Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Saturday 21 May 2022

Saturday 21 May 2022 - Penrith parkrun, and a trip to Braemar

Sue and I enjoyed Penrith parkrun this morning before heading up to Braemar. 

After a short Deeside stroll, we bumped into a few TGO Challengers.

Thursday 19 May 2022

Wednesday 18 May 2022 - Cicerone Lancashire Walk 29: Great Hameldon Hill from Accrington

This was another 'Cicerone Lancashire' walk before exercising Oscar - see previous posting.

There's plenty of free parking in the centre of Accrington, from where I soon found my way to St James's church and some smart memorial benches and a plaque.

The 'Accrington Pals' were members of a volunteer battalion that suffered huge losses in the battle of the Somme in July 1916. This walk was littered with monuments to their bravery.

The market building's facade is impressive, but a chap I met bemoaned the current situation whereby rents are not sufficiently low to attract vendors, so the market is not thriving.

Mark Sutcliffe's route description is a bit vague, but it's easy enough to locate Burnley Road, which I joined outside the Broadway pub.

I soon passed St John's church, where a farewell service was held for the Accrington Pals in February 1915 when they were sent to new quarters in Caernarfon.

This part of Accrington is home to streets of two-up two-down houses that were presumably built for mill workers. Elsewhere, towards the end of the walk, I passed through some smart, modern housing areas, especially near Laund Clough.

After passing around a busy school via Alice Street and Turkey Street, I passed the Peel Park pub, beyond which woodland beckoned.

The path zigzagged uphill to a viewpoint that could be reached by a variety of paths, which were today lined by mixed woodland and verges full of Garlic Mustard and Cow Parsley.

This was Peel Park and the Coppice, a local nature reserve. Whilst the centre of Accrington may be starved of funds to smarten it up, the budget seems to have run to some new signage in the nature reserve - probably a different budget?

Beside the monument was a chap with two pug dogs. We discussed recent controversy re pugs. He had decided not to use them for breeding. One had cost him £1000, the other nothing. I enjoyed a coffee on the bench in front of the monument that commemorates the donation of the Coppice land by William Peel to the people of Accrington. Swallows harvested the air. Apparently the 'Pals' trained here in 1915 before heading for the front. Mark says there's a map on top of the monument that explains the views, but vandals have destroyed that. Maybe a replacement is planned, to go along with the other new signage.

Here's the view across Accrington from the bench - I won't attempt to describe it, but I suspect BC may know all the landmarks as I think the view may be towards his home near Preston.

A little further along the path is an unobtrusive trig point.

Past more dog walkers, a runner and a cyclist doing laps of a bridleway route, and I walked high above the A56 as the path turned right and gained views across a buttercup field and some small ponds.

An underpass saw me safely across the busy A56 road. I saw nobody until after I'd re-crossed the road a couple of hours later.

Before reaching a farm I turned left through a wooden gate (not a stile, as Mark describes) and rose to a stone stile, on the far side of which are a couple of poems on pieces of slate, one of which has unfortunately broken. (Click on the image for a better version.)

Looking back to the stile, I should have proceeded half right, to take a path to the north of Moleside Moor.

Instead, I took an obvious path that skirted the southern slopes of Moleside Moor and rejoined Mark's route at the start of a very boggy, pathless, ascent of Great Hameldon Hill (409 metres).

The route was very boggy, with tussocks not really big enough to be of much help. I'd noticed the 'bog' description when reading Mark's notes on the route, and my boots had been stashed in our porch. Unfortunately they never made it to the car, so my Keen Targhee trail shoes were seriously tested. They passed with flying colours - I was really surprised to rise out of a zone of bog and cotton grass onto an area of bilberries and wheatears below the summit, with perfectly dry feet.

There were extensive views here, with both the Peel Tower and Darwen's Jubilee Tower clearly visible.

The descent via the southern slopes to May Road Well was slightly easier, with the same tussocky conditions but not quite so much bog. Beyond that, a grassy path led past a drained reservoir, next to which I paused for elevenses, using the TGO Challenge mug that should really be crossing Scotland just now. At least I was able to get out for a good walk today. It was a pleasure to laze below singing skylarks and harrassed buzzards.

