Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 2 February 2019

Saturday 2 February 2019 - Kanata parkrun number 68

Whilst Ken went off to do a winter triathlon (skate/run/ski), Helen, Sue and I went to Kanata for the parkrun. It was snowy, with a cold wind, and minus 12°C before accounting for wind chill.

The 5km course was mainly 'single track'. The briefing mentioned this, and I was inclined to think 'so what', as it was easy enough when we did it last year. 

However, it was two laps of a there and back course, so the other runners, not to mention dog walkers, had to be negotiated several times. It was hard enough without such obstacles. Every time I picked up speed I risked veering from the straight and very narrow, and plunging into deep snow, which is what you had to do anyway every time you encountered the aforementioned obstacles.

It was actually great fun, and we soon warmed up. I managed my highest parkrun position ever, which wasn't all that surprising as there were only seven participants. Interestingly, one of them was Sally Pate, who had been at the same parkrun as me on Christmas Day - Wilmslow - it's a small world!

Virtually all the runners and volunteers adjourned to a nearby café, so it was the same sort of sociable morning as we customarily enjoy at Wythenshawe. 

The results are here:

It's still snowing hard, so no skiing today.

Friday 1 February 2019

Friday 1 February 2019 - P7 to Shilly Shally and back

We struck lucky with yesterday's flights and arrived in Ottawa as planned.

Ken has retired since our last visit, so both he and Helen joined us on this short 'warm up' ski.

Log for the day:
P7 (Kingsmere) > #30 > #1 (Ridge Road) > Shilly Shally cabin > Keogan cabin (lunch) > #1 and #30 back to P7. A 12 km outing.

It was pretty cold at minus 16°C plus wind chill, but a lovely sunny day. My electric gloves came in handy, so to speak.

The top picture was taken on Penguin Hill, the next two at Gossip Corner, and the bottom one outside Keogan cabin.

An excellent start to our trip. We must make the best of the conditions as rain is in the forecast.

Back at home in the warmth by soon after 2pm.

Thursday 31 January 2019

Wednesday 30 January 2019 - A Walk to Dunham Massey

An early morning scan of the weather in Timperley didn't put Sue off cycling to work - that was the only way she could get there on time. It did however cause me to abandon a planned trip to Alderley Edge. A good decision as the traffic wasn't really going anywhere fast. 

Apologies to anyone who was expecting to see me at the Wizard café.

It's a shame our cross country skis are in Canada, as they would have provided ideal footwear for my trip alongside the Bridgewater Canal to Dunham Massey.

The early morning snow had frozen into the canal's surface. The duck in the top picture seemed quite happy, but the swans pictured lower down were having a real struggle to get anywhere, and would have been unable to take off, poor things.

The van driver wasn't too happy either.

The walk took me some time due to frequent stops to chat with a miscellany of folk on the towpath, before I left it to walk through the grounds of Dunham Massey.

Onwards through the golf course to Altrincham. There were no golfers today, but there were many excited children armed with sledges. All the local schools had declared a 'Snow Day'. 

Usually I get the tram back from Altrincham after this walk. But today the trams were foiled by a points failure so I took the back way home, meeting a procession of folk who had been abandoned by the tram service and were asking the way to Altrincham.

BTW the pictures are in 'colour!

Wednesday 30 January 2019

Monday 28 January 2019 – Laureen’s Ride

Laureen’s Ride is, as the sign indicates, a route for both cyclists and horse riders. It was devised by a Cheshire horse rider, Laureen Roberts, during a period when she was laid up with a broken leg, and was launched in 2012. I’d provide a link to a website describing the route, which is split into a northern loop and a southern loop, but I can’t find anywhere that describes it without bombarding the reader with advertisements.

I think both loops are about 16 miles. We started from Timperley (me) and Hale (Paul and Richard) so I had an extra 14 km each way to and from the start of the northern loop, along less than pleasant country roads. Never mind, once at SJ 790 806 (Hobcroft Lane) this proved to be a pleasant ride and not too muddy, unlike reports of the southern loop.

You can just about see from the following picture that the route passes very close to Manchester Airport. (Click on a picture to get a bigger version from which you can scroll through the slideshow shown at the bottom of the screen.)

It was a lovely sunny morning, if a bit too icy for Jeanette to join us. The route skirts Wilmslow on its way to Styal, passing Lindow Moss, where peat is still being extracted despite the adverse environmental effects of that activity.

A pause on the way to Styal was needed for the lengthy job of extracting a triffid that had taken over Richard’s drive train.

I decided not to get my newly rebuilt bike dirty today. The Stumpjumper enjoyed this outing but it will soon be relegated to ‘number two bike’.

Where the peat isn’t being dug up, there’s lovely birch and beech woodland in this area.

Earlams Community café provided excellent coffee and cake and during a long break (nearly an hour!) we were able to warm our fingers and toes. Sorry, no photos here, but the sun was still out as we set off again and passed by Quarry Bank Mill and rose above the Bollin Valley towards Bank House Farm.

The farm used to be surrounded by an atrocious mud bath, but has now been abandoned, so there are no animals to churn the footpath, which was quite firm today.

There followed a very pleasant ride – we stayed warm after the café break – along paths like the one shown below, with the sun on our backs.

Thanks go to Paul for organising this route, which is shown below. You can see the point at which we started Laureen’s Ride. It was about 58 km with 200 metres ascent, ie basically flat, to and fro from Timperley.

Riding time was less than 4 hours return from Timperley.

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Spotted Gentian (Gentiana punctata)

This plant is large in comparison to the ubiquitous blue gentians. Stems of up to 60cm in height are topped by clusters of upright bell-shaped pale yellow flowers with purple spots.

It’s not to be confused with the Great Yellow Gentian, which has pointed petals and no spots.

