Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Friday, 29 March 2019

Friday 29 March 2019 – A Walk Around Winwick

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A sunny morning in Timperley turned to fog half an hour to the west, in Winwick, but the sun eventually came through.

Paul S joined me for this Friday morning stroll in what proved to be rather unremarkable Cheshire countryside. It’s not far from home to the Swan at Winwick, where we started our walk from the pub car park next to St Oswald’s church, pictured later above.

A dew laden field path led to a footbridge over the M62 near Peel Hall, pictured below. The Georgian house appears to be the subject of a planning application that might see the site ‘redeveloped’.

 
After re-crossing the motorway we came to field paths surrounded by vegetation that looked to me as if it had been subjected to a strong dose of weed killer.

“No chance of finding Lapwings here…” I offered. Moments later a flock of Lapwings wheeled its way over the field, cautiously avoiding the buzzard that was sitting on a fence post.


There’s a dog walker in the above picture – the only person we saw for the first 7 km of our walk.

Houghton Green Pool appears to be situated in a big hole in the ground, presumably arising from past quarrying. It’s a bird reserve. We saw crows. I made a note to enter my picture of the pool in a photographic competition.


Well, perhaps not!

It was noisy next to the motorway, then we returned to Winwick via Hermitage Green, encountering a large group on what I imagine was a guided walk for the navigationally challenged.

By the time we got back to St Oswald’s the fog had dissipated on what had become a lovely spring day. Sadly we couldn’t get into the church, which dates from 1358, when it was built on the site of an earlier church that is mentioned in the Domesday Book.

 
Jen Darling’s book, Walks in North Cheshire, refers to skirmishes here in the English Civil Wars of the 1600s. Royalist Scottish troops defeated by Cromwell surrendered near here. She notes that the post office opposite the church was an ale house, perhaps used by Cromwell’s army as its headquarters during the battle of Preston in 1648. How times change! It’s now a nail bar.

Here’s the route we took – nearly 9 km, with minimal ascent, taking a couple of hours.


Next week’s Friday morning walk is a little longer, and hopefully a tad more interesting:

Friday 5 April

Around Kelsall. Meet at the Boot Inn (SJ 531 672), in Boothsdale at 10 am for a 14 km walk in Sandstone Trail country. A556 past Northwich, turning into Kelsall soon after the A54 joins from the left. Go down Chester Road, then Willington Lane, from where the pub should be signposted.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Thursday 28 March 2019 – Biathlon Training?

The Trans Pennine Trail in Thelwall
On a sunny morning, Sue left early for work. I was tempted out, but decided to leave the car at home. A 27 km walk/jog along the canal towpath to the Bay Malton, then along the Trans Pennine Trail to Thelwall, returning home via the Bridgewater Canal’s towpath, was punctuated by a couple of convenient ‘bench and banana’ stops and a chat with Ken Burgess, who was out for a run, saw me back in our garden enjoying a pint of coffee by 11 am.

The Bridgewater Canal near Thelwall
A barge approaches Thelwall on a sunny morning
Bridgewater House in Lymm, a superb location
Butterbur - there's lots of it by the canal near Little Bollington
There was lots of bird life in evidence today, as well as the rapidly sprouting plants - Grey and Pied Wagtails, Greenfinches and Goldfinches, as well as the usual garden birds (lots of Robins and Blackbirds).

A 'bench and banana' stop near Dunham Massey
That would have been sufficient exercise for the day, but Jenny had been miffed to have missed Monday’s ‘Fallowfield Loopline/Cheshire Ring’ bike ride, so I’d agreed to show her the way. What a pleasant afternoon we had on this 41 km route.

As on Monday, coffees were enjoyed at the Velodrome, where Sue had sought assistance from the staff at Evans Cycles to remove her disintegrated mudguard. Jenny has a fairly new bike. The cobbles had loosened the saddle. Evans were again very helpful and her saddle is now firmly attached to her bike!

Jenny, at the point between Audenshaw and Droylsden where the route joins the Ashton Canal
The route is described in detail in Monday’s diary entry, here.

Another picture of the Merchant's Bridge in Castlefield, with Jenny
This is the view Jenny had from her position above...
Perhaps I should enter a biathlon. What with a couple of hours gardening as well, I seem to have clocked up nearly 53,000 steps today!

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Monday 25 March 2019 – A Fallowfield Loopline Circuit

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Despite Jeanette being sadly out of action with a rib problem, today brought a good turnout for a Monday morning “better than going to work” bike ride.

Sue planned to turn back at Jackson’s Boat Bridge, pictured above, but on such a lovely day was persuaded to continue. Richard and Paul are regulars, and Alastair joined us on his first such ride; we may see him a few times before he starts a new job in June.

Despite its looks, the ancient bridge has been deemed inadequate for wheelchairs, and demolition was recently proposed. However, it has a reprieve – on the basis that a new bridge will be built next to it that will be more amenable to disabled access. I hesitate to comment.

So all five of us pedalled along to join the Loopline at St Werburgh’s Road.

I’ve described this ride before – here, and the route is given in detail below, so I’ll be brief just here…..

