Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 31 October 2020

22 March 2003 - Where were we then?

I wonder when we will next be allowed to go here?

Friday 30 October 2020

A Short Walk from Kingsley

Why is it that we had the best turnout this year, for one of these 'Friday morning' walks, on a rainy morning in Cheshire? All seven of us managed to find the Community Centre in Kingsley (go down Westbrook Road, then Smithy Lane), though only two of our six cars found a space there due to a 'Slimming Ladies' class.

This was a walk intended to provide an update to Jen Darling's description of walk number 25 in her 'Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral' book. Her initial instruction to pass the Horseshoe Inn required an immediate edit, as the pub has suffered the same fate as the Spar shop in Appleton - it has been converted into a Co-Op.

Anyway, we passed the Co-Op and strolled up the road past the church, which loomed above us, and on to reach some steep steps that led away from the firmness of the tarmac.

The first stile had been satisfactorily replaced with a metal kissing gate, and the next stile was in desperate need of similar modification. the only redeeming factor was that the barbed wire fence beyond the rickety stile wasn't electrified!

We then took pleasant paths, and after a while passed Peel Hall, a farmhouse built on the site of a much older moated grange.

We soon got good views towards Frodsham, but we didn't visit Lady Heyes Craft and Antiques Centre on this occasion, though Jen recommends a visit - you would turn left down the lane reached after passing Peel Hall Farm.

En route to Bradley Orchard Farm, beyond Hatley Farm, we took a fine track enclosed by tall trees dressed in autumn plumage.

Bradley Orchard Farm was displaying some interesting artifacts from the past.

After missing the unmarked turn to the right beyond what Jen describes as a 'splendid mixed hedgerow' (now more like a row of medium sized trees), we re-traced our steps and made our way to the remains of Frodsham Lock on the Weaver Navigation.

When Jen first published her book in 1988 there was a picnic area here. We stopped for elevenses on the one remaining bench. Alan and Sheila, Bridget, Cary, Paul, and Graeme, all carefully obeying the 'social distancing' advice.

We walked a short way along the towpath alongside Frodsham Cut. The River Weaver was tidal here, so to avoid delays a lock and sluices were built in 1781 to provide a deeper channel, with a large weir also being built on the river to force all boats to use the Cut and pay a toll. However, an alternative route in the form of the Weston Canal was built in 1810, and the Cut was finally closed to navigation in 1955. It's now rather neglected, and is home to a variety of wildlife. Today the swans and herons predicted by Jen were notable for their absence, but there were many mallard, and a huge flock of several hundred Canada geese in the wetland area between the Cut and Bradley Orchard Farm. There were also lots of pheasants in evidence today.

We soon found ourselves next to the Weaver Navigation beyond the Cut. I had expected a towpath, but if there was one it had been thoroughly churned up. We made our way slowly down to the small copse in the distance.

There are hundreds of Canada geese in this next picture. You may need to click on it for a better version!

When we reached the copse, at a bend in the river, we bore right up to a minor road, after waiting for a quintet of quad bikes to pass on what was clearly a special track. In fact the map shows 'Quad Nation' near here, so it must be an organised activity. The five we saw had a leader (tutor) and four followers (students?). It looked great fun. The shooting we had heard earlier may have come from the same direction - hopefully just clay pigeons.

At Catton Hall we found an impressive 'John Deere' for Alan. It may have made his day!

The track from here led inexorably back to Kingsley, passing a wood composed of regimented poplar trees.

St John's church was consecrated in 1851, and was built in locally quarried red sandstone. An interesting looking place with an impressive lychgate.

We passed some quaint cottages on our way back to the car park. Nearby, I'd left Sue's car's passenger side window open, and the satnav in a position where you could just reach in and take it....

Jen suggests adjourning to the Horseshoe, and that's fine if you want a coffee from the Co-Op. Nearby, however, the Red Bull Inn, on The Brow, may be a suitable hostelry to visit in normal times.

Here's today's route - a little over 10 km, with minimal (100 metres) ascent. It took us about three hours.

Thank you for your company, everyone. Next week I'll be going out on Thursday morning, on a short walk from Styal, advertised thus:

Thursday 5 November
Day Walk
Styal. Meet at 10 am outside the Ship Inn / Earlam's Cafe in Styal for a 10-12 km circuit on familiar paths.

