Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Friday 28 September 2018 – A Bike Ride to Bury

2801sale

On another lovely sunny morning I set off soon after Sue had pedalled off to work, on an experimental route involving a visit to Bury, then across to the Rochdale Canal in Middleton, and back home along the towpaths.

On the way to Waters Meet my leisurely pace saw whizzing commuters passing in both directions whilst I dodged the overhanging willow trees and admired reflections on the glassy surface in the bright morning light.

2802watersmeet

Crossing to the Rochdale link of the Bridgewater Canal (via the distant bridge in the photo above), I passed the jumble of construction work at Pomona Dock where the Trafford Centre Metrolink line is being constructed.

A tram rumbled along towards Pomona station.

2804tram

Approaching Castlefield Basin, I located Regent Bridge and National Cycle Trail number 6. I was to follow this trail all the way to Bury, initially beside roads as the route passed the building sites of Salford, seen here on Adelphi Street.

2805salford

I’ll try a different route next time, taking advantage of some paths by the River Irwell rather than the roads chosen by route 6.

Beyond Agecroft Bridge, constructed in 1892 by Manchester Corporation to carry water pipes from the Lake District, the route entered pleasant woodland and passed through an area of historic industrial archaeology. This totem pole is one of the Irwell Sculpture Trail exhibits.

2806sculpture1

The route is well signposted. There are lots of parks around here.

2807sign

Having said that, it’s unclear as to whether to go under this bridge or go off to the right. Either route leads to the continuation of route 6 on the top of the bridge.

2808tunnel

Another sculpture was passed. Some correspondents have been critical of the perceived paucity of sculptures along the Irwell Sculpture Trail. It’s a long trail, and the exhibits comprise industrial artefacts placed at wide intervals.

2809sculpture2

A fairly lengthy section of woodland made for easy, enjoyable riding. I met a policewoman on a horse, but nobody else.

2809wood

The final section into Bury was beside the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal, a disused canal built in 1808 to link Bolton and Bury with Manchester. The canal, when fully opened, was 15 miles long and was accessed via a junction with the River Irwell in Salford.

2810burycanal

The next picture is of the Rochdale Canal in Middleton. I took no intervening photos as I wrestled my way across the grain of the transport arteries.

After 30km I stopped to take advantage of my flask and banana in a small park by Wellington Road. I then headed along Gigg Lane towards Pilsworth. What looked like a good route beyond Brick House turned out to be a horrible path outside the boundary of a golf course where visitors on cycles were not welcomed.

So my next attempt at this route will take a more northerly direction along tracks and roads that look more favourable.

On this occasion I headed south through Unsworth and across the M66 to another golf course dead end. Later, a good path around the northern perimeter of Heaton Park led to a footbridge over the M60. What appeared to be a white road beyond the little used footbridge turned out to be a farmer’s field.

Retracing again, I made my way successfully through Simister and past The Same Yet pub that I used to visit regularly when living in Blackley, to Middleton and the Rochdale Canal.

2812rochdalecanal1

Navigation was no longer a problem. Just stick to the towpath apart from a short section in the gay village in Manchester, where the road next to the canal needs to be taken. There are some sections that go under buildings in the city centre, but the canal goes through pleasant countryside even in places like Chadderton.

2813rochdalecanal2

Large flocks of Canada Geese rule the roost in these parts. In the Miles Platting area a short section of canal has been drained. It’s quite a mess.

2814rochdalecanal32816rochdalecanal4

Eventually the Castlefield Basin was reached. Anyone coming this way for the first time could be confused by the canal network here. You come across the Merchants’ Bridge pictured below, then double back to the left of the picture.

2817castlefield

It was still a lovely day and a delight to be outdoors on this gentle ride. The route should have been about 70km, but I actually rode for 80km. If you look closely at the map below you might just spot a couple of significant ‘there and back’ incidents between Bury and Middleton. Considering the length of the route, the ascent data of about 400 metres really indicates a basically flat route. In fact it’s all downhill from Middleton. It took me a most enjoyable six hours.

2820route

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Mike Collier (1947 to 2018)

2601group

Yesterday, 26 September 2018, was the happy occasion of my granddaughter Jessica’s fifth birthday. Sadly it was also the occasion of Mike Collier’s funeral.

The above picture shows Mike, on the right, with a group of friends, at Sue’s parents’ house in Tenbury Wells on a visit in the early 1970s. Five of those in the photo were at the funeral, and it was great to see Sue (far left) again after many years.

