Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Friday 18 January 2013

Wednesday 16 January 2013 – The Ashworth and Naden Valleys with East Lancs LDWA

Ascending Knowl Hill from Ashworth Moor Reservoir

The drive from South Manchester in light traffic was remarkably quick, leaving me a good 45 minutes early, and first to arrive at the vast parking area at Ashworth Moor Reservoir, opposite Owd Betts pub.  With over thirty people and a good handful of dogs turning up for the walk, it was just as well there was lots of space.  Even Don, stalwart Plodder with a mending ankle, turned up to say hello to his mates.  It was good to see you Don.

Soon after 10am we could be seen snaking up the path onto Knowl Moor.  Hilary tried to gather everyone together for a group photo, and from what I see below, she succeeded.  I hope she doesn’t mind me using her image.

Hilary's Group Photo

Then we continued to rise over a thin but firm veneer of snow on a lovely sunny day, on a walk featuring many wind turbines.

A wind turbine on Knowl Hill

We gathered on the summit of Knowl Hill in benign weather.  It was below freezing, but given the lack of wind, not at all unpleasant.

Knowl Hill summit

Recent snow had coated the South Pennines with a fairly uniform white blanket, and as I write – a couple of days later – that layer is being consolidated and thickened.  Snow shoes next week?!

A pleasant descent led to the Naden Valley Reservoirs, the construction of which In days past may have attracted similar criticism and debate as today's wind turbines.  The three upper dams, constructed in the mid nineteenth century, have recently been reduced to two dams.  Here’s the upper one.

The Naden Valley reservoirs

Beyond Greenbooth Reservoir, which was built in 1961 at the expense of the village of Greenbooth, the denizens of Rochdale were no doubt enjoying a sunny morning.  We enjoyed a tea break, in view of Canadian Geese and Black-headed Gulls, on a capacious 'bench' that extends right across the dam.

A short climb from the eastern bank of the reservoir led to Rooley Moor Road, which we followed in a northerly direction for some distance.  This is also known as a ‘cotton famine road’, being constructed in the early 1860’s at a time when due to a cutback in cotton production the factories ran out of raw cotton to process, leaving large parts of Lancashire’s working society unemployed.  The area went from being one of the most prosperous in Britain to one of the most impoverished.  Work for the unemployed was generated by way of the building or surfacing of roads such as this one, the construction of sewerage systems, the cleaning of rivers and the landscaping of parks.

Walkers on Rooley Moor Road

By 1864, cotton production had been restored and the mills became larger.  Some towns had diversified out of cotton, and many thousands of workers had emigrated….

The view to Knowl Hill, across the valley, seemed littered with turbines, and in the opposite direction the view to Bacup seemed littered with pylons!

Alan R led a brave trio onto Top of Leach, at 474 metres our high point of the day.

Alan, Barbara and Martin, on Top of Leach, 474 metres

We'd hoped this was Hail Storm Hill. Alan seemed for a while to think that it was, and he almost managed to convince me that the higher ground nearby was simply an optical illusion.  But it wasn't – Hail Storm Hill was indeed three metres higher and a good kilometre away.  We didn’t discover this until later, as not one of the three of us had any sort of map with us.  Under that circumstance we felt it judicious to hop across some semi-frozen bogs (they were mainly frozen but I managed to find a rare exception to that status) and try to find the rest of the group.

We were soon on the Rossendale Way track that passes above Cragg High Level Tank and Cowpe Reservoir in this land of reservoirs.

Cragg High Level Tank and Cowpe Reservoir

Huge icicles clung to the edges of Cragg Quarry.

Barbara, by Cragg Quarry's icicles

Once we were on the well trodden path it was quite easy to track the prints of 30+ people and dogs, and the rest of the group was soon discovered hiding from us in a sheltered nook on the path by Cragg Quarry, below Cowpe Moss.  Luckily this non-Plodder (though some Plodders were present) LDWA walk seemed full of people on diets, so whilst I only had twelve pieces of cake there was enough to go round everyone who wanted a piece, with Bernard and me enjoying the last of a batch that had been massacred by last Sunday’s mountain bikers.

