Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Friday, 4 December 2020

Zion National Park

There was no 'path' up this track in September 2003; we just walked up the river. That puts today's 'Water Meadow' experience in perspective!

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Sunday 14 December 2003 - A Christmas Walk from Bakewell

Here's another 'blast from the past'. My diary entry was pleasingly brief:

"Sunday 14/12/03 - Bakewell and Monsal Head circuit

Sue and I spotted Andrew as we drove through Bakewell at 9:45 am. Our arrangement to meet in the centre of town just about worked, as everyone seemed to assemble ok, but a rendezvous at the old station at Castle Hill (SK223689) maybe better in future.

The main car park is over the bridge to the right on the east bank of the River Wye; that would do. Anyway, by 10:15, Sue, Andrew, Graham, Tove, Sue, Phil, Mike Coldwell and GS had joined me for this year's Christmas walk. I had chosen Bakewell as the start point after many years of doing the walk from Tideswell, and whilst our day out was fine, the Tideswell route is better.

We joined the Monsal Trail for a 3.5 mile stroll (flat) to the Monsal Head Hotel, stopping only for a leisurely coffee and shortcake break at the old station behind Thornbridge Hall, a magnificent building that dominated our view on the route back to Bakewell, but it is hidden from the railway.

Getting to the pub at 11:45 was good for some (except that it was shut!). Whilst Andrew, Sue and I wandered down to the viaduct (unspectacular cloudy views),

the others gained entry and were installed in a couple of stalls (this used to be a milking barn) by the time we arrived back. 

We enjoyed an excellent lunch, as usual, in the soon overflowing room (early arrival is in fact essential!). 

Soon after 1:30 we escaped, after a discussion of future events rather than the traditional planning session, to a dull afternoon stroll back to Bakewell via Lees Bottom (Monsal Dale), Sheldon and Dirtlow Farm.

The walk out of Lees Bottom was steep, generating a long wait for GS, who has a bad knee.

The village of Sheldon looked very picturesque and homely, and soon afterwards we were passed by a fleet of Christmas tractors! I was, sadly, too slow with the camera. 

A cool breeze hurried us across the tops until we dipped down by some opencast workings and finished off our flask contents. 

Then on to the finish by 4 pm, just as the sun was setting.

Christmas farewells and a slow drive home."

Click on the image for a better version

Our route - shown above, was 16 km with 450 metres ascent. I wonder how long it will be this year...?

Sadly, this year's 'official' Christmas walk has had to be cancelled due to Covid. I'm sure we'll manage something though, even if it's just a handful of folk with sandwiches - it has been an annual event for around fifty years after all.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 45: 14 May 2013)

After a pleasant stay in Struy with Ali O and a chap called Charles, I had a relatively low level day over An Leacainn to Dochgarroch, where I expected to find a campsite. That was a misjudgment. There was no campsite. However, there was lots of flat grass, and some friendly Air Force cadets kindly lent me a key to the nearby Waterways toilets.

During the evening, I nearly destroyed the new tent. I was lighting my gas stove using a new fire steel. After several attempts I managed to light the stove and knock it over, all in one action. This resulted in an inferno in the enclosed porch of the tent. It was a bit like a mini version of a broken F1 car catching fire. How I managed to open the door and chuck out the fireball with minimal damage will forever remain a mystery!

The fire steel soon found its way into the black bin pictured behind my tent...

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Loch Lochy Sunset

I'm taking a break from time consuming blogging for a while due to a variety of constraints - not least my desire to keep out of Paul's way whilst he decorates our hall and landing etc (he starts tomorrow). So I won't have access to my usual blogging resources (eg computer) during the day.

I'll therefore try to find a picture from the archives every day, and I hope these will keep Dot happy!

Today's effort was taken on 3 January 2003, during a winter holiday near Roybridge.

Monday, 30 November 2020

The North West Highlands

At last week's funeral of Andrew's wife, Rosemary, there was a reading of a delightful 'prose poem' that gave a flavour of Rosemary's love of the North West Highlands:

Extracts from a prose poem posted from Red River Croft, Wester Ross, in the summer of 2016.

Midsummer: inner sounds and outer colours.

Annie O’Garra Worsley.

Since the summer solstice sunshine and showers have been passing quickly across the croft, hills and sea. The bright warmth of recent weeks still clings to the North West Highlands and the air is filled with countless trillions of tiny water droplets; when the sun bursts from behind the clouds they sparkle and dazzle, so all the world seems to be filled with effervescing light. 

