Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 3 December 2011

Wednesday 30 November 2011 – The Kingfisher Trail

The Kingfisher Trail - logo

On a lovely sunny autumn morning, seven plodders and Maude embarked on a ten mile amble from Clifton Country Park, near Kearsley, to Jumbles Country Park, beyond Bromley Cross.

I’d arrived with half an hour to spare, as had Don.  But Don’s day changed with a call from his wife, who had dropped him off.  “Broken down” “on the hard shoulder near Middleton….” 

Luckily, David had arrived and the small group of Plodders were happy to wait in the sunshine for me to return from reuniting Don with his wife, only about ten minutes late.  Sadly Don missed out on a good day out, but was able to conclude a much needed rescue, and the repair to a loose alternator connection soon restored the Micra to good health.

From Clifton Country Park a pleasant path leads to this Tower in Ringley...

The tower at Ringley

Nathan Walworth was instrumental in the building of the first chapel at Ringley which was completed in 1625.  This tower effectively commemorates that chapel, by way of a partial restoration in 1854, when a new church was built, which itself was renovated in 1907.  There’s some fascinating information about the long history of Ringley here.

Nearby, across an ancient bridge over the River Irwell, La Roma seemed an interesting looking place, but Reg (our leader) took one look and ran off in the opposite direction.  “I thought I saw a ghost!” he later admitted.

La Roma

The Manchester, Bury & Bolton Canal, built between 1791 and 1808, has now largely been abandoned, but the water remains in this scenic section at Prestolee.

Manchester, Bury & Bolton Canal

David, a founder 'Plodder' who is only rarely able to join us these days due to family commitments, posed in the sunshine beside a complex junction of waterways involving the Croal, the Irwell, and the canal.

David - a Pioneer Plodder

Soon we had left the Irwell and were heading on beside the River Croal.  Our northerly route passed beside waterways to the east of the major conurbation of Bolton.  We weren’t alert enough to spot any kingfishers, but dippers swooped up and down the Croal, and a heron fished beside Bagshaw Brook'.

There are several Country Parks along this trail.  We seemed to pass almost seamlessly from Clifton Country Park to Moses Gate Country Park, with Darcy Lever Gravel Pits, then ‘Seven Acres’ and Leverhulme Park – the site of a popular parkrun – before finally reaching Ousel Nest Meadows at the edge of Jumbles Country Park.

We passed some sculptures - it's a shame I didn't capture this one in 3-D.

Sculpture in Moses Gate Country Park

The giant frog of Darcy Lever pointed its jaw towards a hostelry (of a name I cannot recall!) where five of us enjoyed a brief respite from the blinding sunshine.  The beer/coffee was excellent.  It wasn’t a dog friendly establishment however, so Vi and Hilary had to stay outside with Maude, soaking in the rays.

The giant frog of Darcy Lever

Wobbling off again, we passed under a high viaduct that didn’t seem to be linked to anything.  It wasn’t.  It was virtually all that remains of one of the many disused railway lines in the area.

We continued along a muddy path through Seven Acres Country Park, beside the River Croal.  All of a sudden, the sun had gone.  Everything assumed the monochrome of a late November afternoon.  I tested the ‘vivid’ setting on my new Canon G12 camera, with acceptable results on this occasion.

Bridge over the River Croal

The riverside path led steeply up to enter Leverhulme Park.

Reg claimed a momentary loss of memory concerning the route.  I think he was just enjoying a rest!

Reg tries to combat the onset of dementure

Heading on through Leverhulme Park, the venue for a popular parkrun, we finally found some benches on which to enjoy lunch.  The only trouble was that they were 150 metres apart.  Nevertheless, I commuted to ‘the posh bench’ after a while in order to lighten my load.  Fudge brownies always seem to go down well with this lot.

The trail now pottered along beside Bradshaw Brook – in truth a pretty hearty river, criss-crossed by water pipes and inhabited by herons.  No sign of any kingfishers.

The 16 km (10 mile) route stayed resolutely off-road, despite the fact that we were walking through an industrial heartland of the north west.

We admired the Jacobean Porch that is the sole remnant of Bradshaw Hall, home of the Bradshaw family from C12 to C18.  Later occupants, the Lomaxes and the Hardcastles, developed bleachworks here, but the old stone seems now to have been converted into housing.

