Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Saturday 10 August 2019 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 403

 
Just a few snaps from this morning's run, starting with the pre-run briefing from Oliver.
 
 
"Come on, pay attention!"
 
Just 253 people took part today, when the forecast wind and rain failed to materialise. It was good to discover that Mark Hunter was present after a long absence due to illness. We wish him well.
 
 
'Fast Michael' was striding out as usual. His feet rarely touch the ground.
 
 
Jenn's feet were very much on the ground today, but she was well ahead of Sue - both of them much slower than on Thursday evening's Sizzler.
 
 
 
Coffee and cake was welcome, and 'Nobby No Show' may have to change his nickname, following his appearance for three consecutive weeks!
 
 
Not that it's of much relevance - the full results are here.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Friday 9 August 2019 - Around Little Budworth

 
I was joined on this Friday morning walk by the two Pauls. Inclement weather had mainly passed by the time we reached the Red Lion in Little Budworth. The pub appeared to be open, so I went in and asked if it was ok to leave Paul's car there until lunchtime, and "would you be able to serve us some coffee". Both requests were refused, on the grounds that 1. they were not yet open, and 2. a "big funeral" was taking place later and it would be mayhem.
 
At the landlord's suggestion, we moved the car to the nearby Country Park car park at SJ 590 653, and started our walk from there.
 
Walking back through the village, we passed Dodd's House - the house was built and the land purchased from monies left in the will of Dame Isabella Dodd - in 1734.
 

St Peter's Church, which would no doubt be full later, has a very tall tower, thought to have been built as one of the beacons radiating outwards from Beeston Castle to warn of any imminent attack by Welsh raiders. The interior apparently houses the widest unsupported church roof in Cheshire. Maybe we'll have a look around it one day when they aren't preparing for a big funeral.
 
 
Leaving the village, we passed Budworth Pool, home to many families of moorhens, and probably much more.
 
 
Soon afterwards, after some pleasant country paths, we entered an area known for growing watercress, which in the days before mechanised transport, was 'exported' to London.
 
That area is at the other end of a field of sweetcorn that has currently grown to more than head height. We made our way through the field in a brief shower of rain.
 
 
 
After taking a wrong turn and nearly arriving back at the car, we noticed how quickly a new stream created by the downpour had drained away and virtually disappeared.
 
The correct path led through the sunlit woods of Little Budworth Country Park, where large numbers of tasty looking puffballs were waiting to be harvested by some enterprising soul.
 
 
A right turn at Hill Top Farm (situated at the top of a small hill), took us to the Mill Pond. This area has undergone changes in recent years, following the gutting of the flour mill by fire, after it had been converted into a craft centre. It's now a private residence, situated to the left of the next picture. The picture shows the Mill Pond, overlooked by two large private houses. There is no sign of the Mill Pool Restaurant, which appears to have closed, and a picnic bench marked on the map has also been removed. That didn't stop us from taking an elevenses and chocolate brownie break on the grass near the reservoir where the picnic bench used to sit..
 
 
With the difficulties caused by recent flood damage to the Toddbrook Reservoir in Whaley Bridge in mind, I had a look for information about this small reservoir, and found an interesting article in CheshireLive, which I reiterate at the foot of this posting for anyone who may be interested.
 
Moving on, we muscled our way, with buzzards in attendance, past Moss Hall Farm, whose fields illustrated a complete lack of appreciation for anyone who might want to try to follow the public footpaths between Brownhill and the farm. If we'd had a suitable container we might have collected some of the potatoes we had to stumble through to reach the farm.
 
A Victorian post box adorned the wall of a building in Rushton where we emerged from the lane from Moss Hall Farm. The farm to which the box is attached is imaginatively named 'Pillar Box Farm'.
 
 
By now, a noise that had become familiar to us during the course of the morning grew louder again, and we could just about identify the noise, that sounded like powerful sewing machines on steroids, as coming from motorbikes racing around the Oulton Park Motor Racing Circuit.
 
We followed the wall, passing another farm, again literally named - 'Park Wall Farm', all the way back to the car park, taking care not to collect too much cow poo for transmission to Paul's clean looking car!
 
Looking through the crumbling wall to the race course, we should have noticed some of the finest lime trees in Cheshire - many over 200 years old, as well as much more ancient mixed woodland that lines the race track. Perhaps we were too busy shooing away the attentive bullocks.
 
 
Here's our route - 11.4 km, with about 150 metres ascent (ie 'flat'), taking us a little more than two and a half hours. Despite any perceived criticisms herein, the paths were generally very good and provided a good circuit around Little Budworth and Oulton parks.
 
