Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Friday 19 October 2018 – Around Acton Bridge

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This was the first in a series of Friday morning walks, the updated list of which is here, and the current programme is set out at the foot of this posting. All are welcome to come along.

The current batch of walks is based on selected routes from Jen Darling’s ‘Pub Walks in Cheshire’ (1990) and ‘Walks in North Cheshire’ (1994). Many of the walks from these books feature elsewhere in these pages under the ‘Cheshire’ label. If I have time I may add a ‘Jen Darling’ label.

Anyway, on a lovely sunny morning I was joined by Andrew J in the Leigh Arms car park next to the A49 by the River Weaver (SJ 602 760) at 10 am. Travel via M56 junction 10 > A49 > cross A533 > Leigh Arms, which is set back on the left, beyond a disused Bella Napoli building, as you reach the swing bridge over the River Weaver. The walk is described in detail on page 16 of Jen’s 1990 book, but would be pretty easy to follow from the map shown below, and my basic description of the route.

Across the minor road from the car park there is a footpath sign that leads beside The Paddock towards the Trent & Mersey Canal, which is soon reached. The top photo was taken shortly after joining the canal towpath.

Jen’s route soon leaves the canal in favour of field paths parallel with the canal, to the NE, but Andrew and I favoured a gentle amble along the towpath to re-join Jen’s route at bridge number 211, shown below.

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Leaving the canal, we descended to the River Weaver after admiring the views over the Cheshire countryside. There are a few bright autumn colours, but in the main the views portray the aura of a rusty green late summer day, with temperature to match (in the upper teens ºC).

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A right turn beside the Weaver took us to the view of a sluice across the river. This is a bridge like structure with at least seven pillars supporting a walkway, below which sluice gates control the flow of the river.

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The river doubles as a canal, where in the past the busy waterway has been crowded with ships and barges transporting salt from Winsford to Liverpool and The World.

The towpath crosses the river to reach Dutton Lock, via which boats by-pass the sluice shown above.

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This picture looks ahead to the walkways across the Lock, with the arches of Dutton viaduct beyond.

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Looking back, the sad remains of Andrew’s holiday home provided the explanation for his planned trip to the Cotswolds.

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After shedding a few tears in memory of a fine craft, we crossed the Lock and headed along a footpath signposted to Acton Bridge, soon turning right to pass Manor Farm, then after a short ginnel the track turned left past Weaver Holt and an area of house rebuilding. A right turn at a minor road took us downhill, under the railway, then left and right, up a hill to Acton Cliff. There are good views of the viaduct from the top of the hill, concealed behind us in the next picture.

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The path leads down over a footbridge and onwards to Yew Tree Farm, to a left turn along Ainsworth Lane. After a few hundred metres a footpath goes left and right at a triangle of grass with a rock on which Andrew took a well earned rest and we enjoyed tea, cake and bananas. Continuing to a point where there’s a footbridge to the left, we turned right, up a hill, and continued along the track to turn left at Station Road. The road walk could have been reduced if a footpath across the fields hadn’t been ploughed up.

Anyway, we put up with the traffic, passing Ivy House and Birch House before taking a left turn towards Acton Mill. We soon came to this delightful scene where Acton Brook has been widened to make a large pond. A man was clearing foliage in an effort to enhance the view from The Big House.

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On the home straight now, we hastened along the path to the railway, at which point Jen’s guide warns ‘cross it with care’. It’s a busy line and undoubtedly care would have been needed before the footbridge was installed. I wonder how many deaths were needed to trigger the bridge construction?

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A good path leads to the houses of Acton Bridge, where the minor road is crossed by turning right then immediately left. The ongoing path is a little vague in places, and may on occasion be a bit boggy. Navigation is simple though – just head for the big white bridge.

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This is the Acton swing bridge, built in 1933, which is, according to Jen, one of the oldest electric swing bridges in the world. It’s certainly distinctive.

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It was a lovely day to admire the views from the bridge.

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By now the Leigh Arms was open, and having used their car park we felt obliged to provide some custom. Soup for Andrew, whitebait for me, plus rehydration fluid to suit.

Actually, we were lucky that I’d planned the walk for this week, as it turns out that the pub will be closed for refurbishment from 26 October until sometime in December.

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Here’s the route we took – about 10 km, with very little ascent, taking a leisurely 2.5 hours. A most enjoyable outing. Thanks for your company, Andrew.

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Forthcoming Friday morning walks, as currently planned:

Friday 2 November
Around Alderley Edge. Meet at the NT Car Park by the Wizard (SJ 860 772) at 10 am for a 8 km amble. B5087 from Alderley Edge.

Friday 9 November
Around Rostherne. Meet in Rostherne village (SJ 744 833) at 10 am for a 11 km bimble.

Friday 23 November
Around Budworth Mere. Meet at the Anderton Boat Lift Visitor Centre (SJ 647 752) at 10 am for a fairly flat 12 km. A533 from Northwich.

Friday 30 November
Tegg's Nose and Lamaload Reservoir. Meet at Tegg's Nose Visitor Centre (SJ 950 733) at 10 am for a 9 km stroll to Lamaload Reservoir and back. A537 and Buxton Old Road from Macclesfield.

Friday 14 December
Around Grappenhall. Meet in Grappenhall village, car park at SJ 638 863, at 10 am for another 9 km outing. From Junction 20 on the M6, take the A50 towards Warrington. Turn left into Bellhouse Lane after crossing the Bridgewater Canal. Turn right into a car park immediately past the Ram's Head.

