Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 8 January 2022

Saturday 8 January 2022 - Wythenshawe parkrun number 455

"Did you really do a parkrun today?" will be my mum's question when we call her later.

Well, here's the proof. It was raining, so Sue and I went in the car. I wore full waterproofs. The rain was cold and the puddles were deep.

We arrived quite early, so sheltered under a canopy of holly (above).

Alan and Jenn sorted out the volunteers - they were in short supply today.

Some runners could be seen warming up, whilst I noted the waterlogged course.

147 runners and walkers turned up today - about half the usual complement, though one family came along in force for their first ever parkrun. In wind and rain and cold mud.

Alan gave his 'first timers briefing'.

We assembled at the start.

Congratulations to Jeanette, on her 300th parkrun today.

Afterwards, there was even time for group photos. I snook in to take this (mainly) Sale Harriers group - the lens, unsurprisingly fogged up as I took the damp camera from a sweaty pocket. Well done, everyone.

The last person romped home inside 55 minutes, thankfully a bit quicker than usual, after which Jenn and Alan adjourned to the tea room to process the results.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the room a week old baby, Harrison, was passed around whilst I joined Paul for a while outside with Rufus, the exiled dog. Apparently dogs are banned from the cafe due to contaminating it with urine! What!

It was cold outside. We went home earlier than usual... as did most.

Wednesday 5 January 2022

Monday 3 January 2022 - Around Malpas

Sue and I popped down to Malpas to check out a route for Jen - from her 'West Cheshire and Wirral' book. We parked in the Malpas Training Ground car park that we found before the car park in the centre recommended by Jen. The Post Office was easy enough to locate, and we started from there after perusing the information board pictured above. Click on the image for a readable version and slideshow access.

We were soon heading out of the village, past a new housing estate where 42 properties are being squeezed in, then past the cemetery.

This is deep Cheshire's farming country. We were soon on a byway next to a field of stubble.

The byway (on which vehicles are allowed, in contrast to a bridleway) continued to the end of the long field pictured below, before a left turn along an enclosed footpath, eventually emerging onto Tilston Road.

There were curious cows in the barn pictured above and below.

The low sun cast long shadows on this fine day.

The path alongside Overton Scar sported fine views towards the Welsh hills. On a fine day, the Berwyns are visible from here.

At the end of the scar we reached a track next to some caves that have been scoured out of the sandstone cliffs.

A footpath sign and a stile indicated that we were on both the Bishop Bennet Way, a 55 km route from Beeston to Wirswall, and the Marches' Way, a 351 km route from Chester, through the Welsh Marches, to Cardiff.

After lunch at the stile, we passed Overton Hall, where this specimen of hogweed was happily in flower.

We encountered just one person away from the village - a runner who crept into the first of two 'signpost snaps'.

Metal kissing gates led us across fields towards the village of Malpas.

We entered a final field, where a large sycamore tree is at the end of a row of twelve such trees, symbolising the twelve apostles. When one dies the local people ensure that it's replaced.

Before taking the next picture from the other end of the row of trees, we chatted for a while with a retired geologist who waxed lyrical about the village and its splendid views across to mid Wales and the Shropshire volcanoes.

A wrecked wooden kissing gate led to St Oswald's church - an impressive place for a small village. It dates from the 14th century.

Next to the church, Market House is fronted by a colonnade of eight Tuscan pillars. This building dates from 1762, when the Drake family built it as a shop with living quarters above.

The market cross, apart from the medieval sandstone steps, is a relatively recent replacement, erected as a memorial to the rector from 1840 to 1873.

The village is littered with pretty old buildings. We passed some of them on our way back to the car park.

Here's our route - 8.5km with about 140 metres ascent. It took us a little over two hours.

That's it. Very few 'edits' to Jen's description are required.

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Sunday 2 January 2022 - Around Appleton

Sue and I were joined by Al and Hazel for this pleasant stroll on which I first reported on 28 December 2018. This is Jen Darling's 'Best Pub Walks in Cheshire' version. There's a different version in Jen's 'West Cheshire and Wirral' book, and I've reported on this and other routes in the past - search 'Appleton' on the blog to view the entries, which include quite a few historical observations and references.

