Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

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

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Friday 27 January 2023 - Longridge Fell

Click on any image to access a slideshow.

Click here for BC's report.

Click here for the report on my previous visit on 21 September 2016.

It was great to see BC (aka John), and his mate JD (aka John) on this second walk on my programme of Friday morning outings. The objective was to complete the walk described (number 23) in Mark Sutcliffe's 'Walking in Lancashire' Cicerone guide.

Mark's walk starts from Hurst Green village hall. I didn't spot that, but a little way up Avenue Road the Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley Memorial Hall provided a suitable alternative, particularly as BC's car was just behind me and followed me in.

We watched a large clutch of ramblers setting off, probably on the Tolkien Trail that passes through here, then we engaged first gear and ambled up the road, passing Shireburn Alms Houses, which BC said had been built in the 18th century some way away at a quarry site that we would pass later. Apparently the building was dismantled in 1946 and reassembled here in the village, stone by stone!

A footpath to the left, and a left at a fork, took us uphill beside Dean Brook. BC pointed out the mill weirs and races etc from the days of bobbin making at this site. There must have been a huge demand for bobbins given all the textile production that went on in this area.

We emerged from the woodland near Hill Farm, on a cool day with sunny intervals. After a period with no significant rain, it was mostly dry underfoot.

We soon passed Greengore, a medieval shooting lodge that may have recently changed hands for around £1,250,000. [BC is a mine of information that extends far beyond Mark Sutcliffe's rather brief commentary on this walk.]

Mark does mention a prominent ladder stile that we duly slogged uphill towards and clambered over, entertaining ourselves with memories of unfortunate companions who had at one time or another found themselves stuck on these (they would say) devilish obstacles.

After walking beside Gannow Fell we were welcomed onto Access Land a little way below the ridge of Longridge Fell. Buzzards mewed above us, if not now, later.

Once on the ridge, I went 'shutter happy', taking pictures towards Parlick and Fair Snape Fell, back to the wall and the Johns, and up to the prominent trig point that marks the 350 metre summit of Spire Hill, though many people wouldn't recognise that name - knowing the place simply as Longridge Fell's summit.

Once at the top, I was embarrassed by my failure to provide any brownies or shortbread - Sue having used the last of her mince pie brownies in last night's dessert! BC came to the rescue with some mince pies, enjoyed whilst we quaffed the contents of our flasks.

The next picture is taken from BC's report. At this point he was making innocent remarks about possible 'trouble ahead', which had me slightly mystified.

The trig point certainly makes its presence known!

Beacon Fell, Parlick and Fair Snape Fell were reminders of previous visits to this scenic area.

To our north, bathed in sunshine, was the Forest of Bowland, beyond which the summits of the Three Peaks are sometimes visible, but not today.

Nor were the hills of North Wales visible today, despite BC trying to tease them out of the landscape.

Anyway, we set off along the ridge that Mark Sutcliffe's route takes for a couple of kilometres. BC's fears were soon realised. He knew that the area of forest that we proposed to march through wasn't exactly suitable for marching.

But it was ok for crawling - perhaps something of a surprise - we ploughed on slowly but relentlessly.

There were one or two spots that offered respite, and even confirmation that we might be on a path.

After a bit more dodging, squelching and crawling we finally emerged onto a track somewhere on Hare Hill. The sign that would have warned us had we been coming from the other direction reads: 
Windblown trees

Ha, we beat the 'system'! I think BC and JD were quite chuffed with this. I certainly was.

Our difficulties weren't entirely over, but more fallen trees were circumnavigated and we even saw a few other walkers - the first of the day.

Eventually a good path left the ridge behind and took us down past the Blue Lagoon, near Leeming Quarry. This is where the Shireburn Alms Houses stood until they were taken to Hurst Green village in 1946, as mentioned above. (Hard to imagine.)

There followed a tricky section past yapping dogs to a ravine, due to poor signposting of the route through the garden of Fell Side Farm. It was all a bit confusing and could easily be solved by way of the landowner providing clear signage that might result in fewer disorientated hikers bimbling about in his garden being chased by his dogs whilst looking for a cleverly concealed footpath that leads around the back of his house.

Further on, a very posh looking barn/stable conversion held our attention for a few moments as we passed by on our way back down to the village. Two bedrooms, nightly rates from £95. See here.

The chapel attached to Stonyhurst College then came into view.

Mark mentions in his guide that JRR Tolkien stayed at Stonyhurst while his son studied at the college during WW2. Apparently at the time he was working on the Lord of the Rings story, and some people think that parts of the nearby Hodder Valley and Forest of Bowland inspired the vividly described landscape of 'The Shire'.