We soon descended above Dearden Clough to Edenfield, with Peel Tower dead ahead, crossing the main road to the interestingly named Michael Wife Lane.  This led deep into the valley above Shuttleworth, leaving us with an energetic ascent over icy rocks onto Harden Moor.

Ascending Harden Moor

A couple of people who had being wearing Yaktrax or similar crampons all day certainly benefited from that footwear at this point.

As the gradient leveled out, a low sun emerged from behind some thin cloud to warm our backs as we strode on with fine views to Peel Tower and Ramsbottom, with Winter Hill's huge mast a little more distant.

Peel Tower and Winter Hill, from Harden Moor

The sun continued to illuminate our tramp over the rather spongy surface of Harden Moor, with Ashworth Moor Reservoir and our final destination soon coming into view.

Approaching Ashworth Moor Reservoir from Harden Moor

Here’s our approximate route - 22km (14 miles), 600 metres ascent, taking about 5½ hours at a good (LDWA) pace.

The route - 22km (14 miles), 600 metres ascent, taking 5.5 hours

There’s a modest slideshow here, though I think the pictures would have been better if I’d used the ‘snow’ setting!  Alan Rayner’s entertaining blog entry, with a link to many more photos, is here, and the LDWA’s own report, courtesy of Heather, is here.

Finally, thanks go to today’s leaders, who were apparently Mike Harrington and Andy Hayhurst, for an excellent route, which my Garmin gadget recorded thus:

Monday 14 January 2013

Sunday 13 January 2013 – A Bike Ride from Marple

Sunday morning beers outside the Fox Inn

I’ve been a member for nearly a year now, but this was only my third ride with the Manchester Mountain Biker (MMB) Club.  I should join this friendly bunch more often, as these are always very jolly outings.

After nearly crashing into Huw in the car park, I recovered my composure and set off down the Middlewood Way with today’s leader, Steve Brok, in a group of 18, or was it 19 (we never seemed quite sure, but I don’t think anyone was lost), eager punters on a brilliantly sunny morning.

Steve Brok leads the MMB squad along the Middlewood Way

Huw came equipped with the latest breed of slimline mountain bikes, with skinny tyres and no gears.  It reminded me of one of my old bikes, except that it didn’t sport the fixed wheel that kept dumping me over the handlebars of my bike!

Huw on his single speed bike

Glaring sunshine on the Middlewood Way gave way to shady tracks leading up from the West Gate of Lyme Park.

The track into Lyme Park from the West Gate

Four of us enjoyed a little excursion to the top of a hillock, whilst the majority regrouped.  Luckily, nobody saw me lose control completely as I flew down the far side of the hillock!

Soon we found ourselves gliding along beside the Peak Forest Canal, trying as always to be courteous to other users of the towpath.  With 18/19 of us that may have been difficult, and I can understand some folk being a bit narked by such a large group of mountain bikers.  However, today’s sunshine brought the best out of everyone and I didn’t hear a single harsh word.

By Peak Forest Canal

By the time we reached Strines, Steve seemed a bit concerned.  We were dangerously ahead of schedule. "I fancy a beer!" announced George.  I hadn’t even been aware of a ‘schedule’, but nobody seemed to complain about an extra loop being slotted into the ride in order to contrive a visit to the Fox Inn.  Huw disappeared for a while then reappeared at the pub – I think he may have found a different route, and I suspect he walked for a short distance…

The Fox Inn provided an excellent array of refreshments, supplemented by cake a little earlier at the top of the hill, and by chocolate biscuits from a birthday boy.

Until today, all my MMB rides had featured a chap called Keith, who is a quite fanatic mountain biker.  It had been a surprise not to see him on today’s ride, but I believe Keith does like a beer, so it should really have been no surprise to see him put in a guest appearance at our pub stop!

