Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Friday, 27 May 2022

Friday 27 May 2022 - The End of Another TGO Challenge

Another walk to the fruit farm found us trying to identify the hedgerow flowers:
Germander speedwell
Wild pansy
Not pictured:
White clover
Birdsfoot Trefoil 
Mouse-ear chickweed
Red campion 
Bush vetch
White campion 
Ribwort plantain
Field chickweed
Common daisy 
Scots broom
Common hawthorn
Cow parsley
Tuberous comfrey
Field forget-me-not 
Bulbous buttercup
Red stem storksbill

The fruit farm's cafe was quiet this morning, until half a dozen Challengers, led by Rob Slade, erupted from the gloomy interior.

The group disappeared into the jungle at the end of a dead end track, whilst Sue and I sourced some strawberry punnets to bring back to Control.

We had got ahead of the errant party by the time they reached Kinnaber Links, on the top of a huge sand dune. Photos were taken.

Then, the closest you can get to a scree run in the UK these days.

More photos with everyone's camera except mine, then Sue took this picture of me and Rob marching up the beach towards Montrose.

Then more socialising with many good friends, old and new, and the final dinner of the event.

Graham receives an award for his 30th crossing.

Heather celebrates her 10th crossing.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Thursday 26 May 2022 - Charleton Fruit Farm

Sue and I took a 5km stroll to the fruit farm, past some of the devastation caused by winter winds.

It was warm enough to sit outside with our coffees and strawberry tarts. Delicious as always.

An assortment of TGO Challengers arrived from North Water Bridge to brighten our day.

We walked with a few folk - Kevin, Emma, Barry, Louise, Ester and Ian, to the beach at Kinnaber Links, where they celebrated by dipping their toes in the sea and finishing off Ian's whisky.

Then it was a stroll back to the Park Hotel in increasing wind, to meet with other Challengers before enjoying a superb meal at the hard to find Ma Yom Thai restaurant.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Wednesday 25 May 2022 - Braemar to Montrose

Today's two hour drive from Thornbank Cottage in Braemar to the Park Hotel in Montrose was punctuated by a two hour break in Drumoak by way of a surprise visit to Bill and Sal, who we thank for providing an excellent lunch. It was great to see them  and we hope their imminent new kitchen looks as good in real life as it does pictured on Bill's phone.

The Park Hotel, believe it or not, is next to a park...

We enjoyed a short walk after communing with an assortment of TGO Challengers, some manning Control, some visiting like us, some hanging on after dropping out, and some even having succeeded in walking from coast to coast!

It was good to bump into the 'founder' of the event, Hamish Brown, forever scanning the horizon for finishers at Scurdie Ness.

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Tuesday 24 May 2022 - Derry Cairngorm

On a fine morning Sue and I drove to the Linn of Dee, jumped on our bikes, and pedalled about 5km up the track to Derry Lodge.

Abandoning our bikes, we crossed a new footbridge and headed up the excellent path that leads after another 6km or so to the summit of Derry Cairngorm. 

We passed a couple who were maintaining the path together with their two lovely dogs, then paused for elevenses in view of our objective.

The minor (890 metres) summit of Carn Crom was soon reached, yielding fine views across the length and breadth of the Cairngorm plateau and beyond.

There wasn't much flora and fauna to admire, but as we continued to our objective skylarks and wheatears made their presence known, and increasing amounts of alpine azalea were encountered underfoot. Lower down, bearberry and bog asphodel had established homes in the thin soil.

Here's a view towards Ben Macdui from the summit - the last picture I took as afternoon showers made their presence felt. A couple of Dutch backpackers arrived as we were enjoying our lunch on the summit, and we met another backpacker later as we descended back to base. 

Monday, 23 May 2022

Monday 23 May 2022 - Beinn a Bhuird North Top

Another bike ride took us past a family of hares near Mar Lodge then up Glen Quoich to the foot of a gentle climb to the North Top of Beinn a Bhuird, one of Sue's hitherto unclimbed Munros.

