Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Friday 5 July 2019 - A 10km Styal Circuit


An impromptu Friday morning walk saw five of us assembling at Earlams Community Café in Styal. Run by volunteers, this is an excellent venue from which to start a walk, with easy parking on the road nearby, but no gluten free cake ('bring your own!').
 
We started an evening walk from here on 5 June, and today's outing was simply an extension of that excellent 7km route.
 
 
After a good value top-up of coffee, etc, we set off on familiar paths (there's a selection of routes, but basically you find your way to the River Bollin and follow it downstream), eventually, after a few ups and downs, reaching Giant's Castle Bridge.
 
 
I can't find the reason for the 'Giant's Castle' name, but it's a nice bridge over a fast flowing river followed by a steep set of steps.

 
After crossing the A538 Altrincham Road, lovely paths lead through fields towards Morley and Morley Green. The grass has grown since we passed through this field on 5 June.

 
My 3km extension heads past Mossbrow to the outskirts of Wilmslow, where by-ways lead down to re-join the Bollin near Twinnies Bridge. From there it's an easy stroll by the river to the fleshpots of the National Trust property at Styal Mill, where refreshments of any sort are available.

 
However, as the ice cream had been temporarily relocated to a freezer to maintain its integrity on the hot day, we chose to return to Earlams for drinks and luscious cake, which I was remiss in failing to record by way of a snapshot.
 
Here's the 10km route. There's about 100 metres of ascent. It took us rather less than two and a half hours.

 
I really do commend this route, or the earlier 7km version. It's a lovely place to walk (albeit a bit noisy next to the airport) and Styal is very accessible from Greater Manchester.
 
I'll be planning more Friday morning walks, from 19 July to 16 August. Let me know if you want to be added to the circulation list.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 1


Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 1 - Monday 26 July 2004 -  Stage 0
 
Postcard Summary:
Hendaye-Plage to Biriatou
A short hot walk to a tranquil hamlet – 1.75 hours, 8 km, 200m ascent

This morning, a two hour or so walk - hot with temperature of 29C and big packs, but into the hills already. Luxury of hotel tonight - good for washing already smelly clothes!

It’s lovely here.  We are having a really lazy afternoon in sunny Biriatou before the hard work starts.  The packs were OK today and not too heavy.  Martin wore trainers and kept his new boots in the bag – it was easy terrain.
 
 
Diary entry (by Martin)
Ignored the 7 ish alarms and slept in until nearly 7.45 before the first brew was made. The MSR Superfly connects well with a Camping Gaz cylinder to speedily produce its first brew.

The night had been warm - only the silk liner was needed until about 2 am. Waking moments enjoyed the distant crash of surf onto the beach, and as night turned to day the cheeping birdsong gradually became louder. Both tent and Sue have been targeted by the local bird population, and there are also a few mosquitoes.

A pack of four yogurts and two bananas provided an ample breakfast, and we slowly packed our belongings away for our short first day's walk. It was still pleasantly quiet at the campsite by the time we left at 10.05. We'd packed in a very leisurely manner - a routine that will speed up as we try to get early starts to avoid serious climbs in the heat of the day.

We strolled down the beach on a lovely sunny morning and took self timed photos (see above) in front of the Residence Croisière, before leaving the vast beach and heading along the HRP/GR10 route. There is a large sign advertising the GR10 and we do follow that route today. Ton Joosten's Cicerone guide book, with Sue at the helm, sees us safely directed all the way to Biriatou - 10.30 to 12.15. This is George Véron's "Prologue" and his time is 2 hours.

Mainly on roads and paths/tracks, we gradually rise to about 100 metres before descending and rising again, to about 120 metres. The guide books fully describe the route. My thermometer showed about 29°C, but we weren't rushing and it didn't seem excessively hot, due to a light sea breeze.

We saw another hiker near the start, and shortly before Biriatou we passed a couple who were laden with tent etc, but were going very casually, walking in sandals. I wore trainers today, which were more than adequate. My late decision to bring boots rather than Saloman shoes was not justified by today's weather or terrain.  

The terrain could be English or Welsh. Fields, woods, a shady track through trees, distant hills up to around 900 metres. Eagles fly overhead at Biriatou as we eat the first few of a kilo of Unicorn's* 'Trail mix' nuts for lunch, there being no source of refreshment here on a Monday until 5 pm. Just one shop in evidence - selling antiques.  

Wander down to Hotel Bakea** and enjoy the rare delight of an early room. Nice bath, and equipped with shaving kit and other goodies. Wander up to pleasant Basque church with stencilled wooden roof/ceiling. Cool and quiet. Back out to sit on terrace behind our room, high above a main road, but with pleasant views of Basque countryside dotted with white houses amongst the woodland. 

Sending the daily message to Kate (see spreadsheet) we picked up messages: 'Bon Voyage' from Nick in Taiwan, and from Kate, so the phone is working fine (battery permitting). 

