Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Friday 13 November 2009

Thursday 12 November 2009 – A Winter Circuit from Alstonefield

Blue skies greeted this Timperley resident this morning.  So he leapt into the car and sidled off to Alstonefield, where three free car parks buck the trend of expensive ‘Pay and Display’ in the Peak District.

Alstonefield Parish Church

After setting off at 9.20 past the church in cool sunshine, I slid down dew laden paths to Milldale, whilst the mist rolled in.

By the time I emerged onto the Tissington Trail, the conditions were distinctly ‘atmospheric’.

On the Tissington Trail

Leaving the Trail, after chattering to Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds and Goldfinches, I headed towards sunlit Biggin, but failed to catch much of the sunlight as cloud from the next weather front imperceptibly rolled in to replace the mist.

It was only 11.30 – the doors of the Waterloo Inn were still shut.  I would have to wait for a taste of Stuart’s Black Sheep bitter.

Waterloo Inn - Biggin-by-Hartington

A good track led past this lovingly reconstructed dry stone wall.

A newly renovated dry stone wall

Soon the view down to Wolfscote Dale revealed a very Autumnal scene, with the remaining foliage mainly very yellowy and ready to drop, as it is in Timperley.

Looking down to Wolfscote Dale

Mallards on the River Dove were being hassled by a pair of Goosander, but this Dipper, and a rather scruffy Heron (maybe it was trying to stay warm) were very much minding their own business.

Dipper Heron

Wolfscote is a popular dale.  After seeing virtually nobody for three hours, I met a procession of folk heading for a late lunch in Hartington.

The sun had disappeared long before I reached my crossing point – Gipsy Bank Bridge.  Gipsy Bank, just beyond, is a bit of a haul…

Gipsy Bank Bridge

At the top of the hill a Raven sat on a fence post, (‘pruk’, ‘pruk’), watching a field of munching cattle that were clearly aware of the direction of the prevailing weather.

Belted cows

But the rain kept off until after I had passed the Alstonefield Dinosaur on my way back to reach the car by soon after 1 pm.

The Alstonefield Dinosaur

It’s a 17 km route, with 560 metres ascent, for which you should allow around four hours.

The 17 km route has 560 metres of ascent

I took a few more snaps – there’s a (admittedly pretty ordinary) slide show with 30 pictures here.

Anyone wishing to join us on a re-run of this walk should meet outside the small car park by the public toilets in Alstonefield at 10.00 am on Sunday 13 December.  Lunch has been booked at the Waterloo Inn, so you need to contact me in advance (use the ‘Contact us’ button here) to get menu details and make a choice.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Tuesday 10 November 2009 – Settle to Malham and back

After yesterday’s sunshine, Mike Knipe and I braved the morning dreichness to rendezvous in Settle.  Booth’s car park was a suitable rendezvous point, but in the absence of a café therein we wandered up the street to a deserted looking ‘Poppies’ café.  The coffee was good, and seated in the far corner were some familiar faces – John Towers and his wife.  ‘Out of context’ (ie not on the TGO Challenge) Mike and I were greeted by baffled looks, as if we had just arrived from the moon!  John’s twin brother David soon arrived, and he and Mike burbled on for a while about their forthcoming 20th and 10th Challenges respectively, before Mike and I released ourselves into the misty atmosphere and rescued Bruno (Superdawg) from beneath a picnic table.

During our sojourn in the café the light rain had ceased, so we enjoyed a dry stroll to Malham and back, albeit in rather seriously overcastness.

Bruno took delight in being out on the hill, dragging his master up the path out of Settle.

Bruno leads Mike out of Settle

The town remained in a November pall of smoke tainted vapour.

The town of Settle was shrouded in mist 
Up at Attermire, Mike pointed out some iron debris that he claimed had been used in wartime anti tank testing.

Passing by Attermire, with debris

If they were testing the ‘bullets’, they passed, but if they were testing the armour plating – I’m sorry, but it failed!

Debris from wartime tank testing, according to Mike

Mike enjoyed one of his customary mid-morning snacks….