Simon having gone home last night, it was just Sue and Alastair and me today, and I didn't plan on doing anything more than the bike ride. I took a wrong option beside the river and finished up well behind the others. But I decided to continue on foot in the nice weather and got to the top in time for lunch. But my lunch had been left far below by the river as I'd not been expected at the summit!

There's still quite a bit of snow on the high summits of the Cairngorms.

A couple of rain showers during the descent led to brief concerns about the level of water in the river, but even Sue was able to get across without wetting her feet!

Our return to the car was varied from the ascent by way of a visit to the Linn of Quoich.

Then Alastair went to his dad's in Yorkshire and Sue and I entertained John Enoch, one of my TGO Challenge vettees, who happens to be staying at the campsite tonight. He is on schedule, and we enjoyed a very pleasant evening with him.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Sunday 22 May 2022 - A bike ride and Creag Choinnich

Alastair and Simon joined us here at Thornbank Cottage last night. Today we cycled about 6 miles up Glen Ey. I cycled back down as the weather looked bleak. The others climbed Beinn Iutharn Moor.

Back in Braemar after an enjoyable bike ride, I went for a short (6 km) stroll up nearby Creag Choinnich. There was a fine view down to Braemar from the summit.

My route took me to the Lion's Face, which I assume is the slab of rock pictured below.

Then we reconvened at Thornbank in expectation of a good meal at Farquesons before Simon goes home.

(Brief entries just now - no WiFi, poor phone signal, etc. I'll edit and add more photos when back at home.)

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Saturday 21 May 2022 - Penrith parkrun, and a trip to Braemar

Sue and I enjoyed Penrith parkrun this morning before heading up to Braemar. 

After a short Deeside stroll, we bumped into a few TGO Challengers.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Wednesday 18 May 2022 - Cicerone Lancashire Walk 29: Great Hameldon Hill from Accrington

This was another 'Cicerone Lancashire' walk before exercising Oscar - see previous posting.

There's plenty of free parking in the centre of Accrington, from where I soon found my way to St James's church and some smart memorial benches and a plaque.

The 'Accrington Pals' were members of a volunteer battalion that suffered huge losses in the battle of the Somme in July 1916. This walk was littered with monuments to their bravery.

The market building's facade is impressive, but a chap I met bemoaned the current situation whereby rents are not sufficiently low to attract vendors, so the market is not thriving.

Mark Sutcliffe's route description is a bit vague, but it's easy enough to locate Burnley Road, which I joined outside the Broadway pub.

I soon passed St John's church, where a farewell service was held for the Accrington Pals in February 1915 when they were sent to new quarters in Caernarfon.

This part of Accrington is home to streets of two-up two-down houses that were presumably built for mill workers. Elsewhere, towards the end of the walk, I passed through some smart, modern housing areas, especially near Laund Clough.

After passing around a busy school via Alice Street and Turkey Street, I passed the Peel Park pub, beyond which woodland beckoned.

The path zigzagged uphill to a viewpoint that could be reached by a variety of paths, which were today lined by mixed woodland and verges full of Garlic Mustard and Cow Parsley.

This was Peel Park and the Coppice, a local nature reserve. Whilst the centre of Accrington may be starved of funds to smarten it up, the budget seems to have run to some new signage in the nature reserve - probably a different budget?

Beside the monument was a chap with two pug dogs. We discussed recent controversy re pugs. He had decided not to use them for breeding. One had cost him £1000, the other nothing. I enjoyed a coffee on the bench in front of the monument that commemorates the donation of the Coppice land by William Peel to the people of Accrington. Swallows harvested the air. Apparently the 'Pals' trained here in 1915 before heading for the front. Mark says there's a map on top of the monument that explains the views, but vandals have destroyed that. Maybe a replacement is planned, to go along with the other new signage.

Here's the view across Accrington from the bench - I won't attempt to describe it, but I suspect BC may know all the landmarks as I think the view may be towards his home near Preston.