As the day wore on, we realised this hamlet is shut on Mondays, so we abstained until 7:30 pm by sitting in the courtyard area, reading and chatting. Then Sue noticed we had to 'dress' for dinner, so we put on our best clothes and had another good alfresco meal under plane trees in the smart and full hotel restaurant. Crab bisque / bonite tarte, duck au poivre vert / dorade à l'aile et piment, and cheese / tartin strawberry, and the Bearn 2002 Rosé went down well. Very nice. Bed by 10.30 pm. 

* Unicorn is still our esteemed local 'nut' shop.
 


Yoga in Biriatou
 
Biriatou
 
Biriatou

Stats and route (Viewranger):
8 km, 220 metres ascent, 1.75 hours

 
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Thursday, 4 July 2019

Wednesday 3 July 2019 - Werneth Low with SWOG

 
I enjoyed a morning walk around Werneth Low on 7 June this year, and an evening saunter from Compstall on 21 August 2012. The 2012 report includes  some useful information that I won't repeat here, other than to point out that 'Low' is an ancient North English word for 'hill'.
 
The visit described here was another evening walk with Stockport Walking & Outdoors Group (SWOG), on a lovely summer's evening when 33 people turned up.
 
Setting off from the Grapes, we soon reached the Visitor Centre and entrance to Werneth Low Country Park, and the climb to the War Memorial.



 
The views were much clearer than on 7 June, and Les's route, whilst shorter than mine, kept to higher ground. There were good views to Longdendale, and towards Glossop and the western fringes of the Peak District.

 
In the next picture, you can see our excellent path stretching into the distance.

 
Glossop, and the Snake Pass, are somewhere over here:

 
There were a few stiles along the short route. This made going a bit pedestrian at times, but at least it gave some of the slower folk a chance to catch up.

 
The evening light, looking across towards Harrop Edge, was lovely.

 
We seem to be in a 'Foxglove' period.

 
Les's route briefly coincided with mine, as we passed a familiar hostelry - the Hare and Hounds - very busy on the warm evening.

 
As the sun went down, we descended a pleasant path back to the Grapes, and its Unicorn bitter and comfy beer garden at the back of the pub.

 
Click on any image for a better version and a scrolling slideshow.

 
It was all very convivial outside the pub, whilst the sun slowly disappeared from view, though by this time I was too busy rehydrating to bother with taking any more photos.
 
Here's our route - 6.5 km, with about 150 metres ascent, taking us a very leisurely hour and three quarters. Thanks go to Les for planning an excellent and most appropriate route.

 
Before I close, I should mention that it was a delight to hear swifts in the neighbourhood whilst I was in the garden in Timperley this morning. For many years we have enjoyed their company here, from 8 May, when they arrive, to late July, when they disperse. They have nested under our eaves. That is, until this year. Our regular visitors failed to turn up, and on return from the TGO Challenge there were just a few swifts in the area. Those soon disappeared - presumably to join a larger group elsewhere. So it was lovely to see them here today. We just hope they return in greater numbers next year.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 0


 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 0 - Sunday 25 July 2004

Postcard Summary
Stansted to Hendaye-PlageLovely summers day, superb beachWhat a lovely start! A taxi from the airport to a campsite only yards from the huge beach. Soon, swimming for me and dipping some toes for Martin. Lots of people trying to surf on tiny waves! Pleasant walk along the beach then shopping for last two maps required. Another meal outside before a night in the tent, where you could hear the waves.
 

Diary Entry (by Sue)

Both awake around 6am. Made a sandwich, ate toast and tea, read Jake a story and left at 7.45. In contrast to yesterday, it was 13°C and raining. It didn't take long to drive round the M25 and M11 to Stansted, and the Astra was left at the Car Hire Returns at 8.30. At least we could shoulder our rucksacks, which we did during our short walk to the terminal building.

The next few hours were spent queuing- first for our flights, then into the departure lounge, then onto the aircraft (Boeing 737-800). The only part out of a queue was drinking the first few sips of a large tea, whilst Bob Geldof strolled past, which saw the last of our English change used up.

The Ryanair flight briefing was entertaining - we were told that the flashing light on the life jacket was in case we landed on a disco, and those caught smoking would be sent outside the aircraft, where the movie showing was 'Gone With The Wind'.

The clouds dispersed and it was a sunny 24°C in Biarritz, where we landed just five minutes behind schedule. The next bus was at 5.30, but because it only went as far as St Jean de Luz, it was no good, so a taxi was the alternative. The Mercedes cruised the twenty or so miles to Hendaye-Plage for €55, and the great bonus was that we were on the Campsite Alturan at 3.30, with the tent pitched by 4pm. The site is on quite a slope, but there are level terraces divided by hedges and lines of trees, providing useful shade on the hot day.

The sea can be seen and heard from our pitch. My bikini was on, and it wasn't long before I was cartwheeling down the beach and plunging into the swell. It was fairly warm, so I was in for a while. The huge beach, with its distinctive rocks at one end, was heaving with people enjoying the hot weather. Surfers were also prominent but the surf wasn't high. We strolled along the edge of the waves all the way to the end of the beach, and back round past the harbour to the centre, locating the Residence Croisière, where the HRP and GR10 long distance trails both start. In these streets, away from the breeze, it felt scorching.