Does this man have a nick-name?

…before diving down a cave.  There are many caves in this area – you are reprieved from my intended discourse on the ones we passed, due to the ‘Malham and Penyghent’ volume of ‘Northern Caves’ being ‘in preparation’ during my ‘caving phase’, so I’ll leave any extra information to Mike*.  We did get quite muddy, though, and Bruno the cave dog was pleased to return to the surface as he hadn’t been provided with a lamp.

We probably managed just 10-15 metres down here, Miner’s Hole – in the vicinity of Pikedaw Calamine caverns, where gritstone meets limestone to provide numerous underground cave systems.

Bruno gets cold feet in a cave

We passed a manhole cover under which a 23 metre ladder – about 9 inches wide, disappeared into the murky depths of a bell shaped cavern.  Bruno declined the invitation to go down this, and a few minutes later decided he didn’t want to fetch this pair of electrically powered boots that had been put on a ‘washing line’ high above the path.

Someone else has cold feet

The Buck Inn welcomed us in, mud, dog and even Mike, to its warm interior and an excellent dose of Skipton Brewery’s Copper Kettle bitter.  Here we met another group of ramblers – virtually the only folk we saw all day.

After stumbling off for more pies, we approached the magnificent rock wall of Malham Cove.  Mike fantasized about the waterfall that must once have flowed over here, and about his previous life as a mountaineer, when he climbed here.

Malham Cove

Today we climbed it by a different route, as Bruno had forgotten the rope, though he did lead his boss over some quite difficult terrain when he got the chance.

A 'stylish' dog

A fair part of the afternoon was spent on a well surfaced track that led from Langscar Gate, to the north of Langcliffe Scar, all the way to Jubilee Cave and beyond, whence we took a slithery footpath above Langcliffe, heading for the rapidly brightening lamps of Settle.

Returning to Settle in gathering gloom

Here’s an outline of our 23 km route, with 830 metres ascent, taking around 7 hours, including some nice long breaks.

An excellent day out.  Thanks for your company, Mike. 

[Mike’s take on today’s walk, using the same photos but different text, is here.]

Our route, 23 km, 830 metres ascent, 7 hours

I believe we may meet again on Sunday 15 November for a walk up The Calf – meet at SD 698 969 at 9.30 am – all welcome.

* There’s no escape – Mike has emailed the cave data:

”Just to confirm the names and statistics of the caves on yesterday’s ramble:
The first one, which I thought was Spider Cave is actually Bivi Cave Grade 1 10 feet.
Pikedaw Calamine Caverns is 3200 feet Grade 2. The entrance pitch is 75 feet and there are several caverns : Cavern 84, Cavern 44 Cavern 104, The Great Shake, Mitchell's Cavern and an unnamed cavern containing the entrance pitch.
Miners Hole 240 feet Grade 2 (higher grade due to  crawls).
Jubilee Cave 300 feet Grade 1 - is actually 3 adjacent caves - excavations  found neolithic and celtic archeology.”

Monday 9 November 2009

Autumn Sunshine in Timperley

The Bridgewater Canal, with Marsland Bridge, on 9 November 2009Well, after many overcast days, we at last enjoyed wall to wall sunshine today.

Shame it was an ‘admin’ day.

Sunday 8 November 2009 – A Circuit from Burtonwood

I popped out for a stroll on a gloomy Sunday morning.  At least the rain kept off, though judging by the motorway spray it could have been chucking it down.

From the deserted car park of the Chapel House pub in the nondescript village of Burtonwood, where lots of smartly dressed middle aged folk were engaged in Remembrance Day activities, I headed across sodden fields towards the M62, beckoned by the distinctive outline of the Burtonwood Services building, and a large ‘IKEA’ sign.

The paths appeared rarely walked and were deserted today.  I bimbled on past broken signs and piles of rubbish (being close to Liverpool!), across fields planted with spring crops, eventually emerging from underneath the motorway into Sankey Valley Park.  Here, an avenue of birches leads the walker alongside Sankey Brook on the left and past the high fences of one of Warrington’s new industrial estates on the right.