Stonyhurt College is now a Very Private Place. Who knows how many despots' children are being 'educated' there. We took our pictures from afar, deigning not to trouble the security guards.

BC pointed out 'Cromwell's Stone', on which he is standing, addressing his troops in much the same way as did Oliver Cromwell, who sought a haven for himself and his troops here en route to the Battle of Preston in 1648. (More here.)

Taken from the same spot as the last picture, this final offering before our stroll back to the cars is a statue with a plaque - 'Ave Maria'.

JD was dropped off in Longridge, and I helped BC to consume some of his excellent 'Four Mushroom' soup. (That's four types of mushroom, not just two mushrooms each!)

Here's our route - virtually identical to Mark Sutcliffe's - about 12km with 270 metres ascent, taking rather less than a leisurely four hours.

Thanks for your company, folks - a most enjoyable little excursion (especially the forest...).

Next Friday mornings:
3 February - Shutlingsloe - a 10km circuit from the Leather's Smithy. Park beside Ridgegate Reservoir in the marked spaces, SJ 953 715. Start at 10:00. 
10 February - The Wells of Silverdale - a 10km circuit from Leighton Moss Bird Reserve Visitor Centre - SD 476 750. Meet at cafe 10:00. Bring lunch.

Saturday, 28 January 2023

Thursday 26 January 2023 - Around Timperley and a bike ride to RHS Bridgewater Gardens

This was actually 18 January, from our study window, and (below) on the towpath to Sale. Slippery on the ice.

The following day we had a bit more snow. It took some time to melt away.

But a week later, it was still cold, but windless and sunny, so Sue and I hit the towpath on our bikes without any fear of skidding on ice.

It's just over ten miles along the towpath to the Bridgewater Gardens. An easy ride, taking about an hour each way.

We paused en route to admire reflections on the still morning.

The outing was sort of triggered by a voucher of Sue's that imminently expired, so we took advantage of that (and warmed up) in the large cafe, before enjoying a quick wander around the gardens.. Volunteers were busy setting everything up to 'Go' when the growing weather returns.

Everything was very neat and tidy, just waiting for growth...

Eventally we left to cycle home. You can see that there was ice on the pond outside the cafe, fenced off by a discrete arc of chairs. Gloves were needed today! Hand warmers would have helped at the start, before we warmed up.

Sue couldn't resist a 'fungal pause'.

There's easy access to the gardens from a newly laid path on the north side of the Bridgewater Canal.

I waited for some time on a bench at the spot pictured below, as Sue took an age to compose the image below that one.

Despite it being less than five minutes from home, we stopped at the Walton Perks cafe to enjoy a welcome cup of 'Sicilian' in the fresh air with the local bird population, before retreating indoors for the rest of the day.

My first 'bike outing' since early December, and very nice too, especially as we avoided picking up any punctures from the hedge trimmings that are actively being produced by the highly active trimming teams just now.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

21 to 23 January 2022 - Another Visit to Center Parcs (Sherwood Forest)

 This was a repeat of last year's visit. (All visits since 2007 are recorded here.)

Sue and I joined Robert, Lyn, Gerry, Chris and Louise in house number 878, complete with games room (pool table) and sauna.

Sherwood Pines parkrun passes near the fence at the end of our road, but we know there's no way of getting out that way (some Chorlton runners tried and failed), so we headed out of the main entrance to the nearby Sherwood Pines car park, where some 276 participants assembled for the run on a cold but sunny morning.

After quite a long briefing (brrr), we set off in mist. I got a long way ahead of the person behind me.

(There weren't many behind me...)

A friendly marshall pointed the way on this 'one-lap, anticlockwise' course.

The finishing funnel was fairly quiet by the time I arrived, some distance behind Sue.

Here we are, in our running kit, before returning home for coffee and cake.

It's a 15 minute walk from our house to the activity centre, passing the frozen lake on the way.

Table tennis, short tennis, outdoor tennis, badminton, outdoor bowls, etc, ensured that we used up some of our huge intake of calories thanks to the surfeit of food back at the house.

Outdoor bowls were quite slow thanks to the frosty surface.

The men were outnumbered. This was one activity in which we could all take part.

Sunday morning: as last year, Sue and I joined Chris and Gerry for a 12km walk to Rufford Abbey and Mill.

There's an assortment of sculptures.

And a frosted herb garden.

On the way back, in the grounds of Center Parcs, a freshley carved squirrel was all that remains of a recently felled tree. Better than just an ugly stump!

More table tennis, etc. No photos.

Monday morning saw us back out on the, much faster, bowling arena, before an enjoyable game of tennis brought us up to lunch time and an easy journey home.

Thanks for your company everyone, it was a lovely relaxing weekend interspersed with a bit of exercise. 

Here are a few more photos from others: