Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Friday 2 January 2009

Thursday 1 January 2009 - Hoar Frost on The Sandstone Trail

0106hoar Happy New Year!

A short drive in freezing conditions to the Candle Workshops at Higher Burwardsley (SJ 521 563) saw Sue and I setting off on a circuit involving the Sandstone Trail, by 10.30, along with an assortment of unconnected folk, mostly with frisky dogs to exercise.  Especially the one that arrived in the back of a pick-up truck, dribbling a six inch icicle.

Hoar frost dominated the day.  Sadly a lack of sunshine led to monochromatic views.  It was however beautiful.  We encountered locals who said they had never experienced quite this level of frost on the trees, which appeared as if in full white foliage.  It was chilly.  There had obviously been repeated hoar frosts over a day or two, as for a lot of the time our path was thick with the white crystals that made it look as if there had been a light covering of snow.  But it was just frost.

There were lots of people out.  Someone had obviously celebrated the New Year at Rawhead, at all of 227 metres our high point for today and the highest point on the 34 mile Sandstone Trail - and had left their empty 'Asti' bottle on the trig point.  So they were cheapskates as well as litter louts!  The bottle is now being recycled, and today in Timperley we saw someone else selflessly clearing discarded beer cans from beside the canal towpath.  Start as we mean to continue, this year...

Bickerton Hill, the site of one of our memorable summer evening BBQs was donated to the National Trust by the Wheeldon family.  There's a commemorative plaque with some poetry - I'll save that for a future posting on an uneventful day so, dear reader, you are spared for now!0104plaque Hopefully, unlike the Ellerside Ridge near Cartmel, this place is not threatened by the 'march of the wind turbines'.  We enjoyed a fine picnic, our first of the year, involving smoked salmon and other delicacies.0107picnic New Year's Day always seems to have the air of a fresh start, and today was no exception.  Almost everyone we encountered was up for a chat.  Whilst we were out for a walk on our own, it really did feel most sociable.

As usual, I started a list of birds for the new year.  This always gets started but doesn't progress far.  Today we saw buzzards, huge flocks of chaffinches and starlings, great tit, blue tit, greenfinch, wren, heron, carrion crow, blackbird, thrush (not sure which sort) sparrows (ditto), numerous robins, feral pigeons, wood pigeons, pheasants and magpies.  And due to our speed of passage we probably missed a lot more.

The photos are all very similar, but here are a few more images, below which is an outline of our 15 km route, which included 550 metres of ascent and took us a brisk 3½ hours, including stops. 0110woods 0109pine0111house 0105ivy0108berries 0112hill 0103route

New Year's Eve Royalty

Princess Kate and Prince Andrew were our hosts for New Year's Eve and are responsible for my aching shoulders, as they had a Wii for Christmas....!
Thanks for a lovely evening and a feast fit for a King.

Thursday 1 January 2009

A New Year's Eve Engagement

0101katesimon Congratulations to Kate, and to Simon who chose to prostrate himself in front of my daughter in the last hours of 2008.

Our very best wishes go to you both.  2009 is off to a great start...

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Saturday 27 December 2008 - Cartmel and the Ellerside Ridge

2702priory This was our last walk of the year.  It was fitting that the sun beamed down on us all day from a clear blue sky, leaving us - despite the cold - with our abiding memory of this year...

A Year of Constant Summer.

We can only hope for (but don't expect) the same next year.

I notice Martin Rye is being complimented on his gear reviews.  We are pleased not to have been serious testers of gear (though we are available as such) this year, as we would have struggled to achieve much proper testing.

That said, I have the following observations:

1.  Innov8 Roclite shoes - fell apart after less than 300 km of gentle use.
2.  Waterproofs - not really tested despite our having been 'out' for around 150 days this year.
3.  Terra Nova Hyperspace tent - withstood strong gales - I feel it was tested despite only being used in anger on two nights.
4.  Hilleberg Nallo tent - now 4½ years old, used for 100+ nights in Scotland, Pyrenees and Alps.  Still not 'tested' by the weather.  An excellent tent nevertheless.
5.  Hi-Tec Altitude Ultra boots (courtesy of WD and Hi-Tec) - I am testing these and their low weight and extreme comfort have created a very good impression so far.  Maybe soon I'll get a chance to test their waterproof qualities.

A fuller review of some of the kit we used this year may follow when time permits.

Cartmel was reached by 10am.  There were plenty of parking spaces in the village, making for an easy rendezvous with Nick and Daniela, with time to wander in the grounds of the impressive Priory (above) before enjoying coffees in the 'tea shop'.  The owners hoped we would be the first of many customers today.

A stroll through the quiet village, past several hostelries, led us to the unlikely site of a racecourse.  It hosts an annual horse racing meeting which must transform the normally tranquil village into the scene and atmosphere of a splendid carnival.

In today's sub-zero temperatures we strolled briskly on, past the fields of Seven Acres Farm and into Lane Park Wood.  On and on, missing our planned turn right up the path that the 'Cumbria Coastal Way' shares with the 'Cistercian Way'. 

I blame Daniela - she was chatty as ever.  Not to worry though, she and Nick were savouring this rare taste of English countryside before their imminent return to Shanghai, where Nick has as tough a job as we can imagine.

It was easy to regain our route via a short stroll past Holker Hall up the B5278 road, then muddling our way along the vague forestry tracks around Long Scar.