Soon I turned left down a bridleway reminiscent of the Pennine Bridleway. The cobbles really do encourage the use of a bike with full suspension if you were to cycle along here.

Before re-crossing the A56, lined with Bush Vetch and Ribwort Plantain, and reaching more urban scenery, I took a look back to the embankment holding back the Mitchell's House Reservoirs.

I followed Mark's route past verges of Lady's Smock, Buttercups, Clovers and Dandelions, to Meadow Top Farm, where the farmer told me the path had been re-routed to the left of the farm and a wooden stile leading to the golf course. Here's the view back to the farm from the golf course side.

I then went down past the Club House, eventually emerging into a housing estate. The path here was signed as the 'Jubilee Walk'. I don't know what gives the golf club the right to block a nearby public footpath. Walkers are clearly not welcome here. Luckily that path was off my route.

Mark's route describes using a footpath through Laund Clough woodland. There are two paths off Southwood Drive to choose from, the one on the left is the one intended to be used, the one on the right, signed 'Laund Clough' is the one I took. It's a lovely section of woodland, from which I exited and found my way up to the Art Gallery.

I'd planned to visit the gallery, but it didn't open until noon, so I was too early, even after chatting with another chap who had two pug dogs (I think they look horrible, but they seem to be good natured animals), and eating my lunch.

The gallery is in Haworth Park, where another monument in memory of the Pals has been constructed.

Descending into Accrington after exiting Haworth Park soon brought me to Oakhill Park, and a huge stone obelisk in memory of... yes, you guessed it ... The Pals, and the town's fallen in other wars.

From this park, where there's a large stage at the bottom of a grassy amphitheatre, there's a good view across to the summit to reach which I'd earlier beaten my way through the bog.

A short stroll then returned me to the car, and thence a trip to Bacup for dog walking with Oscar and Kate.

Here's my route - not quite as described by Mark Sutcliffe - about 13.5 km, with 350 metres ascent, taking me around 4 hours including breaks.

I know that BC has already walked and reported on this route. I deliberately left re-reading his blog entry until I'd written this piece. BC's excellent take on the same walk is here, and is well worth reading, as he visited the gallery and he provides more historical information of interest.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Travels with Oscar

This picture shows that today I wasn't really needed for 'Oscar walking', as Kate was there to take the picture. It took until a good five weeks after her chemoradiotherapy treatment had finished for her to 'turn the corner'. She's now feeling much better and joined me for today's 5km dog walk, after which both dog and owner needed a rest!

Good timing; Sue and I can go on holiday next week in the knowledge that Kate is on the mend and great grandma Dot has a live-in carer, Genny, for support.

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Monday 16 May 2022 - The Harlem Hot Stompers at Eagley Jazz Club (and a PB for Jacob)

Last night's performance at Eagley Jazz Club was up to its usual high standard, with the team from Harlem Hot Stompers performing in memory of long-time committee member and accomplished musician, Ted Watton, who sadly passed away on 4 May.

Bearing in mind this blog's role as a diary, I'm obliged to record eleven year old grandson Jacob's achievement in the Wythenshawe Community 2 km dash on Sunday. He achieved a first position (the first time he has come in that position) in a PB of 8:32, with Sue B trailing behind in a shade under 10 minutes. I kept them waiting but managed 25:15 for the 5 km course. Here's a screen dump from the Facebook page.

16 and 17 June 2005 - 'Two Peaks' aka 'Three Peaks support'

                                 Challengers on the summit of Snowdon

Thursday/Friday 16/17 June 2005

Sue having gone to Ireland, I rushed around all day before driving up to a timeshare (Brockwood Hall?) near Millom to spend an evening with my brother Dave and his wife Maggie. Dave was 'well-oiled'. They were not impressed with the time share's quality and would probably have gone home had I not been visiting. The last part of my journey had involved two hours in thick fog. They said the thick mist hanging outside had been there all week. They were very miserable. I had forgotten to bring any booze and they had run out - just as well given Dave's condition. 

Maggie vaguely understood what I was doing, but the concept and its manner of execution completely escaped Dave, who kept asking the same questions and failing to understand the answers....

