem in the past by agreeing to confirm our reservation by ‘phone a couple of days before arrival. If you are going as a group you do get piece of mind by taking the trouble to book in advance. If you then get delayed by bad weather you’d have to undergo a session of phone calls to adjust the bookings – luckily in nearly forty years of Alpine trips this has yet to happen to me.

For anyone interested, my contemporaneous GR54 blog postings are here. I’m afraid there’s currently no index page, so you’ll need to scroll to the bottom and work upwards until I rectify that omission.

Have fun in the Alps! If you go to the Écrins this September say hello to Humphrey if you bump into him. Have a great trip, HMP3!

Monday, 18 June 2018

Sunday 17 June 2018 – Yet Another Dunham Massey Walk


We didn’t make the same mistake as last time. Today’s departure from Timperley Bridge at 8.40 saw us arriving at the Lavender Tea Rooms spot on 10.00, just as they opened with a fresh stock of newly baked cakes. My miniscule portion of coffee and walnut cake almost dwarfed the coffee that was served in crockery from a doll’s house!

On my last visit I reported that the swans didn’t seem to have any offspring this year. They must have been taking a break then, as today they were looking after a kindergarten of eight or nine babies.


The canal was busy, with runners and cyclists on the towpath, as well as the usual boats and rowers. What can sometimes be a very muddy, churned up and rutted path turns into a hard baked flat surface at times such as this. We’ve had hardly any rain for some time.


If we were train spotters, this would be a ‘double header’.


‘Two ‘phones’ JJ enjoyed one of his home made scones, whilst it took me a little while to meet the ‘cake challenge’. We reflected on how lucky we are to have such a fine establishment as the Lavender Tea Rooms so close to where we live. And it’s not the only such place.


A 14 km circuit from Timperley Bridge, after we’d returned via Altrincham and Navigation Road. I’ll not detail the numerous calf injuries that arose over the weekend, but I hope everyone makes speedy recoveries.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Saturday 16 June 2018 – Wythenshawe parkrun Number 343


Damp but not muddy. Near perfect conditions and a leering Cromwell greeted today’s 313 runners.

Run Director for the day, Alan, behaved impeccably. Perhaps he felt he was being assessed by ‘HQ’!

Even the barking dogs were quiet (for once) during his briefing.


I volunteered as Tail Walker and enjoyed the amiable pace set by Victoria and Samantha, finishing in a smidging over an hour. The picture below shows the Tail Walker’s view from near the start.


Results are here. Curiously the ‘event history’ link shows me as ‘Unknown’, whereas the ‘latest results’ page has me recorded properly. No matter.

It was another long session in the Courtyard Tea Room. Today we were joined by a team from ‘HQ’, shown below with some of our Run Directors and random hangers-on. We hope they enjoyed their visit.


Meanwhile, Mick was busy trying to clock up as many steps as possible before an excuse sets in. (Here.)

Friday, 15 June 2018

Blue Moon and Flying Pigs Spotted over Belgium


Amongst his ‘Fitbit Friends’ Mick B. can appear to be the laziest of us all, generally providing the weaker participants the comfort of knowing that they will never be at the bottom of the pile.

Mick is in Belgium at present, accompanying Gayle on what appears to be a knitting trip*. It looks to me as if he has had to escape from the balls of wool and inadvertently clock a few steps. 113,225 over seven days, even!

Not even the usually prolific Sue B. has managed to keep up with Mick!

Was that a flying pig I just saw? No, it’s our swifts coming in laden with insects…Oh dear, I think I might be losing the plot here.

*Gayle’s Knitting Trip

“After my success with crocheting blankets and knitting socks, I wondered if I could knit a jumper. Feeling ridiculously chuffed not so much with the successful end result, but with the fact that I just managed to uncast-off half the cuff, drop four stitches down six rows and pick them back up to correct an error, thus saving me from having to rip it all the way back and reknit.”


With apologies to Mick and Gayle; Gayle’s stupendously fine blog can be found here. Or even here.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Happy Days in the Alps


Wednesday 19 July 2017, above Innergschloss.