Rainy days have come sharply and gone floodily, their showers soaking into the dry dusty ground and then releasing, in a shamanic sweep of aromas, the sap-green essences of growing and the black-peat juices of bog and hill. Breathe in and the mind fills with colour and scent, breathe out and the body releases its stress. 

Even when storm clouds and showers gathered across the Minch and Inner Sound hiding the horizon with dark, thunderous banks of cloud, the sea waters have glowed and pulsed with energy, eye-aching in their formidable beauty. As clouds and showers drifted north west they covered Skye and the Hebrides in drapery of mauve, indigo, and grey as if voile curtains were being pulled gently across by unseen hands, perhaps to shield the islands from the coruscating light. 

There is much magic in this elemental place; crystal-bright light is seeping into every living cell while myrtle-scented and resinous breezes swish around us all like balm. Land, sea and air are suffused with enchantment; it is hard not to become infused oneself and laugh with sheer pleasure of it all. 

The romance of midsummer will pass. This beautiful edgeland, where sky meets sea meets land in a maelstrom of inner sounds and outer colours, will quieten and soften. Although the nights will be high and white for a while longer, change is on the way; the days have begun to shorten and in a few short months these moonstone, mother-of-pearl and turquoise days will have diminished and I will rely on memory, photographs and paintings to bring them back.

It turns out that this prose was part of a blog entry from Annie's excellent blog, Red River Croft. Well worth a read.

Sue and I also love this part of the world, though in recent years we haven't got as far north as we would like. I have many memories of the area, including numerous sightings of sea otters.

The picture at the head of this posting is of Dave Oliver on Quinag, looking down to the Lochinver road on 22 March 2005. A picture of John Clark in the same spot in better light won me a photographic competition (and a shiny new Zenith camera) about 30 years earlier. That was on slide film that I must get around to scanning!

The picture below is of another favourite view of mountains lined up on the horizon - Canisp, Suilven, Cul Mor and Cul Beag, with Stac Pollaidh just out of view to the right..

What a wonderful part of the world...

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Friday 27 November 2020 - A Styal Circuit from Lindow Common

Graeme joined me on a dull morning for this excellent 11.5 km circuit from the small car park at Lindow Common in Wilmslow. Our route was very similar to the one that Paul and I enjoyed on 5 November, the detailed record of which is here.

We walked down to Twinnies Bridge, where the car park was overflowing, then beside the Bollin on the good path to Styal Mill, pictured above.

The owner's house has recently been restored, but I have yet to go round it. The Greg family lived right next to their mill, built in 1784 in the days when it's not a surprise to learn that other members of the family were involved in the slave trade. Samuel Greg's brother-in-law owned a slave ship, and his father and brother part owned sugar plantations in Dominica - one of which employed 139 slaves.

There's quite a contrast between today and the fifth of November regarding Styal woods. They were full of colour three weeks ago, but now the majority of leaves have fallen, and only Graeme's jacket significantly brightens the next two pictures.

We enjoyed a pleasant interlude with Ash - a friend of Graeme who used to be an expert pediatric surgeon - and his dog. Beyond the woods, with seasonal Cheshire mud underfoot, we took the path to the runway tunnel, beyond which mainly field paths led us back to our car park.

For more information, check the links in my 5 November posting. There's not much more to add here, apart from recording a pleasant, chatty morning in Graeme's good company that enabled the world to be put to rights.

Here's our route - 11.5 km with 150 metres ascent, taking us about three hours on this occasion.

Friday, 27 November 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 44: 12 May 2013)

The Strathfarrar Munro ridge was my target today, but poor weather scuppered that. I made do with going over the 693 metre summit of Beinn na Muice, from Monar Lodge, before setting up camp on not so welcoming ground near a waterfall at NH 234 401.

As can be seen from the picture below, taken at 8.30 the following morning, it had snowed overnight as far down as my spot at 350 metres.

After striking camp, I strolled down to the road and headed to the comfort of the Struy Hotel, and a pleasant evening with Ali Ogden.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Thursday 26 November 2020 - Hello from Timperley

This was a sad day as it was dominated by Andrew's wife Rosemary's funeral.

The service was lovely, with a reading from 'Midsummer', by Annie O'Garra Worsley, and 'An Evening Hour' by Pearlyn, all interspersed with lovely music.

Goodbye, Rosemary, you leave us with fond memories. 

The willow trees in de Quincy Park were weeping.

