Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Saturday 17 November 2018 – Wythenshawe parkrun number 365

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Another Saturday, another parkrun. Quite routine today, with chief Run Director Andy skilfully acting as MC, and some 278 runners taking part on a lovely autumn morning.

Lots of familiar people can be seen below, including ‘Nobby No-Show’, who graced us with a rare appearance and helped to eat the cake and sort out the tokens afterwards.

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I pottered round the course today, with Sue not far behind. It was a very sociable occasion. There’s much encouragement given at the point shown below, which is approaching the final corner before a 30 metre sprint to the finish.

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It was such a nice morning that I decided to do another 2+ km lap, catching up Syd and Zoe for a chat on their final kilometre. On the way, I took this picture of the entry to Muddy Passage’, which isn’t at all muddy. Yet.

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Full results are here, and thanks go to Zoe for the tasty cup cakes.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Friday 16 November 2018 – Raw Head

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On our way home from Porthmadog we decided to recce another of Jen Darling’s routes, to provide feedback for the text of her new edition of ‘Pub Walks in Cheshire’.

This walk is entitled ‘Rawhead’ and it starts from the Pheasant Inn in Burwardsley, pictured above. There’s an interesting history of the pub on its website.

After coffee and cake at the nearby Cheshire Workshops, we started outside the pub and headed off down the hill, past a small Methodist chapel.

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Two estate cottages are named Meshach and Shadrach. I’ll leave the reader to contemplate the reason for this (to be explained in Jen’s book in due course).

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The road is soon deserted in favour of a steep path up Willow Hill.

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After we had met a couple of people with clacking sticks, and Sue had scrumped some apples which we later enjoyed for our dessert, we walked briefly along Sarra Lane and found the booty that resulted from the clacking and the distant gunshots.

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The route now turned SSE across a field and past an electricity pole, before heading up fields to join the Sandstone Trail.

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This is one of my favourite sections of the Sandstone Trail, as it heads along the top of the escarpment towards Raw Head.

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En route, beside a rampant holly tree, a spring is encountered at the Dropping Stone.

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A little further on, the summit of Raw Head has a trig point and a bench conveniently placed nearby. We enjoyed our lunch there.

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Normally there are good views from the escarpment over the Cheshire plain to Liverpool, and to the hills of North Wales. I think the Shropshire hills can also be seen. However, today it was misty. At least it wasn’t raining, and the autumn colours were still pleasing to the eye.

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Soon after leaving the trig point, Musket’s Hole is traversed. Looking back at the deep gully you can admire the eroded sandstone, before heading onwards to Chiflik Farm.

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After passing Chiflik Farm, signs to Coppermine Lane are followed. The sole remnant of the copper mine, apart from some mineshafts, is a lone chimney which appears to be dated 1856.

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Once we were on Coppermine Lane, Jen’s description said ‘turn right between two gates’. We thought she meant here:

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She didn’t. We soon found the gates, and in gathering gloom, although it was only mid afternoon, we continued – now back on the Sandstone Trail – over Bulkeley Hill and back to the Pheasant Inn.

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This was another very pleasant ‘Pub Walk’ in a lovely area. Here’s the route, which without any diversions is about 9.2 km (5.75 miles), with about 250 metres of ascent. It took us 2.5 hours plus stops.

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Thursday, 15 November 2018

Thursday 15 November 2018 - Around Harlech

The 'lovely sunny day' continued apace after lunch. We drove down to Harlech and parked in the centre, just above the castle.

Harlech seemed dead to the outside world. I suppose it was lunchtime. In the town's favour are its magnificent castle and its superb beach. Otherwise it seems to be a town of tumbledown hotels and green caravans. Rather an ugly place.

A clockwise circuit above the town soon brought us fine views into Snowdonia (top picture) and along the Lleyn peninsula. Care was needed navigation wise as whilst there were no problems with access, the footpath  signposting could be described as "tired". Once at our high point, by the ancient hut circles of Muriau Gwddelod, we enjoyed a fine view of the Rhinog summits (second picture).

Soon after that, and a bit of 'Martin's meandering', we found another grassy bank on which to empty the remaining contents of our flask down our necks (third picture).

After 6-7 km we found ourselves back in town and heading off past Harlech''s picture postcard viewpoint (fourth picture) on another clockwise circuit, this time based upon the beach, which was bathed in late afternoon sunshine (bottom picture). As with the other beaches we've been on this week, the sand was firm and clean, with no evidence of rubbish being washed up.

By the time we'd walked along the beach, walked through the dunes and the golf course, and struggled up a steep hill to reach the car, we'd walked 10 km. A very pleasant afternoon stroll. 

The Thai restaurant that we like was shut despite enticing signs proclaiming that it was open on Thursdays, so tonight's dinner was sourced from the Creel chippie.

