Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 12 February 2011

Friday 11 February 2011 – Silverdale again – in search of keys

The view from Arnside Knott - 11/2/11
I’m resigned to not finding the keys lost on Heather’s Amble on 16 January, but before emptying my wallet on replacements there’s a process to go through.  That includes re-walking the route, which I did today, sort of.  Loss of concentration at times means I may have missed the keys even if they were visible; I certainly missed some of the turns, the retracing of which errors extended the route from 21 to 26km!

A late start had the advantage of missing the rush hour in Manchester, so it was mid morning before I was greeted by Mr P, the doorman at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve.

Pheasant outside Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve

Inside, they searched in vain for lost keys, and kindly took my details should they ever turn up.  So I headed back along January’s route in similarly overcast weather.

Today the path through the Reserve was fairly deserted, but I understand a sighting of some Bearded Tits was the reward for those with more patience than me.

The path to Leighton Hall

A rowing boat lurked in the reeds, optimistically named ‘Sea Nymph’!

Sea Nymph

A route cock-up delayed my arrival in Yealand Storrs, beyond where a pleasant track led to this extensive work on a forest drive.  I wonder what they are up to here?

Reconstruction of a forest ride

Well, that’s a surprise!  It’s all in aid of Butterfly Conservation.  Well done!

Butterfly Conservation

The walls and trees hereabouts are rich with mosses and fungi.  The air must be clean in these parts.

A healthy array of fungus

I got a bit confused with the paths around Gait Barrows, which I seemed to home in on through walking in tightening circles.  A cuppa was enjoyed, with a spot of lunch, whilst optimistically peering down cracks in search of keys…

Gait Barrows

Further on, in Hazelslack, I discovered a stile that would have avoided a cow encounter had I noticed it in January.  The fields leading to Arnside are still rather marshy, though not wet enough to cause ingress through the ancient Asolo Fugitive boots that I was wearing today.

There was a slightly better view from Arnside Knott (see above) than on that previous visit, but it could hardly be described as impressive.  It was however lovely to be able to watch a Goldcrest and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.  I lunched (again) on a convenient bench, pleased that today’s was not a Lake District trip, which I suspect would have encountered cloud at low altitudes.

The trig point provided a handy tripod for a self-timed photo.  Today I was wearing an Icebreaker 200 ‘Oasis Crewe’ Top, supplied by Webtogs, for the first time, under the recently reviewed North Face fleece.  These two layers were more than adequate for me today, though I noticed most other folk were wearing heavy jackets as well.  The Icebreaker 200 is quality kit, I’d better wear it now before the weather warms up…

On the 159 metre summit of Arnside Knott

Down at Far Arnside, the Snowdrops looked as if they’d had a bath…


…and the Crocuses were just about to burst forth.


There were many signs of spring being on the way.  Sprouting bulbs, singing birds, and some very fat sheep.

Fat sheep

Afternoon tea was taken on a bench dedicated to the memory of Councillor Cecil Lockwood – 1989.  I watched Oyster Catchers and other birds on the beach below, and chatted to this very voluble robin, and a lady with two scavenging dogs.

The robin bravely took food from my hand.


The path passes by a garage in Silverdale.  This Wolseley 1500, whose original owner some 50 or so years ago would have considered him or herself to have a luxury car, is in need of more than a little TLC!

Wolseley 1500

The light was starting to fade by the time I reached Woodwell – here’s the spring that once formed the basis of Silverdale’s water supply.


Jack Scout lime kiln has a long history, but not I suspect as long as the lime kilns found in Mesopotamia that date from 2450BC, according to the information board.

Jack Scout lime kiln

Rain had been forecast, but I got away with a merely overcast day that brightened up towards evening, with just a glimpse of the low sun as I passed by the Smelt Mill Chimney and Quicksand Pool beyond Jenny Brown’s Point.