The path becomes more countrified as it heads out towards Ashton. We paused for a while on this bench in Abbey Hey, before continuing to the Ashton Canal towpath – part of the Cheshire Ring canal system.


Next stop: the Velodrome, for coffee and cake, and the removal of a disintegrated rear mudguard from Sue’s bike. Thanks to the staff at Evans Cycles who did that free of charge.



Then it was on through Manchester to Castlefield, where I always seem to stop for a picture in the same place.


It’s an easy ride back to Timperley from here – a 42 km circuit with about 100 metres gradual ascent along the Loopline.

The map below shows the route from Sale, Timperley being a couple of km further down the canal, and below the map is a detailed route description, as requested by one of my readers.

A Fallowfield Loopline/Cheshire Ring circuit from Sale (37 km/23 miles)


From Sale, take the canal towpath past Dane Road and under the M60 motorway. Then, immediately after crossing the River Mersey (look out for Kingfishers), take a narrow path to the left, enclosed by brambles etc.

Emerge at a junction where you turn left, go over a small bridge, then turn right onto the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT). Follow the TPT to go under the canal after a few metres, at Cut Hole Bridge.

You are now on Hawthorn Road, along which you continue for a short way before taking the TPT path to the right, briefly beside the River Mersey.

Soon, go right to cross a small stream and carry your bikes over a wooden barrier. Turn left, with the stream on your left, and continue through woodland to reach a small car park beyond a gate.

Turn right here, to reach a track where you turn right again, to return to the banks of the Mersey, where you turn left and proceed to Jackson’s Boat Bridge.

(For a longer route, you can continue along the TPT, through Stockport, to join the Cheshire Ring near Hyde – a 55-60 km outing, most recently described here.)

Turn left and follow the path, keeping to the right until you reach the tram lines at Hardy Lane.
Use the cycle track down Hardy Lane to cross the main road at the lights, then switch to the shared pavement to continue past schools on your left.

Cross the tram track that splits from the East Didsbury line and heads towards the airport, then turn left along the path towards St Werburgh’s Road Metrolink Station. Cross the East Didsbury line and continue left towards the platform.

Take the first right turn. This gets you on to the Fallowfield Loopline. (There are other ways of accessing it.)

Continue along the dismantled railway (“Loopline’ = dismantled railway), for about 3 km, when you leave it and rise to the left then right to cross Wilmslow Road. Here, go straight over and re-join the cycleway that drops down and resumes its course along the old railway line, soon passing under the A34 road.

Continue along the Loopline, noting a short tunnel where Stockport Road in Levenshulme passes overhead.

Continue for a further 4-5 km, until you reach a point where to continue forward you would have to go down a road (Boothdale Drive). Turn sharp right here before the houses and head for a few metres beside a fence on your left. At the end of this fence, don’t go down the hill that leads straight on. Take a 90 degree left turn and proceed through a ginnel to reach Booth Road.

Cycle over the railway bridge, past Fairfield Station, and take the first right down Clarendon Road. A nice wide road, at the end of which go straight across the B6390 onto Kershaw Lane.

After a few metres turn left onto the Ashton Canal towpath, part of the Cheshire Ring route that you will follow all the way back to Sale. After 4 km you reach the unmistakable bridge that leads to the National Cycle Centre. Turn left and double back over the bridge for refreshments and repairs. (The staff at Evans Cycles here are helpful.)

Suitably refreshed, return to the towpath. It soon crosses via steep cobbles under Alan Turing Way to gain the right bank of the canal. Continue through Ancoats and past relatively new canalside housing.

At a small bridge beyond which there is currently (March 2019) a diversion sign, don’t go over the bridge. Instead, turn right to reach Ducie Street after a few metres. Turn left here. Take the first right down Dale Street. Immediately on your right, there’s a way down to the Rochdale Canal. Descend the cobbles and double back along the towpath, under buildings, to emerge at Chorlton Street, which you cross to continue down Canal Street, where there is no towpath.

(If you miss the Dale Street turn, or are nervous about the route under buildings, just continue straight ahead on roads/pavements, to reach Chorlton Street and Canal Street.)

When you reach Princess Street, after a short section of paving at the end of Canal Street, look for an opening on the left that crosses the canal and returns you to the towpath.

Double back again and follow the narrow towpath past more locks, looking out for the arrow on a coping stone that points to the location of a plug (yes, just like a giant bath plug!) that allows the canal to be drained into the River Tib when being cleaned.

This leads to Castlefield, where you cross over Castle Street and cycle over the Merchant’s Bridge. Maybe pause for a short break and a chat with tourists here.

After crossing the bridge, double back along the towpath. Follow this all the way to Sale, crossing over the canal at Throstle Nest Bridge, near where the Metrolink line to the Trafford Centre is being built (March 2019), then passing Manchester United’s stadium and crossing another bridge at Waters Meet.

(Here, a right turn would take you along the route of the original Bridgewater Canal, past the Trafford Centre to the swing bridge at Barton.)

