Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Saturday 7 April 2018 – A parkrun, and Manchester Marathon preparation

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Ken and Helen have popped over from Ottawa for Ken’s dad’s 94th birthday, after which they are paying us a brief visit as Ken is attracted by Manchester’s allegedly fast marathon course..

Today they joined us for Wythenshawe’s 333rd parkrun. Below, you can see Helen trying to encourage Ken to avoid being caught up by the tail walker on his final training run before tomorrow’s marathon. He managed the 5km in around 47 minutes, about 7 minutes behind Jeanette and Sue, who for injury reasons were both walking and talking.

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I was sensible. I was a marshal today.

After a visit to Manchester to pick up Ken’s bib, we subjected ourselves to a dress rehearsal for tomorrow’s run.

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I think that’s enough for today. My typing is keeping everyone awake!

PS Thank you to the many people who have donated to the Levana School Partnership, for whom I am running this marathon, and especially to the kind supporter who has just (11.20pm before the race) taken me above the original £750 target. I hope to see her on Church Road in Urmston tomorrow afternoon.

Further donations have been promised and will of course be gratefully received.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Thursday 5 April 2018 – Lindow Moss

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My short morning walks continued with this short stroll around Lindow. I was joined by Graeme, Dave, Graham and Andrew at the car park by Black Lake, which was bathed in sun today. Here we are, four old codgers and a Dave.

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Whilst some time was spent on tarmac, there were short interludes on pleasant paths through the Cheshire countryside.

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On the unnamed track between Lindow and Davenport Green, there was evidence of recent rain…

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Graeme has recently moved to Wilmslow, and he and Eileen kindly hosted an excellent coffee break, before we strolled back to the cars via another visit to the environs of Black Lake.

The 7.5km route is shown below. I’ve recently subscribed to Anquet’s up to date maps, which deploy a new version of their software that’s new to me. The top map is the best I can manage – kilometre arrow markers seem to have been replaced by cross lines, and I can’t master the size or nature of the waypoint icons, which are smaller than I’d like, though there is a much bigger library to choose from. The map is certainly more up to date than my old ‘Classic’ product. The bottom picture shows the route using the latter software, with a slight adjustment as my GPS was not turned on for the first couple of hundred metres. This is easy to adjust in the ‘Classic’ Anquet, but I still have to work out how to do it with the new software.

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On the face of it the old software works better, but I suspect I just have to put time and effort into learning how to use the new version….

Ho hum, haven’t I better things to do?

Another thing – for this posting I’ve used pictures taken with the Lumix TZ90 camera, using the automatic setting. They were all over exposed and had to be ‘darkened’ in Photoshop. Under exposure is more common. I wonder what’s going on? So that’s another job – work out how to use this camera properly…

Meanwhile, the Samsung S5 phone continues to take excellent photos on its automatic setting.

Life in the fast lane! and this 7.5km stroll was my final training for Saturday’s Manchester Marathon, for which I’m still accepting charitable donations. Many thanks go to all those who have already donated.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

A Short Tour of the Vanoise – Wednesday 29 August 2007 - Day 4 – Refuge de l'Arpont to Refuge du Col de la Vanoise

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Here’s Martin’s diary record for Stage 4:

Wednesday 29 August 2007

After a showery night in a crowded dortoir - remarkably quiet though, despite 20-30 people in the dorm - we breakfast at leisure and wait for a shower to finish before setting off at 8.40.

Sue above Termignon

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Soon ibex are spotted and an eagle soars overhead.

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Above: A family of ibex
Below: A typical stream crossing

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Richard and Jenny before the rain

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It's lovely mountain scenery as we move away from the main valley. A heavy shower brings the waterproofs into serious action, and we soon pause at an Airmens' Memorial.

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After this a brew stop is welcome and views are excellent as valley and higher clouds melt away.

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At noon we leave the GR5 path and take a five day shortcut from Stage 4 to Stage 9 in Kev Reynolds' 1996 guidebook.

Spectacular glacial scenery, with clouds gradually lifting. Ptarmigan (summer plumage), dipper, wheatears, snow finches, all seen today. Plus Alpine Choughs outside the Vanoise refuge.