Mike’s send off was a moving occasion and included a lovely remembrance of Mike’s life composed by Linda. He was “a loving husband, father, thinker, gentle-man”, and for someone who didn’t put himself about – apart from his rapport with the local cat population – the full chapel spoke for itself.

A good man in both his home and his professional life. Our thoughts are with Linda, Andrew, David, Winnie and the rest of the family.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Cary’s Final Munro, or two – plus a Corbett

2221Eachsummit2

Friday 21 September 2018

Claire from SWOG arrived on time at 1 pm for her lift up to Callander with me and Sue. Luckily the Skoda’s coolant remained where it should be. We refuelled at Tesco in Carlisle, where two pots of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge cost about the same as a Swiss cup of coffee.

Arriving at the Trossachs Tryst bunkhouse at 6 pm, we dumped our bags and set out for dinner at the nearby Lode Inn at Kilmahog. Luckily Sue and I were the only people stupid enough to walk to the pub, where an immediate choice of food was needed as they were expecting a group of 30 a bit later and they couldn’t accommodate a further nine at the same time. So Nigel kindly zoomed back down the road and picked us up. But not before we had savoured the delightful evening light in the direction of Ben Ledi.

2101ledi

The fish and chips were great, and others enjoyed their haggis. (Haggi!)

Meanwhile, back at base, a selection of folk were arriving to celebrate Cary’s final Munro, to be tackled the following day.

Saturday 22 September 2018

It soon became apparent that this was not to be a ‘normal’ (in my experience) final Munro outing. For a start, Cary was starting with another hill, the Corbett – Beinn Each (813 metres) – by way of a warm up for climbing Stuc a’Chroin, a Munro. That was to be Cary’s penultimate Munro. His final Munro was to be Ben Vorlich, a hill that towers above Lochearnhead.

‘Normal’ would comprise everyone accompanying Cary on a fairly easy walk to the top of the final Munro, whence a party involving champagne and cake and lots more would take place. Today just 13 of Cary’s guests saw fit to set out with him, a further 8 taking their own easy route up Ben Vorlich. Others seemed unaware of the etiquette and failed to take part in very much at all, though Sue and Jeff did find a parkrun.

It was a lovely day spiced with occasional rainbow illuminated showers. Had we not been driving in convoy to start the walk at NN 582 136 at around 8.50, we would have been tempted to pause at the head of Loch Lubnaig to admire some magical reflections in the loch.

Eyebright and Tormentil were hanging on with Buttercups and Lady’s Mantle to provide a bit of colour to supplement the various shades of brown adopted by the season’s fungi.

Mark chose a fine position on the summit of Beinn Each from which to savour his customary snooze.

2224Eachsummit5

After the easy path up Beinn Each, the route got rougher. Had Phil continued, the planned rendezvous on Ben Vorlich would have been delayed. So he headed down with Shirley, leaving their boys in Cary’s tender care.

So just 12 of us made our way to the summit of Stuc a’Chroin (975 metres), where Mark enjoyed another brief snooze. Others present were Sue, Helen and Harvey, Graham B, the boys – Jonathan and Michael, and Cary’s friends Andrew, Arthur and Pete. We lazed here for some time as we were ahead of schedule. A large herd of red deer was observed far below, but no ptarmigan were seen today, although a hare or two may have been glimpsed, and there were plenty of crows/ravens in attendance.

With Ben Vorlich lurking in the distance beyond a precipitous drop, there was still some way to go.

2235Chroinsummit6

In view of the potentially tricky descent from this summit towards Ben Vorlich, Cary dutifully looked after the boys by following me around an alternative and much less exposed route to the north. Six of the party took the exposed path, which would be easy in ascent, and the six of us who took the alternative longer but quicker path arrived back at the ridge just as the others reached the same point.

The final ascent to Ben Vorlich was straightforward. Nigel, a Munroist himself, had successfully guided his team of eight to the summit well in advance of the 2.45 rendezvous, and everyone was in position with their walking poles raised in honour of Cary as he lumbered into view at around 2.30.

2248vorlichascent62249vorlichsummit12254vorlichsummit6

There was a fine view back to Stuc a’Chroin, from which the precipitous descent is shown just to the left of Sue’s head in the next picture.

