Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 9 February 2013

In Search of the Snow Line

Here comes a short spell of mobile blogging, hopefully the last with the Blackberry phone.

Today we eschewed Wythenshawe's Parkrun and loaded up the snow shoes. We still don't know whether we'll get a chance to use them, but as you can see, a long and winding road has delivered us to the promised Nirvana.

Lancashire was pretty damp and mizzly, but Shap did bear fruit, with well camouflaged sheep rummaging for their lunch in a glaze of icing sugar.

Through the rain of the Southern Uplands some high white patches were just about visible, but there was nothing to indicate a proper snow line.

The warmth of Glasgow continued through Stirling and up to Perth, where a couple of years ago I spent a night in my car in Morrison's car park after failing to extricate myself from the snow line.

Hope springs eternal, and Blairgowrie offered that, with the winding road to Glenshee liberally banked with white stuff.

Mist engulfed the summit of the pass but failed to conceal thousands of skiers enjoying themselves well above the snow line.

We'd made it, and with just a gentle descent past huge herds of deer to the vibrant mountain ski resort of Braemar, the trudge up the inundated garden path to Thornbank Cottage confirmed that we are indeed to spend the night above the snow line.

Bottles of red wine are lined in front of the wood burning stove in readiness for our host and any surprise guests who may track us to this wintry location...

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Thursday 7 February 2013

Wednesday 6 February 2012 – Ten Plodders Visit the Sandstone Trail


Welcome to this first entry compiled using a new version of just about everything – Win8, Windows Live Writer, Photoshop Elements, etc.  It’s gone remarkably smoothly so far!

Alan R was quickly put in charge of navigation on this sunny Wednesday morning, and was provided with an Ordnance Survey map of the area.  Surely not much could have changed since the cloth was glued to the back of this map?

I was expecting seven people for definite, but I felt sure that the slightly obscure Simon’s Lane Car Park location might flummox one or two, especially Roger.  But in the event ten good souls managed to wend their way around the M60, M62, M6 and M56 motorways to arrive in plenty of time for the 10.30 start, which proved to be more like 10.20, as there was a cool breeze and we were already quorate.


Through the bright green lawns of a golf course speckled with giant daisies, we made our way along the escarpment along which the Sandstone Trail runs for much of its length.  It’s not a very high escarpment, topping out at just 227 metres at Raw Head, a little to the south of today’s route, but it does afford good views in an arc from Liverpool to the north, across the Wirral and the Dee estuary to North Wales.  Further south, the views extend to the Shropshire hills such as the Wrekin.

Today we paused for a while to admire the view to Helsby and beyond.


The lighting and clouds made for much easier photography than the dull conditions we experienced a couple of weeks ago in the Scorton area.  It was a great day to be out, despite a chilly northerly.


I’d not noticed the Sandstone Trail ‘mileposts’ that seem to have sprung up.  We noticed at least two of them today – substantial lumps of stone that bear the hallmarks of a labour of love.  I like the way the distances have been marked in kilometres – for me they stamp a 21st century hallmark on an ancient craft.  Well done, whoever inspired and made these.


With a short section of road imminent, a halt was called for coffee and cake.  The cake was intentionally moist today, in the true tradition of ‘brownies’, but I was berated for leaving the shortbread at home.  Oops!


A little further on, we passed Stonehouse Farm B&B, which some of those more familiar with this area suggested was a most excellent amenity, with a huge garden in which to enjoy tea and cake.

On a warmer day, perhaps…


The march to our own refreshment stop continued through more stubble…


Then after I’d enjoyed my usual moment of temporary misplacement and we had retraced some steps, Maude’s nose started to twitch as we approached the Visitor Centre near Delamere Station.


This time we sat down to lunch in rather more congenial surroundings than those encountered two weeks ago on the way to Nicky Nook.

Two mountain bikers faffed nonsensically nearby, then a jolly bunch of kids arrived, fresh from some mountain bike tuition, so (as it was a bit cool) we moved on briskly to enjoy the delights of Delamere Forest’s woodland paths.


We found the Sandstone Trail again and headed north for a while along the well signed path that made today’s navigation pretty easy.


Our route back to Simon’s Lane and Beacon Hill took us slightly inland from our outward path, after we deserted the Sandstone Trail once again.  However, we still enjoyed good views across the Wirral to Liverpool, and to the hills of North Wales further south.  En route, we passed Crossley Park, a secure enclave whose gates were shut by an invisible doorman as we contemplated entry.  Was it Roger they spotted on their CCTV, or the demon hound Maude?  We’ll never know…


Apart from a short climb to the car park along a short piece of tarmac, the last stage of the walk delivered us through well cropped fields on a largely downhill course.

Everyone seemed happy.


Here’s our route – about 21 km (13 miles), with around 350 metres ascent, taking us about 5½ hours.


There’s a slideshow, if you are desperate for more! – here.

My next Plodders walk starts from Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve at 10.30am on Wednesday 20 February – meeting earlier if possible, in the café.  We’ll be trying to find some of Silverdale’s ancient wells,and taking an excursion up to the fine viewpoint of Arnside Knott.  Hope to see you there.

Alan R’s alternative version is here, and I should add our best wishes to Phil’s Face for a speedy recovery, and thanks to Allan R and JJ for their apologies.