Smelt Mill Chimney at Jenny Brown's Point

This was a very pleasant 26km stroll, with about 470 metres ascent, in around 6 hours.  The route is shown on last month’s posting.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Spring Flowers (1)

Snowdrops and Winter Aconites at Dunham Massey
After a long journey home, not aided by the eight hours we knew we had to spend in Philadelphia airport, it was a joy to arrive to bright sunshine on a warm day.

Our garden now sports Snowdrops and other winter flowers, and the shrubs are starting to burst into leaf.  What a difference a couple of weeks makes.  Long-tailed tits have joined the Blue, Great and Coal varieties on the feeder.  Pigeons coo to each other, and the ducks on the canal are looking decidedly frisky.

Anyway, having opened our post after arriving home an hour early on Tuesday morning, Sue and I felt duty bound to take advantage of the sunshine and toddle off to Dunham Massey’s winter garden, where today’s snaps were taken.

The names may not all be correct!

Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) were growing in gay abandon.

Snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii)

There were several species of Witch Hazel (eg Hamemelis intermedia).

Witch Hazel (Hamemelis intermedia)

These red berries certainly caught the eye.

Red berries

The Orange House, just a shell until recently, is full of plants that look as if they will shortly be in flower, and there are various types of fruit shrubs inside, with…. oranges…

The Orange House

This sweet smelling Honeysuckle (Lonicera purpusii) is a winter-flowering variety.

Winter honeysuckle (Lonicera purpusii) 
We will be making regular visits to these gardens over the next few weeks

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Sunday 6 February 2011 – A Monochromatic Day

Renauld Cabin

Sue enjoyed a lazy day with Helen, as skiing before tomorrow’s long day of travelling would be a potential health hazard for her neck.

Ken was on a long 50km ski with ‘The Masters’ (aka ‘the Oldies’), in  final training for next weekend’s ski marathon, so I headed off to Wakefield to enjoy a favourite route:

P17 > #51 > #52, in perfect condition > #50 > #51 > #55, the Taylor Lake Loop > Renauld Cabin (pictured above) > #54 > Lusk Cabin (pictured below) > #54 > #50 > #51 > Philippe (P19) > #53 > #51 to the top of the hill and back > #53 > P17.

Lusk Cabin

It was an excellent final day’s skiing for this year, despite dull weather and a monochromatic outlook.  Perhaps my next posting will be blessed with a bit of colour from a snow-free UK?

The view from Trail 53

The trails were in good condition, and the company in the cabins was very chatty, but my butty remained uneaten due to the paucity of a fire at Lusk, and my tea gave me toothache – a visit to the dentist will be a priority when I get home.  What’s new?  At least I didn’t need to visit Helen’s dentist in Ottawa this year!

Few photos today – they would all have been black and white, like the one above, taken near the end of the day on trail 53.  I was pleased to do 40km, with 800 metres of ascent, all at a gentle pace in a bit less than six hours, with no incidents (apart from narrowly missing an old lady in her mid ‘80s on the descent from Lusk!).

Au revoir, Ontario and Quebec… until next year, perhaps?

Saturday 5 February 2011 – A Parkway Circuit, and Sue Visits Ottawa

Skiers on Gatineau Parkway

My heels were feeling much better, so after waiting for Ken to return from a Triathlon (skating, skiing and running – 1 hour 20 mins) and establishing that he was well exercised for the day, I tootled off to car park P8 in Chelsea and did a standard Parkway circuit.  Gatineau, trail 36, Fortune, Champlain, and back along Gatineau – a 20.6 km route.  A sunny couple of hours, by which time I felt I could join Ken on the ‘well exercised’ couch.

I had dropped Sue off in town, and by the time I returned from Chelsea she was also on that couch, having taken a few ‘Winterlude’ snaps:

Outside the National Library:

Outside the National Library

Reflections (the new and the old):

Old versus New in the City Centre of Ottawa

Parliament Building, with an eternal flame:

The Eternal Flame, outside Ottawa's Parliament Building

Rideau Canal – crowded at its  northern end:

A crowded Rideau Canal at the start of Winterlude

An ice sculptor at work:

Competitive ice carving

A long queue for Beaver Tails, flat deep-fried cinnamon pastries:

Winterlude's favourite snack - 'Beaver Tails'

Yin and Yang, a completed ice sculpture in Confederation Park, where temperatures above zero weren’t helpful.