The Jacobean Porch of Bagshaw Hall

The last lap to Jumbles Reservoir took us along paths typical of the day, disused (by traffic) riverside routes of railways and tracks to the east of Bolton.

The path to Jumbles Reservoir

The party separated below the dam that was built as recently as 1971 to contain the waters of Bradshaw Brook in Jumbles Reservoir, as buses and trains from different places were needed to get us to our respective homes.

Before leaving the site of the dam, leader Reg, as always clued up on historical information and industrial archaeology, related the story of local opposition to this project in the 1960’s.  He hastened away after telling us about the ‘Jumbles Ghost’ – the apparition of a local protestor that sometimes appears on the stepping stones.

I set my new camera to the ‘ghost’ setting, shut my eyes, pressed the shutter, and ran after Reg, afraid to look at the resulting snapshot until I got home and downloaded it.

Jumbles Reservoir dam


The remnants of our now disparate group took tail through some blackbird meadows and headed home via Bromley Cross and Bolton, where the number 8 bus ‘plodded’ through traffic to return me to Clifton Country Park some time after dark.

There’s a slideshow (38 images) here.

Reg’s excellent report (with more historical titbits), together with photos from Hilary, are here.

Here’s the route – 16km, 200 metres ascent, in a very leisurely 4.5 hours.

Our route - 16km, 200+ metres ascent, 4.5 hours

My Garmin Gadget recorded the route shown below (I still haven’t worked out how to overlay it onto an Ordnance Survey map).

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Peugeot 206 5-Door LX 1.4HDI Diesel – 5-speed manual – FOR SALE - £1,300

Peugeot 206 for sale - the white marks are reflections, not scratches!

This may not be the appropriate place to advertise Sue’s car, which she has owned from new and is coming up for its tenth birthday.

But here goes anyway…

It seems a shame to get rid of it, but that was always the plan, and the arrival of its successor is imminent.  It has been an excellent motor, with the only items (other than routine brakes, tyres and filters, etc) that have been replaced being the exhaust and the water pump – a new cam belt was fitted at the same time.

It has never been involved in an accident, and other information is shown below.

Date of registration – 30 January 2002 (MM51 APV)
Current mileage – 93,100
Tax band - £30 (113g/km)
Fuel consumption – 50 to 60 mpg (more on a long run at steady speeds)
Taxed until 31/1/12 (when MOT is also due)
Serviced on 11/11/11 (no issues, but disc brakes will need replacing fairly soon – approx £150)
AutoTrader valuation - £1,400 to £1,525

This has been an excellent little motor.  We’ll be sorry to see it go.

Is anyone interested?  If so, please contact us via the ‘Contact us’ button here.

Peugeot 206 for sale

As anticipated, this blog posting failed to yield a sale, but an on line ad in AutoTrader resulted in a flood of calls and a sale within 10 minutes.  The old motor was clearly worth more than we thought.

Meanwhile, Sue’s new car, ‘Skippy’, should have been collected a couple of hours after the Peugeot was sold.  But it failed its pre-delivery ‘MOT’!  A new part has been ordered, hopefully covered by the warranty!

Monday 28 November 2011

Stonehaven Sunrise

It was blood red - past its best by the time I got into a position for this snap...

Sunday 27 November 2011

Sunday 27 November 2011 - Morven (By Dinnet)

Rising late to the sound of thrashing rain on their windows, the XXL club members who had been seduced by tired eyes and limbs to an early bed were just as bleary as those who had partied all night, during which the whole of the Fife Arms had reverberated to the thud of the disco.

Most of them live locally... "Not a day for a walk" they agreed, "we'll go straight home." Others had come from further afield - Guido from Scandinavia, Peter from London, for example, and had flights to catch, families to attend to, or both.

I caught sight of a patch of blue through the deluge. So after bidding farewell to old friends until next time, I took the short but very splashy journey to a hamlet north of Dinnet. The River Dee foamed furiously beside the A93, nearly breaking its banks, but as I'd surmised the storm eased and mutated into short wintry showers with vibrant rainbows.