Thursday 15 November 2018 - Ceunant Cynfal and Ffestiniog

On a lovely sunny day, but with buffeting winds forecast on the tops, we decided to stay low again and spend the morning enjoying a short walk from Ffestiniog, featuring the deep ravine and resultant waterfalls cut by the River Cynfal. 

We started near the church and its massive graveyard, with fine views of the Moelwyns. A ginger tom cat dashed in front of us, obviously in search of some unfortunate victim. He was easily distracted from that occupation in favour of a good rub down from Sue.

Soon we were on our way. Jays and jets only briefly interrupted the calm of the day with a background of the sound of tumbling water.

Unlike some of the places we've visited recently, the deciduous trees around here have mostly shed their leaves. It must have been windy. 

Buttercups were on display today, as were the following wild flowers seen around here in mid November, as well as those listed yesterday:
 
Herb Robert
Lesser Stitchwort
Bramble
Yarrow

Several waterfalls graced the ravine, in an area that we learnt comprises the ancient oak woodland of a temperate rainforest where the habitat is amenable to 154 different moss and liverwort species.

Lunch was enjoyed on a grassy bank in the sunshine near Ffestiniog, with good views into Snowdonia, and in particular towards the Moelwyns, and the company of swooping birds, probably woodpeckers.

By then we were nearly back at the car, after this very pleasant 8 km saunter on lovely woodland paths.

I'll  post the route in due course, but it's pretty much self explanatory from this text.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Wednesday 14 November 2018 - Anglesey Coast Path - Newborough,  The Missing Loop

When we walked the Anglesey Coast Path in April we took a short cut to Newborough - for a number of reasons, not least to evade a bout of serious exhaustion. This week, given an ongoing unwelcome vibe from the weather in Snowdonia, we decided to complete the missing loop to the south of Newborough.

It was cloudy and windy. We parked by a sculpture at Penras Terrace. The walk was easy at first, through the forest, but then it evolved into a long plod along the beach, with a brisk sandblaster of a wind, before lunch in a sheltered spot as far south as we could get along the headland.

The coast path takes a little excursion to Llanddwyn Island. But the tide was right in so we couldn't get across. Time to find a sheltered spot in the forest and wait. And wait... And wait.

I made a note of some flowers we had spotted:

Daisy
Red Campion
Red Clover
Thistle
Gorse
Dandelion
Pineappleweed
Ragwort

High tide was at 1.15 pm, but we couldn't get across to the island until 3 pm, and even then the crossing seriously tested our gaiters. Others either got wet feet or waited longer than we did. Today's third picture shows the impasse. Once on the island it was quite interesting, with the ruins of an old church that appears to have been a pilgrimage destination. A huge pile of sea shells was awaiting distribution on the footpaths to combat erosion. The inevitable lighthouse was plonked on a cliff at the end of the island, next to some pilots' cottages that are now a museum (shut).

An interesting place - I'll expand on these brief comments when I write an overview of the trip.

Back on dry land we soon came across some dog walkers. Most people out on the beach seemed to have dogs with them. This particular couple had about five dogs. Not under control. A big black one rushed up and bit me, before trying to take a chunk out of Sue's rucksack. Blood was drawn. Details were taken. Possibly false, as after the incident we thought we recognised the culprit dog. A letter to the owner, who lives in Newborough, not as was asserted in Sheffield, may be in order.

Continuing along the beach, we were lucky to observe a lovely sunset. Then we turned inland along the coast path that runs beside the forest where it borders the sand dunes.

A pleasurable, apart from the dog, ramble of about 18 km. We really would have had a late finish had we attempted to complete this loop on 18 April.

D has gone elsewhere, so thankfully we weren't subjected to another thrashing at cards tonight.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Tuesday 13 November 2018 - A Criccieth circuit from Porthmadog

On a fine, calm day, but with low cloud over Snowdonia, Sue and I chose to experiment with a circular walk from home.

We left soon after 9 am, waving 'Good Morning' to D on his balcony before making our way around the harbour to the Welsh Coast Path. The light was great, the top four pictures all being taken from the coast path as it made its way to Criccieth.

• Porthmadog harbour
• view from Ynys Cyngar
• Black Rock Sands
• view inland from the approach to Criccieth

En route we passed a wide variety of coastal housing, some with superb plate glass windows and gin balconies. Deserted today apart from a few builders.

The coastal birds were, in contrast, out in force. Sanderlings ran about on the sands whilst oyster catchers looked on, pecking hopefully in the sand. I won't (can't) list them all off the top of my head, but I can believe D, who says that although not an expert he can regularly spot up to 50 bird species during the course of a day in Porthmadog.

We enjoyed coffee and cake at the excellent Gwm y Mor café in Criccieth.  Then we retraced our steps in an effort to join a footpath at SH 507 383. But this is Wales. In one direction a street of housing barred entry to the right of way, and in the only other direction we were faced with climbing a fence, crossing a deep stream, and then negotiating a dry stone wall with barbed wire on each side.

