Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Friday 9 October 2020

Friday 9 October 2020 - A Walk to Dunham Massey

Graeme and I set off along the Bridgewater Canal towpath from Timperley around 10 am and picked up Paul at Seamons Moss Bridge, beyond Altrincham. 

Continuing to the exit to the Swan With Two Nicks, we enjoyed the easy stroll beside the canal.

Beyond the pub, the River Bollin was frothing over the weir, and the footpath to Dunham Massey involved a shuffle along a wooden fence unless you had wellies. We shuffled.

The Dunham Barn café provided welcome sustenance under cover, thus avoiding a shower, before we continued to cross the golf course and make our way home via Altrincham (Paul peeled off by St Margaret's Church as there was little point in his going home to Hale via the town centre.)

Then on a showery afternoon I cycled to Didsbury and back, still somehow avoiding the increasingly intense rain showers.

Today's picture (above) was taken on the path that leads to the pedestrian exit from Dunham Massey. Further illustrations and comments may follow when I have more time...


The Bridgewater Canal was constructed over a considerable period, starting around 1761, a very long time ago. I doubt whether the crane shown above, probably for lifting stop planks to enable a section of the canal to be drained for maintenance purposes, near the small marina at Altrincham, dates from quite that long ago.

There's a lot about the history of the canal here, and below is an extract that covers the section between Stretford and Runcorn beside which we were walking.

"At the end of 1761, the Canal was completed through to Stretford and to Castlefield Wharf, Manchester by 1765.

Whilst this work was being carried out, the Duke and his team were busy on the next phase of extending the Canal to the Mersey tideway at Runcorn to forge a link with the Port of Liverpool. Despite opposition, the Duke’s third Act to make this possible was passed in March 1762.

The need for an embankment and aqueduct over the Mersey at Sale Moor and similarly across the River Bollin, coupled with disputes with landowners, delayed work under this Act. At the Runcorn end the principal landowner, Sir Richard Brooke of Norton Priory, held up completion for many years.

Before the Canal reached Preston Brook, about five miles from Runcorn, the Trent and Mersey Canal was under construction. The Act of 1766 for the Trent at Mersey Canal, which the Duke was involved in, included a provision empowering him to change the route of his Canal from the junction at Preston Brook to a point lower down the Mersey at Runcorn Gap, opposite Widnes, a more convenient point for barges to proceed on the tideway after descending by a flight of 10 locks.

Eventually in spite of all the trials and tribulations, the Canal between Liverpool and Manchester was completed in the spring of 1776, four years after James Brindley died."

We met Paul at Seamons Moss Bridge, by the defunct Bay Malton hostelry. It took a close scrutiny of the bridge by Graeme for him to work out its recent history. The new brickwork gives the clue - recent repairs after a lorry that was too wide attempted to destroy the bridge.

A little further on, this swan seemed intent on a drifting snooze.

After leaving the towpath, we passed under the canal to reach the Swan with Two Nicks. Paul explained the background to that name - here's an extract from the pub's website that reiterates what Paul told us.

"From the 12th century, the monarch has retained the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but in practice only exercised ownership on certain stretches of the Thames. At that time swans were a common food source for royalty.

Swan upping became the means of establishing a swan census. Under a 15th century Royal Charter, the Vintners’ Company and the Dyers’ Company, two Livery Companies of the City of London, are entitled to share in the Sovereign’s ownership and it is they who conduct the census through a process of ringing the swans’ feet.

The annual swan upping takes place during the third week of July. During the ceremony, the Queen’s, the Vintners’, and the Dyers’ Swan Uppers row up the river in skiffs. Swans caught by the Queen’s Swan Uppers under the direction of the Swan Marker are ringed. Those caught by the Dyers and Vintners are identified as theirs by means of a further ring on the other leg. Today, only swans with cygnets are caught and ringed. This gives a yearly snapshot as to how well Thames swans are breeding.

Originally, the two companies made their own marks on the birds’ beaks: one nick for a dyers’ bird and two for a vintners’; today the two Companies use their own rings. This practice provided the name of our pub “The Swan with Two Nicks”. This was a 16th century pun, the word “nick” also meaning “neck”. Humour wasn’t quite what it is today… So we also find a lot of pubs called The Swan with Two Necks."

Beyond the pub, a footbridge across the River Bollin offers a good view of a weir, over which the water was frothing after quite a bit of rain recently.

Crossing the causeway to Dunham Massey park, wellies would have been welcome, and either side of the footpath the fields were inundated by a shallow flood.

After walking through Dunham Massey's grounds, coffee and cake at Dunham Barn were most welcome. After that it's a walk through fields and across a golf course to reach the main A56 road, where Paul left us at St Margaret's, where Sue is a bellringer - mainly hand bells outside in these times of turmoil.

Here's the route that Graeme and I took - 13.5 km in around 3 hours plus café stop. Paul's route from Hale was a bit shorter.

Next week - a walk from Tegg's Nose, near Macclesfield. Details will be on next week. Let me know if you plan to join us.


Paul kindly sent me the following information, giving more about the section of the canal we walked beside, and about the events in 1971 that put the survival of the canal at risk. I was in Manchester then; how is it that I don't recall that flood damage? (Click on the images for readable versions.)