A lovely day in the mountains, in the best of company, nearly a year ago. I wonder where we will be on 19 July this year? Perhaps somewhere that will remind us of this location?

This is all I can manage at present – apart from the usual towpath stuff – as I’m still in ‘recovery mode’ after being torn apart last Friday. I’m told the pain is ‘muscle pain’ not nerve pain, and I’m hoping it will subside after the staples that are currently helping to hold my guts in have been removed next Monday.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Saturday 9 June 2018 – Wythenshawe parkrun Number 342


I was fit enough to pop along to yesterday’s parkrun, where 341 participants graced the 342nd event at Wythenshawe. “Nearly but not quite”, says the resident symetrician, “but certainly in the top ten regarding participant numbers”.

The full results are here. I perched in a deck chair near the start, from where the following pictures were snapped before we adjourned for a very long coffee break.

0902parkrun02    Early leaders

0903parkrun03    Near the front

0904parkrun04    Not far from the front

0905parkrun05    A little further from the front

0906parkrun06    Top 20?

0907parkrun07    A bit further back

0908parkrun08    A lot further back

0909parkrun09   Near the very back

0910parkrun10   Leaders on lap 2 – and which of those old timers was first to finish?

0911parkrun11   The Courtyard Tea Room an hour and a half later

Friday, 8 June 2018

Route 716 to Wintergasse (11 July 2017)


Having successfully completed a 100 page photobook for our Valmalenco trip in 2015, I’ve now embarked on designing a book for our Austrian trip last year.

Allan Hartley’s Cicerone guide simply says ‘Pick up route 716 … cross the footbridge … start to climb, and he describes the third day of the Gross Glockner route as an ‘anti-climax’. This is not the first time I’ve disagreed with him.

The picture tells the story…?

Other News:

My long awaited hernia op took place this afternoon. I’m sore but back at home and able to do this, so the Austria photobook is in good hands. Hopefully there will be a bargain offer sometime for the purpose of getting it printed. Then there are two big projects – South America 2015 and Canada 2017. But another Alpine trip will intervene before we can finish those, I suspect.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Wednesday 6 June 2018 – Another Stroll Around Timperley


What a contrast to my walk over the same ground on 21 December 2017!

Instead of December’s deep mud we were hampered only by stinging nettles and hard, lumpy ground.

A call to JJ suggesting a walk tomorrow drew a blank. It had to be today. So again at very short notice we set off on another lovely day, but not too hot for an enjoyable short walk. We may even have found a path that JJ hadn’t walked before. Just a small one.

Here he is examining a gatepost from where the header picture was taken. It must once upon a time have supported a substantial gate. I find it hard to picture that scene, given the current view of a buttercup meadow.


The lumpy ground was due to cattle and horses tramping in the mud that has now magically vanished. The horses look a little happier in their temporarily mud free environment.


After quite a long time in the open, we returned to the ginnels of Altrincham, before heading past JJ’s children’s old school and across the busy golf course.


King George V Pool is situated in a secluded spot by Timperley Brook. A haven for wildlife.


Here’s our route - 13.3 km, with minimal ascent, taking us 2 hours 40 minutes. And that includes a stop for cake.


A very satisfying little jaunt. Thanks for the company, JJ.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Thursday 31 May 2018 – A Stroll from the Dun Cow


The first of Andrew’s ‘Deepest Cheshire’ walks brought a series of apologies for absence, leaving just four of us to enjoy this lovely summer’s evening in the Cheshire countryside.

The walk started with an intimidating public footpath through property owned by the wealthy founders of, who see fit to place Alsatians and other vicious looking species of dog either side of the footpath, albeit behind high fences. This is wholly unacceptable and we hope that whoever has recently strimmed the pathway (I’m sure the Boohoo people would want it to be overgrown and disused) is ‘on the case’.

Anyway, we probably won’t be there again for a while, so why get worked up about nasty rich people. After negotiating a recently fallen tree we continued over Marthall Brook to field paths – at this point easy walking over compacted soil.


