Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Saturday 5 January 2019 – The Wammy parkrun, and Apedale Country Park

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We hadn’t seen Mick and Gayle for ages. So a plot was hatched to meet up at the Wammy parkrun in Newcastle-under-Lyme, then go for a short walk in Apedale Country Park, before M&G went to visit Gayle’s sister and we went to visit Dot, both of whom live nearby.

It was a great success. The Wammy, on which Mick is pictured below, is a fairly flat disused railway line with a tarmac surface. It’s a fast ‘there and back’ course. It must be fast, as I managed a very rare sub 23 minute time for the 5 km.

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Gayle and Sue weren’t far behind Mick. Whilst Gayle looks comfortable, she did incur an injury – we hope it’s feeling better, and Sue looks to be in agony but later confessed that she was ‘just pretending’.

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It was a very rare success for me, as I managed to come top out of the 275 participants, in the Age Grade results! (There are no prizes, and it’s not a race – but still very satisfying.)

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The post run café turned out to be Bertie, pictured at the head of the posting. Mick and Gayle are imminently setting off in Bertie for some winter sunshine, hence us taking this opportunity to catch up.

It was a cool, dull day, not really suitable for photography, and the walking route we took in Apedale was just cobbled together to enable us to partake of a good chat in some fresh air. Not spectacular scenery, but it served a purpose.

Whilst returning to our vehicles after the run, we were passed by a cyclist who had chosen a rather inconvenient time to be on the crowded path… “That was your brother” exclaimed Sue. Either I have lots of brothers, or it’s a very small world!

Here we are, frolicking in Apedale. For a change, Sue decided not to fall over, despite passing through a muddy section which would have been ideal for a sprawl in the mud that she has developed a habit of adventuring into over the past few days.

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Here’s our route – 8.2 km, 150 metres ascent, taking 2 hours.

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After a spot of lunch in Bertie, we bade our farewells and headed off on our respective family visits. Sue and I were pleased to find Dot in good form, and able to play cards with the double size pack we got her for Christmas from the RNIB.

It had been great to meet up with Mick and Gayle, and we hope to combine more parkrun ‘tourism’ with suitable rendezvous points and post run walks with them in the future.

Finally, following Conrad’s comment on yesterday’s posting, I promised more pictures of the Lymm Dam cormorants. Here they are in 2009. I wonder how these birds are related to the birds we saw yesterday?

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Friday, 4 January 2019

Friday 4 January 2019 – Around Oughtrington

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At very short notice, five of us turned up for this Friday morning ramble around Oughtrington and Lymm Dam, starting in Lymm town centre.

After watching the dismemberment of Lymm Cross (or were they just taking down the Christmas decorations?), we headed to the end of Pepper Street and then down Sutch Lane to cross the Bridgewater Canal via Lloyd’s Bridge.

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Then an easy towpath stroll took us past Lymm Marina, where ‘The Duke’ was in residence next to ‘The Mistress’.

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Here’s today’s gang – Sue, Keith, Carol and Paul. Happy to be out in the fresh air, but needing to walk briskly to stay warm.

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We crossed back over the canal at Agden Bridge and took easy field paths back towards Lymm. Jen Darling covers this route in her ‘Walks in North Cheshire’ book, but it’s roughly the reverse of a route that I’ve taken on numerous occasions, sometimes on a summer’s evening.

Rather than follow Jen’s route straight back to Lymm, I prefer to take a path around Lymm Dam and over Crosfield Bridge before descending to one of Lymm’s excellent cafés. Sexton’s Tea Rooms were today’s choice.

There’s an information board describing the wildlife of Lymm Dam. It doesn’t mention the resident cormorants.

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Crosfield Bridge gets ever more dilapidated.

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Below the next picture, which shows the bridge in all its faded glory, is an extract from Lymm Village’s website with a bit of historical information.

