Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Saturday 12 January 2019 – Fletcher Moss parkrun, and Afternoon Tea

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Another ‘new for us’ parkrun. Fletcher Moss parkrun is in Didsbury – convenient for Sue and me this morning as Mike and Sarah had asked us to accompany them on some house viewings just around the corner from this park. It’s a newish parkrun venue and attracted a record 362 participants today for its ninth event. No wonder Paul, Sue, Greg and I all finished further down the field than we’d anticipated. It was a shame that Jan couldn’t join us due to a car break-in; we hope that is quickly fixed.

The route is shown below (including two laps of the ‘M’ shaped section) and would be very convenient for Mike and Sarah if their interest in the house marked with an asterisk came to anything.

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The paths were pretty narrow, and we saw someone we recognised, but as in the case of last week, when Sue only identified my brother after he had pedalled into the distance, we weren’t able to attract Charlie’s attention. He always likes to be at the front, and had probably left for home by the time we had finished.

Didsbury Sports Ground’s club house offered a spacious area for us to enjoy a coffee with Paul and Greg before dashing off to view houses.

Sue’s time was faster than last week’s, despite not having Gayle to encourage her – perhaps as a result of yesterday’s carb loading thanks to an excellent Christmas present from Nell. Patisserie Valerie provided an excellent Afternoon Tea, and any post-tea feeling of queasiness was purely coincidental.

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My own time was rather slower than last week’s but this course was harder and more congested – that’s my excuse. Full results are here.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Friday 11 January 2019 – Around Moore

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Another Friday morning stroll in good company, not far from home. Excellent.

We parked at Moore Nature Reserve (SJ 578 855). I was expecting to have to walk down the lane past the Du Pont works, but there’s a very good path (actually a choice of paths) through the Nature Reserve. This is an area of 186 acres, sandwiched between the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. It became a nature reserve in 1991, after a history of being used for farming and sand quarrying.

We spent a while in a bird hide beside Birchwood Pool. The birch was very much in evidence, but apart from some common varieties, the ducks remained distant and unidentified.

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After a while we joined the track that is part of our ‘Phoenix Park’ bike ride circuit. It joins the Trans Pennine Trail and runs beside the river for a while, clearly tidal at this point.

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We left the river, the remains of the Runcorn to Latchford Canal, and the TPT, and crossed the Ship Canal into Walton. From the bridge, new buildings in Wilderspool tower over the canal.

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This freshly painted memorial has plaques for both the 1914 – 1919 and the 1939 – 1945 wars.

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We moved on after Rick had made some observations about his WW1 project involving the nearby cemetery. We also mourned the passing of popular TV presenter Dianne Oxberry. The ‘B’ word gained expressions of disgust directed at certain politicians. Luckily, this is not a ‘rant’ blog.

After a short plod along the A56 we reached the canal down a steep bank.

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Sue and Paul played ‘catch’.

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The towpath (past the attractions of Walton Park, that include a bicycle museum) provided our route to Moore, where the newsagent sells hot pies and the following picture shows a vintage Austin A35, a Morris Minor, and a dredger looking for old bicycles. Beyond that, some of a dozen swans and a multitude of ducks are visible under the bridge where we left the canal.

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Pleasant paths led back over a swing bridge to the nature reserve.

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The bittern was pictured walking on ice…

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Here’s our route – 8.6 km, 50 metres ascent, in a leisurely 2 hours.

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If any of those present would like to add to this rather brief entry, please send me your text.

Cary: “How can you forget the cake?” Oops, yes indeed, we had a tea and cake stop on the towpath near Walton. Very good cake it was as well. Thanks to Sue for that, and to cake guru Cary for spotting this serious omission. (The tea was dreadfully weak due to Sue’s tea bag economies.)

Next time:

25 Jan - Around Aston. Start at Aston Church (SJ 556 785) at 10 am for another 9 km stroll. (M56 jnc 11, then the Northwich (A56) road through Preston Brook. Turn L at 1st roundabout, then R at the next, down Aston Lane South. Continue to Aston and park on the straight stretch of road near the church.)

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Wednesday 9 January 2019 – Shutlingsloe

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After failing to take advantage of yesterday’s sunshine, I looked out to another blue sky day and couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out the text for another of Jen Darling’s ‘Pub Walks in Cheshire’ routes.

I’ve been walking this particular route for many years, starting in the 1990s when I followed some of Jen’s routes from the first edition of her book. I used them as ideas for Wednesday evening walks in those days.

Today’s morning walk started from the door of the Leather’s Smithy and headed around Ridgegate Reservoir. It has been windy, but not today – a calm frosty morning with cloud slowly building, until towards the end of the walk there were flurries of snow. It didn’t feel cold though.

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If you come at a weekend, you may be lucky enough to find a kiosk selling drinks etc in the Ranger Centre car park, but today it was quiet here.

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There’s a 50 metre path loop past this new sculpture, and an older one, to some picnic benches beside Trentabank Reservoir, from where the bird life in the trees and on the water can be observed at leisure. Well worth the minor diversion.

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There follows a fairly steep climb through Macclesfield Forest on the path signposted to Shutlingsloe. Several people were struggling up the path, and I met others on Shutlingsloe. After that – nobody.

Here’s the view looking back to Nessit Hill after leaving the forest.

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From roughly the same spot – the well constructed path climbs amiably until the final few metres to the summit

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On the summit, the air was cooler and I didn’t spend too long admiring the frost adorned plaque in memory of Arthur Smith, a local rights of access campaigner. We should pause to consider that without the efforts of people like him, we may not have the present wonderful array of paths to choose from for our leisure time wanderings. On the descent, I met a couple who are walking the 190 mile Peak District Boundary Walk – by way of a series of day walks using two cars or public transport.