Anyway, we set off in dull weather that deteriorated when a shower of rain reached us, so very few photos were taken. Above, before the rain, the other three got ahead of me in the Dingle. It will become more colourful when spring arrives.

Soon after that, on reaching Green Lane and turning right, we continued across the bridleway to find that the path described in detail in Jen's book was closed due to a new housing development. Whilst I would hope that the path will eventually be reinstated, a new route was now needed. So those with Jen's 'Best Pub Walks' 3rd edition should go to page 25 and replace the wording from 'Cross the bridleway...reach Cann Lane' with the following:

'Turn right along the bridleway and continue a short distance to a small 'Welcome' to our woods sign on the left. Follow this narrow but clear woodland path until it reaches Cann Lane.' It's a very pleasant path.

Not referred to in Jen's guide (she refers to it elsewhere) is the double-faced sculpture of Roman god Janus, which we visited before crossing the main road and taking the lane to Hillside Farm.

Lunch was taken by 'Bellfields', where the house behind Sue's head was built around 1750 and was modelled on a ship by the owner, Admiral Hoare. There's more, if you click on the links mentioned above. The small sandstone pillar against which Al is resting is reputed to mark the spot where Cromwell's horse was buried after being killed in a nearby skirmish in 1648.

By the time we had slithered past the empty duck houses and reached the impressive lychgate entrance to the Fox Covert cemetery, the rain had passed and we enjoyed views across Warrington to the heights of Winter Hill and the south Pennines.

Then it was downhill through a series of ginnels/'rabbit runs' to return to the start - it's easy to park in Waverley Avenue, round the corner from the London Bridge Inn, if you aren't using the pub.

Here's our route - variations are available - we went about 8.5 km, with 140 metres ascent (basically a flat walk), and it took us about two and a half hours. A nice route, if a little muddy at this time of year, close to home, making it a favourite.

Monday 3 January 2022

Saturday 1 January 2022 - Burnley parkrun, etc

The New Year's Day parkrun in Burnley's delightful Towneley Park saw all five of us pictured above enjoying the 5km parkrun in a field of 271 socially distanced participants.

It was a great way to start the year. Here we are, assembled before the start. Jessica has done numerous 2km Sunday morning runs, but this was her first 5km effort, completed with her mum in a creditable 40 minutes or so, not far behind Jacob - on his tenth 5km parkrun - and Sue, who went at a very gentle pace today, whilst I jogged on ahead to get a new 'Burnley PB' - not difficult as it was only my second run here.

Here are Sue and Jacob approaching the finish. Full results are here. Jess and Jacob also did the 2km run the following day, whilst I popped down to Wythenshawe to marshall on their 2km/5km Community Run, for which there was a great turnout of 118 runners.

Not to be outdone by her older cousins, 15 month old Isabella joined us later for a ½km 'race' in Fletcher Moss Park near her home in Didsbury, where we called in on our way back to Timperley.

She's not quite up to doing 2km yet. By next year perhaps?... 

Sunday 2 January 2022

Friday 31 December 2021 - Dunham Massey Lights

Our year closed with a visit from Kate, Jacob and Jessica, and our third visit to Dunham Massey's Winter Garden Lights. We were lucky. Earlier generator problems had been resolved, and the experience proceded smoothly, with social distancing easy to maintain, though my mask did go on a few times. Previous visits were on 29 December 2018, and 28 December 2019 - click on those date links to see the reports.

This time, Jacob and Jessica climbed the podium and waited for a horse that never arrived. The roundabout and swings that they have enjoyed in the past looked a little young for them, and the one-way system barred re-entry once we had passed the fleshpots and entered the slightly muddy paths of the garden. At least it wasn't raining, and with temperatures well into double figures, a record since records were kept, we couldn't complain of being cold!

So we spent a happy hour and a half enjoying the lights and the accompanying music. Here, below, are some of the pictures, to which everyone contributed, and there's a larger Dropbox file that I'm sharing with those present - here if you want to view it. Click on any of these pictures to get a slideshow.

We adjourned to Kate's house in Bacup for what turned out to be an early night, followed by some quality New Year exercise.

So that's it for 2021. It had its moments, and we look forward to a hopefully happy and healthy 2022 for everyone.