We enjoy lunch during this rocky traverse, before rain rejoins us for the rest of our day's walk.

Before our turn up the final valley to Col de la Vanoise, the valley below reveals a metalled road, tractor, fields, agriculture. Quite a surprise.

The map reveals a high road from Termignon - out of our view.

We head on up the route described on P79 of our edition of Kev's book, up a very pleasant valley despite the rain, arriving at 2.15 at Refuge du Col de la Vanoise. It has a warm room, if looking rather like a pre-fab block from the 1970's, and we are soon installed in a dormitory for twelve people. At least, again, we have the bottom bunks.

Hot chocolates and fine views, as the rain eases, herald a leisurely afternoon.

Martin

GR55 signs at Col Vanoise

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Later:

Andrew discovers a rather fat marmot, who probably lives near the refuge and is very tame. Sue and Jenny then spot several (fat) marmots ambling outside. The weather becomes better, with good views all around. Dinner this evening is....

soup! V nice actually, with a tinge of curry flavour. Main course is chicken, creamed potatoes and bread, followed by very tasty cheese and then fruit salad. The wine flows as usual and Sue, Martin and Richard play Uno - Richard wins - then we are joined by Matthias, one of a party of German walkers. Andrew and Jenny read, write, and generally find excuses to avoid playing Uno.

Jenny

[Stats: 8.45 to 2.15 = 5.5 hours including 1.10 stops = 4 hours 20 mins walking, 14.0 km with 570 metres ascent.]

(Anquet: 14 km, 902 m ascent)

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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

A Short Tour of the Vanoise – Tuesday 28 August 2007 - Day 3 – Refuge du Plan Sec to Refuge de l'Arpont

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Here’s Sue’s diary record for Stage 3:

Tuesday 28 August 2007

A warm, sunny morning. Breakfasted on sugar puffs/cornflakes, and bread and jam, with plenty of tea/coffee.

Morning yoga

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The start was downhill until we joined a wide, contouring path, high above the valley, dotted with pines.

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Spotted marmots enjoying the warm sun. The views changed as we rounded the hillside. The path was well graded, making light of the climbing.

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We regroup at the sight of two large white dogs standing sentinel in front of us. Signs had warned of these. We continued uneventfully, finding the large flock of sheep that was being guarded. Four of these dogs herded the sheep on the hillside, providing protection from wolves.

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Jenny's Friend guards His Flock

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Our morning coffee/tea break was at the top of a small hill with views to the Doron gorge, the valley, and to our continuing route over scree slopes.

Brew stop at La Loza

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Cloud was heavier now - the forecast was for rain today. The cooler air makes for pleasant walking. The trail undulates, with lots of folk coming the other way. A few spots of rain fall and we decide to lunch at around 12.30, finding a pleasant spot next to the Bonne nuit stream. Here, our three 'picnics' are shared out and enjoyed.

The path veers away from the populated valley, and I eat a few handfuls of sparse bilberries en route to abandoned farm buildings at Le Mont.

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The 'Combe d'Enfer' gives us views of our destination - the Refuge de l'Arpont, and we cross an area of waterfalls, crags and roaring streams - no ibex or 'bouquetin' to be seen - just several small parties out for an afternoon walk.

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Final stream before l'Arpont

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More spots hasten the last stage to the refuge - arrival 2.45pm.*

But the weather was good enough for a drink outside before we adjourned to the refuge.

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Showers, hot drinks, etc. Watch very fat marmots on nearby rocks - pairs cavorting together. As it's cool, we occupy the dining room, doing Soduko, reading, diary writing, and trying to stay warm.

Dinner is welcome - pea and ham soup is an instant warmer. Pork (surprise!) with pineapple and pasta, a cheese course, then pears for dessert. No lettuce! All are warmer now. The sky has cleared and the surrounding mountains appear closer as a result.

Sue

* Martin and Sue seem to have changed their name to 'Van Field', which provokes some interest among the Dutch party sitting at our table. (This is the refuge's interpretation of our surname - we soon clarify the we are not Dutch - but from Manchester.)

Jenny

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St John's Wort, puffballs, etc today. Also a stove incident. I mis-threaded it onto the gas cylinder. The whole lot caught fire and the igniter melted. Nobody else noticed! The stove still seems to work, but I'm not sure about the seal with the canister. It may now leak.