 
Given the discouragement provided earlier by the Red Lion's landlord, we chose to avoid the village and return via Cotebrook, where the A49 Café provided excellent value coffees and cakes - £6 in total for the round! I've marked the location with a tea cup on the map above - click on it, and on any other image, to get a better resolution picture/slideshow.
 
From CheshireLive - July 2013
 
A 300-YEAR-OLD mill pool has been saved from extinction after being threatened with enforcement action which would have turned it into a mud pond.

Friends of the Oulton Mill Pool in Cotebrook have breathed a sigh of relief after learning the historic waterway is not to be fully drained, after years of speculation surrounding its survival.
The news will be welcomed by villagers who regard the five-acre pool as an important rural beauty spot and thriving habitat for wildlife, including swans, ducks and coots.
The final twist in the saga involving the mill pool emerged after continued pressure was put on the pool owner, the Oulton Estate, by Cheshire County Council.
The authority issued an enforcement notice to deal with the pool's flooding problems some years ago under the 1975 Reservoir Act.
The authority was concerned the pool could cause flooding at any time and piled pressure on the Oulton Estate to address the problem via enforcement action.
A series of twists and turns followed but it has now emerged, following a re-measurement of the waterway's depth, that the pool is shallower than its original measurement.
As a result, the pool only has to be drained by seven inches - rather than the original 0.4m as first proposed - which cancels the pool's status as a flood threat.
Cheshire County Council will have to withdraw its enforcement action, which will be welcomed by villagers and the Mill Pool Restaurant in Cotebrook, which trades on the back of the mill pool.
The final twist in the mill pool saga emerged at the May meeting of Tarporley Parish Council.
Addressing fellow councillors, Tim Hill, a Vale Royal borough councillor, said the pool will be saved due to a new measurement of the waterway.
Cllr Hill said draining the pool by seven inches would take the pool out of the remit of the Reservoirs Act and pose no flooding threat.
'Anglers believe that draining the pool by seven inches won't turn the pool into a mud bank,' said Cllr Hill. 'This is an interim solution and not a permanent one. There is a one-in-100-years risk of flooding.
'Vale Royal Borough Council would like to see a new culvert placed in the pool, but the problem is funding it. However, this is quite positive news.'
Earlier this year Cheshire County Council issued fresh enforcement action and gave the Oulton Estate 28 days to deal with the pool's problems.
However, measurements were carried out in the interim, which led to the situation which will save the pool from being drained totally.
Earlier this year Michael Scott, a senior partner of Chester-based Denton Clark, which acts as agent for the Oulton Estate, said the estate would not break the law and draining was being considered.
In a statement, he said: 'The water will be lowered but the pool will be preserved. When you pull a plug out of a bath some water remains. It's a flexible situation.'
Officials at Cheshire County Council confirmed that draining Oulton Pool by seven inches would ensure public safety.
A county council spokesman said: 'The county council has responsibility for the enforcement of the Reservoirs Act 1975 and has recently had to apply pressure on the owner of Oulton Mill Pool to undertake works in the interest of public safety.
'The owner's engineer made such recommendations in both 2000 and 2002, however, the work has not been carried out.
'Last month the reservoir was surveyed and the owner's engineer now recommends that the water level needs to be reduced by 18cm in order to ensure public safety.
'The county council has agreed to this revised proposal and it is hoped that this will be undertaken as soon as possible.
'Meanwhile, the county council has concerns regarding a second proposal to remove Oulton Mill Pool from the Reservoirs Act and has asked for clarification from the owner.'


Thursday, 8 August 2019

Thursday 8 August 2019 - Another 'Sale Sizzler'

 
I ran in this event two weeks ago in The Heat. Report here.
 
Since then, Sue, Paul and Laura had all been persuaded to join me in this last of four 'Sizzler' races organised by Sale Harriers this year. Apparently it is the 18th year of the 'Sizzler'.
 
The nice blue fabric goodie bags appear to have run out in mid preparation.
 

Never mind, nobody should have reason to complain about being dehydrated on another warm evening.
 

Fechin McCormick did his best to address the throngs.
 
 
I set off near the back. It was slow going in the crowds, but after jogging the first kilometre I saw Michael ahead of me. He's almost exactly my age and we have periods of just about having the edge on each other. Recently I've been able to pass him, but today he seemed to have a new lease of life and sped up when he saw me. I suppose I had to elevate my 'jog' to an actual running motion in order to keep up with Michael, who was getting loads of encouragement from the marshals. He's a stalwart member of Sale Harriers, who organise and marshal this race. So Everyone knows him.
 
