Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Friday 6 May 2022

Friday = Isabella Day (8)

Crumpet for Grandma...

And one for Grandad

Then fun in Walton Park

Followed by a walk home along the towpath

Another lovely day with Isabella....

Thursday 5 May 2022

Wednesday 4 May 2022 - SWOG go to Fletcher Moss

Meanwhile, hawthorn flowers flourish next to our local canal towpath.

And here's a picture of our local secluded pond. As well as the ubiquitous Canada Goose, can you spot the Coot that lives here just a few metres from the canal, on which its appearances are very rare.

Yesterday my daughter treated us to a 'Grazing Box' from Barista in Bacup. Thank you Kate, here's the picture you requested. The box will last us for days. I'm afraid there's no picture of the cream tea that accompanied it, due to that having been eaten...

Last night Sue and I joined about 25 folk from SWOG (Stockport Walking and Outdoors Group) for a 6km stroll around Fletcher Moss Park and Millgate Fields, in Didsbury. It was our first outing with the group since Lockdown, over two years ago. It was good to see everyone, all two years older than when last seen.

Here are a few pictures taken as dusk approached - Harvey and Helen led us along a pleasant route that took in the gardens and an assortment of Mersey Valley paths.

Here's our route - including our 'to and fro' from parking near my son's house.

Wednesday 4 May 2022

Monday 2 May 2022 - A Bike ride to Pennington Flash and RHS Bridgewater

Richard and Jenny joined Sue and me for this roughly 40 mile bike ride on paths that were all (apart from a digression to RHS Bridgewater) very familiar to me but not to the others.

I've been here before, for example here, so given the overcast day I didn't take many pictures on this occasion. However, as I had to wait for a while at the Barton Aqueduct I took a snap of the Bridgewater Canal crossing the Manchester Ship Canal (above).

Then a picture looking back towards the Trafford Centre.

And another picture, in the hope of spotting the others, or had they diverted to do some shopping? No, they had stopped to admire some Canada geese goslings.

A new information board has been installed on the Eccles side of the swing bridge over the Ship Canal. Click on the image for a readable version.

It's hard to spot very much of the original aqueduct over the River Irwell that was replaced when the Ship Canal was built.

We took the busway route to Leigh, where this magnificent old mill building still stands proudly next to the canal.

The next picture was taken on our return from Pennington Flash, where we had paused for a while for snacks and to try a third inner tube on my Stumpjumper bike that was having its first outing of the year. I'd omitted to replace the front tyre, and the old one succumbed to punctures. After using up my supply of two inner tubes I was faced with the prospect of mending one of the punctures. The bike has 26" tyres, whilst the other three have new bikes with 27.5" tyres, so it was somewhat of a surprise when Richard produced a 26" inner tube! "You'd better keep it" he said, looking at his larger tyre.

Lunch was taken at RHS Bridgewater Gardens, accessed via Boothstown Marina on the north side of the canal, and exited on a new canalside path towards Worsley, where the next two pictures were taken. It was still a grey day, but luckily the only shower fell during our lunch break when we could get under cover on the cafe's patio.

An excellent day out. Here's the route. We spent nearly four hours on the bikes, plus lots of breaks - we were in no hurry to finish the 60 km or so ride, as a Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal was planned for dinner. Green curry, crispy chicken, Kimchee slaw, rice noodles, etc. (It took Sue and me about an hour to prepare.)

Click on the image for a better version

Tuesday 3 May 2022

Thursday 28 April 2022 - Cicerone Lancashire Walk 11: The Upper Wyre Way

A Walk in Deepest Lancashire

Rather than start from Tower Lodge, as suggested by Mark, I parked opposite the school (pictured above) in Abbeystead. There's also parking on the right beyond Stoops Bridge, a few metres further along the road.

Abbeystead was the scene of a terrible disaster in 1984, described thus in Wikipedia:

The Abbeystead disaster occurred on the evening of 23 May 1984 when a methane gas explosion destroyed a waterworks' valve house, killing 16 people. A group of 44 visitors were inside the underground building at the time, attending a public presentation by North West Water Authority to demonstrate the operations of the station. Eight were killed instantly by the explosion, and the others were severely injured. The explosion also caused the concrete roof to fall down on to the group, destroying the steel mesh floor and throwing some of the victims into the water chambers below which rapidly filled with river water. Another eight people subsequently died of their injuries in hospital. An 11-year-old boy and his mother were among the dead. The official inquiry into the disaster concluded that the methane had seeped from coal deposits 1,200 metres below ground and had built up in an empty pipeline. The gas was then ejected into the valve house by the sudden pressure of water as the pumps were switched on. The cause of ignition has never been determined.

There's a plaque outside the Valve house that I missed. Walking back up the road on the cool, overcast day, I picked up a path leading to Abbeystead's small reservoir, below which a metal footbridge saw me safely across the Wyre.

Ascending to the south of the reservoir, I noted a series of steep steps that may allow fish to climb into the reservoir instead of succumbing to futile attempts to mount the weir.