Here’s the summit, with the plaque on the left, and a view to the south to the hills around Leek.

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The text for Jen’s third edition was fine, but since she wrote it some new metal kissing gates, such as this one on the descent to Wildboarclough, have been installed. The demographic of people out in these and other local walking areas seems to have changed to a point at which some walkers have become sufficiently infirm (and influential) to trigger the authorities to remove some of the characterful old style ladder and step stiles, replacing them with ugly new kissing gates.

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The Crag Inn used to be a farm, and I remember the pub closing and efforts being made to convert it back to a private house, but for the time being it continues as a public house – a popular place in summer, but it must be difficult to make a living here.

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Across the valley, Berry Bank clearly faces north!

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Good paths through fields of cropped grass soon lead to the path to Oakenclough, which actually goes along a road for a while after the sign in the next picture.

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As you rise up Oakenclough, Shutlingsloe comes back fully into view after having been a little shy since the descent to Wildboarclough.

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By now, the Croker Hill aerials have returned to view, as have the Jodrell Bank telescopes. Today a purple-grey haze lay over Greater Manchester, whose tall buildings could just be discerned.

Meanwhile, a high point is reached at about 370 metres. It’s downhill all the way from here, initially down a lovely sunken lane to The Hanging Gate.

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The Hanging Gate is currently closed. However, the ‘For Sale’ sign has gone and the website shows encouraging signs regarding a re-opening. Perhaps Jen should email Louis (louis@thehanginggate.co.uk) to discover more.

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Soon after dropping down from The Hanging Gate, our route joins the Gritstone Trail – following well signposted paths until just after a house called Throstles Nest. Here, we turn sharp right into a narrow valley, then ascend to re-join the path around Ridgegate Reservoir for the final few metres of this excellent walk. If you miss the turn, the Gritstone Trail takes you to the Langley road, where you turn right to get back to the Leathers Smithy.

Here’s the route – 12 km with about 400 metres ascent. It took me 2.5 hours, but most folk will savour the delights of this walk in up to 4 hours.

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Great Masterwort (or Mountain Sanicle)(Astrantia major)

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Widespread up to 2000 metres in Alpine regions and elsewhere, this tall plant sports perfectly symmetrical showy flowers with pink centres, greenish tips, and bushy stamens. This specimen was in Austria, near Damuls, in July 2018.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Martagon Lily (Lilium martagon)

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Found all over the Alps, this fairly tall plant has distinctive backwards curving wine red petals with dark spots, leaving the stamens well exposed for visiting insects. It’s also known as ‘Turk’s Cap Lily’. The ‘martagon’ name tag derives from the Turkish word for turban.

This specimen was seen in Austria near Hinterbichl on 17 July last year.

Monday, 7 January 2019

TGO Challenge 2019 – A Route

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It’s the time of year that urgent attention to a TGO Challenge route creeps up on me. The deadline for experienced ‘Challengers’, in whose number I’m deemed to be included, is fairly imminent. Today’s advertised bike ride was shunned by the usual participants, and just as I was about to set off on my own on a 40 mile ride in reluctant daylight, it started to rain. So instead of a wet ride I’ve spent a few hours trying to devise my 12th and Sue’s 6th route across Scotland.

Oban to Montrose via Bridge of Orchy, Bridge of Gaur, Aberfeldy, Kirkmichael, Clova and Tarfside seems to fit a bill that’s not too demanding and should be manageable for my old limbs and Sue’s difficult Achilles. It’s about 200 miles, with 11,000 metres of ascent – less than 9,000 if we take our ‘feeling weak’ routes.

It’s intended to be vaguely sociable, and I already know that we will have good company in the form of Markus for most of the first day’s walk.

This is all subject to Sue agreeing to this route rather than a more difficult one from Torridon to Stonehaven.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

A photo in TGO Magazine, and more running

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The Great Outdoors magazine has a monthly back page of themed ‘Readers’ Photos’. The theme for the February 2019 issue was ‘Winter’. I rather ‘tongue in cheek’ ily sent in a couple of images of the Bridgewater Canal in winter. Hardly up to the standard of the image we used for this year’s electronic Christmas cards, but hey!

The magazine eschewed the image of a cyclist on the canal, but it did print the picture taken above, of Sue out for a stroll on 7 January 2010.

I’m not expecting any photographic assignments, but it is nice to be in print.

Back to running. Last week’s Sunday morning trip to the running track at Wythenshawe Park with J and J wasn’t entirely successful as neither child wanted to do the 2 km run, and I finished up going for a jog with Sarah.

However, that trip did stimulate me into getting the Great Run Local Tag ID, which arrived yesterday. So I popped down this morning and jogged around the 5 km course – a different course from the Saturday parkrun course, with fewer people. The picture below was taken just as the runners were about to set off. At the end of the run the Tag ID wristband is tapped against the start/finisher’s mobile phone, at which point this person, who I’d never met before, said “Well done Martin, 24.11". The name and time must come up on his screen.

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Although they didn’t run last week, J and J were sufficiently enthused to go to Burnley this morning with their mum and take part in a junior parkrun 2 km event. Their mum had sorted out bar codes and this time the children joined in the fun. Neither had run as far as 2 km before. Jacob managed it in 12.35, and Jess in 15.00 – both brilliant performances. Here they are before the run.

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I’m a proud granddad – today’s effort more than makes up for their reluctance to run last week. Well done to their mum as well.