Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Monday 27 December 2021 - A Lathkill Dale Circuit in Fog

Sunny it was in Manchester.

However, we'd promised to meet Andrew, Sue and David, who were staying at Bole Hill Farm, near Bakewell. It was a foggy journey beyond Disley.

Andrew (waiting for his new knee) was ensconced in his bijou accommodation, but Sue and David joined us for a familiar circuit, heading up Lathkill Dale to Monyash and returning via the Limestone Way path and some muddy fields.

Despite the fog, I took a few pictures that are reproduced here. Click on any one of them to access a slideshow; today's text is minimal.

This must be the remains of an old tramway viaduct leading from a nearby mine

We stopped for elevenses by the bridge that leads up Cales Dale, and chatted to a lady who needed reassurance as to her route.

A little further on, the river disappears beyond where it emerges from the hillside, leaving a relatively dry valley for the final push to Monyash.

Had the cafe been open, we'd probably have sat next to the Village Cross for our sandwich lunch, but as it was closed for the holiday period, we were able to use its picnic bench without fear of being moved on.

This sign ought to be displayed (horror of horrors for the Management) outside the courtyard tea room at Wythenshawe Hall!

The Limestone Way provided a nice path until we cut across muddy fields.

Increasing levels of mud were encountered on the way down to and past Meadow Place Grange, but the visibility improved to the best it had been all day. Shame about the rain!

Finally we dropped through slippery woodland to the paved stepping stones that got us across the Lathkill River to our cars that were parked in Over Haddon.

Our 15.5 km route is shown below. It includes about 350 metres ascent, and it took us a leisurely 4½ hours. We adjourned to Bole Hill for tea/coffee and Lots of Cake.

A fine day out, despite the fog. Thanks to Andrew, Sue and David for the invite.

Sunday 26 December 2021

Christmas in Timperley

Well, after last year's debacle due to Covid, the family has dodged the Omicron variant (for now) and returned to a traditional Christmas. Nine of us enjoyed a baked potato lunch on Christmas Eve - pictured above. A lovely occasion.

Christmas Day started with a visit to Wythenshawe parkrun, for Sue to join 231 others and complete her 200th parkrun. Christmas garb came with many participants, but my 'tree' remained in the cupboard this year, whilst my fingers froze as I operated the 'back-up timer' tablet in my capacity this time as a volunteer. It's really important for such events to go ahead, and volunteers are always needed. For some people, this friendly event will have been their only social contact on Christmas Day. They should have gone home feeling good.

Sue, Jeanette, Charley, Edyta and Paul before the start

Assembling at the start

Run Director Alan, and an 'Official Photographer' before the start

I took no further pictures (the next two images are from Bruce), my duties with the tablet and the banter with other volunteers saw to that. Here I am, trying to master the back-up tablet.

Meanwhile, Sue finished in 26:07, a good time, and set about distributing Sue Strickland's chocolates, mistaking them for her own. 

The other Sue was on her 250th parkrun. Due to Covid, cake isn't being handed out by people doing 'landmark runs', but wrapped sweets seem to be acceptable. Sue's will come out next time.

Full results are here. Bruce's wonderful pictures are here. It was great to see so many friends in the park.

With the courtyard tea room closed for Christmas, we enjoyed a flask of coffee at the run, then returned home for more coffee and a slice of Selwa's wonderful rainbow birthday cake.

Then Kate, Jacob, Jessica and Nell turned up for a traditional Christmas dinner. A good time was had by all, but this selfie taken by Kate at the end of the starter course is the only photographic record. Several hours later, they all left with goodie bags!

Today, Boxing Day, Sue and I enjoyed a lie in, some smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, then a 10km stroll in the Bollin Valley area. I wrote a bit about the route here. It was designed for a fundraising effort by Bollin Junior School, from where the walk starts and finishes.

Here are a few pictures from the two hour walk, which was in dull weather, but the fresh air was welcome.

The path has become very muddy since my last visit

Tree Creeper by 'Into the Wild'

We arrived at the 'Into the Wild' cafe just as a large group was placing a 'shipping order' and some drizzle started, so we eschewed the drink, walked the 2km back to the start, and were soon enjoying coffee and the rest of the rainbow cake at home.