There followed a lovely woodland path past meadows full of Marsh Marigolds and Bluebells.

There were many other flowers here, with prolific Wood Sorrel and burgeoning Wild Garlic. After an exceptionally dry April, the mud that might be expected was completely absent.

Walkers on the Wyre Way are directed on a path that skirts around Abbeystead House, a shooting lodge built in 1886 for the 4th Earl of Sefton. The estate apparently holds the dubious privilege of having recorded the biggest grouse bag in a day - 2,929 birds were slaughtered on 12 August 1915. The 18,000 acre estate was bought by a Duke of Westminster family trust in 1980. Despite the numerous welcoming 'Open Access' signs in the area, sadly this is still a place where raptors such as hen harriers are persecuted by the likes of the gamekeepers employed by this estate.

The Upper Wyre Way, today's route, is marked at frequent intervals by engraved stones next to the path.

The stone in the picture above is seen in the bottom left corner of the next picture.

The next marker (below) rather confusingly suggests a route crossing the river by a footbridge. My route ignored this and continued in a direction just south of east. I have discovered that whilst Mark Sutcliffe's walking routes are pretty easy to follow as he describes, he does insert directions that from time to time benefit the walker who has taken the trouble to have a compass to hand. So I intend to adopt that policy in future, as well as having the .gpx track provided by Cicerone on my phone.

Marshaw Wyre is reached and the walk continues up a quiet road in Forest of Bowland scenery that has a Scottish feel to it. An elderly couple were enjoying a similar route (their navigating skills were problematic) to me, but they weren't finding the signs very easy to spot.

Tower Lodge, near the large layby from which Mark suggests starting this walk, heralds a gentle climb up a lane to leave the track by a new plantation.

I walked through the plantation on the obvious path shown below. Wrong. I should have gone more uphill to the right. 

My error was easily remedied, and a gate and a field or two later brought me to a distinctive ladder stile that confirmed I was 'on route'. There were numerous distinctive plovers (peewits), oyster catchers and curlew around here, so care was taken with foot placements!

From there, the path vagely followed a wall to the north, reaching a farm after passing between two outbarns.

A farm track/lane led to the quiet hamlet of Tarnbrook, where an old wooden sign indicated that the Wyre Way has been in existence for some time.

The footpath signposted above then took me across an assortment of fields and past a large outbarn that is pictured below in the distance ahead. Near here I met another couple. They were surprised to encounter anyone on this path today.

The Wyre Way signs can be a little confusing at times, given that there seem to be alternatives on offer. At the point shown below, I headed straight on to the far left corner of the field, where a path through someone's back garden brought me out at a road, and a gentle descent back to the school in Abbeystead.

This was a pleasant outing, despite the cool overcastness, and my only proper walk in April. It was about 14km, with 250 metres ascent, and took me rather less than three and a half hours. Click on the next image to see a better version.

An hour's drive found me back in Bacup, on dog walking duty with Oscar, who seemed very pleased to see me as I go a bit further with him than some of his other walkers.

Sunday 1 May 2022

A Postcard (April 2022)

Much of April was spent getting Dot into and out of Beechcroft Care Home in Stafford, and back to her house in Eccleshall with live-in carer Regina. It's a nice walk/wheelchair ride from Dot's house to the church at the other end of the village.

We did manage some parkruns - below on 9 April you might just spot Sue, Kate and Alastair finishing in formation behind an over eager dog...

Full results are here.

On 10 April the sun shone for the modest number of participants in Sunday's Wythenshawe Community Run (2km and 5km routes). Their Facebook page is here.

After a busy week, we returned to Wythenshawe on 16 April, after which parkrun Paul and Jeanette kindly hosted coffee and cake in their garden, in celebration of Paul's 400th parkrun. Full results are here.

Two chatty Sues at the finish

Easter Monday was a day to enjoy the trad jazz on offer at Eagley by way of the Chicago Teddybears Society Jazz Band. Excellent.

Then on 21 April we strolled down to the Waterside Theatre in Sale to enjoy a few film extracts from the Kendal Mountain Festival.

Friday 22 April = Isabella Day.

Saturday 23 April found us with Jacob, Seb and Louise, in Towneley Park, Burnley, for another parkrun. It's a crowded start in front of the hall, but folk soon spread out. Results are here.

On Thursday28 April I managed a short walk before adjourning for some dog walking in Bacup. Here's the River Wyre near Abbeystead. A report on that walk will follow.

Later, all ready for Sue's book club event. Opinions were divided regarding 'Still Life' by Sarah Winman.

The end of the month brought more sunshine and a visit to Wythenshawe for our weekly parkrun.

We hadn't seen TGO Challenger Alistair for a while - it was good to catch up - he was visiting Wythenshawe parkrun for the first time and didn't expect to see anyone he knew!

Here's my mate Michael (Sale Harriers Life Member and Legend) lumbering in with his sore Achilles. Full results are here.

A long session at the tea rooms and an assortment of odd jobs completed the sunny month of May (with just the one walk!). And as I compose this on 1 May, it's cool, overcast and damp outside.