I pretended my name was Michael for a while, but he still kept drawing ahead. I struggled to keep up until the final 350 metres on the running track. Great fun!
 
After Sue had finished just behind me and we'd been handed our goodie bags, we listened to Fechin singing the praises of Geoge Tivey, who is in his mid 80's. Apparently George has been announcing at athletics meetings for over forty years. He is retiring in order to care for his wife. He said a few words and accepted a carrier bag full of (bottled) wine. All quite sweet.
 
 
There were 568 runners tonight. Sue and I came 406th and 362nd respectively, in quite reasonable times (for 'joggers' surrounded by batteries of serious club runners). You might need to click on the following images in order to see them properly (or you may not be bothered - they are only really there as a record for me).
 
 

The 'Sizzler' has been great fun, and we've met loads of people (and in Sue's case, colleagues) who we know, so if we get a chance to do some Sizzlers next year I'm sure we'll be there.
 
Thanks go to Sale Harriers for organising a splendid event, attended by running clubs from over a wide area.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 13

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 13 - Saturday 7 August 2004 - Stage 11
 
Postcard Summary
Silent camp to Refuge d’Arlet
Beautiful contouring paths avoiding storms.  Leisurely afternoon in sun – 7 hours, 14 km, 700m ascent
Up early at 6.30, to get the best of the weather, and we spent all day avoiding nearby raindrops.  We arrived at Arlet at 2.30 and had a very leisurely afternoon in the sun.  Our tent is by the lake, and we will be lulled to sleep by jumping fish.  We have just enjoyed a five course meal at the refuge and will turn in early.
 
 
Diary Entry (by Martin)
Quarter Distance
Today we decided an early start would be beneficial, so the alarm went at 6.30. Still nearly dark! However tea was brewed, muesli eaten - no milk, just water! - and packs packed by 7.30.  

This enabled us to get up to the first col of the day - on the summit ridge above us - by 8 am, just as the sun was rising above nearby rocky ridges. Birds twitter, sun shines, but goes again as we descend the spur to Lac Acherito. [We followed a path up from Ansabère, turned left on reaching the ridge, passed two high points and descended right down on a spur to the lake.]
 
Lots of English irises (blue) on the Spanish side. We stopped to replenish water at the lake (8.30). Purified it. There were whistling marmots here and Sue spotted the first orchids of the trip. 



 
Today's were superb contouring paths, and we enjoyed them in the presence of redstarts and yellowhammers. Just as we were considering applying suntan cream .... it started to rain. We spent the next three hours on the edge of a massive storm that occasionally shed a few spots of rain on us. Waterproofs went on and off on countless occasions.
 
We had a very pleasant brew stop (10.15 to 10.45), before the climb up to Col de Pau, expecting to be rained on at any moment.
 
There were quite a few day walkers out - as last Saturday some were blasting up the hill as if there was no tomorrow, and we were simply in their way. They must still be in work mode (do the Spanish work?).
 
On we continued, through meadows where irises and yellow rattle were abundant. The larks whistled and the redstarts chattered as in the background there were huge rolls of thunder, and crashes of lightning in the dark sky above.
 
Col de Pau was reached at 11.30. A massive storm raged to the west, but the sun stayed on us. The border stone here is a rock - number 276.

 


Can you spot the number on the rock?

We forged on towards Arlet as the weather prospects looked dire. However, the storm miraculously missed us and by 1 pm we were hungry enough to break for lunch. It was a speedy affair - waterproofs still going on and off like nobody's business - sardines/mackerel and half a baguette.
 
The last section - 1.20 to 2.30 to Refuge Arlet (the Arlet hut) was completed in much better weather, which continued to improve as the afternoon progressed. We had a view of Lescun, but weather conditions prevented a descent photo.
 
On reaching the hut a man from Lescun obliged when we requested "Two hot chocolates - now!" This surprised us as he had just arrived at the hut, which was being cleaned by two youths. Anyway, we booked dinner - they took our names and wrote them in a book (it seems you need to book your meal here - early arrivals at huts are an advantage), and we headed off to Lac d'Arlet to pitch our tent right next to the lake.

A pleasant afternoon was then spent in the sun, washing, walking around the lake, diary writing, etc. Very lazy. Adjourned at 7 pm for a 5 course meal, €14 each, at Arlet Hut in the company of some jolly Spanish lads and lots of French. Hut quite full. Glad to be camping. Can hear fish jumping and donkeys neighing. Nice and cool - 20°C. 9.30 pm - bed.