"Why walk anywhere in this weather?"
"Do what in 24 hours?"
"What is the point of it?"
"Sleep in the car!?"
...and on and on and on ...

After a brief respite watching the last of this year's Bill Oddie / Kate Humble / Simon King wildlife programmes, and after a nice chicken casserole, I left at 10 pm to drive to Seathwaite. It took me over an hour and a half, so the trip to Millom was a very major diversion which I regretted. I could have used more time at home.

So, to the purpose of the trip:- to help Dave and Sara Stevens (who Sue and I met on our honeymoon in Greece) and their friend Caroline do the Three Peaks. They had planned to set off up Ben Nevis at 5 pm and aimed to be at Pen-y-Pass after climbing Snowdon (via Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike) 24 hours later.

I found some phone reception outside Cockermouth at about 11 pm and established that they had been up and down the Ben in 5 hours and were passing through Glencoe. All was going well. So I parked up at Seathwaite, which was deserted, and slept on the back seat of the Espace (quite comfy) until around 3 am, when I was woken by a vehicle. Thinking that this was my team, I quickly got ready. The weather had deteriorated from a moonlit night to a thick drizzle, so fleece and waterproofs were needed, plus a bum bag for a few other bits and pieces.

It was not my team, but another group doing the same thing. They were taking their time getting ready. My team had stopped to change, etc, and had taken much longer than expected. By the time we left Seathwaite at 3:30 am it was light enough not to need torches. The other two members of the team were friends of Dave and Sara - Caroline and Robin, and dog Lucy. Robin was driving (fast) and Lucy was the mascot. T-shirts had been produced especially for the fundraising trip.

We set off through the farmyard. The three walkers were clearly tired from efforts on the Ben. It was warm and humid, so fleeces were soon removed, and I took Caroline's rucksack for the rest of the day. The rain continued, intermittently heavy, but mainly just as a misty veneer. This was Caroline's second mountain ever (the Ben was her first), and she has a 24 year old son!

Once up at Styhead we were in fairly thick mist, which occasionally cleared a little to reveal indistinct rocky vistas. But we could have been anywhere. No photos were taken.

So, left at the stretcher post for a few hundred metres, then right - down and up the Corridor Route. The others, none of whom had been up any of these three peaks before, wouldn't have managed this and would have got lost around here. The path, whilst clear to me, did not fit their definition of a path. They would have been looking for a long time. We proceeded slowly up the route, with me ahead trying to coax them into going a bit quicker. I made a slight navigational error and took a route steeply up from the head of Piers Gill, to reach a col between Scafell Pike and Broad Crag, from which we easily ascended to Scafell Pike's summit. 6:15 am, 2 ¾ hours.

A group of 14 London bankers, also with a guide, was on the hill somewhere, as evidenced by a Lucozade bottle seen on our retreat, but we saw no one at all on this hill (they probably went by the usual Lingmell Col route and missed us).

The steep section up to Broad Crag had been tough - lots of stops - Caroline is asthmatic. But its descent was easier and we were down in 2¼ hours, by 8:30, by which time the rain had stopped. This still compares poorly with Naismith's formula time of 4:34, but I reckon we were slowed by wet rock to the extent of about 30 minutes.

The others had had a dry walk on Ben Nevis, with good views and the bankers for company and guidance (especially on the Ben's cloudy crown). Now they had to change out of wet things, etc, so as I pottered down the motorway they were having longer stops and fell behind schedule despite some high speed driving by Robin. Charnock Richard services met my immediate needs, and I kept myself awake by taking the Mold > Ruthin > Cerigydrudion > Betwys-y-Coed > Capel Curig route to Pen-y-Pass. Even then I had a half hour wait in thick mist at Pen-y-Pass before we got going up Snowdon at 1:30 pm. Still, it gave me plenty of time to stoke up with pork pie, butties and chocolate.

Soon after we had started, the weather cleared. The Pyg Track had dry rocks and fine views down the Llanberis Valley. 