AlanR's excellent report on the day's walk is here.

Thursday 29 October 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 41: 24 May 2011)

After a memorable night indoors in the back office with 20 others at Ballater campsite, where it was too dangerous to be outside due to the risk of falling trees, Mike left at 7 am for our next destination, a remote spot near the source of the Water of Aven (NO 549 871) at 440 metres.

I spent the day with Roger Boston, and we caught up with Mike at about 4:30, before finishing the day's exercise at 5 pm.

Our three tents were soon up, and I was able to rummage in the undergrowth, much to Roger's puzzlement then surprise, to find a bottle of wine.

Markus and Silke turned up after a while, and the wine was shared out, accompanied by some large lumps of cheese I'd found in Ballater. It was all very jolly.

This was the last wild camp of my 2011 Challenge, and it would be some time before No 42.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Wednesday 17 August 2005 - Via Ferrata Ivona Dibona

I wish I had time to reproduce my full report on this walk (watch this space). Via Ferrata Ivona Dibona is a firm favourite of mine, and was a fixture on all our trips to Camping Cortina. It's a long route, mostly a walk, but with some technical sections requiring use of the VF kits. It starts from Rifugio Lorenzi, 2932 metres, in the background above, after a long ascent in 'buckets' that may now have been replaced.

My pictures from our 2005 visit to the Alps/Dolomites have just sat on a hard drive for over 15 years, and some of the images feature in the pile of photos I must have had printed at the time and am currently ploughing through with the aim of putting them in an album. There's lots of ammunition for these pages - just not enough hours in the day to deal with all the projects that are competing for priority. 

I'd love to go back there...

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Lockdown in Timperley (continued)

The autumn colours in Timperley are wonderful at present, so it was a delight to stroll along the towpath with Mike, Sarah and Isabella last Saturday. Isabella is only three weeks old, but Sarah looks slimmer than ever... she has been put on a high volume diet. (Isabella is very greedy.)

Isabella seems to love the motion of the pram. She stays fast asleep. And a new rain cover protects the fabric.

And Sue loves pushing the pram - the walk to Sale and back, with a diversion into Walton Park, is well over 5 km.

Back at home, it's a busy workstation, with diaries to transcribe and a huge pile of pictures to sort through. I now think there are far more than the 246 numbered ones, and they could be any time from 2005 to 2007 (I think!). It's nearly as cluttered as my desk at work used to be - before it was tidied up every night.

Life goes on, with another successful trip to the eye hospital with Dot today for her regular Lucentis injection, hence the brevity of this posting.

Monday 26 October 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 40: 22 May 2011)

After a rainy night (according to Mike; I was asleep), we woke to a fair day. Mike took the low level FWA route and enjoyed an easy day on his own. I rendezvoused with him near Loch Builg, where an old friend, Roger Boston, bionic knee man, was in residence nearby. I'd gone over Ben Avon on a rather blustery, showery day.

There's lots of good camping around here at about 490 metres. We pitched at NJ 195 026.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Tuesday 18 July 2006 - Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina

I've been trying to place the pile of 246 photos on my desk. I thought they were from 2006, but I now think they are from 2007.

During my search, I encountered a picture of myself, reproduced above, on Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina ('Tridentina'). This turns out to have been taken on 18 July 2006, and whilst I do have a hand written diary entry I have discovered this report from Paul Filby, who was also there. 


Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina

There’s a sure-fire way to enhance the excitement of travelling to, and arriving at, a new location, and that’s to do so in the dark. If that location is mountainous, so much the better. The switchback roads seem steeper and more tortuous, and you just know that somewhere out there in the blackness, great peaks are rising directly above the road to uncertain heights. Of course, the denouement comes with exiting the tent the following morning. Where previously the extent of the surroundings was limited to the surrounding tents and the toilet block (and perhaps some mysterious lights in the sky marking impossibly positioned alpine huts), the world now expands to show that your tent is hemmed in by soaring spires of rock, with a ceiling of clear blue sky. At least, that was the case if you were camped at “Camping Colfosco” in the heart of the Italian Dolomites, on Sunday 16th July this year.

One of those soaring spires marks the culmination of the Via Ferrata Brigata Tridentina, though I didn’t know it at the time. Everything surrounding the campsite looked utterly impossible to someone always happier to bimble along Derwent Edge whilst ignoring the gratuitous gymnastics of one's companions on the various pineapples sprinkled along the route.

