Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 26 September 2020

Friday 25 September 2020 - Nicky Nook from Scorton Picnic Site

It's a while since we went up Nicky Nook. This destination is the wrong side of town for most of us. However, traffic is light these days, so with no hold ups it took just an hour to reach this lovely area. We were blessed with fine weather and superb visibility on this visit, for a walk that was a minor extension of one that we did in the evening on 24 May 2005 and on other occasions.

The 'full house' (there's a maximum of groups of six people at present) included regular Friday morning walkers - Sue, Graeme, Paul and me - and we were delighted to welcome Tony, who we hadn't seen for several years, and John (aka 'BC'), who we met for the first time today. John is a blogger in the name of 'Bowland Climber', and occasionally comments on these pages - comments that led to his being invited to join us today on what is his 'home patch'. It was a pleasure to meet you, John.

Somewhat miraculously, everyone had found the picnic site and we were ready to roll before the designated time of 10 am. We strolled past a bus stop that on a rainy day could challenge the concept of social distancing.

Quiet lanes led to Cliftons, and a typical Lancashire farmhouse. Can you spot the sheep enjoying its breakfast in the garden? (Click on any image for a better version.)

Pleasant field paths led us towards the Bowland fells, with fine views towards the Lake District as we slowly rose in height.

Paul demonstrated to Graeme 'how to balance a sheep on the back of your hand'!

After passing Sykes Farm, we rose gently to the Dolphinholme road, turning right to gain a good view towards Nicky Nook.

A fair path leads down to Fell End, whence tracks saw us to the edge of Holme Wood and an elevenses bench, by way of a memorial to Keith Thomas Witherington, who I imagine liked this place. Social distancing restricted use of the bench to just two people.

It was busy near that bench, as the conclusion of a partridge/duck shoot was assembled nearby. I thought I saw quite a few pheasants as well. We were pleased to have missed the carnage.

Continuing onwards, there were good views back down the hill.

Before reaching the summit of Nicky Nook, we passed a stone pillar and noted another one in the distance. Both are visible in the next picture. They apparently mark the course of the aqueduct carrying water from Thirlmere to Manchester. I wonder how deep the aqueduct is buried/tunneled?

To the east, the summits of the Forest of Bowland fells beckoned, but not for us today.

We lingered at the 215 metre summit of Nicky Nook, despite a cool breeze. There were views to the Lake District and to the hills of North Wales, as far as the Great Orme. A brilliantly clear day, on which Blackpool Tower, some 15 miles away, looked very close by.

A descent past the second stone pillar led us to the delights of Grize Dale, a very pretty valley.

Bird life ranged from tree creepers to buzzards. John told us this was a favourite spot for bird watchers, though today we were probably too engrossed in conversation to benefit from any exciting observations.

Tony thinks Grize (as in Grize Dale) probably means a valley where wild boar were to be found. There were none on view today!

Thanks to Graeme for this picture

Lunch was enjoyed at the western end of the dale by a bench in memory of Vicki-Lynn (1990 to 2004). The inscription reads 'Rest a While and Think of Vicki, Drinking Coke and Looking Pretty'. John thinks this young girl was a victim of leukemia. Very sad, but a lovely memorial.

A path around Throstle Nest Farm brought us to an innocuous looking stile. BC wisely demanded that I put my camera away before he attempted it. We were glad that neither Conrad nor Andrew was with us at this point!

I now see that my intended route was to follow the tarmac lane a bit further and take the path past Long Crossey Wood, joining the Wyre Way route for the rest of the walk. We effectively took a short cut - the intended route would have been better.

Scorton church is a landmark with which all motorists taking the M6 south of Lancaster should be familiar.

Scorton means ‘farmstead near a ditch or ravine’. The village was developed around the cotton mill and railway in the nineteenth century, although there are records of the village and catholic church in Scurton, or Scorton, tracing back to the 17th Century. We could have paused for refreshments in this pleasant place, but having already lunched, and being aware of current pandemic issues, we continued amiably on a lovely path beside Scorton Lake, the site of a former quarry.

On reaching the minor road at Ashbournes, we received a stern warning as to the location of our destination. If it was intended for motorists, Lancashire County Council clearly has a very high regard for the reaction times of its drivers!

Here's our route - about 14 km, with 300 metres ascent, taking us a leisurely four+ hours.

What a lovely way to spend a morning.

Here's Bowland Climber's take on the day.

Friday 25 September 2020

Sunday 26 June 2005 - Dinner at Balmoral Drive

This may have been a belated birthday cake for Mike. If so, the 21 candles were missing. Possibly he and Kate were just in the habit of coming round for their Sunday dinners, as on this occasion were Richard and Jenny.

Happy Days, when four households could meet together for dinner in the garden.

This posting is simply from random, previously unedited and unindexed, photos off the computer's hard drive. The Nicky Nook report will have to wait.

Thursday 24 September 2020

24 July 1989 - Alta Via 2 - Days 10, 11 and 12 - The Laggers' Tale

The Laggers' Tale

Monday 24 July

Laurie and Martin W wake to Italian pop music in a room full of kids. Re-pack and down to a free breakfast of a bowl of coffee with croutons.

Then goodbye to the kids and off down the lane once again. Across meadows into woods, on a path that although wet, was not too slippery, now rising steeply and joining a boulder field which passes for a stream bed. The landslip mentioned in the Guidebook seems to have settled down.

Rounding a high corner we see there is still a lot of climbing to do. Relieved to find the threatened 'slippery cliff' not too steep and provided with a long chain. 

Two hundred metres bring us to a water supply, then a very steep scree slope with no zigzags requires careful navigation between uncertain boulders.

