Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 12 September 2020

Thursday 10 September 2020 - The Preston Guild Wheel - A Bike Ride

Robert and Lyn should have been enjoying themselves on a barge trip in the south of France, instead of which they have had to accept the thrills of a Staycation in Lancashire.
They invited me along on this bike ride. Our rendezvous point failed to synchronise, but they managed to track me down to the Cuerden Hall car park, from where we cycled north along a disused tram line for a short distance, 4 miles or so, to pick up the Preston Guild Wheel by the Old Tram Bridge, which appeared to be closed.
So we went along to the next bridge over the River Ribble, and took pictures back towards the Old Tram Bridge.
In the other direction is the Ribble Viaduct that carries the main line railway.
Across the bridge, we descended to join the 'Wheel' in a clockwise direction, which is recommended due to the nature of the hills (such as they are) and means you avoid any steep ascents and can enjoy some steep, if brief, descents.
The Preston Guild Wheel route was created in 2012 and is a well signposted 21 mile, mainly off-road, circuit around Preston. It has 'spokes' that lead to the City centre, and connecting routes with Lancaster, Chorley (via the Cuerden valley), Blackpool and Southport. During the ride I came to realise that Preston has a network of cycle paths of which it can be proud.
Once on the 'Wheel' we passed Miller Park, where there's an impressive municipal building and there were hordes of keep fit fanatics practising all manner of group exercises.
Littered along the route are numerous industrial relics such as the one shown below.
Before leaving the River Ribble and its cool headwind, we passed Albert Edward Dock, which has a large lock to protect it from the tidal movements of the river that are encountered beyond this point.
A millennium project restored the canal link between the Ribble and the Lancaster Canal. Here, on this link, a fisherman was trying to entice to his hook fish that were feeding in the lock.
We watched him from our elevenses bench.
Soon we passed over the Lancaster Canal.
As mentioned above, the route is well signposted.
After a while the M55 motorway was crossed and the northern point of the ride was reached at Broughton. By now we had enjoyed a further break for lunch.
Broughton Pinfold is an ancient enclosure for impounding stray livestock until claimed by their owners.
Here's a random shot of some new housing. It sort of illustrates the completed nature of many fenced in building sites that we passed during the ride. Preston is growing in size.
Before returning to paths beside the River Ribble, we passed through the Nature Reserve at Brockholes. A splendid place where we could have spent more time. I had a long wait at one point (never did find out why!).
There are plenty of hostelries en-route, but not this one.
A magnificent avenue of trees led through Avenham Park, where toilets and other facilities were very much open for business.
We soon found confirmation about the non-viability of the Old Tram Bridge as a route until (if) it's restored.
Back at the Ribble bridge, we returned directly to the Cuerden Valley, passing sculptures on the way.

Before parting, Robert kindly took the picture featured at the head of this posting, before he and Lyn pedalled on down the valley to their free car park, and I went up the steep hill behind us, back to my £4 car park. I need to visit the bank to get more car parking cash!

Here's the route I took, in total about 50 km with just 250 metres ascent. It took a very leisurely four and a half hours.
Many thanks to Robert and Lyn for inviting me to meet up for this excellent outing.

Friday 11 September 2020

Bluebells in Grizedale Forest

I've had another busy day that I'll write up over the weekend, so today's entry is a lucky dip into the past, this time to 11 May 2006, when I enjoyed a bike ride amongst the bluebells of Grizedale Forest.

Thursday 10 September 2020

Sue in Nepal

Today's randomly chosen picture (I ran out of time for anything else) is of Sue in Nepal in November 2004. A memorable trip...
Happy Days!

