Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 5 December 2020

Friday 4 December 2020 - Davenham Again, and Farewell to Paul and Helen

Paul and Helen are moving to Totnes next week, so this was their farewell appearance for the time being, and Helen's first enrollment on one of these Friday walks, which in recent times have been frequented in the main by a threesome - Paul, Graeme and me, who have become known as 'The Three Musketeers', a fact that was news to the three of us!

The Davenham route that we (The Three Musketeers) enjoyed on 18 September was chosen for its suitability in relation to both distance and tea shop facilities.

Unfortunately none of us took the trouble to read my report on the earlier walk.

Anyway, we dutifully crossed the bridge over the River Dane. Paul and I marched briskly across a squelchy field to the lonely stile that we remembered from last time, when to get there we had an easy stroll across a dry field.

How were we to know that in the intervening two months the path had turned into a water meadow? The others can be seen in the top picture (click on it for a better image) making a laborious detour from which they returned (below), complaining of wet feet, only minutes into the walk. Sue's gaiters had clearly been a waste of space, as demonstrated when she took her boots off and wrung out her socks.

A picture of 'The Three Musketeers' seemed appropriate at this point. There were a few spots of rain, but nothing significant until we were driving home. Lucky!

That was the end of the difficulties until we reached a slithery permissive path, provided to avoid contact with humanity at Park Farm, before crossing Gad Brook.

Soon we reached the Trent & Mersey Canal, where for muddiness the towpath was competing with the Bridgewater Canal at Dunham Massey. It was ok though, and we strolled happily past Park Farm Marina.

After all of about 3 km, we reached a familiar bench. Coffee and fudge was shared out whilst certain members of the party wriggled their wet toes in a futile effort to warm them up. And, as you can see, social distancing is still the norm, and benches are rarely sat upon these days.

This convenient bench is in memory of Alf Ball (1941 - 2010), who has 'Gone Fishing', and James Alfred Ogden (1938 - 2012), who is 'Remembered Always'.

Continuing onwards, we received a couple of warnings from folk about the towpath being closed further on. We continued on regardless, but on reaching the barrier there was clearly no sensible way past this obstacle, especially as we could hear the sound of machinery nearby.

Then it occurred to The Three Musketeers that perhaps they had seen a sign warning of the closure when they were here in September, and at the time had noted their good fortune at just avoiding the period of closure...

This is confirmed on re-reading the report on that visit.

So we were obliged to turn round and return to a bridge that gave access to the road past Park Farm Marina.

A swan joined us for a while, paddling gently along the canal next to us. Perhaps he liked our company.

A footpath was indicated around the marina, but then it dissolved into ploughed fields. We manfully continued along the route of the said path, eventually emerging in the farmyard near the permissive path we had used earlier.

A few minutes later, some of the party recognised the stile that leads to the 'water meadow'. Here, in horsey terms, there was what might be described as a 'refusal'. Just as well, then, that I wasn't planning on going that way anyway, as it would be nice to pay another visit to the excellent 'Riverside Organics' cafe.

So that's what we did before wandering down the road to our cars, and a very jolly dose of coffee and cake was enjoyed by everyone, one or two of whom may even have temporarily forgotten that they still had wet feet!

If you look carefully at Sue, you'll see that she acquired a hot water bottle in the form of a sleepy tabby cat.

Here's the route - 8 km in two hours. I suggest anyone wishing to follow in our footsteps might be wise to wear wellies and wait until the end of December, when the towpath should re-open, and they can follow our September route described here.

I'll plan some more walks in the next few days, but it won't be the same without Paul, who will be sorely missed. We all hope the move to Totnes goes smoothly, and we look forward to visiting him and Helen in due course.

Friday 4 December 2020

Zion National Park

There was no 'path' up this track in September 2003; we just walked up the river. That puts today's 'Water Meadow' experience in perspective!

Thursday 3 December 2020

Sunday 14 December 2003 - A Christmas Walk from Bakewell

Here's another 'blast from the past'. My diary entry was pleasingly brief:

"Sunday 14/12/03 - Bakewell and Monsal Head circuit

Sue and I spotted Andrew as we drove through Bakewell at 9:45 am. Our arrangement to meet in the centre of town just about worked, as everyone seemed to assemble ok, but a rendezvous at the old station at Castle Hill (SK223689) maybe better in future.

The main car park is over the bridge to the right on the east bank of the River Wye; that would do. Anyway, by 10:15, Sue, Andrew, Graham, Tove, Sue, Phil, Mike Coldwell and GS had joined me for this year's Christmas walk. I had chosen Bakewell as the start point after many years of doing the walk from Tideswell, and whilst our day out was fine, the Tideswell route is better.

We joined the Monsal Trail for a 3.5 mile stroll (flat) to the Monsal Head Hotel, stopping only for a leisurely coffee and shortcake break at the old station behind Thornbridge Hall, a magnificent building that dominated our view on the route back to Bakewell, but it is hidden from the railway.

Getting to the pub at 11:45 was good for some (except that it was shut!). Whilst Andrew, Sue and I wandered down to the viaduct (unspectacular cloudy views),

the others gained entry and were installed in a couple of stalls (this used to be a milking barn) by the time we arrived back. 