A raven at the top eyes me up until he's sure I've made it - with about five yards to go. Brew up while waiting for Martin, but he's not long. Then a speedy descent to Bivacco Feltre since thunder is threatening. A long stop here with onion soup.

An Italian arrives from Pradidali. Then the hut minder tells us to whizz off if we are to avoid the rain. So knocking an hour off Martin Collins' three hour estimate, we arrive at the Boz Hut just before it pours. Thunder clouds are constantly visible from the superb contouring path.

Army lads from Britain are in the hut. They not qualified to carry ice axes. They are having an easy and paid 'Adventure Training' and had avoided  Forcella di Comedon. They spent a long time trying to get the right sort of receipt in the morning. Rif Boz is a fine hut - cheap, good food and friendly.

Saxifrage, possibly Particulate or Livelong

The unmentionable aerial ropeway at Rif Boz

Sunset at Rif Boz

Getting ready to leave Rifugio Bruno Boz

Tuesday 25 July

We stroll up to Passo Finestre, go through this and the path contours airily, narrow and exposed. It also has much more vegetation than we are used to seeing. At one point the side starts to overhang and it is necessary to turn one's rucksack outwards - and in one place crawl. There's a plaque in memory of someone who evidently forgot to do this.

A knife edge leads to Sasso Scarnia, and the path begins to ascend seriously, firstly by steps cut into the rock, then zigzags becoming spectacularly exposed. Only at the path summit can we relax our concentration, where it winds around huge boulders. The people who told us that this last section was uninteresting were certainly wrong. 

We descend 100 metres for a brew stop, passing an Italian leading a distinctly unenthusiastic family group. There are a few spots of rain. A wallcreeper flies past, a new species for me.

As the path gets easier, our concern is taken by the weather. There is a thunderstorm over the next range, so we don't hang around - me especially. The thunder rumbles from time to time in the hills above us, and I notice that not all the lightning gets a roll of thunder.

Martin says it thundered every time he reached a pass.

(Laurie's entry ends here - it must have been inserted after we all got home. And despite my efforts, I may have placed Martin W's photos in the wrong order, with some of the easier looking terrain perhaps coming after the Sasso Scarnia knife edge pictured above.)

Wednesday 26 July
 (see Martin W's footnote below)

Final view of the mountains before continuing to Venice

Martin W and Laurie (according to the picture Martin has sent me) had a quick look around Venice before flying home.

Martin W has added:

Writing over 30 years since this walk, memories are fragmented, mixed up and dim.  Tim Berners-Lee was busy inventing the worldwide web a few miles away at CERN in Switzerland and had yet to develop the first browser.   These days we can fly over the route in 3D on Google Earth; good, but not quite as exhilarating as being there.  I also have some photos, which somehow make it seem like yesterday.  As far as I can recall we did the whole route from Rifugio Boz to Feltre in one day – about 16 miles on the map, but it was also a bit hilly.  After Boz, my photos show the knife edge leading to Sasso di Scarnia and an exposed traverse that does not appear to be supplied with any protective cable.  Somehow some of those photos are of me - so maybe we swapped cameras.   Unusually, no photos of the summit, but the photo on the descent route does trigger a vivid memory of seemingly endless zig-zags on the way down.  As it got darker and track turned to tarmac, the lights of Feltre could be seen below, on the right then on the left and back again, but never seemed to get any closer.   Short-cuts between zigs and zags were few and I began to tire after the long and exciting day.  Sometimes I just wanted to dive in the bushes and get my head down for a nap.  Laurie was in better shape and kept me going by being just ahead of me the whole way.  Finally made it to Feltre just before 11pm, where Laurie used his language skills to find a small hotel that was still open.  Somehow I remember the tiny shower clearly.  I was so tired I could hardly stand up, but the pink cubicle was so small that I didn’t have a choice. Nevertheless, it was just so welcome and refreshing!

The next day we had a celebratory gelato. The photo must be self-timed I think, predating the vogue for selfies.  It’s a pity about my orange clown’s nose.  Note that Laurie is (and therefore has been) carrying a pair of 10x50 binoculars that probably weigh about a kilogram!  This is classic Laurie, a strong, idiosyncratic walker sadly missed.  He probably had a book or three in his pack as well.  The railway station was on the edge of town and we passed a “Feltre” sign that we stood under for another proto-selfie, perhaps an indication that we were both relieved to get to the town the night before.   Then we had a short (and cheap!) train ride to Venice, where we still had a time for a bit of wandering around before our flight.

Wednesday 23 September 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 35: 15 May 2011)


My photos for this day can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and I've no idea where the original version of the above picture, used at the time for my blog, has got to. Probably deleted...

Anyway, Mike and I enjoyed two lengthy breaks from the rain, firstly at the Inveroran Hotel, where we enjoyed lunch from about 1 pm to 2 pm, then at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, where we met Nik Lawcock and others and enjoyed a second lunch from 3 pm to 4 pm.

After that it was a slog in the rain up Coire Dothaidh. We camped at about 700 metres at NN328398 just over the col, at the head of Coire a'Ghabhalach. In different conditions this could be an idyllic spot. On this occasion Mike ('Poor Michael') spent most of the night playing pass the parcel with his tent pegs, which kept blowing out of the ground, and I remember having to be very careful with my cooking as the porch of the Phreerunner, in which there is usually loads of space, was regularly inverted in the gale.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Some Pictures from Michael for his Grandma

It's good to see Mike making good use of his birthday present. Here are a few of his practice shots taken whilst he is awaiting the new addition to the family.

Well done, Michael, I don't think any captions are needed.