We returned to the site for a shower, then bought camping gas in the site shop, and the two remaining maps, and postcards, in the stationers.

Then had dinner at Chez Kaké. Beers, omelettes, salad, fish with rice, with cheese with cherries for Martin, and tarte tatin for me; all went down well sitting outside. The tide was well in as we returned, but there were still people on the beach at 8.45pm.

Apart from the sea we hear, the roar of aircraft engines occurs occasionally, as there is a local Spanish airport and the planes come in over the beach and near to the campsite. We sit outside, writing this diary and looking at the flower book. Turn in, quite tired, soon after 9.30. (Clocks have gone one hour forward, it's only 8.30 at home.)

Hendaye.
We envisaged this might be a run down sort of place, but were pleased to find a busy seaside and harbour town, with flowers on streets and on the roundabouts, and a definite holiday resort feel.

Sent our first text message to Kate; it seems to work.


Lazing at Alturan campsite
 
Hendaye-Plage town centre

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Tuesday, 2 July 2019

High Society!

 
Eagley Jazz Club provided another evening of entertainment, this time from the High Society Jazz Band, who are based in North Lancashire and had not played at the club before.

With a number of familiar classics and a pint of White Witch, I found this evening most enjoyable, as did Sue, and we were also pleased to discover that Reg and Saro had an enjoyable holiday in Kandersteg.

Monday 1 July 2019 - A Bike Ride to Pennington Flash

 
On an overcast morning I enjoyed a rare outing on Stumpy, on my own, to Pennington Flash.
 
The Loopline and Busway to Leigh, then a return to the Bridgewater Canal, got me to the Flash in an hour and three quarters. Hard work due to a persistent head wind.
 
Readers may recognise the familiar bench at the Flash, where my flask of tea and banana were most welcome.
 
We plan to come here on 3 August for the 9 am parkrun, so I decided to try out the canal towpath for the route home. My memory of this towpath is one of a very slow, muddy experience. Today, given the recent dry weather, I didn't expect that - just some long grass and hardened ruts. But I was wrong about that.
 
Here's the bridge on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, into which the Bridgewater Canal morphs in Leigh, where you turn down the hill to the Flash.

 
Looking in the direction of Leigh, red clover covers the verges of the firm gravel track just now.

 
Continuing on along the towpath beyond Leigh, the track remained unexpectedly solid. It's good to see that the necessary crossing of a water supply over the canal has been embellished with a useful footbridge.

 
Now then, what about that muddy/rutty towpath to Worsley? It has gone. There's an excellent cycle path all the way to Worsley and beyond. In fact, it now goes all the way to beyond Seamons Moss Bridge in Altrincham.
 
They haven't quite finished this section to Worsley, as the final non slip, frost resistant gravel finish needs to be applied to the tarmac, and the information boards need to be inserted. It was great to ride along today.

 
On the approach to Worsley the canal takes on an orange hue. Near here are the twin entrances to the Duke of Bridgewater's underground canal tunnels - the reason for the canal's existence. The orange colour is due to the water coming from the mines containing traces of iron ore.

 
The route from Timperley via the loopline was 29 km, taking me 1.75 hours. Returning via the towpath, the lower of the two routes shown below, was 27 km, and ten minutes quicker.
 
 
As usual, click on the images for better versions or a slideshow. And don't forget to turn up at Timperley Bridge (or elsewhere on the towpath, which will be our route that day) at 6.45 on 3 August if you'd like to join the 'parkrun tourists' on their visit to Pennington Flash.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Saturday 29 June 2019 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 397 and a few Bits and Pieces

 
This pavlova didn't last long... thanks Cary.
 
I've been ploughing a furrow between Timperley and Mike and Sarah's new home in East Didsbury recently. (The hedge project.) It's entirely off road if you use the canal towpath and the Trans Pennine Trail. Sadly, in the Chorlton area where I used to live, someone has taken exception to the signage. I hope it's replaced soon, together with another sign that has been completely destroyed.
 
 
On Friday afternoon we took delivery of Jacob and Jessica, who proceeded to try to enhance their reputations as 'Little Monkeys'. Jess can now get right across the bars. She sometimes falls off - grandma rescues her, but granddad says it's good 'landing practice'. Jacob looks on - "been there, done that".


 
DFYB = 'Don't Forget Your Barcode'. Jacob hadn't forgotten his barcode, but when it came to the crunch he preferred running away from grandma to running 5 kilometres with granddad.

 
Meanwhile, Andy was delivering his brief to another clutch of first timers. He grows more like Oliver each week.

 
It was a bit warm for running, so many of us took it pretty gently. There were 366 participants, with plenty of room in the finishing funnel for those below who took about 25 minutes. The full results are here.

 
The Little Monkeys cheered me on and joined me in the café afterwards. There's a table tennis table in the courtyard that kept them entertained whilst Owen teased and sundry stalwarts helped to sort the finish tokens.


 
It was good to spend an hour or two with our parkrunning friends, and the Little Monkeys were later collected by mum and dad, who reported:
 
"These monkeys are shattered after a sleepover with Grandparents!"