Jenny had chosen to stay away today. Possibly just as well, as her fear of animals may have resulted in mild panic as a field of young bullocks raced over to investigate.


Their curiosity was not matched by any form of bravery, so these tasty beasts were not really troublesome.

The ongoing path – which heads directly towards the white house on the left, was less than distinct.


After turning right past friendly dogs at Ollerton Hall, we entered a field of attentive sheep and horses. Their friendly nature indicated that they may be pets.


Shadows were lengthening as we took an indistinct but well signposted path through a field of buttercups.


After passing through Ash Farm and dodging the traffic on Seven Sisters Lane, Andrew led us through Windmill Wood, where even the current spell of dry weather had failed to eliminate the last remnants of mud, and the remains of a huge tree lay splayed across the path.


Soon we were back to a friendly welcome at the Dun Cow, where both staff and customers appreciated, and were perhaps a little envious of what we had been up to.


Here’s our route – about 8 km, with about 50 metres ascent, taking a little over 2 hours.


PS Blogger problems:
I noticed yesterday that the system that automatically notifies me by email of comments received on my postings didn’t seem to be working. Searches on the internet for this problem implied that my settings might be wrong, so I checked them out and spent some time trying to resolve the problem, without success.
Why do I continue to waste time on such exercises? It’s always Google’s fault, and so it proves in this case. This morning my searches revealed a thread that has been joined by countless users of Google’s Blogger software with exactly the same problem. It’s not of great concern to me as I don’t receive many comments, but if you have commented and haven’t received a response, or you are a user of Blogger and don’t appear to have received notification of expected comments, Google, who recently ‘retired’ an assortment of functions related to their Blogger product, say they are trying to fix the problem. In the meantime the problem can be circumvented on a posting by posting basis by making a dummy comment after posting your blog, with the ‘Follow-up comments will be sent to (email address)’ box ticked, then deleting the dummy comment.
All rather tedious, and yet another example of Google creating a problem and causing mass wastage of time instead of notifying users of that problem and their attempts to fix it. Shame on them.
(I know it’s a free product. I’d be happy to pay for it if that would result in improvements. I suspect that moving ten years of postings across to Wordpress, the obvious alternative, might give rise to more difficulties than my non-technical brain could cope with. Any offers?)

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Wednesday 30 May 2018 – Another Dunham Massey Walk


After trekking across Scotland in his lightweight kilt, JJ reverted to more normal garb for this stroll to Altrincham on another warm day.

Waiting at Timperley Bridge, I took this picture of the newly converted Nelson House office block, from where an old adversary of mine, ‘Devious David’ (now in Hale) used to ply his trade. It has been converted to apartments which are now up for sale, with some fine views of the canal, and vice versa.


The Canada Geese were being protective of their young. The swans seem not to have any offspring this year.


A few holiday barges were enjoying the benign conditions.


But it was generally very quiet on both the canal and the towpath. Perhaps because we started at 8 am.


An attempt to source coffee and cake at the Lavender Tea Rooms failed due to our early arrival. We did however enjoy cake and scones at a convenient picnic table, but despite dallying no staff arrived and we continued our stroll across the golf course and into Altrincham.

Several coffee shops evaded us, and we declined to pause at others. Eventually we wandered in to the Market House to satisfy our cravings. This is where one of the characters of Wythenshawe parkrun, Owen, works, thanks to the owners’ willingness to employ staff with special needs.


Owen was a little puzzled to see me. I expected him to say “You shouldn’t be here, you should be at the parkrun!”

There’s a very nice piece written about him and another lad called Tom, in ‘Altrincham Today’, here.


I’ve reported on this route before, but here it is again. It’s a good 10 km, to which a couple of km can be added for peripheral wanderings, that can be covered in anything between an energetic hour (or less, that’s the challenge) if the mood takes you, or the more leisurely three hours we chose to take today. (As usual, click to enlarge the picture.)