These specimens were seen on the Col di Lana on 10 July 2018.

Monday 28 January 2019

Saturday 26 January 2019 – Wythenshawe parkrun number 375

This was not a ‘normal’ parkrun. It was Queen Jackie of Wythenshawe’s 60th birthday. Many of the 325 attendees, seen gathering on a dull morning in the above picture, appeared to be part of her extended family. Run Director for the day, Tris, waxed lyrical for about five minutes, relating Jackie’s many achievements. She is shown below finishing ahead of me back in 2016 – as on a fairly permanent basis – not her greatest achievement!

Whilst I took it easy, Sue’s ‘Achilles Massage Plan’ seems to be working and she finished in 26.22, coming third out of 18 in her age group. Well done Sue. (I came third out of three in my age group – told you I took it easy.)

I have a gentle rivalry with Michael, pictured below with stalwart volunteer marshal, Norma. Michael has briefly moved into a different age category – I suspect that when I enter that category he will resume his habit of whipping past me in the finishing straight.

Just a bit of fun – not a race, and we miss ‘Fast Ken’, Norma’s husband – who currently has a debilitating knee problem.

Full results here.

Sunday 27 January 2019

Friday 25 January 2019 – Around Aston

Rick, Paul and I duly assembled outside St Peter’s churchyard in Aston, just near Preston Brook, for the last in the current series of Friday morning walks.

Setting off opposite the War Memorial, a good path full of dog walkers took us quickly to Aston Heath, where we crossed the road and headed towards Birdswood Farm. We lost the dog walkers – they were far too sensible to venture anywhere near this slurry-bound establishment. With no clear indication as to the route of the footpath (it probably goes through the farmyard), we negotiated a bit of barbed wire and electricity and marched along the farm track towards Bird’s Wood. Not a pleasant experience, but some deep grass soon dealt with the residues left on our boots and gaiters.

Bird’s Wood looked bare in its ‘winter raiment’, but close inspection revealed that this will be blanketed with flowers later in the year.

Beyond the wood, we crossed a field to join a track that went under the busy Chester to Manchester railway line and drew us towards the Dutton Locks area of the River Weaver. A convenient bench allowed us to pause for tea and cake, with a great view towards the Dutton Viaduct mentioned in the previous posting. The white bridge behind us leads to Dutton Locks, across which our 19 October 2018 walk around Acton Bridge passed.

I’ve not really tried to master the Samsung S9’s camera yet, but I find I’m using it pretty much exclusively (on ‘auto’) at present. Today I tried the ‘panorama’ function, with the result shown below. This blog is in the wrong format to display the image properly, but it does seem to have worked. (To see a better version of this and the other images in this posting [OLW is still not working], try clicking on an image and scrolling through the slideshow at the bottom of the screen.

Suitably refreshed, we continued under the viaduct, beside Pickering’s Cut, where the River Weaver was straightened to enable ocean-going vessels carrying salt, and more recently chemicals from ICI Winnington, to ply their trade.

We couldn’t work out the meaning of this ‘200’ sign on a concrete plinth, beside which there was a smaller numbered plinth. Perhaps Judith knows about these? The picture also shows a permissive footpath that isn’t marked on the map (we are at SJ 579 763) – as if there weren’t already more than enough public footpaths in this area!

In Jen Darling’s ‘Walks in North Cheshire’ book, she describes ‘a picturesque Cheshire cottage, still sporting its original diamond-paned windows’. ‘Cottage?!’

Here’s another of the plinths – this time the number has been lost.

It’s inscribed ‘RWN 23/10 1922’; River Weaver Navigation?

Anyway, we scratched our heads and strolled on beside the cut, leaving it to pass the contrastingly clean (compared to Birdswood Farm) Aston Grange, and, serenaded by the sound of bird scaring machines, we strolled gently back to the hamlet of Aston.

We’d gone about 10 km, with less than 100 metres of ascent, in a little over two hours – a very pleasant outing in surprisingly warm and dry weather. Here’s the route we took.

So that’s it for the current batch of Friday morning strolls (apart from a short stroll next Wednesday), and we are now due to be away for a few weeks.

However, don’t dismay, I’ve planned a few from 22 February to 5 April – here they are (click here for any updates):

Friday 22 February
White Nancy and the Saddle of Kerridge. Meet at Adlington Road Car Park in Bollington (SJ 930 780), at 10 am for a 8 km outing, starting with a hill.

Friday 1 March
The Bollin Valley and Ashley. Meet at Bankhall Lane in Hale, near the junction with Ashley Road (SJ 773 858), at 10.15 am (to allow time for a 9.30 tram from Timperley!), for a 13 km outing in pleasant countryside.

Friday 8 March
Around Stretton Moss. Meet at the Stretton Fox (SJ 622 823), at 10 am for a 10 km meander. Access the pub from a NE side road from the roundabout at M56 jnc 10.

Friday 15 March
Stockport to Sale via the Mersey Valley. Start from Stockport railway station at 10.20 am for a 16 km or so stroll to a café in Sale. Trains run from Altrincham (10.00) and from Navigation Road (10.02).

Friday 29 March
Around Winwick. Meet at The Swan in Winwick Village (SJ 605 928), at 10 am for a 9 km bimble. M62 jnc 9, then north to a roundabout where you continue towards Newton-le-Willows on the A49. After a few metres bear right into Golborne Road in front of Winwick church, and the pub car park is on the right. Use the top car park.

Friday 5 April
Around Kelsall. Meet at the Boot Inn (SJ 531 672), in Boothsdale at 10 am for a 14 km walk in Sandstone Trail country. A556 past Northwich, turning into Kelsall soon after the A54 joins from the left. Go down Chester Road, then Willington Lane, from where the pub should be signposted.