We enjoyed an excellent lunch, as usual, in the soon overflowing room (early arrival is in fact essential!). 

Soon after 1:30 we escaped, after a discussion of future events rather than the traditional planning session, to a dull afternoon stroll back to Bakewell via Lees Bottom (Monsal Dale), Sheldon and Dirtlow Farm.

The walk out of Lees Bottom was steep, generating a long wait for GS, who has a bad knee.

The village of Sheldon looked very picturesque and homely, and soon afterwards we were passed by a fleet of Christmas tractors! I was, sadly, too slow with the camera. 

A cool breeze hurried us across the tops until we dipped down by some opencast workings and finished off our flask contents. 

Then on to the finish by 4 pm, just as the sun was setting.

Christmas farewells and a slow drive home."

Click on the image for a better version

Our route - shown above, was 16 km with 450 metres ascent. I wonder how long it will be this year...?

Sadly, this year's 'official' Christmas walk has had to be cancelled due to Covid. I'm sure we'll manage something though, even if it's just a handful of folk with sandwiches - it has been an annual event for around fifty years after all.

Wednesday 2 December 2020

TGO Challenge - Wild Camps (No 45: 14 May 2013)

After a pleasant stay in Struy with Ali O and a chap called Charles, I had a relatively low level day over An Leacainn to Dochgarroch, where I expected to find a campsite. That was a misjudgment. There was no campsite. However, there was lots of flat grass, and some friendly Air Force cadets kindly lent me a key to the nearby Waterways toilets.

During the evening, I nearly destroyed the new tent. I was lighting my gas stove using a new fire steel. After several attempts I managed to light the stove and knock it over, all in one action. This resulted in an inferno in the enclosed porch of the tent. It was a bit like a mini version of a broken F1 car catching fire. How I managed to open the door and chuck out the fireball with minimal damage will forever remain a mystery!

The fire steel soon found its way into the black bin pictured behind my tent...

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Loch Lochy Sunset

I'm taking a break from time consuming blogging for a while due to a variety of constraints - not least my desire to keep out of Paul's way whilst he decorates our hall and landing etc (he starts tomorrow). So I won't have access to my usual blogging resources (eg computer) during the day.

I'll therefore try to find a picture from the archives every day, and I hope these will keep Dot happy!

Today's effort was taken on 3 January 2003, during a winter holiday near Roybridge.

Monday 30 November 2020

The North West Highlands

At last week's funeral of Andrew's wife, Rosemary, there was a reading of a delightful 'prose poem' that gave a flavour of Rosemary's love of the North West Highlands:

Extracts from a prose poem posted from Red River Croft, Wester Ross, in the summer of 2016.

Midsummer: inner sounds and outer colours.

Annie O’Garra Worsley.

Since the summer solstice sunshine and showers have been passing quickly across the croft, hills and sea. The bright warmth of recent weeks still clings to the North West Highlands and the air is filled with countless trillions of tiny water droplets; when the sun bursts from behind the clouds they sparkle and dazzle, so all the world seems to be filled with effervescing light. 

Rainy days have come sharply and gone floodily, their showers soaking into the dry dusty ground and then releasing, in a shamanic sweep of aromas, the sap-green essences of growing and the black-peat juices of bog and hill. Breathe in and the mind fills with colour and scent, breathe out and the body releases its stress. 

Even when storm clouds and showers gathered across the Minch and Inner Sound hiding the horizon with dark, thunderous banks of cloud, the sea waters have glowed and pulsed with energy, eye-aching in their formidable beauty. As clouds and showers drifted north west they covered Skye and the Hebrides in drapery of mauve, indigo, and grey as if voile curtains were being pulled gently across by unseen hands, perhaps to shield the islands from the coruscating light. 

There is much magic in this elemental place; crystal-bright light is seeping into every living cell while myrtle-scented and resinous breezes swish around us all like balm. Land, sea and air are suffused with enchantment; it is hard not to become infused oneself and laugh with sheer pleasure of it all. 

The romance of midsummer will pass. This beautiful edgeland, where sky meets sea meets land in a maelstrom of inner sounds and outer colours, will quieten and soften. Although the nights will be high and white for a while longer, change is on the way; the days have begun to shorten and in a few short months these moonstone, mother-of-pearl and turquoise days will have diminished and I will rely on memory, photographs and paintings to bring them back.

It turns out that this prose was part of a blog entry from Annie's excellent blog, Red River Croft. Well worth a read.

Sue and I also love this part of the world, though in recent years we haven't got as far north as we would like. I have many memories of the area, including numerous sightings of sea otters.

The picture at the head of this posting is of Dave Oliver on Quinag, looking down to the Lochinver road on 22 March 2005. A picture of John Clark in the same spot in better light won me a photographic competition (and a shiny new Zenith camera) about 30 years earlier. That was on slide film that I must get around to scanning!

The picture below is of another favourite view of mountains lined up on the horizon - Canisp, Suilven, Cul Mor and Cul Beag, with Stac Pollaidh just out of view to the right..

What a wonderful part of the world...

Sunday 29 November 2020