It's a short 660 metre ascent to reach the summit of Morven. There are two paths. I took the wrong one. It struck up the hill by way of a pleasantly rising contour for a couple of hundred metres before heading off in the wrong direction. The subsequent 200 metre thrutch through steep deep heather reminded me of yesterday's walk. Except that today the mountain hares, resplendent in their winter finery, were rather more sedate than yesterday's flying variety.

It was still windy though, with wintry squalls whitening the hillside above 700 metres. But no crawling was required today.

Surprisingly, I wasn't alone on the hill. A group of eight or so was plodding up ahead of me, on the correct path. They were still on the summit when I arrived, but they didn't stay for long. They turned out to be a miscellany of folk in training for an attempt on Kilimanjaro next year. "Ideal training conditions!" shouted their leader, in between mouthfuls of hail.

After moving off the summit (pictured - but there will be a slide show that gives a different impression of this overridingly sunny day) a sheltered spot was found for lunch. Then I attempted to fill a memory card whilst being blown down the steep but direct path, past fluttering buzzards and other birds of prey, and back to the car.

8.5km, 660 metres ascent, 3 hours - a fine little excursion.

The short drive to Drumoak, punctuated by Radio 5 eulogies to Gary Speed, delivered me to Bill and Alison's welcoming hospitality and a lovely evening.

Much better than driving back to Manchester - that can wait until tomorrow.

Saturday 26 November 2011 - Cnapan Nathraichean (824 metres)

I wonder how many of you have heard of this hill. I certainly hadn't until the other day.

It was Chairman Jerry's selected venue for Aberdeen's XXL Club's 'Annual Dinner Daywalk'.

I spent much of yesterday observing 'High Winds Forecast' warning signs on all roads north of Preston, but encountered only the minor inconveniences of snow and deer on the road north of Glenshee, and was able to enjoy an excellent evening at the Moorfield, reached via a walk through a blizzard.

By this morning the snow had gone, below 800 metres anyway, and it was a merry bunch of 25 who set off from Keiloch at 10am.

Jerry soon had us admiring Invercauld Bridge (pictured), built around 1748 to span the River Dee as part of the Redcoats' military road between Blairgowrie and Fort George in the Moray Firth, to consolidate the position of George II after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden in 1746.

After our interrogation by a Laird With Four Dogs, the woods of Ballochbuie Forest provided shelter from the elements as we strode on past the roaring Falls of Garbh Allt before stopping for tea and brownies at the edge of the woods.

Here Jerry lost 3 wimps who feared for their hats if they continued. He then chose a direct route up the hill, Cnapan Nathraichean (824 metres), have you heard of it? The snow clad summits of Ben Avon and its many tors glittered in the winter sunshine across the valley. The going became heathery, with deep holes, and bouldery. Another 9 wimps fled the scene - crashing down a gully to the east in pursuit of their hats.

The rest of us continued on upwards over broken ground. We couldn't all see each other but we could hear the flapping of crinkly Goretex. Especially from the foolhardy minority who tackled the crest of the ridge.

12 of us finally made it to the summit (824 metres) where views of Lochnagar vied for our attention with the sight of the 13th member of our party, the Elder Statesman, crawling laboriously up to the summit cairn.

It was great fun!

After battling on along a few metres of broad ridge we descended through deep heather with boggy holes, past The Prince's Stone, which Alastair visited but most of us missed, towards a small lochan, where in a sheltered spot in the heather we were entertained by the spectacle of our Elder Statesman descending erratically past the inflow to the lochan, which today was actually its outflow, via a small waterfall that was flowing uphill.

After a while we felt that having already stopped for several lunches it was time to head off again, leaving the Elder Statesman to choke on his sandwich. Then he skillfully avoided a turn down a slippery narrow path, chosen carefully by Jerry in order to lose backmarkers and provide the dry cleaning establishments of Aberdeen with a bit of custom next week.

I think (though I'm not sure, it wasn't my duty to count) everyone got back to Keiloch by 3.30, after a most enjoyable (I think) 14km stroll up a hill nobody had been up before, with about 600 metres ascent, in 5.5 hours.

Did I mention that the 'High Winds Forecast' messages on yesterday's motorway signs came true?