Later on during that first day, having completed a couple of relatively easy Via Ferrate, Rupert gesticulated towards the opposite side of the valley (the Sella Massif), trying to locate a mid-grade Via Ferrata route – the Tridentina – that he’d completed a few years previously. I assumed that Rupert was mistaken – surely anything up this near-vertical wall wasn’t going to be mid-grade – and returned to photographing a stunning Alpine Lily that was growing near the path.

The next day found a group of us in a local restaurant – attacking pizzas the size of dustbin lids – tired and happy after a day climbing Piz Boe, the highest peak in the Sella Massif. The main Via Ferrata of the day had seemed quite hard to me, but was still only a Grade 2 (the grades running from 1 at the easiest to 5 at the hardest). The talk then turned to what we were going to do next and quickly settled on the “Tridentina”. This venerable route has been around for many decades, and is a very popular trip from Corvara. With 2000 feet of ascent, almost all of it protected Via Ferrata climbing, this was a chance to get into situations otherwise reserved for competent climbers. As I have not the slightest intention of ever becoming a competent climber myself [not with hundreds of lifetimes’ worth of long-distance trekking routes and coastline left to explore] this was an opportunity too good to miss.

The only real downside to this high-quality route is that, given the wall-to-wall sunshine we were experiencing along with the route’s easy access, the rest of the world wanted to climb it too. This problem is ameliorated by getting up at the crack of dawn, and thus getting a head-start on the swarms of Germans, Austrians, Italians, French – oh yes, and Brits too – that have put an ascent of the Tridentina on the day’s itinerary. We didn’t do too badly getting up and away early, but on arrival at the car park, a throng of would-be climbers could be seen staggering around with half-tied harnesses and tripping over their Via Ferrata kits. This was clearly no time for a faff, and amazingly, I managed to get my harness on correctly first time.

The first section of the route is less than ten minutes’ walk from the car park, and was to be my introduction to “stempels”. Within our group, opinion seemed to be divided as to the merits of these staple-like hoops of iron, hammered into the rock like ladder-rungs at convenient intervals – I thought they were great, and everybody else hated them. This was no doubt a reflection of my own Via Ferrata philosophy, easily summarised thus: “If there’s a convenient cable or hulking great lump of iron within reach, grab it and hang on for dear life”. I liked stempels...

The stempel stairway led easily up a smooth slab and onto less steep ground, and then the route headed into a wet corner for the final part of this first section. This was the only part of the route with a noticeable amount of loose rock – overall the quality of the rock is top-class. A ten-minute stroll along a contouring path takes one to the start of the second and longest section. Although it was busy, I found this main section of the route a joy – climbing sun-warmed rock in relative safety, and with some sections that were remarkably exposed; this is exactly what I’d hoped Via Ferrata would be like.

The final section (reached just above a possible escape route) was easily the hardest, with the rock steepening noticeably compared to the lower sections of the route. There were plenty of bits of iron around to help though – pegs, stempels (Mmm..., stempels), and even an iron ladder. All of which led to the famed bridge at the very top of the route – quite a solid affair, but fantastically positioned above a seemingly bottomless gorge.

By the end, I was feeling pretty knackered. I suspect my “grab hold of anything made of iron and heave up on it” approach wasn’t the most efficient. Lunch overlooking the bridge was followed by a round of drinks and apple strudel at a conveniently located hut – an appropriate reward for our efforts, and good preparation for the descent. There was some much easier Via Ferrata on the way down, and then for some, a reverse of the first part of the Tridentina route! I was all Ferrata’d out by this stage in the proceedings, and was quite content to scamper down the massive scree fan that led back to the car park, rather than put my Ferrata kit back on.

I can’t recommend this route highly enough to anyone reasonably agile who doesn’t suffer from vertigo. It was certainly the highlight of the week for me, and, despite discovering the existence of a fantastic long-distance path nearby (the Alta Via 2) – I think I could quite easily be tempted into digging out my Via Ferrata kit again sometime!


© Paul Filby - 2006

This article was originally written by Paul Filby for ‘Chunks’, the Newsletter of the International Munro Pineapple Society, and is reproduced here with kind permission of the former editor.