Thursday 8 October 2020

Thursday 8 October 2020 - A 14km Circuit from Leighton Moss

Returning home from the Lake District on a fine day with sunny intervals, Sue and I couldn't resist a stroll in one of our favourite areas.

Conrad was self isolating, so sadly we were unable to visit him in Arnside, but we did enjoy a few brief encounters, and a long chat with a resident of Silverdale, the view from whose house was lovely.

I'll add more pictures and provide route information in due course, leaving you simply with a picture taken near our lunch spot at Jenny Brown's Point for now.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Wednesday 7 October 2020 - Heughscar Hill

All eight of us - me, Sue, Paul and Jeanette from the Ryebeck, and Sue, Phil, Richard and Jenny from Townfoot Farmhouse, assembled at the northern car park at Pooley Bridge at 10.30. This is the access point to Pooley Bridge that avoids going through Penrith, as the bridge over the River Eamont in Pooley Bridge was washed away five years ago. The opening of its replacement is fairly imminent.

Whilst the more energetic five zoomed off to walk back to Troutbeck via High Street (a hill with a Roman road), Paul and Jeanette joined me for the more leisurely ascent of Heughscar Hill, from where today's picture of Ullswater was taken.

We took the lakeside path from Pooley Bridge. It was soon adorned with 'Ullswater Way' signs, bordered by many 'Private, No Entry' signs. Those walking the Ullswater Way Must Not stray from the prescribed route!

After leaving the lakeside at a campsite, we continued in the same direction as far as Swarthbeck, where we turned sharply onto a track that rises gently to eventually reach a stone circle and the Roman Road known as High Street, along which the others would have passed earlier.

At one point Jeanette charged on whilst Paul and I admired the view along Ullswater from Wainwright's Sitting Stone.

Paul constantly scanned the scene for wildlife, with the aid of his binoculars. At one point he was thrilled to spot a sheep in the distance. Sadly, on closer inspection, it turned out to be a rock.

There were a fair number of people out walking or mountain biking today, despite a strong wind and few rain showers. We chatted with some of them. We did not envy the intrepid five, who were no doubt battling against the wind on High Street.

Lunch was taken on some rocks in the lee of the wind near the summit of Heughscar Hill, after which it was a fairly short walk back down to Pooley Bridge to complete this 15 km circuit by about 3 pm. So we enjoyed coffee and cake outside a café by the river. Then P and J went home to deal with a delivery of concrete slabs, and I went to Troutbeck to await the others, via a mercy mission to acquire some fish.

There were no rainbows today, but at times the light should have helped me get some reasonable images that I'll display in due course.

Later: after another good meal at the Ryebeck, we learn that pre dinner drinks are now being served at Townfoot Farmhouse.  We hope they enjoy their meal in due course...

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Tuesday 6 October 2020 - Sour Howes and Sallows

Sue and I met up with Sue and Phil (not seen since March) and Richard and Jenny. They are staying at Town Foot farmhouse in Troutbeck, and we started today's walk from there.

The dual summits of Sour Howes were reached after a lengthy elevenses break. A kindly gent took the picture on the summit (if it transmits).

Sallows was a good lunchtime summit, though after the long break one of my knees rebelled and I had to continue by walking backwards down the hill.

A rough and rocky track that defeated four young mountain bikers who were pushing their steeds up the hill saw us to Kentmere Hall and the Kentmere valley.

A fairly long but scenic route got us back to Troutbeck at 6 pm after a 22 km outing. En route a shower of rain under a warm sun produced a stunning rainbow and two others walkers were seen.

Afternoon tea was then taken, under the flight path of several jets. This was a lengthy stop.

Today the light was wonderful. Lots of pictures were taken. I'll upload some when we get home.

Once we were back at the Ryebeck, we enjoyed a lovely evening with Paul and Jeanette. 

What a splendid day.

Monday 5 October 2020 - on Holiday in Bowness

Well, this will be my first night away from home since early March! Not exactly a typical year.We are familiar with the Ryebeck Hotel, and they seem to have taken precautions against visitors catching anything nasty.

After sorting out at home (Lisa is decorating whilst we are away), we came up the M6 and A6 in heavy traffic for coffee with one of Sue's colleagues in the lovely village of Crosthwaite, before leaving the car in the hotel car park and enjoying a 10 km anticlockwise walking circuit on a fine, bright afternoon.

The top picture was taken near Lindeth, and the bottom one from the stone bench that marks either the start or the finish of the 81 mile Dales Way walk between here and Ilkley. (Sending this entry with pictures has failed. Let's see whether this further attempt without them works.)

We have a view of Lake Windermere from our room. After a fine day it's looking a little damp outside. Dinner cooked by someone else will go down well.

PS Many thanks for ongoing donations to the Levana charity. They are much appreciated - thank you messages to those who have not remained anonymous will be sent when we get home.

Sunday 4 October 2020

Sunday 4 October 2020 - The 'Virtual' London Marathon

Fuller report later, maybe, but with the aid of many parkrunning friends, this proved to be a (mostly) enjoyable outing, attracting generous donations. Thank you for all of those.

Our internet connection went down tonight, so we may be off air for a while.