Before long we found ourselves rising up to the Ellerside Ridge, where our high point for the day - at all of 170 metres - lay at a trig point slightly off the path at How Barrow.   We lingered here with tea and CCS for quite some time.  It was sunny, calm and very pleasant.  We had some lunch.  A tripod was found for some group photos.2703howbarrow  Striking poses were formed against the backdrop of the Coniston peaks and wide views of the Lake District, Morecambe Bay, and the Yorkshire Dales with Ingleborough's distinctive outline.

The ridge held fine views despite its diminutive stature.  Being outside the Lake District National Park, very few folk were around on this stunning day.  A fox scampered in front of us, and an ancient aircraft looped the loop in the distance.2705ellersideWe paused at length in an attempt to capture images of the ice crystals that, in the shade, were holding their form all day.2704crystals Turning along the right of way to Speel Bank Farm, the view east dominated.  Had we sported binoculars we may well have spied some 'lard' on Hutton Roof.  A dim horse at the farm tried to nibble our fingers.2706horse Our path took us up past a red deer reserve and through Collkield Wood, heading north to join a minor road at Grassgarth.  Whilst the surface was well frozen today, this short section of our stroll displayed evidence of the passage of many trail bikes that had devoured the frail paths.  Such a shame. (Actually, I think we may have missed the path here and descended on private land where trail bikes are allowed to roam.  Thankfully it was quiet today.)

A short way along the road a right turn along a dark bridleway led us into an area of forest devastation known as the Great Allotment.  The path passes small lakes and is clear and firm, leading in and out of woodland before emerging from the forest in an area that could call for waterproof footwear should the ground not be frozen.

With superb views south, we lingered here for second helpings of tea and lunch.

Paths, tracks and minor roads led on beyond Over Ridge, past tall pines with long shadows, and through narrow stiles and grassy fields to Wall Nook.2707pines Here we followed footpath signs but deviated from our planned return to Cartmel via Well Knowe.  We were distracted by a field of very large and attentive sheep.2709sheep Luckily, only I knew the plan, so nobody seemed bothered when we emerged onto a minor road at Croftside.

This lane led pleasantly back to the fleshpots of Cartmel, where throngs of visitors had filled the small village during our absence.  It was positively humming with activity.  A small boy overbalanced in his quest for fish, and plopped into the stream by the Kings Arms.  He made a fairly rapid, soggy, and no doubt shivery exit!

There's a 'sticky toffee pudding' shop here...irresistible, and well worth buying a jar of extra 'sauce'.

At 14 km, and with only 350 metres of ascent, this was indeed a short walk, but as we wound our way back to the tea shop, the low sun cast a final rosy glow over the 800 year old Priory before darkness fell.2708priory Here are a few more images from today's walk - an album of 34 images to supplement those above.

Here's an outline of our route. 2701route

And finally, as this is our last posting in 2008, Sue and I take this opportunity to wish all our readers our very best wishes for health and happiness, and even a few satisfying days out, in 2009 and beyond.  And if you'd like to join us tomorrow....we will be starting at about 10.30 from the Cheshire Workshops at Burwardsley - SJ 521 563 - for about a 15 km (9 mile) circular walk featuring the Peckforton Hills, Bickerton Hill and the Sandstone Trail.
We'll be taking butties for lunch, but also perhaps passing a hostelry.

Tuesday 30 December 2008

Boxing Day - 2008

A family occasion:2601boxing 2602enforcers2603brothers2
Enough to break the lens - I gave up at that point despite the plentiful ammunition.

I'm sure any readers will agree with my decision!

Christmas Day - 2008

We enjoyed a lovely day, with a walk by the Bridgewater Canal, a fine meal, and an enjoyable session with a pile of pressies next to the tree.....before sinking into oblivion.2501BridgewaterCanal






2504kate 2503XmasPresents
Grandma was there as well, but seems to have escaped from the viewfinder...

Wednesday 24 December 2008 - Styal Woods

2403styal1 The allure of 'a short stroll with a grandma' was enough to attract Rosemary and Lucy to these pages for the first time.  They usually lurk, unseen to the world at large, in a kitchen next to an Aga.

But today the sun was shining, the rendezvous at Twinnies Bridge was 11.30, and a finish in time to return home for lunch was promised.

A very small van that was dispensing 'real' coffee in the small car park, together with a ritual doling out of chocolate caramel shortbread, provided sustenance before we headed off through the National Trust woodland towards Styal Mill, closed today, but picturesque with the winter sun bathing the old mill's bricks with a soft glow.2405mill
A little circuit in Styal Country Park, beyond the mill, was sufficient for today, before returning via the mill car park and the field paths above the woodland.

2404lucy Lucy, a youngster, continued to pull on her lead all morning, this youth's tiredness being exhibited only by the increasing floppiness of her tail towards the end of the 5 km stroll.


2406patsyWe met Queen Patsy, resplendent in her posh carriage, and her family.




Dogs gossiped.

Humans gossiped.
"What is going on?" chorused the three stooges.

We were heading deep into the woods, following the cleft wrought by the River Bollin.  Who would have thought that jumbo jets were landing just a few metres away from this spot!
We eventually emerged from the woods to enjoy the easy walk across fields and back to Twinnies Bridge in good time to return home for lunch.