Yin and Yang - an ice sculpture

Luckily, by the time I got back, Ken had recovered sufficiently to clear the back deck and defrost the steaks in preparation for our traditional first BBQ of the year.  Melt in the mouth T-bones.  Delicious.

Sunday 6 February 2011

Friday 4 February 2011 – A Circuit from Wakefield, and a Banquet

Trail 53 near Wakefield - freshly groomed on 4/2/11

A late start found Sue and I benefiting from the disappearance of the heavy cloud under which Ottawa had started the day.  We headed off to car park P17, Wakefield, for a sunny start along trail 53.  This is an unusual trail in some respects as it crosses sections of farmland that are not public pathways outside the skiing season, as well as passing through the familiar ‘Forestry Commission’ style tracks for most of its 9km journey to Philippe (P19).

The header photo shows the freshly groomed trail across open farmland.

Here’s Sue, setting off from P17 in the wrong direction.

Trail 53, by Wakefield

She seems happy enough!
 Sue enjoys being out in the sunshine

There was hardly anyone on the trails.  I enjoyed the #53 > #51 loop, returning to P17 (see image below), and Sue got a little beyond the trail junction before turning around. 

Here’s trail 53 in a woodland section.

Trail 53

There was no lunch stop as such on this short outing of somewhat less than two hours, but there were plenty of benches to enjoy a break in the warm (-5C) conditions.  I needed such breaks to dust myself down after losing concentration on a couple of downhill corners.

This is definitely a ‘skis only’ zone – the sign is needed because there’s a cabin (Brown) nearby that you could walk to, but that would wreck the ski trail, so it’s forbidden.

Ski trail signs at P17 in Gatineau Park

I’ve been using Ken’s old Garmin Forerunner 301 to record distances on this trip.  He has replaced it with the impressive 305 model that has a better antenna.  We have both tried the 405 model.  Independently, we sent this one back as neither of us could cope with the sensitive rotating bezel, especially if damp. 

Here’s a screen from today’s download – speed on the vertical axis, time across the bottom, with a map of the route above; also shown on a different option is the distance (15km) and ascent (265 metres).

Today's statistics

I don’t really need one of these GPS watches, but it has been useful on this trip, where I don’t have access to any mapping software.

We returned for a pot of tea and a bath, before settling down to enjoy one of George Gardet’s excellent offerings, all the way from Chigny les Roses.

The Banquet

It being a special day, we had decided to go to the banquet that kicks off the three weeks of ‘Winterlude’ celebrations in Ottawa.  It was held at the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Banqueting Hall at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Michael Smith, Canada’s ‘Gordon Ramsay’ of the kitchen (or so I’m told) was on hand to cook up an excellent meal for 300 or so diners on tables of eight.  Ken, Helen, Sue and I shared a table with Chris, Laurie, Tony and Fawn, who we’d never met before, and probably never will again.  This sort of thing can be a bit of a lottery, but they proved to be excellent table companions and we enjoyed a very jolly evening with them.  [Hello All]

Here’s the menu, and the starter:

Taste of Winterlude - Menu for 4/2/11

'First Taste'

The meal was delicious, flawed only by the dessert being ‘cake-like’ mocha, rather than ‘molten’ mocha in our part of the hall.

Michael, a rather tall man, was a very jolly chap.  He found time to give a short speech, sign menus etc, and even pose for photos, when perhaps he should have been checking the state of the dessert!  But hey, it was a great evening.

Michael Smith, chef, is not a midget

A stunning firework display, complimentary drinks, even more food (but the waitresses were finding it tough to get customers - everyone was replete already) followed.