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The History of Lymm Dam

The creation and development of one of Lymm's most well-known beauty spots

Turnpike trust

In the early part of the 19th Century a road was constructed by the Turnpike Trust between Warrington and Stockport. The Trust had been granted the right to charge a toll fare on this road which is now the present day A56. It seems that even back then there was concern over traffic congestion as local opposition prevented the road from coming through the centre of the village. A toll bar was placed on the road of the Church slope which is still sometimes referred to as 'Penny Hill' today. The only way of crossing the valley below the Church was via a path leading to a footbridge over what was then 'a pool and stream'. They therefore began to construct an earth dam across the valley in 1824 and as a consequence the lake known today as Lymm Dam was created.

Beechwood estate

At the time of Lymm Dam's creation, the area it was constructed on was part of the Lymm Hall Estate which owned much of the village. The estate was split into sections in 1848 and several were sold off including what is now Lymm Dam, Lymm Rugby Club and the area of land between. The section of the estate which comprised Lymm Dam was bought by a local solicitor named Thomas Ridgeway. Ridgeway built 'a large opulent manor house' at the site which is now Lymm Rugby Club on Crouchley Lane. He lived here in the house and the estate which were known as 'Beechwood' for 20 years before he sold the estate to a Cotton Trader from Manchester called George Dewhurst. Dewhurst had a considerable level of influence in Lymm and figured prominently in the Victorian village for many years at the time. He and his family lived on the Beechwood estate until the close of the 19th Century. By this time they had largely withdrawn from life in the village.

The house was eventually demolished in the 1930s but some of aspects of the estate still remain today. What are today Lymm Rugby Club's changing rooms were once the old stable block, and the wall which runs alongside the pitch was part of the horses' exercise paddock. The stone archway which featured as the entrance to the Beechwood estate can still be found along Crouchley Lane. Furthermore, the Wishing Bridge round Lymm Dam and the small boat house are also legacies of the Dewhurst era.

William Lever

The land was then owned by a man called William Lever who intended to make considerable changes to the area. It was he who constructed the large concrete bridge at the southern end of Lymm Dam known as the Crosfield Bridge. He was also accountable for the avenues which border Lymm Dam, these currently being Lakeside Road, The Avenue and the bridleway running along the eastern boundary of Lymm Dam. The avenues were planted with alternating Lombardy poplar and English elm trees. Lever had planned to use these avenues as part of a residential development to house his workers. However, for reasons unknown*, the houses were never built.

The Crosfield Bridge and the rows of trees which lead up to it stand as a legacy of a period of Lymm Dam's history and serve as a reminder of how different the site could have looked today. Unfortunately the elm trees died due to Dutch elm disease in the 1980s, however the poplars remain and have become one of Lymm Dam's most recognisable features clearly visible from a distance.

* There is some debate about whether the soap baron (Lever) did a deal with the salt baron whereby they would not interfere with each other’s activities. As Lymm is in a ‘salt’ area, Lever may have abandoned his project in order to protect his wider interests.

Here’s today’s route – 10 km with about 50 metres ascent (ie – flat), taking a couple of hours.

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Thursday, 3 January 2019

Tuesday 1 January 2019 – A Visit to Arnside

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After returning to Lyn’s house for a post-parkrun coffee with her and Robert (and to collect some cheese) we headed up to Leighton Moss Bird Reserve for lunch. It was heaving with people, and we had to park by the roadside. However, the café had a free table and the shop provided a squirrel proof bird feeder by way of a Christmas present for me – or should that be for our garden birds?

Ian and Rona were at home in Arnside as predicted. Cooking duties prevented Rona from joining us, but Duncan was at his parents’ house and came along on a romp up Arnside Knott.

It was a particularly clear day with fine views deep into the Lake District.

We started beside the Kent Estuary, with the tide rapidly ebbing.

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The views widened as we soared up the gentle ascent of Arnside Knott.

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A viewpoint was soon reached. We thought we could see right through the Lake District to Skiddaw in the superb visibility.

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The low sun provided good reflections in Morecambe Bay.

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We were, of course, obliged to visit the summit, getting 2019 off to a good ‘hill start’.

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A quick romp down, then we picked up the car from Ian and Rona’s house and spent a happy hour with Conrad (aka Sir Hugh), whose tea and biscuits were much appreciated. Thanks Conrad, and it was great to see you looking in such good form. Have a great 2019.