So we returned towards Criccieth and took a quiet lane to reach paths marked on our map but not on the ground. The unsigned paths continued acceptably to beyond a farm at Bryn Braich-y-saint. Here we reached a dead end at a high wall fenced on both sides with barbed wire, through which the right of way on our map marched merrily on. No wonder there was a complete absence of footpath signs.

So we stopped for lunch (important things first!), then after admiring the view (bottom picture) we retraced our steps and took lanes to Pentrefelin. From there a white road took us past Y Boncyn to Coed Bryn-twr, and a right turn down a footpath that led all the way back to join the coast path at Borth-y-Gest, from where we returned home.

By the time I'd nipped to the Spar shop and returned to base by 4 pm, we had covered about 27 km (17 miles). A good day out. D came round later to provide us with a now expected drubbing at cards. Apparently he had dodged some heavy showers that hadn't reached us just a short distance away along the peninsula. 

Monday, 12 November 2018

Monday 12 November 2018 - Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd from Llanbedrog

Strong winds and heavy showers deterred us from going high today. Plus the fact that D was coming with us and he's allergic to 'cold/wet'. His brolly wasn't much use today!

Despite having owned property here for many years, D hadn't been to Llanbedrog or Plas Glyn-y-Weddw gallery. So we took him there.

Before visiting the gallery we walked our usual 4 km circuit via the 133 metre summit of Mynydd Tir-y-cwmwd. Starting on Llanbedrog beach, we witnessed a lovely rainbow before making our way to the foot of a steep staircase. Today the route to that point wasn't as easy as usual as we'd timed our visit to coincide with high tide. A quick dash was necessary to reach the cottages that are currently being refurbished. (There is another route, unless the builders' vans were secretly amphibious.)

The steps (2nd picture shows a small portion of them) are as steep as any I know. Today's leaf litter made them slippery as well. If ever there's a need to place something in the hands of the 'Iron Man' sculpture at the top, a defibrillator could be a good choice.

We posed, as usual, with said sculpture, before continuing around the headland with views down to Abersoch. Sue got her pants wet at this point and complained about that for the rest of the morning. D and I were more sensible. We deployed our waterproof trousers. The shower was heavy but short, and had cleared by the time we had reached the popular summit that is adorned with a trig point, orientation table, and a few benches. Yr Eifl and the Rivals were clear of cloud, but beyond them in Snowdonia the cloud was down on what looked like a grim day in the mountains.

We met a few folk as we descended to the gallery, for welcome coffee and cake, a look around the exhibits, and a few minor purchases. There were some enticing pictures and ceramics for sale but we exercised, with some difficulty, restraint.

Back in Porthmadog we managed a longer afternoon stroll to Tremadog and back - a delightful 6 km, but today's pictures are all from this morning. 

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Sunday 11 November 2018 - A Circuit from Tudweiliog

Rain overnight and into the morning drummed on the roof of our abode in South Snowdon Wharf. So we enjoyed a lie in, having driven down to Porthmadog yesterday afternoon and later enjoyed beers with D, who is staying across the road from us.

With strong winds and heavy showers predicted, we eventually set off to the Lleyn Peninsula for an easy stroll. Parking at Tudweiliog, we took the quiet country lanes, apart from a few muddy fields, to Pont yr Afon Fawr car park, where - after 5 km of walking - we noticed that it was 1 o'clock, time for lunch at a convenient picnic bench.

A path led from here to Traeth Penllech beach and the Welsh Coast Path. We followed that path with the sun and wind behind us all the way to Towyn, seeing nobody until we were in sight of our destination. A very pleasant section of coast.

Though there was no significant human presence, there was lots to be observed today. Crows and starlings gathering in large numbers and competing as to who could make the best swirling patterns in the sky. Not surprisingly the starlings carried off that trophy. 

A single shower interrupted our dryness but as it was followed by a sunny period we enjoyed some lovely rainbows.

At Porth Ysgaden there's a ruined house comprising just one wall with a fireplace. Beyond that are a few shacks that may be connected with the fishing industry, though I can't quite work out the logic for that....

What else could they be used for? Computer gaming software development?!

Lots of different birds, both on the walk and later on the estuary at Porthmadog as the tide went out.

We were back at home by 4.30 after this 13 km in 3.5 hours stroll. Plenty of time to prepare a roast chicken meal, enjoyed with our guest, D, (or are we his guests as he owns the house?) who then proceeded to thrash us at prediction whist.

Meanwhile a touch of glee all round as Man U succumbed to their more talented neighbours, and Wolves held the mighty Arsenal.

Today's pictures start with lunch and continue up the coast to Porth Towyn, where an elderly lady was enjoying a lonely swim.