2256vorlichsummit9

We spent some time in a sheltered spot below the subsidiary summit, but eventually the sound of clinking wine glasses in Callander drew us towards the easy stroll back down to Loch Earn.

2260vorlichsummit13

Sue and I had provided shortbread and cake, but apart from that this was a bizarrely teetotal and scantly catered party despite conditions being more suited to a summit party than on many of the ‘final Munro’ bashes I’ve had the honour of attending.

Pleasant woodland accompanied us at the end of the day.

2268vorlichdescent7

No worries though. Cary had organised a party at the bunkhouse later, so once we got back we could imbibe to our heart’s content in the warmth of our home for the weekend. Tea, beer, wine, and lots of tasty food and desserts. The cake, sadly not captured on film by me, was a luxurious affair courtesy of Cary’s daughter, Clara, who wasn’t present to receive the accolades attributed to said monstrosity magnificent construction.

The evening concluded with bizarre party ‘games?’ suited to infantile children. This bemused a minority who looked on in puzzlement.

Today’s walk turned out to be about 16 km in length, with around 1300 metres ascent, taking about 8 hours. A fine route. Well done, Cary.

2280route

Sunday 23 September 2018

2301trossachstryst

Ground mist soon cleared. There would have been great early morning inversions from higher up. It was a lovely day for a walk, so something of a puzzle that so far as I’m aware only nine of the thirty of us actually went for a proper walk. Graham and Anne headed up a Corbett, and seven of us, me, Sue, Helen, Claire, Harvey, Arthur and Pete parked up at Lochearnhead and headed up Glen Kendrum towards the two Corbetts – Meall an t-Seallaidh and Creag MacRanaich. The plan had been to go up both of them, but I’d underestimated the time that would take. By the time we reached the col between the two hills, all on a good track, we had already covered 8 km.

2303GlenKendrum1

Another 2 km took us over rough ground with a vague path, to the summit of Meall an t-Seallaidh (852 metres). The summit is at the far end of a broad ridge.

A leisurely stop for lunch in the lee of the cool breeze, with fine views towards the previous day’s route, was savoured by all of us. Had Mark been there he might even have admired the view from his position of slumber.

The trig point formed a good ‘tripod’ from which to record everyone in today’s team.

2316Seallaidhsummit3

Cloud formations enhanced the view to Loch Earn, where sailing boats were enjoying the breeze.

2321Seallaidhsummit5

By the time we got going again and regained the col between the two hills, after meeting the only two people we encountered all day, a lone greybeard and a young lady in yellow, it was 2 pm. Arthur and Pete had to be down by 5 pm in order to get their lift to Glasgow Airport. Going up Creag MacRanaich and getting back to Lochearnhead by 5 was possible, but may be excessively energetic, and Sue, Claire and I would get home late. So we all took the sensible decision to leave the second hill for another time and descend at a leisurely pace. The views would have been similar, and our approach meant that we could enjoy a half hour break a couple of kilometres down the track, which we retraced all the way back to the car park.

2329Seallaidhdescent8

There were superb views across the Glen to yesterday’s three hills, seen here lined up on the horizon.

2330Vorlichview

Harvey, Claire and Helen also stopped to collect fruit from a tree laden with sloes.

We were back in Lochearnhead, absorbing the aroma of freshly cut grass on a fine late summer’s day, at about 4.30, where Arthur and Pete’s lift was waiting for them. We had walked over 19 km, with 800 metres ascent, in about 6.5 hours, rather further than the previous day. There were no recriminations about missing out the second hill.

2340route

Helen and Harvey were reunited with their bicycles at the bunkhouse, from where they were to move to a B&B before cycling back to Glasgow the following day to get the train home. Then Sue, Claire and I admired the harvest moon as it rose whilst we travelled south in the gathering gloom, stopping at Annandale services for a McDonalds supper whilst watching the local swans, ducks and heron prepare for a cool night outside.

We were home soon after 10 pm after taking the Warburton Bridge (no toll at this time of night) route as the M60 was shut.

Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. Thanks go to Cary, and his able assistants – Penny and Rowena – for organising it so efficiently.

There’s a slideshow, 85 images, here. It’s the first time I’ve used Flickr for this purpose and I can’t work out how to display captions. Maybe I will have done so by the time you read this…(I can’t currently get this to work at all.)
[Some guidance on how to display a full screen, with captions, would be appreciated. Or even how to produce a slideshow of any sort now Picasa is defunct.]