There will be more – see here.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Two Bits of Jazz, some National Trust, and a Book

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Busy busy. We enjoyed The Harlem Hot Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club on Monday evening, and even managed to get home before they closed the M60 motorway!

On Tuesday Sue demanded a shopping trip for some boots that she apparently needs for work. Can you identify the venue?

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Later, we attended a family gathering that took a stroll from a National Trust property, Packwood House. The pace was brisk, albeit Sue’s mum turned up in what we thought were her pyjamas. “No”, she explained, “they were curtains!”

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The family (some of them, anyway) are religious, so I took them through a pleasant churchyard. Nice stained glass windows. Apparently 800 years old.

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Here’s the 5 km route, easily extended to the east to the towpath of the Grand Union Canal.

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I noticed a copy of a book lying around – self published by one of Sue’s cousins. A tricky subject on which Jonathan is passionate. Well done to him for putting this together and self-publishing. It’s a huge task. We will get a copy (from here).

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Sadly our motorway luck ran out on the way home, the M6 being closed at junction 18, which made us a bit late (and extremely cross with a juggernaut that was tailgating us as we proceeded through country lanes in a long line of traffic).

On Wednesday the short motorway journey to and from Hazel Grove Civic Centre was thankfully free from the road closures which appear to have become the norm for late evening travellers around Manchester. That journey to the weekly SWOG presentation was most worthwhile. The speaker, a 78 year old musician who plays in numerous jazz bands and also on his own as a busker, was Eric Newton from Stoke-on-Trent. He spliced his life story with a few familiar tunes on his clarinet. It was a wonderful tale. We came away with a CD, and we will keep an eye out for him as he busks in places like Stone and Nantwich as well as other parts of the Potteries. Dot may have encountered him, or have heard of him. He has run 38 marathons, all whilst playing his clarinet, raising over £60,000 for charity and setting a record of 648 plays of ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’ during the course of one marathon run.

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Monday, 15 October 2018

Sunday 14 October 2018 – The Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon (Number 20)

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It’s that time of year again. My 16th appearance at this event which started in 1999. Only Brian Jennings has made more appearances here. During those 19 years the nature of the equipment has changed from classic mountain bikes with no suspension or disc brakes to the high maintenance modern kit. I was even passed by an electric bike on today’s first hill.

However, my old 1990 bike performed well today despite not having been serviced for some time.

Whilst Robert couldn’t make it this year, I was joined by Paul and Greg for their fourth outing in this event, and by recently retired Richard who was tired after a cross country run yesterday.

We arrived at Sowerby Bridge in light rain, which continued throughout the morning. Greg, Richard and Paul are pictured above before the start, by which time we were all swathed in waterproof clothing that kept the rain out and the sweat in… I suspect we all felt pretty damp for most of the morning, relying on the brisk activity to keep us warm.

The Hardcastle Crags support point was excellent. It breaks a steep ascent and today as always it was manned by a very efficient team. I stopped there whilst other participants admired my bike …

Rider(s): “That reminds me of my first mountain bike.”

Martin: “It is my first mountain bike.” [Not quite true as I had a ‘Rough Stuff’ bike before that.]

By now, Paul, having waited for me at the first checkpoint near Mytholmroyd, had sped off into the distance in the heavier rain.

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I didn’t take any more pictures during the ride. My well stowed camera (‘phone) survived an uncharacteristic incident at the very top of Midgley Moor. I was sizing up a good route across some rocks that were bordered by deep puddles, when I leant too far forward – causing the bike to tip me gently into one of said puddles. Luckily there was no witness to this carelessness, and after much wringing out I managed to recover sufficient to cycle (rather than walk) most of the brilliant descent from the moor, the last technical section of the route.

I’d passed Richard a little earlier, just getting ready to set off after a puncture repair, and I had a fear that he was lurking just behind me and would have captured the ‘lying in a bog’ incident on film, but luckily he had inexplicably (the route is very well signposted) got misplaced and finished (out of position) just behind me. He’ll fare better next year, I’m sure.

We all finished within a half hour period and collected some pretty buffs after a selfie in which my camera’s misted up lens punished Greg for his failure to take a picture of me at the start. Can you tell whose bike has mudguards? They worked well today and enabled me to discard the glasses that kept misting up.

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We adjourned to the Church Stile Inn for a pleasant half hour’s debriefing before the other three returned to Hale, where Paul was due to attend a birthday party. Happy birthday, Paul. I went home, leaving Sue somewhere in the vicinity of rainy Hebden Bridge, where coincidentally she was out with some of our walking pals.

Here’s a record of our CMBM efforts, excluding Don, Liz, Craig and two Davids whose efforts would just clutter this page, that they are unlikely to visit anyway.

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Here’s the route – slightly different to last year’s course that was adjusted due to a path closure – 42.2 km with about 1100 metres ascent.

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The results are here, and all my blog reports are here.

Today’s Statistics:

Winner – 2 hrs 3 min – 164 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 9 min
Paul: 3 hrs 19 min – 89
Greg: 3 hrs 39 min – 114
Martin: 3 hrs 45 min – 120
Richard: 3 hrs 50 min – 124

Congratulations to the organisers for making the event run so smoothly and for providing lots of drinks and food along the way and at the finish.

Finally, here’s a photo of me descending to Grain Water Bridge last year. I’ll add this year’s picture if there is one (see below). It may be very similar but I’ll be covered in waterproof clothing that is struggling to breathe.

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Later: here’s this year’s picture, as promised.

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