Monday 4 February 2013

Sunday 3 February 2013 – A Great British Ridge Walk – Number 5 - Carnedd Moel Siabod by Daear Ddu and descent via the North-East Ridge

Windy on the summit of Carnedd Moel Siabod

It had been far too long a lay off from Bill Birkett’s fine collection of ridge walks (the last posting is dated November 2010!), so it was a pleasure for Sue and me to be joined by Richard and Jenny for this relatively easy route up Moel Siabod, featuring some fine ridge scrambling – as easy or hard as you want to make it. 

Heading up towards the end of the NE ridge of Moel Siabod - ascent path goes to the left

We chose ‘easy’, whilst chatting to a couple of lads on the Daear Ddu ascent who had chosen ‘moderate’.  It was all very convivial.

Scrambling up Daear Ddu ridge on Moel Siabod

After indulging at the cafe and watching some dare-devil kayakers descend the rapids down the Afon Llugwy, we had enjoyed a pleasant walk up to Llyn y Foel, where we lost the view to a light mist. At the end of the enjoyable scramble to within sight of the summit cairn, we paused in a sheltered spot for lunch.  That was just as well, as on emerging from our haven we were attacked by a vicious wind that seemed intent on preventing us from reaching the 872 metre summit.  It failed, as you can see from the picture above.

Slithery rocks made our descent along the north east ridge a rather painstaking affair, especially after I had taken a tumble.  But there was virtually no snow up there, and the rocks were greasy rather than icy – so no need for winter gear today.

Gradually the air became warmer, the wind chill diminished, and the views to the north and east got clearer. 

A view to Capel Curig from the lower part of the NE ridge - a grassy corridor between fins of slate

A phone call from a poorly son meant that we didn’t need to rush home to feed him (hope you are feeling better today, Mike) so we pottered amiably back down to the car park at Bryn Glô, where a chap was showing off his new sleeping bag from the Cotswold shop in Betws-y-Coed. 

On the last lap back to Bryn Glô

The kayakers had long gone.

Apologies for the brevity, perhaps Sue, R or J have some more to say…?

Here’s our route – 10km (6 miles) with about 800 metres ascent, in a shade over 5 hours.

Our route – 10km (6 miles) with about 800 metres ascent, in a shade over 5 hours

All in all, an excellent day out.  I’d almost forgotten what a good choice Moel Siabod is for a less than perfect day.

There’s no slideshow for the time being as we have some ‘technical transition issues’ relating to our move from Windows XP to Windows 8, which doesn’t seem to support our Picasa software (the upgraded version of which is incompatible with our old version), Web design software (Adobe Studio 8 – Dreamweaver), Photoshop software (CS2), Anquet mapping software, and much of the other software on the old machine, though I think I will be able to find a Windows 8 version of Windows Live Writer….

Though our tribulations are self inflicted (much of the software needs updating anyway, but losing the Picasa albums and all their captions - albeit they are still on the old computer - is a bit of a pain) they could be minor in comparison with what may have happened to fellow blogger Gibson.

Hopefully this will be the final posting from this old but not quite redundant laptop.  Time will tell.  Anyway, Sue and I hope to see some of you on the Sandstone Trail on Wednesday.

Tuesday 29 January 2013 – Around Lymm

Sue and Andrew rush along the Bridgewater Canal towpath at night

I’d arranged the first of this year’s evening walks to start from the Saracen’s Head in Warburton, knowing that it was a favoured watering hole for some of the more active members of Timperley’s community.

It didn’t work; the only person to actively join Sue and me tonight was Andrew, who had travelled from Deepest Cheshire.  Having said that, I had a déjà vu moment when I thought I spotted Dave Scruby, a former regular on the predecessor of these pages, in the bar.  It couldn’t have been?…  Not to worry, we enjoyed a very pleasant couple of hours on good paths once we’d left the pavement to join the course of the old Warrington and Altrincham Junction Railway line just beyond the Green Dragon, which on reflection would have been a better starting point.

That took us westwards to a bridleway that led into the centre of Lymm, from where the Bridgewater Canal guided us past the odd dog walker for a short stretch to the next bridge, and then a muddy(ish) field path to join a lane near the sadly demised Railway Hotel.

Sue and Andrew are pictured above on the canal towpath, in an image which demonstrates that I’ve not yet got to grips with a new ‘wet weather’ camera.  More on that later; Timperley Towers is currently suffering from severe technology overload.

The railway line now provided easy walking in the direction of Altrincham, and it didn’t seem long before we arrived at a new Bollin Valley Way information board where we joined well marked field paths that led all the way back to Warburton and our second beer of the night at the Saracen’s Head. This section of the Bollin Valley Way has recently been refurbished with new kissing gates and clear signposts, so was easy to follow – even in the dark. In fact the ambient light eliminated any need for torches at any point on this pleasant walk on a warm, if overcast, January evening.

It’s about 10km (6 miles) and took us a couple of hours. The route is shown below.

A 10km circuit from the Saracen's Head

Here are examples of the shiny new Bollin Valley Way ‘furniture’.

Kissing gate on the Bollin Valley WaySignposting on the Bollin Valley Way

The walk passes St Werburgh's Church, Warburton, twice.  This is the new church (below left), but slightly off-route is a second St Werburgh's Church, with a fine lych gate, (below right).

St Werburgh's Church, Warburton (new)St Werburgh's Church, Warburton (old)

There’s more here on these interesting churches.