Striding out in the drizzle, which was thankfully very brief

The author sighs - a sigh of deep satisfaction...

Friday 24 December 2021

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

With Very Best Wishes from Martin and Sue in Timperley, and - on occasion - in Porthmadog, where we have relished this constantly changing view from our deck at South Snowdon Wharf many times during the past year.

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Kev Reynolds

It's a sad day. I've learnt that guidebook writer and doyen of the outdoors world, Kev Reynolds, has died at the age of 78. Together with Showell Styles, it is Kev whose writing and guidebooks inspired me to visit the Alps and Pyrenees year in, year out, between 1980 and 2018. And I do hope to get there again, quite likely armed with one of Kev's guidebooks.

Here's his obituary from Cicerone, the publisher for whom Kev wrote many books, numerous of which grace my own bookshelves. (I've borrowed the above picture, I hope they don't mind.)

RIP Kev, who I did have the pleasure of meeting, and who was pleasingly complimentary towards my own modest contribution to his Pyrenean library.

Monday 20 December 2021

Saturday 18 December 2021 - Wythenshawe parkrun #453

We arrived at the park just as the sun was rising behind Oliver.

Christmas dress was in evidence, with some Lambs pretending to be reindeer, though the usual fairy was dressed in sober red and black this year, and my tree was left at home for logistical reasons involving Sue volunteering at the run then dashing off to ring church bells.

Before the start, Jeanette took some nice pictures of the low mist in the park. Thanks for the use of these, Jeanette.

Father Christmas got involved in a race to the start!

223 folk assembled for Run Director Dan's briefing, then we were off, with no more pictures until the end.

Here's Jeanette at the finish, in a very satisfactory time. Full results are here.

A few of us adjourned to the courtyard cafe, but we are no longer welcomed there, with dogs not allowed, requests for tap water refused, and their attitude capped by a refusal to allow the laptop used to process the results to be plugged in. It's a shame, as they are missing out on lots of business by being so unfriendly.

Saturday 18 December 2021

Friday 17 December 2021 - An Evening walk up Shutlingsloe

My nephew Toby was the only person to join me and Sue on our annual evening stroll up Shutlingsloe. We enjoyed a good 'catch-up' and some of the best weather we've had on this outing, though sadly the summit was engulfed in mist. The full moon shone through, and torches were needed only for the sharp descent from the windless summit, where we had enjoyed mint tea and chocolate caramel shortbread, but sadly no sing song.

That's it really. We saw one other person and none of us fell over. We adjourned for beers and a further hour's chat at the Leather's Smithy, during which Toby enquired as to the history of this annual tradition.

Here's what I wrote in 2013, and I've updated it for subsequent years:

This was what has become a ‘traditional’ pre Christmas romp up to the summit of Shutlingsloe, which is usually a bit breezy on top, but not sufficient to deter us from supping some hot drinks and handing round some cake before heading back down to Trentabank, and thence to the Leathers Smithy for a beer.

Tonight was one of the best we have had, both turnout and weather wise. Thirteen of us on a lovely moonlit night, so torches were completely superfluous.  Views from the summit extended over the whole of Greater Manchester to Winter Hill.  Children who used to whinge a little sprinted ahead, separating the group on descent as only the fittest could keep up with them. Well done, Andrew, Kate and Joe, and it was good to see my nephew Toby turn up from near Nantwich, and Graham B’s granddaughter was also most welcome.  I hope she enjoyed it.

Altogether a very enjoyable and sociable little excursion, and there’s not much more to say, but below the photos which follow, by popular request, I’ve added a summary of the walks which have led to this minor event becoming a ‘tradition’ amongst a small group of family and friends. It’s interesting to see that people have only started to turn up in good numbers since I upset them by changing a venue that they had got used to seeing on the programme but until then hadn’t bothered to come along. The first of these evening walks up Shutlingsloe was in 2006, when Sue and I were joined by Andrew and Sheila. Only Andrew and I have attended all eight of the walks, and I’m amazed by the short period of time required to create a so-called ‘tradition’.

15 and 18/12/2020 - 11 attendees over two visits; warm but breezy on top.

20/12/2019 - 16 attendees, clear and cool - starlit but no moon.