A little further along the path is an unobtrusive trig point.

Past more dog walkers, a runner and a cyclist doing laps of a bridleway route, and I walked high above the A56 as the path turned right and gained views across a buttercup field and some small ponds.

An underpass saw me safely across the busy A56 road. I saw nobody until after I'd re-crossed the road a couple of hours later.

Before reaching a farm I turned left through a wooden gate (not a stile, as Mark describes) and rose to a stone stile, on the far side of which are a couple of poems on pieces of slate, one of which has unfortunately broken. (Click on the image for a better version.)

Looking back to the stile, I should have proceeded half right, to take a path to the north of Moleside Moor.

Instead, I took an obvious path that skirted the southern slopes of Moleside Moor and rejoined Mark's route at the start of a very boggy, pathless, ascent of Great Hameldon Hill (409 metres).

The route was very boggy, with tussocks not really big enough to be of much help. I'd noticed the 'bog' description when reading Mark's notes on the route, and my boots had been stashed in our porch. Unfortunately they never made it to the car, so my Keen Targhee trail shoes were seriously tested. They passed with flying colours - I was really surprised to rise out of a zone of bog and cotton grass onto an area of bilberries and wheatears below the summit, with perfectly dry feet.

There were extensive views here, with both the Peel Tower and Darwen's Jubilee Tower clearly visible.

The descent via the southern slopes to May Road Well was slightly easier, with the same tussocky conditions but not quite so much bog. Beyond that, a grassy path led past a drained reservoir, next to which I paused for elevenses, using the TGO Challenge mug that should really be crossing Scotland just now. At least I was able to get out for a good walk today. It was a pleasure to laze below singing skylarks and harrassed buzzards.

Soon I turned left down a bridleway reminiscent of the Pennine Bridleway. The cobbles really do encourage the use of a bike with full suspension if you were to cycle along here.

Before re-crossing the A56, lined with Bush Vetch and Ribwort Plantain, and reaching more urban scenery, I took a look back to the embankment holding back the Mitchell's House Reservoirs.

I followed Mark's route past verges of Lady's Smock, Buttercups, Clovers and Dandelions, to Meadow Top Farm, where the farmer told me the path had been re-routed to the left of the farm and a wooden stile leading to the golf course. Here's the view back to the farm from the golf course side.

I then went down past the Club House, eventually emerging into a housing estate. The path here was signed as the 'Jubilee Walk'. I don't know what gives the golf club the right to block a nearby public footpath. Walkers are clearly not welcome here. Luckily that path was off my route.

Mark's route describes using a footpath through Laund Clough woodland. There are two paths off Southwood Drive to choose from, the one on the left is the one intended to be used, the one on the right, signed 'Laund Clough' is the one I took. It's a lovely section of woodland, from which I exited and found my way up to the Art Gallery.

I'd planned to visit the gallery, but it didn't open until noon, so I was too early, even after chatting with another chap who had two pug dogs (I think they look horrible, but they seem to be good natured animals), and eating my lunch.

The gallery is in Haworth Park, where another monument in memory of the Pals has been constructed.

Descending into Accrington after exiting Haworth Park soon brought me to Oakhill Park, and a huge stone obelisk in memory of... yes, you guessed it ... The Pals, and the town's fallen in other wars.

From this park, where there's a large stage at the bottom of a grassy amphitheatre, there's a good view across to the summit to reach which I'd earlier beaten my way through the bog.

A short stroll then returned me to the car, and thence a trip to Bacup for dog walking with Oscar and Kate.

Here's my route - not quite as described by Mark Sutcliffe - about 13.5 km, with 350 metres ascent, taking me around 4 hours including breaks.

I know that BC has already walked and reported on this route. I deliberately left re-reading his blog entry until I'd written this piece. BC's excellent take on the same walk is here, and is well worth reading, as he visited the gallery and he provides more historical information of interest.