Keith puts in an appearance

After a while – we’d cooled down a bit outside the pub – Steve decided we might now be a bit behind schedule, and was worrying on behalf of anyone who might be late for their Sunday lunch, so off we flew, down a lovely descent that I think he called the ‘Fox Trail’.  [Personally, I think it was his own lunch (or lack of it) that was worrying him.]

After arriving at Strines for the second time, we headed up to the farm with the old Ford Capri, where I was impressed with the leader’s ability to repair a broken chain in just a few short minutes. 

Another easy hill, just near the end of the ride, took us to a carefully arranged mudfest on the otherwise delightful descent of Strawberry Hill, to ensure that everyone went home 'gooey'.

At the bottom of the Strawberry Hill descent Steve Brok - Mud Man

Thanks for leading, Steve.  I think we all enjoyed this ride.

Here’s our rough route - approx 24 km (15 miles) with about 600 metres ascent, taking rather more than 3 hours.  I reckon it would be around 2½ hours (give or take) in a smaller group without the pub stop. I’ll try it soon, as my Garmin was out of action today.

Our route - approx 24 km (15 miles) with 600 metres ascent

There’s a slideshow with a few more images here.

Wednesday 9 January 2013 – A slideshow for SWOG – Tour of the Ecrins

GR54 in the Ecrins

This was at least our fifth slideshow for Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group, and achieved a record (for us) attendance of some 42 people.

We had a most enjoyable evening, reliving the experiences of our recent trip to the French Alps, the blog postings for which are here – hopefully I’ll soon find time to add an index to aid ‘navigation’ of the website, and we will of course be happy to present the slideshow to or answer any queries from folk who may be planning to visit this beautiful part of the Alps. 

You can email us via the ‘Contact us’ button on our website.

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Wednesday 9 January 2013 – Calf Top from Barbon

Heather T-S looks across cloud filled Barbondale towards Gragareth

Heather and I contrived to choose the best day of the week to embark on a new route for me, a long planned circuit from Barbon taking in the horseshoe shaped ridge that leads for the best part of 10 km (6 miles) over Calf Top.

We set out from Barbon Church soon after 9.30 on a misty morning, with blue sky lurking enticingly above the skeletal wintry trees.

Barbon ChurchA tree in Barbon Park

Soon we rose into a land of frosty grass above the mist laden environs of Barbon.

Mist over Barbon

The 307 metre cairn on Eskholme Pike was a good vantage point (see header image), with Crag Hill and Gragareth just clearing the cloud that was rolling in from across Barbondale.

A little further on, the view ahead to Calf Top from Thorn Moor was sunny and clear.  It could be summer!

The view to Calf Top from Thorn Moor

A silent wind turbine punctured the mist below, with a backdrop of the Coniston Fells.

Obsolete technology

The cloud chased us over Castle Knott and on to the summit of Calf Top - 609 metres – which afforded good views towards the Howgill Fells.

Calf Top and the Howgill Fells

The Lake District was also seen, through a bit of a haze. It was frosty here, with the mist never far away.

Suddenly, on the descent, we found ourselves in cold mist, so we retraced a few steps into the sunshine for an early lunch, before descending to the Lune valley for an overcast afternoon's stroll back to Barbon.

Farm building near Middleton

It was pleasant enough, though, with good conversation, a long chat with a farmer near Middleton Hall, and easy paths intersected a couple of times by the dismantled Lune Valley Railway that linked Lowgill with Clapham for 107 years between 1860 and 1967.

Back at Barbon, the Inn was closed, so we went home…

The fleshpots of Barbon (closed)

Here’s our route - 22 km, 650 metres ascent, taking 6.5 hours.

Our route: 22 km, 650 metres ascent, taking 6.5 hours

An excellent day out in the best of company – thanks for joining me on this one Heather.  There’s a short slideshow here.