The study carpet is down, some files have been shelved, and I've managed by some miracle to reassemble the desk. But that's enough for one day, the computer is still languishing in a bedroom ..... resting. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Wednesday 25 November 2020 - A Cool Day in Timperley

It was a carpet and curtain fitting day today, before which a (not)parkrun in the rain, featuring an unusually quiet towpath - pictured above.

In between fittings we managed a delivery of Chardonnay chicken to Mike and Sarah in Didsbury, by which time the weather in Fletcher Moss Park had decidedly improved, though the bikes needed a good hose down once we got back.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Tuesday 24 November 2020 - Around Great Budworth

Today's morning stroll took Sue and me the short drive to Great Budworth, for an outing in familiar surroundings. 

We followed the route suggested by Jen Darling in her 'Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral' book, noting 'edits' for Jen's next updated edition.

Budworth Mere soon came into view after we left Budworth Lane. (Top picture.)

After some fairly muddy fields, we crossed a minor road and headed across Cogshall Brook. Jen describes the bridge as 'well made'. That description couldn't be applied to it on our last visit on 23 November 2018, when we struggled over a health and safety fence rather than wade the brook. Since then the bridge (thankfully) has been replaced by a sturdy structure that I omitted to record on film.

The next section, on a field path in view of Claycroft Farm, follows a narrow strip of earth/mud through a newly planted field. Apparently the prescribed width of a public footpath is one metre.

Be thankful for small mercies - quite a few Cheshire farmers would have ploughed the whole field, making progress difficult for any walker.

From now on there was much less mud. We dropped down to the Anderton Boat Lift. No evidence of it operating today, and the Visitor Centre was closed.

As we continued towards Anderton Marina, a kingfisher flashed past us. There was more bird life in evidence as we continued towards Marbury Country Park.

There's a run off from the canal, by Jackson's Turn cottage, that drops steeply down to Marbury Brook. 

Access to Marbury Country Park is via an elegant black and white bridge.

We continued along the towpath, pausing for coffee etc on a bench near a mile post that was replaced in 1980.

I'm not sure what the residents of the barge moored next to the bench thought of our presence, and our conversations with other towpath users, but they seemed to have been stimulated into getting dressed!

After more pleasant towpath strolling, we reached the village of Marston, where there are pubs (closed) and the derelict remains of the Lion Salt Works. This was the only place still producing salt by the 'open pan' method, until it went bankrupt in 1986.

Pictured below, on the left the site of the salt store, and a final view of the Trent & Mersey Canal.

From Ollershaw Lane, it's a straightforward walk through a series of not so muddy fields,  to reach the A559 road and then a footpath into Great Budworth, arriving there behind the church.

En route, a 'relic’.

Also en route, a view to Great Budworth across a rather mangled field.

Sue insisted that I pose for a picture beside the stocks.

The George and Dragon dates from 1722, so it shouldn't have a problem getting through the current pandemic. Other walkers and cyclists were happily enjoying their packed lunches on the picnic tables outside the closed pub, as you do these days.

Our 10 km walk concluded with a stroll through the pretty village and back to the car, which got us back home for lunch.

Here's a Viewranger screen dump that overlays the route taken over the route I plotted last night.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Great Grandma Goes on Tour (23/11/20)

And she thrashed us at cards afterwards!

Sunday, 22 November 2020

5 to 7 December 2003 - Don and Liz's 'Century Wedding Weekend'

This is an entry that will bring back a few memories. For that reason I've included most of the weekend's pictures, though many are of inferior quality. Click on any of them for a better version/slideshow.

It's 17 years ago. How time flies! I was coming to the end of my days as an employee of Grant Thornton and was only working part time, but I was still too busy to write up this trip until I found myself on my own in a restaurant in Cambridge over a week later. Here's my contemporaneous report. I do remember taking my notebook into the restaurant.

"It's now 16 December and we are again behind with diary entries. I am unexpectedly alone in the Varsity Restaurant in Cambridge. I'm here to carry out a review of the procedures and compliance in our Cambridge office. My two colleagues have found excuses to avoid joining me. Barbara has left early for a children's play, and Malcolm (Malcolm Shierson - colleague/boss for many years, died of cancer in 2019) didn't arrive due to a new big job in London. (What's new?) So at last I have time to commit pen to paper.

Back to 5 December. Sue and I got a sensibly early 3:15 start from Tesco's in Wythenshawe, and had a very easy run compared with Sue's recent effort to get to the Kendal Mountain Film Festival. Reached Helvellyn Youth Hostel at 5:15 to find Andrew already installed. After a very leisurely brew, we got installed in our twin room (not en-suite, but only £10.50 a night each).