The hedgerows around here were teeming with bird life; a buzzard, gliding between its favourite perches, flocks of starlings, chaffinches and more wary yellowhammers, chattering sparrows, black-headed and black-backed gulls, gaudy jays and distracted blackbirds.

The trees here are looking quite bare, leaving little cover for the birds.

A path through the birch trees in Sankey Valley Park

The colours hereabouts reminded me of a car my dad once had - ‘Maestro Bronze’ perhaps?  No, I fear it was a rather ugly, mustard coloured Morris Marina.  Not my dad’s finest hour!

After crossing a footbridge, I headed alongside the brook, passing bushes laden with berries.

Juicy Berries

Soon I reached The Sankey Navigation (St Helens Canal), the first canal of the English Canal Age.  It opened in 1757, two years before the Bridgewater Canal, and was used mainly to transport coal from St Helens’ collieries and, more recently, sugar from the Sankey Sugar Refinery, to Liverpool for over 200 years.

After its closure in the 1960s it deteriorated rapidly, with some sections being completely filled in.  Recently some restoration has taken place, but some sections of the canal are only traceable by the outline of edging stone.

Winwick Dry Dock (below), made from sandstone, with stepped sides and curved ends is the only remaining dry dock on the canal.  The sleepers were for the traditional ‘Mersey Flat’ boats to rest on.  Once a boat was inside the dock the gates were closed and the water was drained through a culvert – very simple and effective.

Dry Dock

Here’s a lock that was filled in but which has recently been ‘restored’.


The ‘winter crops’ (looks like grass to me – a townie) are currently flooded in places in these fields, but look healthy enough.

Winter Crops

A winding path led back along a short section of fly-tipped road to a track, past some stables near a kingfisher pond, where a couple of horses were clearly joyous after being liberated from their warm stable into a field, and onto the road that led back to my start point in the centre of Burtonwood village, where the pub was still shut and its car park still empty.

Chapel House

This pleasant 10 km (6 mile) amble took me a leisurely 2¼ hours.

Route - 10 km, virtually no ascent, 2.25 hours

Here’s a brief outline – it’s based on Jen Darling’s ‘Around Sankey’ walk in her book – Walks in North Cheshire.  It’s covered by Explorer Map 276, which shows all the paths described.

Park in Burtonwood village and turn left from the front door of Chapel House pub, pass the church, then turn right down a footpath beyond the parish hall.

Soon reach fields and continue on to cross a track to more fields, to reach Tan House Lane.  Turn right then immediately left down Burtonwood Road.

Turn left before the road rises to cross the motorway, and head down the lane to Dial Post Farm.  Go straight on through the grotty farmyard and follow waymarks by the field edge, keeping to the right of the hedge.

Go straight on at one sign, then after a few metres follow a further sign, bearing right across the field towards a pylon.  On reaching the pylon, carry on through a wide gap in the hedge, along a track through the crops towards a lone tree then on to reach the M62.

Turn left, then right, under the motorway and into Sankey Valley Park.  Keeping the brook on your left and the industry to your right, continue on pleasant paths until a concrete bridge takes you left and over the brook.

Follow the path alongside the brook for a few hundred metres before leaving it in favour of a gravel track with the remains of the St Helens Canal between you and the railway.  Continue along here, appreciating the industrial heritage (information boards) until you come to an old canal building with 1841 written on its side.

Go under the M62 and down a gravel lane to the left of a scrap yard to reach a tarmac lane – Alder Lane.  Turn left and stroll past ugly fly-tipping to reach Sankey Brook again.  Bear right, and after about 50 metres take a path to the left, following the edge of a field with the hedge on your left.

After a while the path veers round to the right.  Continue in this direction briefly, before turning left along a track that leads through a copse and on to a T-junction.  Turn right, then immediately left to pass by stables before reaching the lane (Farmers Lane) that leads back into Burtonwood, where a left turn down Chapel Lane takes you back to the Chapel House pub.