21/12/2018 - 18 attendees, many from Wythenshawe parkrun, on a drizzly night

15/12/2017 - 8 attendees, frosty and slippery after early snow.

16/12/2016 - 18 attendees, misty and chilly.

18/12/2015 - 14 attendees, many from Wythenshawe parkrun, on a cool, misty evening.

18/12/2014 - 11 attendees on a calm, dry warm evening in between periods of rain.

17/12/2013 – 13 attendees, clear, calm and cool at Trentabank, ground frost higher up making the rocks and grass a little slithery.

18/12/2012 – 12 attendees, calm, misty on the summit.

20/12/2011 – 17 attendees, calm, cool and misty on the summit.  I’d tried to break tradition by changing the venue to White Nancy, on 9/12/2011, when only three of us had attended, and a rebellious element had insisted on going up Shutlingsloe ‘as usual’.  I was chastised for breaking with tradition, but it did give me a chance to write about the history of White Nancy.

20/12/2010 – 3 attendees, calm, moonlit, cold and snowy.  We also went up on New Year’s Day.

3/12/2009 – 2 attendees, cold, icy on top. Just Andrew and me; no blog entry. North face plastered with snow; slippery on top. Lots of night cyclists.

10/12/2008 – 3 attendees, calm, clear and cold.

19/12/2007 – 3 attendees, calm, clear and icy.

5/12/2006 – 4 attendees, moonlit, calm.

[Hover mouse over the type in black, and click, for the links to reports, or from 2013 click on the date for the link.]

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Sunday 12 December 2021 - A Christmas Walk from Tideswell

                                     Click on any image to access a slideshow

Having had to cancel this walk last year, and with clouds of further Covid Omicron doom rapidly descending, it was a pleasure to host this walk for 20 participants, plus Andrew at the pub awaiting the installation of a new knee, but sadly minus Paul with a stomach upset.

The route was familiar, albeit I made a couple of small navigational errors. From the car park south of Tideswell, we set off more or less on time at 10:30, and were soon rising above Tideswell Dale on the path to Tansley Dale.

The weather was fine and we were all in good spirits. Gatherings such as this one have been few and far between for the last couple of years, and thankfully everyone had registered negative Covid lateral flow tests before joining us today.

Tansley Dale was showing signs of recent high rainfall as the weather brightened.

Don managed a couple of long slides on the descent, and whilst the rest of us enjoyed an elevenses break supplemented by Sue's chocolate caramel shortbread, he appears from the next picture to be practicing his forward roll technique!

We were soon ascending towards Wardlow, meeting a lone runner taking part in the Litton fell race who had been misdirected by a marshall, as a result of which his lead had been increased by over a mile..

Then I climbed a stile that the fell runner should have used but that wasn't on our route. Some deja vu, as I'd made the same mistake in the past. This resulted in a rare picture of our professional back marker, who accidentally found himself stalking along in an unfamiliar position.

The sun came out as we continued towards Crossdale Head. The stiles are a bit tight here; Julie got stuck for a while, but we were making good progress and we arrived at the Crispin in plenty of time for our one o'clock lunch booking.

Jenny and I, between us, took a few snaps of the assembled gathering. I think all 21 of us feature in the next few pictures. Well done, Jenny.

Nobody complained about the absence of a quiz, and the food was excellent, as ever.

A couple of hours later, we bade farewell to Andrew and set off towards the Monsal Trail, our customary afternoon route, suitable for chatting and for walking on through dusk into the darkness of a December afternoon.

An advance party waited on the Monsal Trail whilst nearby cyclists sped back towards Hassop in the last remnants of daylight.

The Monsal Head viaduct afforded the chance for a final couple of snaps before light levels descended towards night time levels.

Eventually, torches were deployed, the pace slowed, and we ambled on happily towards the car park and dispersal to various parts of the country, some folk having made long journeys to join us today.

Here's the route - 15 km with 400 metres ascent, taking quite a while at a leisurely pace.

Thanks everyone for coming along; that was a most enjoyable day out. The Crispin excelled itself and I think everyone is happy to re-book it for next year. I'd like to do it on Sunday 18 December 2022, a week later than this year, so that those who want to take part in the Tatton Yule Yomp 10km race can do so on 11 December. Let me know if you would prefer 11 December and if most people want that, we'll forgo the Yomp.