Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 21 March 2020

Saturday 21 March 2020 - parkrun substitute number 1

Today, parkrunners all over the world have been trying to resolve what to do at 9.00 am on Saturday morning. The Facebook and youtube channels provide some ideas, and there's a youtube video hosted by Vassos Alexander (here). There's also a quiz. We scored 5/15. Room for improvement.
I counted 47 runners as I set off at 9 am and went along a 6.7 km route, after which the queue for the coffees was rather more amenable than the supermarket queues I've had to brave recently. Most of the 47 were on the busy towpath, which I joined after 5 km in 26.36. I'm happy with that.
Here's my route, taken anti-clockwise, starting near Timperley Bridge, where I took the top selfie. You might need to click on the image to see it properly. Sue went for a walk up and down the towpath as she is injured for running at present. Neither of us saw any of our 'parkrun regulars', but we are in touch with some of them through a WhatsApp group.
Martha (encountered on her bike yesterday) and I were due to do our 250th parkruns together on 18 April, with lots of cake in attendance. That seems a distant memory of a plan now, especially as we don't have enough flour (and the shop shelves are bare) to make any cake. Unhappy days, but at least Sue and I have an income, unlike millions of others..

Friday 20 March 2020 - A Walk to Dunham Massey

There's not much text here, so feel free to click on a photo and scroll through the short slideshow.
On a lovely sunny (but cool) Friday afternoon, Sue and I escaped from 'C' word despondency for a walk to Dunham Massey and back, from home in Timperley.
Martha passed us on her bike, on the way to Lymm and perhaps beyond. It was good to have a brief chat with her.
Beyond the Bay Malton, a small dog secured to a blue barge admired our freedom to use the towpath.
The light was lovely today. Very clear air; very few aircraft; good views to the Peak District, to Winter Hill and to the windfarms of the South Pennines.
The hawthorn leaves are bursting forth.
This field by the exit to the towpath, is still thoroughly waterlogged.

The National Trust's grounds at Dunham Massey are open to everyone, and family groups were enjoying picnics in the sunshine.
It was busy, but not crowded, with lots of people taking advantage of the fresh air but keeping to themselves. The café was shut.
This is a location where I'll be taking many pictures over the coming months (if allowed). You'll notice how the scene changes over the year when I put them all together in a few months' time.
A sign of the times - posted at all entrances to the park.
Beyond the confines of the park, and before reaching the golf course, there were expansive views over the fields to Winter Hill, standing clearly on the horizon.
There were lots of golfers out on this Friday afternoon. We joked with one whose shot just missed us.
A pigeon near the centre of Altrincham wasn't so lucky, as a sparrowhawk swooped for its lunch of pigeon breast.
After passing St Margaret's, where Sue goes bellringing (the future of that must be in doubt), we headed through Altrincham and Navigation Road to conclude our 12 km stroll in a little over two hours. This was the longest outing to date for my new Scarpa Delta GTX boots; a small ankle rub has now gone, so after about 25 km of use they can be regarded as 'broken in'. I hope they are as good as the previous pair, that are still fully waterproof after over 2500 km of hard use.
All in all, a very pleasant interlude away from (mainly) ongoing depressing news.

Friday 20 March 2020

Wednesday 18 March 2020 - Alderley Edge

Andrew, Graeme and I had arranged to meet at the Wizard Café for a coffee and a short walk. That meeting was cancelled, but it seems that we all fancied a stroll from the car park anyway. For me that was a welcome break from visiting a series of crowded shops in search of basic foodstuffs.
We kept our distance - three old men with hearing difficulties on a 'Pardon Walk'. Two walking poles apart. But even that may soon be outlawed, despite being a minimal risk of virus infection compared with necessary shop visits.
The view across Cheshire looked fairly gloomy, but the fresh air was wonderful.
The walk was brief, and only 2 km; near the end here (below) it was beside open fields.
It was good to see A and G and Lucy, and to see the hawthorn coming into leaf. We did plan to meet again, but I'm not sure when/whether that will happen.
It's good to know that I'm not alone in thinking that a bit of fresh air, taken judiciously, is a very low health risk compared with necessary shop visits. Here's an extract from a message received yesterday from the British Mountaineering Council:
"We’re working closely with key partners including National Trust, Forestry England, Ordnance Survey, Natural England, the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) and Association of British Climbing Walls (ABC) to promote the benefits of low-risk, low contact outdoor activities to benefit our physical and mental health."