Looking down the Vale of Llanberis

Taking a breather on the Pyg Track

All of us were in a good mood and were moving more quickly than on Scafell Pike, although we had written off any chance of making the 24 hour deadline (even though I now know they had never planned to drive back down to Caernarvon, but instead to finish at Pen-y-Pass). [I've always started and finished this challenge with a foot in the sea, but this was their version of the Challenge walk and sponsors had been told of their plans. I have no quibble, especially considering none of them had been on these mountains before.]

We had a good walk up this easy path, with lots of people around so even without me the three challengers would not have got lost (though they would have occasionally hesitated and lost time). Some of the rock steps were found tiring, but views were good, in between passages of swirling mist. Almost, but not quite, Brocken Spectre conditions - we didn't observe one, but I bet others did.

Despite the mist around us, we could see folk scampering across Crib Goch, with bright blue sky above. It was with relief that we left the steep sections behind and join the path by the railway for the final trudge to the crowded summit (a train had just arrived). See summit photo above.

Dave tries to hitch a lift on the train!

This was Caroline's third mountain ever. She was very pleased and ebullient, telling everyone of her achievement.

It had taken 2 hours 10 minutes to climb Snowdon, and given the easy path and the knowledge of the planned finish at Pen-y-Pass, I suddenly realised it may be possible to get down by 5 pm and achieve the 24 hour target for the three challengers. They were all up for this, seemingly much fresher than they had been on Scafell Pike, so without further ado, other than summit photos, the three orange shirted challengers dashed off back down the track. We were soon in light mist, and with no views to admire a good pace was maintained.

Spurred on by the prospect of 24 hour success, we even did some jogging. The timing was perfect. After pausing only to say hello to the 14 bankers seen on Ben Nevis, and in Caroline's case pausing with whoever she could to brag about her achievement before sprinting off again, we jogged in to Pen-y-Pass precisely 24 hours after the 3 challengers had set off up Ben Nevis. And the 14 bankers were already 24 hours into their trip when we passed them on their way up Snowdon, just half an hour from Pen-y-Pass. Two others who were doing all four summits (Ireland as well) had not been seen since Ben Nevis - they were probably ahead, but they must have used the Wasdale route up Scafell Pike.

Wild (well!?) celebrations followed, with beers for Martin and Dave and champagne for Sara, Caroline and Robin.

Finished! The team lines up at Pen-y-Pass

A most successful outcome, and much appreciated by the challengers was my presence on the Scafell Pike section. A slow drive home got me back by 9 pm.

Here are our 'route notes' - I've guessed the Ben Nevis distance and ascent estimates:





ascent (m)

Ben Nevis





Ben Nevis to Seathwaite





Scafell Pike





Seathwaite to Pen-y-Pass















[My diary continues on the following day: 'Another 5:30 am start. I drove to Manchester airport for the 7 am flight to Belfast.' Oh to have that amount of energy 17 years later!]

[And talking of Challenges, Sue and I should at this point be enjoying a backpacking trip across Scotland - the TGO Challenge - for which I've vetted a few routes. Sadly some family health issues that are now mostly under control meant that our heads weren't in it this year, so what with Covid concerns last year, and the cancellation due to Covid in 2020, that's three years of TGO Challenges that we've missed. From what I can gather, conditions have been a bit wet, but our footwear and clothing would probably have kept us dry, if a bit sweaty. Good luck to everyone doing it, and we may see them in Braemar and Montrose.]

Sunday 15 May 2022

Wednesday 11 May 2022 - SWOG go to High Lane

Twenty people turned up for this evening stroll in lovely light. We took a trip along the towpath of the Macclesfield Canal, before turning east past the outskirts of Lyme Park. A return to the canal, and thence to High Lane, provided a lollipop shape to the profile of the walk.

I paused to take a few snaps in the delicious light:

One for AlanR (now sunning himself in Greece - I hope he has weather like this!)

The path to Hilltop Farm

Looking up to Ryles Wood

Here's our route - from the large car park on Windlehurst Road. You can see that there are many options for a good walk from here. We covered nearly 7km, with less than 100 metres ascent, and we took - even with 20 people having to negotiate a few stiles, about an hour and a half.

Most folk adjourned to the Bull's Head, but I'm still 'Covid nervous' of such places.