 


Our tent is beside the lake on the left
 
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
14.5 km, 970 metres ascent, 7 hours
 

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Pyrenees HRP - 2004 - Day 12

 
Sue and Martin's Big Adventure
 
Day 12 - Friday 6 August 2004 - Stage 10
 
Postcard Summary (on Day 13 card)
Refuge Jeandel to Lac d’Ansabère
Wonderful mountain day and idyllic campsite.  All sorts of terrain – 10 hours, 23 km, 1400m ascent
A hard but beautiful mountain day – all sorts of terrain, from limestone plateau to woods to contouring paths over grassy hills.  Lunch in a hanging valley in the sun.  Sting in the tail was a 900m ascent, starting around 3.30 and ending at 6.15 pm, at an idyllic spot by the small lake, alone except for the eagles.
 
Diary Entry (by Sue)
A fabulous mountain day, with good weather returning, and culminating in a magnificent camping spot next to a small tarn, with spires of limestone mountains encircling us. 
 

In the refuge this morning, the group of French families were up and away around 6 ish, the floorboards creaking with their footsteps. We were up at 7.15 and away at 8.15 after Jean's tea, toast and jam.

It was clear and sunny, with cloud still in the French valleys below. It was a little while before the skiing paraphernalia was left behind, but then we indulged in the rugged limestone landscape, dotted with small pines. The flowers either side of the path were a delight - lots of blue columbines included.   

 
Passed the shepherd's hut at Pescamou, and a cavers' hut with about six tents nearby, higher up. (See picture above.)
 
Boots were necessary due to the sharp limestone underfoot. The first landmark was the Col des Anies, where a brew was had beneath views of the Pic d'Anie (2504 metres) and Pic d'Arlas.
 
There were lots of day walkers around, most heading for Pic d'Anie. On the long descent from the col, we assisted a lost Spaniard and picked up water from a spring.
 
 
 
The hazy views ahead were of jagged peaks, and later, wooded valleys. Just after the col, the first patch of old snow was spotted. Rather than descending to meet the GR10 and walk down the valley, our route contoured around the hillside, on a little used path, beside which grew tall irises.
 
This route also lost many of the walkers seen earlier. Today's lunch spot was a highlight - another brew, and bread with tomato and soft cheese with herbs and garlic, in a superb spot in a high valley, with very few people around and towering limestone above.
 
 
The temperature was ideal today - mid twenties and a breeze, with some small clouds. From the high valley, the path descended through trees, and as it steepened to sharp zigzags, a waterfall could be heard cascading to our right. The broad, grassy area, in which the waterfall finished and became a meandering stream, was dotted with families, picnicking or enjoying the water.
 
 
A track from here to a road dropped us down to today's low point (950 metres). Being in trainers again ate the miles up. Occasional stops for water and to ease the shoulders - today our rucksacks have been replenished with food for three breakfasts, three lunches and a couple of evening meals.
 
From around 3.30 pm, a long ascent, first up a wide track, then a narrower one through trees.
 
 
Again, the shade was welcome. Luckily, the gradient was mostly quite gentle. Due to the time of day, most people (apart from an English family with two youngish children) were coming down.
 
Earlier, calculations suggested we might not reach today's intended destination until 7.30, but our arrival at some shepherds' huts was an hour earlier than expected. A little higher, 4½ litres of water were collected from a spring, then carried nearly 300 metres higher.
 
The climb was sweaty, but our tiredness was worthwhile - there is a small tarn here, and whilst cooling my feet off, tadpoles nibbled at them - very ticklish! A nice pitch, still, warm conditions, and arriving at 6.10 pm, time to enjoy it.
 
 
The occasional cry from a marmot earlier. Slightly lower, we noticed several vultures landing at a spot near the river, but the reason wasn't clear.
 
Mint tea preceded dinner of soup and frankfurters, than couscous in mushroom sauce and more frankfurters, then hot chocolate. The sun was on our site until about 8.30 pm, when it dropped below the mountains.
 
Camp at 1859 metres - at Lac d'Ansabère - lovely evening reflections in the lake. Eagles nesting above, sheep and campers below.
 
 
Stats and route (Viewranger):
25 km, 1800 metres ascent, 10 hours
 
 
 
PS My friend Uli has now completed his East to West HRP crossing. He has taken some lovely pictures that can be viewed here. Enjoy!