Tonight Sue resumed her winning ways at Uno.

Martin

[Stats: 8.45 to 2.45 including 1.5 hours stops = 4.5 hours walking today, 18.0 km with 715 metres ascent, compared with Kev's estimate of 5.5 to 6 hours + 486m ascent.]

(Anquet: 16 km, 1472 m ascent)

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Vanoise flowers identified on this trip

Bilberry
Alpine Birdsfoot Trefoil
Bittersweet
Mountain Clover
Common Cow Wheat
Meadow Cranesbill
Autumn Crocus
Common Eyebright
Field Gentian
Golden Rod
Grass of Parnassus
Harebell
Mountain Houseleek (pictured below)
Knapweed
Alpine Lady's Mantle
Pansy
Puffballs
Raspberry
Mountain St John's Wort
Biting Stonecrop
Reddish Stonecrop
Strawberry
Alpine Willowherb|
Mountain Willowherb
Rosebay Willowherb
Yarrow
and many more

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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Easter Monday 2 April 2018 – A Little Ray of Sunshine (aka Around Rivington)

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JJ and I braved the elements to drive to the outskirts of Bolton, a test for JJ’s winter tyres, and join 16 others on an East Lancs LDWA walk advertised by Norman as ‘A Little Ray of Sunshine’.

Rain in Timperley turned to snow as we approached the environs of Winter Hill, and by the time we arrived at the 9 o’clock start the planned walk over snow clad Winter Hill had been abandoned in favour of an easier circuit to White Coppice and back. Wimps!

Actually, given that Norman is nigh on 80 and there were other elderly participants, the decision may well have saved the local mountain rescue folks a call out as the planned descent route from Winter Hill is notoriously steep and slippery.

So we took a gentle route past Ormston’s Farm.

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A suitable spot for a group photo was found. Despite dire warnings regarding the weather, it was only slightly inclement, the worst of the rain coming after we had set off back home.

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It was however rather damp underfoot. Some of those wearing trail shoes got rather cold and wet feet.

Small waterfalls were encountered.

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Whilst the Camellia in our Cheshire garden is in full bloom, spring seems some way off in Lancashire.

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A random point above Anglezarke Reservoir was chosen for a five minute elevenses break. Well done Norman – it was spot on 11 0’clock.

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Suitably refreshed with coffee and cake, for some the pain of stream crossings became more like a jolly splodge.

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The familiar environs of White Coppice were reached well before noon, after we’d passed the aqueduct draining water from Anglezarke Moor.

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Despite Norman’s earlier promise, the café was shut, so we made do with lunch on some benches under the cricket pavilion.

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In a week or two folk in deck chairs under a hot sun will be watching athletes all clad in white testing the sound of leather on willow just here.

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Nearby, after we’d departed from our lunch break, we noticed that a few daffodils have sprouted next to a small reservoir.

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LDWA walks are judged by their length. Summits rarely feature. So it was something of a surprise to arrive at a summit – Healey Nab, an outlier of Winter Hill – 208 metres tall. Wow!

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The walk progressed in fine weather past Anglezarke Reservoir then alongside Upper Rivington Reservoir.

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I thought they were speeding towards one of the cafés in Rivington, but it was not to be – Norman carefully avoided the fleshpots, in favour of a visit to the remains of 'The Castle', an incomplete scaled down replica of Liverpool Castle, intended as a ruin. Another five minute break was declared, but most of us were bereft of provisions and only sustained by Hilary’s generous hand out of a variety of sweets.

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The congregation was enthralled by Norman’s stories of his youthful exploits on escapades like crossing the weir at Whalley and the stepping stones at Jumbles. Happy Days!

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All good things come to an end, and after more pleasant paths on the edge of Horwich’s housing estates we reached our outward route for the last few minutes back to the start of the walk, and a drive home in driving rain. Thanks to JJ for the lift.

Here’s our route – about 25 km with 500 metres of ascent, taking us six and a quarter hours including breaks.

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Thanks to Norman for leading this walk in excellent company. It was good to be back with the LDWA crowd after a long break. Hope to see you again soon…