Continue, bearing left under a bridge and heading past a small marina to Stretford and beyond. Note that the canal opened in 1761 and ran from Worsley to Stretford, the extension to Castlefield being completed in 1765. Other extensions occurred later and some extensions, such as one to Stockport, never came to fruition.

This 38 km route from Sale should take between three and four hours, depending on the length of your stops.

I hope this is helpful. If you plan to follow the route using this guidance, I suggest you copy and paste the text onto a word document, resize the text so that you can easily read it, and take a printed version with you, using Google maps if necessary if you get displaced at any point. I’d point out that there are many more off-road routes to be enjoyed around Manchester, some of which are referred to within these pages.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

23 and 24 March 2019 – Spurn Head and the Yorkshire Wolds

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An assortment of some 32 of Sue’s old university friends and hangers on assembled at Beverley Youth Hostel for a weekend in south Yorkshire. The hostel is next to the Minster, pictured above, that regrettably we didn’t manage to find time to explore.

Most of us managed to congregate on Friday evening in a small room at the Tiger Inn, a rather jolly place with a small band filling the room next door.


On Saturday morning, Sue, Keith and I used Hull parkrun (report here) as an aperitif for a walk from Easington to Spurn Head and back.

There were about 24 of us on this 23 km stroll that involved less than 30 metres ascent! We started from outside All Saints Church in Easington, a tedious drive from Hull.

The church was apparently built on Saxon footings and contains the remains of various nearby church yards that have been taken by the sea on this heavily eroded coastline.


We were soon romping along beside Easington Clays and the Mouth of the Humber. Carol looked a bit weighed down, and we soon discovered the reason. Ken had kindly made up some bacon and sausage butties for the runners who had failed earlier to take full advantage of his full English breakfast. Thanks both, that was delicious.


The birds don’t come out very well in the next picture, but there were flocks of Knot, Dunlin and Turnstones, and a few Oyster Catchers – and probably many more.


If you click on the next picture you’ll see an array of offshore wind turbines beyond the remains of an old jetty.


The lighthouse is in active use next to this busy waterway.

 
Lunch was taken on the sands at Spurn Head, beyond the Pilot Station.

 
No doubt pilots are needed to assist huge vessels like this one.

 
It was a completely flat walk, but nevertheless quite tiring through the soft sand.

 
 
We returned more or less the way we had come, apart from a tedious section of dead straight roadway at the end, passing St Helen’s Church on the way. This appears to be a private dwelling, and a nearby notice asserts that since 14 December 2018 it has been deemed to be a building of special or historical interest and must not be altered without permission. Perhaps it will just be left to fall down.

 
Here’s our 23 km route. An interesting walk, but one that we are unlikely to repeat.

 
Sunday dawned sunny, again, but with a brisk, cold wind.

The hostel car park apparently has room for six vehicles. Or so they say.

 
Today Ken had it easy – his European breakfast was a little easier to assemble than his English variety, but was just as tasty.

 
You get a good view of the Minster from the hostel grounds – the next two pictures, the second featuring the hostel, were taken from the same place.


 
Then most of us headed off to Fridaythorpe, with some cars being abandoned in Bishop Wilton, enabling us to enjoy an 18 km stroll from point to point in the Yorkshire Wolds.

Some of us waited for nearly an hour by the village green whilst others faffed with their cars. Not to worry, we had plenty of time, and there was a convenient shelter to wait out of the cold wind with the view below.

 
I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I visited the Yorkshire Wolds. They house pleasant dales like the one shown below – Horse Dale.


 
Today there were quite a few undulations. Here we are approaching Cow Dale.

 
Primroses were nicely in flower near Huggate.


 
For much of the day we followed the well signposted Yorkshire Wolds Way footpath, passing this fine marker post near York Lane.

 
With seventeen of us on the walk, including Tom, frequent pauses were needed to allow the backmarkers to catch up. Here we all managed to assemble at Pocklington Lane.

 
A bit further on, all seventeen of us sheltered behind a gorse bush in order to enjoy lunch out of the wind. Pork pie, cheese and tomato butties, boiled eggs, brownies and chocolate caramel shortbread were nicely washed down with our flask of tea.

 
After that, tiring bodies were hauled up Sylvan Dale.


 
Then we deserted the Yorkshire Wolds Way in favour of the Minster Way. There are lots of named walking routes hereabouts. The Minster Way led us down to the outskirt of the village of Millington.

 
Pleasant paths drew us past the isolated church pictured below, and through Great Givendale, towards our final destination.

 
The following image of walkers ignoring the Fleece Inn at Bishop Wilton is a bit misleading. Only the drivers walked past the pub, as they had to be taken back to Fridaythorpe. The rest stayed ensconced in the pub for a few minutes whilst their steeds were recovered.

 
From the same position as the last image, the view of Bishop Wilton village seems to me to be reminiscent of Hutton-le-Hole, further north.

 
Here’s the route – 18 km with about 450 metres ascent. A very pleasant outing that took about 4.5 hours and left us with plenty of time to get home for tea.

 
Thanks again to Sue W for organising another excellent weekend.

Remember to click on an image in order to display a slideshow at the foot of the screen.

PS Special thanks to Sue B for providing some of the photos.