Thursday 19 March 2020

Sunday 15 March 2020 - The Two Crosses Walk

At the time of writing, social walks of this nature are a thing of the past for the foreseeable future. However, we were lucky enough on Sunday to enjoy a fine and superbly organised event - the 35th running of East Lancashire Long Distance Walkers Association's (LDWA) Two Crosses Walk. There's a 17 mile route, and a 25 mile route. I've reported on them before:
These reports include a history of the crosses, so this report is principally a pictorial review of Sunday's outing in the company of fellow TGO Challengers - JJ, Judith, Andy D, and 227 others.
A new venue, Greenmount Old School Community Centre, was where we checked in.
Then we assembled outside, with our quartet in no hurry to join the rush to the first stile, as that wouldn't have been good for JJ, who has only one working lung at present (though his one lung is equivalent to the average person's full complement).
Trail shoes were the order of the day for most participants, though JJ and I chose boots and gaiters. Despite some rather wet sections (I was knee deep in bog at one point) we were in a very small minority of finishers with dry feet!

The paths up to Affetside include a few bottlenecks where only one person at a time can cross certain stiles.

My previous posting shows Judith poised for a dramatic face-plant. Readers should be pleased to discover that she miraculously recovered her poise, leaving JJ in her wake.

Height was slowly gained on a cloudy day with occasional light mizzle. We made the best of it, in the knowledge that it may be our last social outing for a while.

There was mud, in which JJ is pictured soon after Affetside at the head of this posting, and even a pond to splash through at one point.

Affetside Roman Cross is the first of the Two Crosses encountered today, being on the ancient Watling Street between Manchester and Ribchester.

Jumbles Country Park offers toilets, before a stroll alongside the reservoir to cross its northern end with a good, if rather dull, view back down the reservoir, which has a Victorian feel to it. In fact it dates from 1971 and has its origins in an old quarry.

After a pleasant section along the Witton Weavers Way, the 25 mile route departs westwards and leaves our shorter route to potter down to Batridge Barn car park, where a giant tent houses a wide selection of foodstuffs, courtesy of Viv and her team of Master Chefs. This is JJ's favourite part of the walk, where he scoffs unimaginable quantities of Greek salad.

Here he is, remonstrating with Viv about today's lack of said salad. He was devastated. Viv had been too busy to make any. There were plenty of other goodies. "Calm down, JJ!"

This is where the 25 milers re-join the shorter route. They usually just grab a sandwich and keep moving. Many of them overtook us whilst we were lounging with full plates of food.

Then we set off again.
The Strawbury Duck was quiet today.

After a very boggy crossing of Holcombe Moor, correctly described on my map as 'Wet Moss', we reached Checkpoint 6 - 'Wall NE of Bull Hill' - together with a group of women who were cackling in the manner of a coven of witches. If you need water, this checkpoint disappoints. But it's not known as 'Naughty Corner' for nothing. I chose rum, but whisky and sherry were also on offer. Judith found all this so enticing that she nearly joined the coven and went round twice.

Around the corner from 'Naughty Corner' is the second major landmark of this walk - The Pilgrim's Cross, the site of an ancient cross, on which the present incumbent was placed in 1902. Peel Tower can be seen on the horizon to the right of the Pilgrim's Cross.

After waiting for JJ to lay an egg, we continued aimiably over Harcles Hill to the Peel Tower, erected in 1852 as a monument to local politician, Sir Robert Peel.

The LDWA are very proud of their contribution towards the cost of improving the path through Redisher Wood. It used to be a slithery descent, with tree to tree handholds.

Recent flooding has subsided at the foot of the descent.

The last section of the descent, after the new steps come to an end, is still a bit steep and sticky, so Judith and JJ needed to exercise extreme care to avoid dirtying their backsides.

From Redisher, there's a short steep ascent to the outskirts of Hawkshaw and the final checkpoint.
Then a stroll past a poultry farm then past a golf course at Greenmount saw us happily to the finish, with muddy paths almost to the very end.
The emu seen on a previous visit was rather camera shy on this occasion.

A good spread of tasty soups at the finish, with other refreshments, and another certificate for the file.

Here's the route - 28 km with about 600 metres ascent.

Thanks go to JJ for giving me a lift. It's a shame that the curling contest at Barton Grange that I was supposed to adjourn to was postponed until November.
Concluding this report on Thursday morning - the Two Crosses walk seems to be in the distant past, with many restrictions on movement and on congregations of groups having since then been imposed in an attempt to halt the spread of the C virus.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

More Mud!

After last week's adventures in the mud around Ilam, this week was the turn of East Lancs LDWA's 'Two Crosses' walk to dump its 231 participants in some good old Lancashire slurry.
I'll report in more detail later, but the above picture of Judith, near the start (it must be, her shoes are not yet brown), gives an idea of the ambience as she tries valiantly to avoid a dramatic 'face-plant' in the mud near Affetside.
(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)