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Tuesday 8 September 2020 - Appleton

A little while ago, Jen Darling gave me a copy of her book, 'Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral'. Most of the walks are fairly short, and I have to admit to the book, until I undertook this walk ('Walk Number 1. Appleton'), remained in fairly pristine condition. Then, last week, Jen indicated that the publisher may seek a new edition of this book, and if so may I be able to help by re-walking some of the routes?
Of course, I'd enjoy doing that, and why not walk the routes anyway, I'm sure they'll lead me to some interesting nuances to routes with which I'm familiar, and one or two friends who aren't up for longer outings any more may be happy to join me.
Walk Number 1 seemed a good place to start, so I drove to Warrington and parked behind what Jen's book describes as a Spar shop. It's now a Co-op, and that's the only significant factual 'edit' that I came across, though - as Jen knows - I could add a few non essential edits to aid anyone trying to do the walk by simply following the instructions in the book, without the aid of a map.
Jen used to live (almost if not in sight of the above-mentioned Co-op) here, so this would be a walk from her front door. Her book highlights some points of interest that I will not repeat here, not least because I've already mentioned some of them elsewhere on these pages! Here and here, for starters.
Jen mentions the original features of The Lodge, near the start of the walk, but they are now concealed by a high brown gate/fence, but the old gateposts shown below lead through a lovely avenue of beech trees next to Pewterspear Lane.
The double-faced sculpture of the Roman god Janus (also pictured above), marks the point where this walk leaves the Roman road and heads off to Hillside Farm.
Beyond Hillside Farm, which is skirted by a pleasant path with twittering birds in the hedgerow and mewing buzzards overhead, Dennow Cottage soon appears in the distance.
Bellfields was built by a retired naval commander, who modelled the interior on a ship. In front of the house is a sandstone pillar that is said to mark the spot where Cromwell's horse was buried, after being killed in a nearby skirmish in 1648.
Next to Bellfields is a duck farm.
Unlike other versions of this route, this one passes around Appleton Reservoir, where mallard, coot, moorhens, swans and great crested grebes keep the fishermen company. It's a permissive path in tranquil surroundings. Delightful.
There's no escape from Himalayan Balsam and Hedge Bindweed at this time of year.
Soon afterwards, the Bridgewater Canal's towpath is reached after crossing Hough's Bridge, on a very pleasant, heavily shaded stretch.
A short diversion in the direction of Moore leads after 300 metres to the entrance to Walton Hall Gardens, the former home of Lord and Lady Daresbury, where there's a bicycle museum and other attractions. (Click on the image to view it properly.)
After this distraction, the towpath leads back in the other direction, past housing, to Stockton Heath.
The canal is left behind at London Bridge, after crossing which bridge the route doubles back for a while, passing the old customs house and toll keeper's cottage, before ascending through a series of ginnels to a large cemetery.
Today, a mass of Green Alkanet foliage and flowers adorns some of the ginnels.
From the lychgate of Hill Cliffe Baptist Church, there's a good view to the spire of St Elphin's, Warrington Parish Church, and beyond to the tall mast on Winter Hill, and the South Pennines.
The walk enjoys a final flourish along a fine footpath beside a golf course (which is the other side of an impenetrable hedge), before reaching Pineways and skirting a delightful pond, from where the Co-op and its car park can be seen.

Near here I stopped for a chat with someone in his garden and told him what I was doing. He remembered Jen as having lived "just around the corner".
Thus ended a delightful stroll that amounted to 11 km including diversions and took me two and a half hours.

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Red Hot Pokers

A quick entry today, from a trip in 2005 that's another candidate for a full report.
This picture, which I think is of a variety of Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia), was taken in Madeira on 26 November 2005, at a time when I was juggling consultancy work with trips, leaving no time to process photos.
I can think of a few candidates for RHPs just now, but I'd better stop there...!

Monday 7 September 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 32: 23 May 2010)

The ninth and final wild camp of my 2010 Challenge was on the shore of Loch Beanie, where, after a twelve hour day that included a good meal at the Spittal of Glenshee Hotel*, I was joined by Brian (pictured above after politely asking if I minded him camping near me - "yes, that's fine, it's the best spot"), a New Zealander with a 30 kg pack who was walking the Cateran Trail.
 Two mating swans cavorted on the Loch whilst I cooked my supper.
Brian had a load of fishing tackle and spare clothing, but very little food. He caught a lot of weed, but no fish!
After a day during which it had rained for a few hours, we enjoyed a lovely sunset.

The following morning offered fine views back across Loch Beanie, as I moved on, leaving Brian to slumber in peace.
* 20% discount to Challengers, but sadly it burnt down in around 2014.