Then - getting on for 7 pm and still no other arrivals - we strolled down to the pub. Here, an excellent meal was served in very cosy surroundings. Promise of a good weekend. After a while Don and Liz turned up, then Maryvic, then Dave Oliver and others. A pleasant evening, then a nice stroll in the moonlight back up the road.

Saturday 6 December

Though up leisurely, Sue and I were ahead of most people. We joined Andrew as the only people to eat a hostel breakfast. We were ready well before 10 am, and Mary and others set off.

Top picture - getting ready to leave the hostel; above - the hostel team

Reluctant to be waiting too long on the top of Helvellyn on a cool, breezy day in December, Sue and I held back and sauntered along with the slow brigade on a rather strange route up to Striding Edge - we contoured above the hostel before joining a major path and going to 'Hole in the Wall', before puristically sticking to the high point of the ridge to reach the summit.

Glenridding Beck

The view back to Glenridding

Hole in the Wall
The next few pictures were taken during the ascent of Striding Edge

Don and Dave

Heavily laden Don and Liz approach the summit windbreak

A view from the summit of Helvellyn

The summit was reached spot on as planned, at 1 pm. There were over 20 of us including Dave and Linda Kitto (the first time they have left their children, 17 and 15, for a night - they arrived this morning) and we had soon completely taken over the summit shelter windbreak.

Luckily, Mary and co were still there; they spent an hour on the top and it wasn't warm.

The champagne was opened...

On the ascent I had noticed Liz being very laden and a little pensive. She blamed the champagne in her rucksack. I had champagne also but I was not pensive. Liz was lying! 

Glasses (plastic beakers) in hand, we all supped merrily. Then Liz ('The Boss') called everyone to attention. About 50 people turned to face her. The 20 or so in our party then received her address: 

"You thought you were here to celebrate Don and my Century Birthday" (they were both 50 in November - she rambled on about the dates) "but we are also here for another purpose - to celebrate our marriage last Monday." She then explained that they had got married on 1st of December, about 16 days after Don's divorce came through. 

And with that weight off her mind, Liz produced the extra weight (that had been masquerading as champagne) out of her rucksack - a wedding cake. 

Mouths gaped as we ate our lunches and drank our champagne and ate cake. The party continued unabated.

Eventually people started to drift off. It was cold. Most went down Swirral Edge, but Sue, Dave, Linda and Andrew joined me to descend via Raise and Sticks Pass.

The path to Raise

On the summit of Raise

Back down before dark, we encountered the search and rescue dogs that had apparently fully booked Patterdale YH. And so to an enjoyable and leisurely evening in good company with a nice meal - produced by the hostel for £8.50. 

Dave and Linda

Here's our approximate route - 12 km with 850 metres ascent.

Sunday 7 December

A lovely day for a walk from the east of Scales up Mousthwaite Comb, with a break on the edge of Scales Fell and another below Brunt Knott, in bright sunshine, before scrambling up Sharp Edge and onto the summit of Blencathra. Descent by Knowe Crags and a late afternoon stroll along the foot of the fell past Threlkeld.

Ascending Scales Fell to Brunt Knott

Lunch below Brunt Knott

On the walk were me, Sue, Dave, Linda, Andrew, Dave, Barry (71), Don and Liz.

The highlights were:

·        lounging in the sun below Brunt Knott;

·        that was after a very, very leisurely start - 11 am before we started walking, with superb views from the road over the top, partly behind a very fast vintage Bentley sports car;

·        Linda's ascent of Sharp Edge. Unfortunately she followed Sue up the last section, which brought her to tears as she had promised her paranoid daughter to 'take care'. She was very quick!

·        lingering on the summit in the warm sunshine.

Don and Liz on Sharp Edge

Andrew on Sharp Edge

It's a steep scramble

On the summit of Blencathra

Descending in the afternoon sunlight

After Andrew, Don and Liz had taken the short direct route down, the rest of us ambled gently, with a full moon rising from around the edge of Blencathra as the sun set behind us. We finished as it was getting dark, then Sue and I went into Keswick to meet Don and Liz at the Lemon and Lime cafe, which would also be good for an evening meal. They eschewed fish and chips, so we at them in the car before returning home after the traffic had cleared."

Here's our approximate route - 12 km with 850 metres ascent. (The same as the previous day.)