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Here’s our route – 7 km with 165 metres ascent, taking about 1.75 hours. Always a pleasure.

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Wednesday, 2 January 2019

1 January 2019 – Haigh Woodland parkrun

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Sue and I enjoyed a lie in at Lyn’s house in Adlington. We made it to Haigh Country Park in plenty of time for the 10.30 start of the Haigh Woodland New Year’s Day parkrun. Another eight tourists from Wythenshawe had made a much earlier start and had run in the 9 o’clock start at Witton parkrun near Blackburn before heading to this fine venue.

The picture above shows our team, after the event. Charley and Jenn seem to have been shrunk by the effort of two parkruns in one morning. I hope they have recovered!

It was a beautiful start to 2019, with a brilliant blue sky and a thermometer showing plus signs. Some 260 folk milled about at the start.

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I was close behind Andy H after a couple of kilometres – it’s very unusual for me to do a sub 4 minute kilometre. But after that I fell back and more than twenty people passed me as I slogged back up the hill at 6 minute kilometre pace a little later.

Sue wasn’t far behind me – I only just got the camera out in time.

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Andy H is a glutton for punishment – I think he went back to the bottom of the hill to commune with Kate and coax her into a fast finish.

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That was a lovely way to start 2019 – just a shame that I forgot to bring any brownies.

Full results are here. I did this parkrun a couple of years ago – results here, but there was no blog report. Interestingly, I came in 40th position on both occasions.

Happy New Year!

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Sue and I enjoyed the hospitality and good company of Lyn and Robert, Chris and Gerry, and Louise, for an excellent meal and a smidgeing of partying to see the New Year in.

Luckily, I only took two photos – the top one just as the starter arrived, and the one below - taken just after I had served the fish course (Robert was busy in the kitchen tending to his duck legs). My duties over, I relaxed into a state in which no further pictures were taken by me.

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Robert’s group photo taken towards the end of the evening is included below.

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Monday, 31 December 2018

Saturday 29 December 2018 – Christmas at Dunham Massey

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Saturday brought a visit from J and J, whose parents sadly both had to work. That gave Sue and me the opportunity to visit ‘Christmas at Dunham Massey’ that folk have been raving about. It comprises an after dark visit to the Winter Garden, where an illuminated route took us an hour to negotiate.

It came up to expectations, starting with a long illuminated archway past puzzled daffodils. I forgot to turn on the flash setting – I still have to learn the camera settings on the S9 phone, but it does seem to perform ok in conditions of low light.

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It was hard to capture the ambience, as the colours kept changing.

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We have many daylight pictures of the ‘shiny bark’ silver birch trees pictured below.

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The route was spiced with numerous interesting lighting effects.

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Jacob was required, in order to obtain a badge at the end, to take a selfie with Dasher. All Santa’s reindeer could be found at some point in the garden.

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There were some giant reindeer scattered amongst the life-size ones. Below, you can see people passing through the legs of the animal in the middle of the picture.

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A bubble machine combined with imaginative lighting provided fun for all.

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The large lawn was festooned with lights that changed colour to the sound of Christmas music.

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This is Jessica’s ‘selfie’ with Dancer. “Wifi selfie” she said, “… I have an implant.”

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The rose garden was nicely lit, with the cash tills of vendors of gourmet marshmallows ringing merrily. There were plenty of toasting coals, and the fare was delicious. If you wanted to, you could bring your own marshmallows.

Returning towards the hall, we passed through an area of dangling baubles that constantly changed colour.

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I wonder what the resident swans think of all this?

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After exiting the Winter Garden, we passed the front of the hall, where a white bearded gent was frantically distributing some late presents.

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The hour in the garden was followed by an hour on some children’s rides. Jacob zipped up and down the Helter Skelter.

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They both enjoyed the bucking bronco ride.

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At the exit, a waterfall danced to the sound of Christmas music. I have a two minute video of this that I haven’t worked out how to download from the phone. Probably just as well – this posting is quite cheesy enough without that video!

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I think everyone enjoyed their evening out – the lighting effects were certainly well up to expectation.

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